Modified Mustangs & Fords
How To Buy A Kit Or Crate Engine
After a Long, Hot Summer, It's Time to Freshen Up Underhood
It's been a long, hot summer, and it's not over yet. If your Ford is anything like ours, it's been through a lot. Earlier this summer, we crossed the continental divide a couple of times, pulled the boat all over hell, did some racing--both planned and impromptu--and generally worked our Mustang half to death. The car already had a fair amount of mileage on it to begin with. So, as the leaves begin to fly, we're thinking of a repower for our Mustang.
Let's face it, there are a lot of ways to go when freshening up your power source is considered. We could rebuild our trusty 289. Trouble is, the car is more than 30 years old. We don't know if the engine has been bored oversize or not. If the block has been bored oversize once already, then we know that this block is a very iffy candidate for a rebuild. A car this old has a good chance of having a nonoriginal mill, and it may have been rebuilt once already. Our white '66 fastback is on its fifth engine. Unless you're the original owner, it's hard to know.
There is more to it than this. Assuming the block can still be opened up, that's only the beginning. Once we go oversize, there's plenty of stuff to buy. In the short-block alone, start with a complete set of new pistons. Then there's rings and installation of the new slugs on the old rods (assuming they are all good).
Remember that time the radiator blew and the engine overheated? Before you spend money on a three-angle valve job, better check to see if the heads are warped. Then of course you should have the valve guides knurled or new bronze guides installed. What about unleaded fuel? Better go with stellite valve seats to give you a harder seat. Also, do you really want to keep those heads that are drilled for air injection smog fittings? The list goes on and on.
There is an alternative to all this hassle. Both kit and crate engines are great alternatives because all of the worry and hassle are handled for you before you ever see the mill. Experts do it for you, and the engine comes to you assembled, or ready to assemble, and ready to install. All of the components are brand new. In kit engines, all components are either new or remanufactured to specs that meet or exceed original factory tolerances. From the oil pump to the valve covers, we're talking a like new engine. Now this is what our car deserves. How about yours?
All this sound expensive? Well, kit and crate engines are not boneyard cheap, but when compared to the cost of a complete rebuild they are very competitive. With a kit or crate motor, you can get state-of-the-art design instead of dated components. In areas like cylinder head design, this can make a big difference. Some crate engines even come with aluminum heads already bolted on, factory sealed. Let's go forward and look at some of the best available crate and kit engines for your Ford.
Many of us are keeping early-style '65-'66 Mustangs in our Ford stable. This usually means we're interested in a fresh 289 or 302 mill for the pony, or perhaps even a 351. Get in touch with Performance Automotive Warehouse (PAW), because getting set up through this company is a cinch. PAW is great because not only do you get a like-new mill at reasonable cost, it also offers great flexibility and component selection. You can choose everything from compression ratio to solid or hydraulic camshaft. Let's take a look at a Performance Automotive Warehouse 289/302 Ford special and see what you get.
Choose a 289 or 302ci displacement. We start with a seasoned block that has been bored oversize and competition-honed. The block has also been dry-decked and line-honed. These procedures are already in the hat, so you don't even need to worry about them. The block has new camshaft bearings and freeze plugs. It comes painted, Rustoleum inside and Ford Blue outside.
On the bottom end, the crank is ground undersize for a precise fit and micropolished, and it features chamfered oil holes. Connecting rods are magnafluxed, shotpeened, and fitted with chrome-moly rod bolts. The pistons are flat-top units from TRW. The rings are moly on the top compression rings and chrome for the oil rings. All the bearings are new.
Choose a solid or hydraulic cam for almost any application. The timing set is all steel gears and double row chain. Everything on the reciprocating has been balanced. This is quite a short-block. At PAW, you can get your new mill in short- or long-block form. The long-block includes everything listed so far plus heads that have been completely gone through. They have all new valves, springs, locks, and heavy-duty seals. All heads come with a three-angle valve job. The heads have been decked and come completely assembled. If you want, you can choose different heads to suit your application.
New lifters are included to match your cam selection, and they connect to new chrome-moly pushrods. Of course the oil pump is brand new, and a complete Fel-Pro engine gasket set is included. This is just a basic rundown. Contact PAW with any special needs or applications, and it will get you set up, guaranteed.
Another heavy-hitter is Ford Motorsport SVO. It offers a true crate engine that's brand new and ready to go right out of the box as well as several versions of the 302 small-block and the 351. One of our favorites for waking up the performance in our early Mustang is the 351 H.O. SVO. In a Mustang, this mill is basically a bolt-in swap that will get you into the big leagues without a lot of modifications. This engine is a solid lifter bad boy good for 385 hp right out of the crate. All you add is the carb, air cleaner, exhaust, and wires. The mill is built around the two-bolt Windsor 351 block. This block is simply a raised deck version of the 302, so we're in familiar territory. It has a nodular iron crank and hypereutectic pistons. The connecting rods are heavy-duty units borrowed from the truck parts bin.
The heads on this engine are SVO GT-40 aluminum "turbo swirl" units with 1.94 diameter intake and 1.54 exhaust valves. Working the valves is a flat- tappet cam with a 0.520 lift on intake, so it's a healthy one. The rockers are aluminum with roller tips. The intake is a Victor Jr. high-rise aluminum designed for top-end power, and this manifold accepts standard four-barrel Holley carbs. This SVO crate engine is complete, with valve covers, oil pump and pan, damper, and flywheel. Even the distributor is included. All of this can be found under PN M-6007-A351.
If you're interested in a few less cubes and a roller cam, check out PN M-6007-B50. This is a GT 40 302ci mill that still has the good guy aluminum heads. Rated at 320 hp, this mill comes with a roller cam setup, but you'll have to come up with your own distributor. This mill is a true drop-in for your Mustang, requiring no special exhaust or other modifications.
Summit Racing Equipment is a gigantic automotive supply house with a great selection of components for your new Ford mill. You'll be like a kid in a candy store with Summit, and you can create your own custom kit. Check with Summit for brand new 5.0 blocks straight from Ford. These blocks are the last production 5.0s before production began on the 4.6L Modular V-8. This block would be our choice for the starting point on our Summit repower job.
We're going to go fancy with this engine, so a Trick Flow Specialties forged crank would fill the saddle and be good far beyond our rpm and horsepower needs. This gives us a nice margin of safety in the durability department and allows us to go to a higher rpm application later if we desire. Crower Sportsman connecting rods will be outfitted with Keith Black pistons with a 9.7:1 compression ratio.
We're not planning to rev eight grand, and we need a streetable compression ratio. This is near the limit for pump gas and no hassles. We're going to go with aluminum heads, and these will help a great deal with heat dissipation. This gives us a little more elbow room compressionwise before we get into pre-ignition or detonation problems.
We haven't talked about a camshaft yet because we are going to go with a complete intake kit, which we'll talk about in a moment. We are using Fel-Pro gaskets throughout the mill. The head gaskets will be topped off with Trick Flow Specialties Twisted Wedge aluminum cylinder heads. We'll get these at Summit completely assembled. They're ready to go right out of the box and save a lot of weight compared to iron heads. They have 2.02 intake valves, so they are going to flow freely.
We'll top off the whole project with an Edelbrock Power Package featuring a performer RPM manifold, an Edelbrock carb rated at 600 cfm, and a camshaft with a 0.496 lift on intake and 0.520 on exhaust. This is not a super radical cam, but we know from experience that when all intake components are evenly matched, that's when the motor will really run hard.
Jasper Performance is yet another source for your Ford engine needs. Its Class II and III engines are high- performance-oriented and feature excellent preparation. All cylinder blocks are Koline salt bath cleaned. The blocks are square-decked and have been align-honed for the main saddle. All oversize boring is computer-controlled, and those bores are honed with a torque plate in place, which ensures a round bore when the heads are installed. Reciprocating assemblies are all balanced. Cylinder head prep is equally elaborate, and no detail is left unchecked.
There are several 302 engines available from Jasper. We'll look at one from the middle of its power selection. This motor is a 302 displacement rated at 302 hp. One horsepower per cubic inch was the old magic figure sought by engineers in the late '50s. This engine would be no slouch. The compression ratio on this mill is 8.75:1, which keeps us in the pump gas category. The cam lift at the valve is 0.493 intake and 0.510 exhaust. These are relatively mild numbers for a 302/302, and a good lesson that it's component harmony that makes the power, not radical figures. These figures were produced using a 600-cfm carb.
You can tailor your engine at Jasper with a wide selection of engine internals and heads, including World Products and Dart. Jasper will assemble your custom specifications engine and have it delivered to your doorstep, so you can be your own engineer. This allows you to tailor your motor for just the application you have in mind.
It's easy to see that there are a variety of ways you can go in your crate or kit engine repower, and we've touched on options at both ends of the spectrum. The 225hp crate engine from Ford Motorsport is economical and practical. Our Summit mill has the forged steel crank and other goodies that make it a kind of luxury liner. Either of these or any of those in between offer a great way to refurbish your Ford underhood. Choose one of these options and your car will run as good as new and probably better.