DETROIT, SEPT. 23 -- First Nationwide Bank, a savings and loan owned by Ford Motor Co., has submitted a bid to acquire American Savings & Loan Association, the main unit of Financial Corp. of America, a financially troubled holding company based in Irvine, Calif.

Details of the proposal were not disclosed.

The bid is limited only to American Savings, President Bob Lackovic said from First Nationwide headquarters in San Francisco.

He said American Savings represents most of Financial Corp.'s holdings, which include $17 billion in deposits, $34 billion in assets and 178 branches in California.

First Nationwide, acquired by Ford in December 1985, is the nation's sixth-largest savings and loan association, with $15 billion in assets and 300 branches, including 133 in California, said Linda Cummins, a spokeswoman for Ford Motor Credit Co., which is, like First Nationwide, a wholly owned subsidiary of the auto maker.

But First Nationwide currently has only about a 2 percent share of the market for home mortgages and other real estate loans in California, Lackovic said. The American Savings acquisition would boost that share to 9 percent, he said.

First Nationwide earlier asked the Federal Home Loan Bank Board to let it buy Financial Corp.

Under that proposal, the Federal Savings and Loan Insurance Corp., which insures the bank board, would absorb up to 80 percent of future losses from Financial Corp. assets, including fixed-rate loans, mortgage-backed securities and other loans and real estate.

The proposal could cost the FSLIC between $1.4 billion and $4.5 billion over 10 years, depending upon future interest rates, officials involved with the transaction told the newspaper.

Lackovic and Cummins declined comment on the FSLIC's role in the proposed acquisition.