Mark Houlahan
Tech Editor, Mustang Monthly
January 10, 2014
Photos By: Survival Motorsports

The 351 Cleveland engine is the Rodney Dangerfield of Ford small-blocks—it gets no respect. The truth is that the Cleveland has a lot of potential, but like most factory offerings, it has a few issues due to budget constraints and assembly line requirements. The Cleveland may have been short-lived in domestic Ford production vehicles, but it has seen a long and healthy life abroad in such countries as Australia. As a matter of fact, Australia has for decades been the "go to" spot for Cleveland goodies to build a strong-running 351C, and we've seen our share of new hardware stateside with intakes, heads, cam and valvetrain parts, and more. So the Cleveland is far from being down for the count.

While a solid offering in the Mustang and other Fords from 1970-1974, some say the Cleveland's real fame came to light in the mid-engine'd DeTomaso Panteras sold through Ford's Lincoln-Mercury dealers at the beginning of the decade. These Italian exotics had the looks, feel, and handling of a super car, yet could be serviced at your local LM dealer due to the Cleveland engine mounted mid-ship. Today, the Pantera is a much sought after collector vehicle with a large following of enthusiasts that aren't afraid to drive their cars, nor modify them for more power. So when we first heard of an early "push-button-door" Pantera coming into the Survival Motorsports shop for a fresh engine build, Survival's head man, Barry Rabotnick, filled us in on the owner's plans to build an all-aluminum stroker Cleveland with fuel injection. It took us about a half of a nano-second to say yes to following this engine build up.

If you're thinking that an aluminum Cleveland must be some rare and exotic Australian combination brought stateside, you'd be wrong. The aluminum block Survival used for the build is a brand-new casting made by Tod Buttermore. Tod has extensive casting experience and has made other Ford blocks in the past. His Cleveland block is a faithful reproduction of the original on the outside, yet has tons of internal improvements. Bore sleeves allow positively huge bore sizing not capable with a stock iron Cleveland "thin wall" casting. In this build, the bores have been machined to 4.125-inches. The aluminum used is 356-T6 with American-made steel bore sleeves and billet steel four-bolt main caps from Pro-Gram Engineering. Iron versions are also available with the same internal improvements, which include lifter valley webbing, thicker walls, and so forth. The block comes rough cut and requires finish machining of the journals, bores, and deck surface by your machinist. Screw-in core plugs are standard on either block.

To top off the all-aluminum build, the owner sourced a set of Scott Cook aluminum heads ( These heads are some of the latest offerings for Cleveland fans and do originate from Australia. The 4V-style heads are fully CNC-ported and feature efficient 58.9cc chambers with revised spark plug locations. The heads utilize 2.190-inch intake and 1.625-inch exhaust valves and flow 325 cfm at 0.600-inch lift. Valvetrain can be set up for standard stud mount, T&D shaft-mount rockers, or Yella Terra rockers. The Scott Cook Cleveland heads externally are dead ringers for the stock iron parts, including traditional casting ribs, accessory bolt holes, and even the number "4" in the corner of the head!

The rest of the Cleveland build is nothing short of a who's who in top quality aftermarket performance parts. From the Scat crankshaft and Callies rods to the Diamond pistons and Comp Cams hydraulic roller cam, there's not a part that Barry used in this build that we would kick to the curb for something else! Take a look at the build photos to see this all-aluminum 412ci Cleveland stroker come to life for one super-special early Pantera.

1. Survival Motorsports started with an early Buttermore Cleveland aluminum block for this build. The block required some finish machine work, including drilling an oil gallery or two. Barry stated it was more or less a prototype piece that Survival helped refine with the aid of its in-house machinist, William Blair. “The block required two cam bearing sets—one was the Ford Racing set for journals two through five, with all outer diameters being the same. Journal number one was traditional 351 Cleveland sized. The cam tunnel block was originally line-bored to the smaller dimension of number one as well. This needed to be machined oversized to accommodate “normal” Cleveland camshafts. I believe that this has been addressed in current blocks,” Barry explained. The cam, already fitted here, is a Comp Cams hydraulic roller grind; 236/244-degrees duration, lift is 0.600/0.606 on an LSA of 113 degrees. Survival installed it at 108 degrees.
2. At the center of the reciprocating assembly is a Scat lightweight forging with a 3.850-inch stroke. You can easily see the screw-in core plugs in this photo, too. Survival’s shop is fully equipped for all machining operations, including boring, honing, balancing, and so forth.
3. The block includes Pro-Gram Engineering billet steel main caps setup for four-bolt mains on all five journals. The main bore is rough finished to within 0.025-inch for the end-user/dealer to finish bore. ARP studs are used to secure the main caps and here, Barry is verifying crankshaft endplay before moving on with the remainder of the reciprocating assembly.
4. Swinging from the Scat crank is a full complement of these sweet Callies Ultra I-beam rods. The rods are 6.00-inches long and use a small-block GM pin diameter of 0.927-inches. They weigh in at 613 grams.
5. Finishing off the reciprocating assembly are these custom Diamond forged pistons. Their specs include a 4.125-inch bore (the block’s cylinder bore od is 4.640-inches) with a 13.1cc effective dish volume, a 0.043-inch/0.043-inch/3.0mm ring pack, and weigh just 475 grams. Barry set piston-to-wall clearance at 0.005-inch.
6a. With the reciprocating assembly finished, Barry installed the multi-index billet double-roller timing chain set and degreed the camshaft.
6b.The Buttermore block, which is available in 9.20-, 9.35-, and 9.50-inch deck heights, uses a standard oil pan, front cover, and accessories for the Cleveland to maintain its stealth appearance and easy fit into OE Cleveland applications.
7. Survival Motorsports used an Aviaid oil pan, complete with baffles, windage tray, and pick up assembly. The pickup is shown installed here with a Melling high-volume oil pump being used for this build. The oil pan did require some modification because the Pantera’s chassis is number 22—a very early car with a lot of unique elements.

Photo Gallery

View Photo Gallery

8. The Scott Cook heads are a sight to behold. Designed to emulate the look of the stock 4V heads, the exhaust bolt pattern, intake bolt pattern, and accessory bolt holes are all in their stock locations. This means stock manifolds and accessories bolt right up. As noted in our opening text, even the visible “4” on the corners of the cylinder heads are there for a stock-appearing casting. The combustion chamber has been redesigned and the spark plug location optimized.

9. The head design utilizes a fully CNC’d intake and exhaust port program for optimum flow. Survival Motorsports used the heads “out of the box,” simply breaking the heads down to check spring pressures, installed height, and so forth before installation.
10. One item that caught Barry by surprise is the need to run the Ford Racing head gasket to accommodate the 4.125 bore diameter. The gaskets require modification to utilize the Cleveland upper cooling return holes so that the gaskets will line up with the passages in the block leading to the thermostat area.
11. Barry opted for the T&D shaft rocker setup for this particular build. The T&D rockers use these billet stands to support each rocker shaft. The heads will accept Yella Terra shaft-mount rockers as well.
12. In the valley, Barry utilized Morel short-travel, link-bar roller lifters paired with custom length Trend pushrods to finalize the Cleveland’s new valvetrain setup. All Buttermore Cleveland blocks (iron or aluminum) feature lifter valley strengthening ribs.
13. As if an early Pantera with an all-aluminum stroker Cleveland wasn’t enough, the cherry on top of this sundae is a complete Inglese stack EFI system run with FAST EZ-EFI hardware/software. The black nylon tubing from each throttle bore leads to a common vacuum plenum box to allow the use of vacuum accessories—a trick concept!
14. For front dress, Barry kept it simple with an aluminum Edelbrock water pump, an Australian-made Romac damper with aluminum outer ring, and the Pantera’s brackets and pulleys. Room is tight in the Pantera’s engine bay. Note that the fuel pump mounting pad is not machined on this block—though it is a non-issue since the Cleveland is running EFI.
15. A top-down view of the Inglese system shows how they designed the stack EFI to look “retro” by placing the fuel rails down the middle of the stacks, which hides them fairly well.
16. While the EFI combo made more power and torque on the dyno, Barry ran this rare Bud Moore plenum with a single Holley as an EFI-to-carb-comparison test. The engine is finished off with a nice set of cast valve covers from Blue Thunder, and a Mallory Unilite distributor with MSD Super Conductor wires distributing the spark to the plugs.
17. While primarily a builder of custom engines with in-house dyno ability, Survival Motorsports can handle installation and in-car tuning of its engines at the company’s Michigan facility. Not only did Survival Motorsports build the Pantera’s engine, but once completed and dyno tested, it will be installed on-site for the customer as well.

On the Dyno Results with Inglese EFI System
RPM HP Torque
3,100 258.9 438.7
3,300 284 452
3,500 307.6 461.6
3,700 331.9 471.1
3,900 356.7 480.3
4,100 380.3 487.2
4,300 402.4 491.5
4,500 428.4 500
4,700 460.7 514.8
4,900 491.7 527
5,100 518.6 534.1
5,300 538.6 533.7
5,500 554.2 529.2
5,700 566.1 521.6
5,900 570.3 507.7
6,100 566.1 487.4

To see the dyno pull of the Survival Cleveland check out the YouTube video here: