Wayne Cook
October 1, 2000
Photos By: Jim Smart

Step By Step

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We’re joining the new Ford Motorsport SVO 5.0L EFI engine and AOD transmission. You’ll need to use the early-style 289 oil pump and pan to fit the classic Mustang.
There are a few things you’ll need to do to move the dipstick to the early-model position near the front of the engine. Your mill needs to have the ’86–’93–style timing cover. It has the required boss for drilling to accept the front-mounted dipstick (arrow). It will also work with an engine-driven fan. That’s the early-style cover on the left.
Drill an 11/32-inch hole on the provided boss to accept the front-mounted dipstick tube as shown here. Start with a pilot hole and be careful. Accuracy counts, and you may want to use a drill press. The late-model 5.0L timing cover won’t have this boss.
You’ll also have to drill a hole in the alternator-idler bracket to allow for passage of the dipstick tube. Here we see a completed dipstick installation.
Use a piece of dowel to block off the side mount dipstick hole that goes directly through the block, because this hole won’t be used. The dowel will swell up with the heat and oil and give a good seal. You’ve seen this cool trick in our tech tips.
We’ve already connected the Ford Motorsport SVO engine and B&M AOD trans. Although this makes for a bigger package going in, it’s less difficult than making the connection underneath the car.
Here we show installation of the engine mounts. You will want to use new mounts.
We’re using these ’66–’70–style engine mounting brackets from Classic Mustang Parts of Oklahoma. Use these instead of ’64–’65 mounts, which can cause header clearance problems.
Here’s the AOD transmission crossmember from Windsor-Fox. With this piece, the engine and tranny installation is a bolt-in affair. This is a super sturdy piece, and accurate construction makes for a perfect fit.
The engine and transmission assembly is ready to install. There’s a lot of weight here, so be sure your hoist is on a level and smooth surface. Be careful. You’ll have an easier time of it if you use an adjustable engine sling, as we did here, instead of a piece of regular chain. Because of the attached transmission, you’ll need to begin installation at a steep angle and then level things out as the assembly goes in. It’s a game of down a little, back a little.
Here’s the Windsor-Fox transmission crossmember going in. Remember to use the old C4 mount here. The AOD mount won’t fit.
This photo shows our engine-transmission assembly down on the mounts. It’s a perfect fit.
One slick aspect of this conversion is the use of serpentine drive for accessories. Check with Autumn Fleet Sales for the pulleys you’ll need. Power steering and air conditioning are two things you’ll need to think about when you order pulleys. If you opt to go without power steering, Windsor-Fox offers a trick idler setup. This photo shows a conversion installation with the serpentine belt in place.
The special four-row core radiator needed for the conversion was furnished by Mustangs Plus. It has a staggered outlet, with the bottom hose connection relocated to the driver side. We plan on using a flexible reverse-rotation fan with a short spacer. A stock late-model clutch fan will fit if you mount the radiator with the mounting flanges on the front side of the core support. A couple of slots cut in the upper core support corresponding to the mounting flange on the radiator will get you there. This trick will buy you about 1/2 inch.
The upper radiator hose is a Ford item designed for the full-size ’86–’96 5.0/5.8L Bronco. Use this piece and you’ll get a perfect fit. Notice how the hose comes equipped with a protective collar near where the belt will pass.
These shorty headers from JBA fill the bill in the exhaust department. They look good and flow better. Be sure to read the enclosed instructions. A standard dual-exhaust system will work perfectly behind these, because the header exits are almost exactly in the stock location. Your exhaust guy can help you attach an existing dual-exhaust system to the new headers. You also can choose to go brand new from the headers back.
Here’s the passenger-side JBA shorty header going into place. There’s plenty of clearance on this side.
The driver-side JBA shorty header goes on. It’s easy to see there’s very little room on this side. This is why engine mount choice is important.
We sourced both the throttle cable (right) and the AOD transmission control cable from Autumn Fleet Sales. Once the throttle valve cable for the transmission is installed, it needs to be adjusted properly.
Another Windsor-Fox goodie is this bracket made to adapt the late-model throttle pedal to the early car. This allows us to convert to the cable-type throttle needed.
The stock shifter can be used with the new AOD transmission. Looking underneath the car, this special Windsor-Fox shift rod gives a sanitary installation. Everything functions in the original fashion, except now the old “snow drive” position on the shifter (where the car starts out in Second gear) is overdrive.
On a different 5.0L conversion, we see the specially made shock tower braces offered by Windsor-Fox. These are fully adjustable with aircraft-style Heim joint ends. They fit nicely when the stock units will no longer clear the EFI intake.
This is the complete EFI conversion wiring setup from Mustangs Plus. Engineered by electronics wizard Ron Morris, these harnesses make our conversion easy. On the bottom left is the main EFI body harness. Above it is the engine harness for the injection system and some of the engine sensors. The third harness (lower right) is for oxygen sensors and transmission control. There are Ford Motorsport SVO goodies here too, like the mass air sensor and air duct. Mustangs Plus is our source for the engine control module (ECM) cradle.
This is the Mustangs Plus engine harness. On the right is the engine sending unit harness from Virginia Classic Mustang. This will get all important information on the mill to the gauges. These two harnesses will work together side by side.
You’ll need to cut an oval passage in the firewall as shown to allow for the main EFI wiring harness. Here the main plug for the ECM goes through the cowl.
Be sure to cut the passage the correct size. You can tell we’re on the money here because of the good fit with the rubber grommet found on the wiring harness. The objective is to make sure no water leaks in.
Underhood electrical connections are straightforward. It’s plain to see which plugs match. Where there is doubt, the Mustangs Plus harness is labeled.
We’ve removed the upper intake to provide a clear view. It’s easy to see the fuel injectors underneath their respective fuel rails (arrows). The rails are metal tubes where the fuel is delivered to the injectors under high pressure. How long the injector stays open determines how much fuel is delivered to the combustion chamber. Your right foot ultimately controls this. You can also see how the wiring is directed to each injector. Sensors (A and B) send vital information back to the computer, or ECM. The fuel regulator (C) controls fuel pressure by regulating return flow to the tank.
Vitek Wires has us looking good in the plug wire department with these heavy-duty 9.5mm-diameter spark plug wires made for a 5.0L mill.
We’re installing our Vitek plug wires. These will ensure that a full jolt of electricity reaches the plug. Check out the large diameter on the Vitek wires compared to the stockers. You’re going to have super low resistance and leakage with these wires.
Inside the car, the ECM has a special cradle supplied by Mustangs Plus. This allows you to choose your location, then fasten the cradle into position. We chose inside the glovebox door. Make sure to arrange the incoming wiring into a “drip loop” so any moisture won’t end up inside the ECM.
Another electrical “must” is this inertia switch. To function correctly, it must be mounted in an upright position as shown. This switch will cut electric power to the fuel pump in the event of a collision. Doing an EFI conversion without one would be foolhardy. On EFI engines, fuel pressure can reach 35–40 psi. This is very high pressure. Without this switch, you’d be pumping raw gasoline like a garden hose from a broken line or other fuel system damage. We don’t need to explain why that is dangerous.
Because of the high fuel pressures involved, special fuel lines must be employed. For our ride, high-pressure lines came from Classic Tube. First-rate quality control at Classic Tube gives us peace of mind for this critical application.
It used to be that an in-tank fuel pump was the only way to go on these conversions. This meant replacing the fuel tank to accommodate the pump. Now, external pumps like the one shown from Mustangs Plus can be used. This allows use of the existing tank and saves a good chunk of change.
There are other details to consider, which vary according to the options you choose. Battery location can be changed to the driver side of the car because of the EFI air intake location. On some cars, a compact dry cell like this one is a good way to go. K&N Engineering also has a much smaller air cleaner setup that allows you to keep your stock battery tray location.
Another alternative is a trunk-mounted battery, as seen on this car built by D.B. Performance Engineering. This can be a good idea because it takes some weight off the front wheels.

If you're looking to improve the performance of your early Mustang or other special-interest Ford, it's hard to top the range of improvements realized with a 5.0-liter electronic fuel injection (EFI) conversion. Things get even better when you combine the 5.0L with an automatic overdrive (AOD) transmission swap.

We've seen this done many times, but it's still hard to believe the difference this conversion makes in overall performance. From cold start driveability to doing 65 mph at 1,900 rpm, the benefits just keep stacking up. Power and fuel economy improve dramatically. Usually you sacrifice one for the other, but not here. You get the best of both worlds. If the tour buses keep blowing by you because the tach says you're topped out, something over three grand at 60, we know you'll appreciate the overdrive as much as we do.

When it's time to proceed, the project is easier than you think. With one of our '65 coupe project car, we're going to do the conversion and use the AOD automatic transmission. We know from experience that this combination will give us the best driveability combined with outrageous overdriven highway performance. If your car is equipped with a manual transmission, parts and kits are available from California Pony Cars for the T5 five-speed conversion. You'll get overdrive and a deeper First gear, and you can still drive like Steve McQueen. Lots of good folks, including those at Mustangs Plus and Windsor-Fox Performance Engineering, helped us along the road to success during our conversion.

From a mechanical standpoint, the Ford Motorsport SVO 5.0L EFI and B&M AOD installations are mostly drop-in deals. One special piece used is the crossmember made for this conversion by Windsor-Fox. This is needed because the AOD trans is slightly longer than the C4 originally furnished in our '65 coupe. The crossmember is a slick item that bridges one of the major physical installation hurdles in the whole conversion. It also allows for removal of the trans pan for servicing. Just remember to use the old-style C4 rubber mount at the rear and installation will be a snap.

Although the swap has too many steps for us to illustrate every one, we want to give you an overview of the project so that you'll have a good idea of what's involved. We have all of our goodies assembled, and we're eager to get started.

Remember, the AOD is about 1 inch longer than the C4, so we've already arranged for a new and shorter aluminum driveshaft from Mustangs Plus. You can have your driveshaft sent out to be shortened accordingly. Or talk with Mustangs Plus about a replacement for your project. Also remember that late-model 5.0 engines have reverse-rotation water pumps, and the radiator for these engines needs the lower hose outlet on the driver side. Your local radiator shop can help you here, or you can get the radiator new from Mustangs Plus.