Jim Smart
March 12, 2014
Contributers: Jim Smart

Debuting in the '93 Lincoln Mark VIII luxury coupe, the 4.6L DOHC Modular V-8 quickly transformed a quiet, sedate luxury coupe into a high rpm screamer with a stab of the throttle. The modular V-8 is a natural born hot rod right off the assembly line, and a powerful engine swap for your vintage Ford.

What makes the 4.6L and 5.4L DOHC engines different than your 302 or 351W, aside from the obvious overhead cam design, is the bore and stroke. The Modular V-8 has a smaller 3.552-inch bore, down considerably from your small-block Ford's 4.000-inch bore. When you mix the 3.543-inch stroke (4.6L) or 4.165-inch stroke (5.4L) with a 3.552-inch bore, the Modular V-8 really is a different engine altogether. The 4.6 Modular's small bore and nearly identical stroke (4.6L) makes it a "square" engine where you need rpm to make power; the 4.6L DOHC is not a low-to-mid-range torque engine. It likes to rev, making its peak torque in the 4,000-4,500 rpm range depending upon application.

As with the old cammers, fitment can be tricky. It will fit into a Galaxie or an F-100 truck with ease, but if you're planning to swap it into your Mustang, Fairlane, or Cougar, extensive chassis modifications must be made. Shock towers must be altered or eliminated with an alternate front suspension and engine locating plan.

The Block

The DOHC Modular V-8 has evolved with reliable consistency for more than a decade. Early on, the 4.6L DOHC employed the Teksid F6LZ-6010-AB aluminum block according to George Reid's How To Rebuild 4.6L/5.4L Ford Engines book, which is available from CarTech Books. The DOHC's first aluminum Modular block weighed just 86 pounds compared with the 175-pound SOHC iron block. Teksid of Italy, a world-class aluminum casting operation, provided Ford with DOHC block castings through 2001, when Ford made the decision to bring casting work into its Windsor, Ontario foundry (Windsor Aluminum Plant or "WAP"). Ford introduced a lot of good constructive modifications to the DOHC block including thicker pan rails and increased ribbing for reducing noise, vibration, and harshness (NVH).

Renowned Modular engine builder and racer, Sean Hyland, of Sean Hyland Motorsport tells us he uses the early '96-'98 Cobra Teksid block (F6LZ-6010-AB) for his drag racing engines with great success because they can withstand 1,500 horsepower. This block was also used in the '93-'98 Lincoln Mark VIII, which means there are plenty of cores out there—higher mileage cars can be had for as little as $1,000. Italian-cast Teksid blocks are cast in SAE 319 spec' aluminum and heat-treated to get the desired strength. The Teksid block is consistent and predictable throughout its 1993-2001 production life according to Hyland. The only change was a switch to wider interference fit main caps in 1999 in a revised block casting (ZR3Z-6010-CA) when Ford eliminated the main cap cross bolt jackscrew preload design.

Early in the new millennium, Ford Racing came out with two new aluminum blocks—M-6010-A46NA and M-6010-A46SC. The A46NA block was conceived for SOHC and DOHC use and will work with 2V, 3V, and 4V heads. These two aluminum blocks were cast during the final phase of 4.6L aluminum block production with a chilled bulkhead casting process for stronger main webs. Main webs were also rounded for reduced stress issues. Wider 17mm main caps are ball-burnished for good bearing security.

The A46SC block is designed as a drop-in replacement for '03-'04 Cobra Mustangs, though it can be used with any of the Modular cylinder heads. There's also the M-6010-T50 FR500 aluminum block from Ford Racing bore-sized for 5.0L of displacement (3.700 inches) with an 8.9370-inch deck height. The disappointing side of these three blocks is availability. Production has discontinued and they're no longer available from Ford. This means you will need to look to aftermarket suppliers like Modular Mustang Racing and Summit Racing Equipment and check available inventory. Availability is also an issue with DOHC cylinder heads of all types. Most are out of production, so you'll be at the mercy of inventory in the aftermarket.

Rotating Mass

The 32-valve DOHC engine is loaded with ironies. You'd think this high-revving high-performance V-8 would be fitted with a steel crank, heavy-duty forged connecting rods, and forged slugs. It wasn't. From 1993 to 1995, the DOHC was factory fitted with a cast crankshaft and powdered metal connecting rods like the SOHC engine.

Although "powdered metal" sounds wimpy, it isn't. The DOHC's powdered metal cracked connecting rods will take a pounding in a naturally aspirated engine. They're called "cracked" because the one-piece rod is "cracked" at the big end during manufacture just to make sure caps aren't mismatched or installed backwards; it only goes together one way.

Powdered metal connecting rods are adequate for DOHC applications under 500 horsepower. Beyond that, look to I-beam or H-beam connecting rods and forged pistons with coated skirts.

A stock rebuild can get by with powdered metal rods and hypereutectic pistons. Why hypereutectic pistons? Because forged pistons have a more aggressive expansion rate and can be noisy when cold because we need to allow more expansion room in our clearances. Once warm, they perform admirably.

Ring width boils down to what you intend to do with your DOHC. If you're going racing, narrow ring widths reduce friction and free up power, but you sacrifice durability in street use. And this is how you choose a piston package.