Evan J. Smith
Freelancer
July 28, 2015

There are generally three things that really rank with car enthusiasts—appearance, horsepower and track numbers. If you want maximum props, your ride has to pack a visual punch, have the horsepower to back it up, and be ready to turn a number at the track.

Creating the ultimate under hood show with a radical engine combination is nothing new, but it’s guaranteed to get people talking. Blowers and turbos add appeal, but there are other ways to create your own party under the hood. When it comes to modifying the engine, some do it for sheer power, while others want a certain look.

Even Ford Motor Company has pushed the boundaries of customization and performance with wild internal combustion design. Ford’s Cosworth Formula 1 and Indy Car engines of the 1960s and 1970s are a few examples—in more modern times we’ve seen Ford experiment with a short-deck V10 based on the 4.6L modular, a 7.0L Hurricane, a variety of supercharged and turbocharged applications, EcoBoost, and now flat-plane crankshaft technology in the current 5.2L Shelby GT350.

Innovating and developing is what drives our hobby; and in addition to raw power, we’ve found efficiency and durability. Think about it, the output of the 5.0L engine has essentially doubled (215 to 435) from 1995 to 2015. Thankfully, Ford is never satisfied with the current technology, or power levels. And while the future is bright at Ford Motor Company, especially with the EcoBoost, everyone continues to push the envelope. But this story is all about cool combinations, so we’ve created a list of 10 wild engines for you to dig into. Check ’em out and let us know which one is your favorite.

10. “777” Experimental

The 777 engine program was suitably named since the goal was 7.0L liters, 7,000 rpm and 700 horsepower. The project was relatively short-lived, but it was fun to watch Ford develop what many thought was the next hot Mustang V8. The 777 was actually a big-bore Raptor engine (based off the 6.2L), but with a 4.125-inch bore, 4.00-inch stroke, and modified heads for higher flow. Ford over achieved, as the 777 made closer to 800 horsepower and ran in the 9.10-second range in Don Bowles drag car. As you can see, the version here featured the wild individual runner intake in a sealed box. Internally, it had high compression and unique cam drive arrangement. The downside was the physical size, as this engine was huge.

09. 429 Ninja

Never heard of the Ninja? Well, it’s the latest naturally aspirated pushrod Cobra Jet engine from Ford performance, and it is one bad piece. Those wanting to run 8s with an all-motor 2014 CJ have the Ninja option, which is a 429-cube Windsor that uses an unconventional 4.080-inch bore x 4.100-inch stroke combination. The block is topped with Ford – Yates D3 cylinder heads with 2.20-inch and 1.60-inch valves. It has a 0.650-inch lift cam and full-race Jesel valvetrain. The big small-block is topped with a unique composite intake manifold and front-facing throttle body. It has a big squeeze of over 13:1 compression and generates over 850 all-motor horsepower! The pan connected to the throttle-body seals the inlet and draws fresh air from the grille. Cobra Jets running the Ninja have been in the 8.80s!

08. 5.0 Twin-Turbo Cobra Jet

The TT CJ is truly one we’re waiting for. Ford desperately needs to resurrect the idea of using twin turbos in the 2016 Cobra Jet before the competition beats them to the punch. This one was shown at SEMA a few years ago, and actually ran in a prototype CJ, but was never pushed to its potential. Even with the dinky passenger-car turbo units, a combo like this would be capable of an easy 1,000 hp and would open the door for Ford Performance to sell bolt-on twin turbo kits. Plus, it fits the EcoBoost theme so it’s a win-win!

07. 427 Jon Kaase Hypersilver

Okay, we’re being a little self-serving, but the 427 that Jon Kaase Racing Engines built for our 1988 Anniversary Fox-body Mustang was truly a work of art. It featured a full 427 cubic inches of displacement, P-38 aluminum heads and the unmistakable Individual Runner intake. Fitted in the smoothed engine bay by Spike’s, it made for the ultimate eye candy.

06. 1964 Ford Indy V8

The epitome of Ford engine development in the 1960s was the lightweight 255-cube Indy V8. Developed over time and with much trial and error, the unit for 1964 featured a unique aluminum block and DOHC heads that developed 425 horsepower at 8,000 rpm. Some of the engine architecture was based off the 260-inch Ford V8. The little V8 had a small 3.76-inch bore, 2.87-inch stroke (same as a 289) and 4-bolt bearing caps. Compression ratio is a modest 12.5:1 and the cams run in bearing bores right over the valves. The intake ports are located between the cams, and induction was handled by Hilborn injection. The exhaust exits at the top of the heads, in the middle of the engine. This allowed for the exhaust headers to exit over Indy car body for simplicity. A total of 14 gears was used at the front of the engine and it also used dry-sump oiling with the scavenge pump located in the crankcase. Jim Clark, driving a Ford-powered Lotus won the pole that year, but suspension failure ended his race early. Clark went on to win in 1965 using the Lotus/Ford combination.

05. Twin-Mod Roadster Blender

We don’t have any details on this wild child, but we love the twin B&M supercharged modular engines with carburetion… and, ummm… the blender for making those smoothies once you reach your destination. This roadster takes the cake for imagination, combining just a touch of modern with classic hot rod design. We wonder, how much boost are those blowers are making with the HUGE pulleys?

04. 10-Liter Boss 429 “Shinoda Boss”

One of the most radical Mustang’s we’ve ever driven was the insane 1994 Shinoda Boss that Ford put together during a time of heavy Mustang development. Pushrods were about to be a thing of the past, but this “what if?” Mustang showed what Ford engineers could do. The Shinoda Boss got even more intense when you saw the impressive 604-cubic inch, fuel injected Boss engine sitting under the hood. This amazing mill produced a blistering 855 hp at 6,200 rpm and an Earth-rotating 794 lb-ft of torque at 5,200 rpm. Coupled to an automatic transmission, and with 2.73 gears, this Mustang thundered to mid-10s all day long with the mostly stock suspension.

03. NASCobra 358-inch ProCharged Windsor

When it comes to clean power, it’s hard to beat Matt Snow’s boosted NASCAR 1993 Cobra. The engine bay is ultra clean, and this Ernie Elliott-built small-block pumps out 1,000 rwhp and 864 lb-ft of torque! The 358-inch Windsor features Yates C3 heads, a monster roller cam, 9.5:1 compression, and is fed a diet of Snow meth injection and 21 psi of boost from the F2 ProCharger. Assisting is a BigStuff3, Sullivan intake, 96-lb/hr injectors and Kook’s custom headers.

02. 5.4L Supercharged SVE Super Stallion

The Super Stallion, which debuted at the 1998 SEMA show, was a “green” Mustang built by Ford’s now-defunct Special Vehicle Engineering (SVE) team. Like many of the special-project Stangs that preceded it, the SS was packed with innovation and technology that would later make its way to production Mustangs. The Super Stallion featured an IRS with coilover shocks that protruded into the trunk, six-speed and a 590 horsepower 5.4L V8 supercharged showpiece. A 5.4L truck block was fitted with prototype DOHC heads, and twin 80mm mass-air sensors and throttle-bodies fed a polished Garrett 2.1L blower. What made the SS really unique was the alcohol-sensing electronics, which allowed the Mustang to run on Ethyl alcohol, or ethanol. Ford also used an in-line fuel sensor to control ignition mapping and maximize power and economy.

01. Mark Meiering’s 1,475 RWHP 5.4L GT500

When it comes to king-of-the-hill late-model engines, it’s hard to beat the Accufab-built 5.4L between the rails of Mark Meiering’s Shelby GT500. Meiering won our last Dyno Wars held at Shelby American, and has continued the forward march on the dyno and on track. His Shelby has run a best quarter-mile time of 7.42 second at 188 mph, making it the quickest Shelby GT500 we’ve seen, and it still relies on the basic configuration of a 5.4L engine with a top-mounted blower; in this case a 4.7L Kenne Bell unit with rear-facing twin-106mm throttle-bodies. This GT500 produces a mind-numbing 1,475 rwhp with 28 psi of boost.