Muscle Mustangs & Fast Fords
Swapping Out the Top-End of a '92 Mustang LX
We bolster the intake, camshaft, and heads with parts from Edelbrock Performance and Crane Cams.
Ahh, the good ol' heads, cam, intake swap. The three simple mods that you always hear about, whether out on the street or from the die-hard bench racers on the Interweb. It's a fairly simple swap that offers heavy power improvement over stock, and for the 5.0L pushrod guys/gals, it's been the go-to for affordable power for decades.
Anyone is capable of performing the install, but it's the weekend mechanics and pros that might feel more up to the task. It's not difficult to do, but knowing how to turn a wrench will help. A huge part of this swap is simply taking your time and being patient. Resource a Haynes Automotive Repair manual if you are weary of such a task, and do your research. Remember, at the core of everything, it's just nuts and bolts.
For this issue, we wanted to take you through the steps of such a swap on a '92 LX coupe. With our test-subject being 21 years of age, its not surprising that it already had a mild selection of mods including BBK long-tube headers, Cobra intake, 1.7 roller rockers, and ported GT-40 heads. Finding a stock Fox isn't always an easy task, but like our test subject, we thought it would be helpful to demonstrate how much is left on the table even with an already modded Stang.
Edelbrock Performance manufactures some of the greatest cylinder heads, camshafts, and intakes around. To see just how much more power we could get out of our 150,000-mile Fox, Edelbrock sent us over a pair of its Performer heads (PN 60399), a Performer RPM II upper and lower intake manifold (PN 7123), and Performer Plus camshaft (PN 3722).
The aluminum Edelbrock 170cc heads we choose are a direct bolt-on for '82-'95 5.0/5.8L engines, and utilize 2.02-inch intake valves and 1.60-inch exhaust valves, flowing an estimated 226 cfm at 0.600-inch lift.
Edelbrock's Performer Plus camshaft mimics the E-cam (0.498/0.498 lift, 220/220 duration at 0.050). It's important to note, when using the Performer heads fitted with 2.02- intake valves, it is required to run 1.6 roller rockers. Our Fox was fitted with pedestal-mounted 1.7 rocker arms. Due to piston-to-valve (PTV) clearance issues, we needed to replace them. Edelbrock recommends no less than 0.080-inch PTV clearance. When measuring PTV lift with the 1.7s, we saw clearance as tight as 0.050. With that said, we made a quick phone call to Crane Cams. After speaking with its tech center, its recommendation was a set of its Gold Race pedestal-mount 1.6 rocker arms (PN 36759-16, $406.40), along with a set of its 5⁄16-inch, 6.258-inch-long pushrods (PN 36631-16, $140.80). This allowed us plenty of clearance.
According to Smitty Smith, technical sales coordinator at Edelbrock Performance: "The Performer Heads, Performer RPM II intake, and Performer Plus camshaft are all part of its Performer Power Packages. This combination is a direct bolt-on install and is fully street legal. It delivers a great seat of the pants feel with no guesswork involved. Typically in stock trim we've seen as much as a 75hp increase to the flywheel."
Helping us with the install was Ramsey's Performance, located in Lutz, Florida. Ryan Frazier, auto technician at Ramsey's, would be leading us every step of the way. To begin our install, we first baselined our test mule on Ramsey's in-house DynoJet dyno. We strapped it down and made three consecutive pulls all the way to 6,000 rpm with timing set to 10 degrees. Power output came in at 260 rwhp and 301 lb-ft of torque. With that out of the way, it was time to begin disassembly.
Follow along as we take you through the steps of the install.