Mustang MonthlyHow To Engine
Ford Performance Unleashes New Z2363 Crate Engines
Crate Expectations: Ford Performance Racing Parts delivers the goods with its new Z2363 crate engines
Our Week To Wicked Mustang is receiving some final detail touches for its debut in our SEMA booth as I write this, but the actual build happened back in July 2017. It was a week of long days and a couple of long nights as staff from the east and west coasts banded together with our sponsors. Everyone was turning wrenches, shooting video, and more with the common goal of having a running, driving 1966 Mustang hardtop by Friday night. In all honesty, it was the wee hours of Saturday morning when we finally were able to create the familiar aroma of burning tires, thanks to the power of Ford Performance Racing Parts’ (FPRP) new Z2363 crate engine.
We debuted the project right here in print in our November 2017 issue, and we’ve been sharing details on various aspects of the weeklong build every month since (and on our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/mustangmonthlymag). This month, we are going to delve into that Z2363 engine, more specifically, the Z2363FT, which is the front sump offering and give the lowdown on what makes it tick. FPRP also offers this engine in a rear-sump option (under PN: Z2363RT) for those of you with late-model Mustang projects who are possibly looking to repower with a crate engine.
In the past, if you wanted to increase displacement but retain the stock block dimensions for ease of fit, you were typically maxing out the 302 Ford block at 349 cubes. Maintaining that 8.2-inch deck height meant you could have more hp and torque, but not run into issues like having to buy different headers, hood fitment issues, and more. That said, we hp junkies always want more, and going above that 349ci displacement, meant moving up to the 351W block and its taller 9.2-inch deck height. Along with the additional cubes of the Windsor (408 or so cubes in a stock casting), it came with new headers, new induction, and often a new hood, or at the least, a hood scoop.
Today, aftermarket performance blocks allow a greater range of displacement in their given deck heights. The FPRP Boss 302 blocks (PN: M-6010-BOSS302), like its Boss 351 big brother, are proven pieces. FPRP starts by using diesel-grade iron to cast the blocks, adding in webbing, and other design aspects to increase strength. Inside, you’ll find a larger than stock bore at 4.125 inches. Coupled with the crate engine’s SCAT forged-steel connecting rods with 7/16-inch bolts swinging on a SCAT forged-steel crank (PN: M-6303-C340) with a 3.400-inch stroke, we get a grin-inducing 363ci out of a stock block that’ll drop right into our 1966 Mustang engine bay without any drama. And it puts out 507hp to crank!
Of course, a crate engine is more than just a block, crank, and rods. To that end, FPRP has really gone to great lengths to stuff the best of the best in this engine. Topping those rods are Mahle forged pistons with floating pins. Elsewhere, you’ll find a high-volume oil pump (M-6600-D2), Boss-spec head bolts (PN: M-6065-BOSS), Z2363 exclusive head gaskets (PN: M-6051-R351), FPRP’s new Z2 aluminum cylinder heads (PN: M-6049-Z2), a custom-ground hydraulic roller cam, new water pump, oil pan, valve covers, timing cover, timing chain, and more.
Getting one is as simple as reaching out to your favorite FPRP dealer and placing an order. Be ready for a big box of power to arrive and then schedule a weekend with some friends to help drop this mighty power plant into your Mustang or Ford project.
1. The basis for the Z2363 crate engine is FPRP’s Boss 302 block casting. The block features a standard 8.200-inch deck height, which is the same as a 289 or 302. So it’ll fit anywhere they did originally. The cylinder wall lengths have been optimized for stroker applications with none of the grinding or clearancing usually required with a stock casting. It has splayed four-bolt mains (2, 3, and 4) and accepts factory roller lifter spiders. Inside the block has been enhanced with revised cooling passages, front feed oil galleries to the lifters, and screw-in core plugs. It even has a vintage-style clutch Z-bar pivot point threaded hole on the driver’s side of the block. Note: This block is not designed for production 302/351W heads.
2. FPRP has used SCAT and Mahle for many years now as its source for internal bits in its crate engines, and the new Z2363 is no different. FPRP specs a SCAT forged-steel crank with 1.1232-inch rod journals. The rod and main journals are also nitride and polished, while the counterweight leading edge is rounded and the trailing edge is tapered. In a production block, it can be used to create the popular 347 stroker, but the larger bore of the Boss 302 block (and using SCAT forged steel 5.40-inch rods with Mahle forged slugs at the top) nets us the 363ci displacement. A custom-ground hydraulic roller cam with .580/.602 lift and duration @.050-inch of 232/240 and a double roller timing chain are used in the crate engine, as well.
3. On the bottom side of the Z2363 is one of Ford’s high-volume oil pumps with pickup and a steel deep-sump oil pan. The oil pump is a standard pressure pump, but due to the high volume of flow, an extra-capacity oil pan is recommended. Depending upon the PN of the crate engine, you can have either a front sump, which is what we’re using, or a rear and dual sump configuration. FPRP includes the correct oil pump pickup for the fitted pan. The pan itself is powdercoated semi-gloss black and features a full-length crank scraper and full-length bolt-in windage tray. These two items help keep oil in the pan and off the crankshaft where the oil can rob power. The pan’s internal baffles and trap doors keep the oil around the pickup during hard braking, cornering, and acceleration. A 7-quart capacity means plenty of oil to keep the engine cool, and the pan includes 3/8-inch NPT ports for oil temperature sending units.
4. Up top is where the revised Z2363 crate engines really shine. Previous iterations used the Z304 aluminum heads, which had a raised exhaust port. They often would wreak havoc on exhaust fitment, or at the least, require you to buy new headers. The all-new aluminum Z2 head features a Velocity Vane in the intake port floor for more power and was completely computer designed and modeled with simulation tools for more power through the usable rpm range. The head is cast from 356 T6 aluminum with stock exhaust port height and all accessory boltholes drilled and tapped as OE. It is an inline-valve head featuring 20-degree valve angles. Valves are sized at 2.05-inch intake and 1.60-inch exhaust and use PAC conical valve springs, machined steel retainers, and 10-degree locks. The Z2 uses standard 14mm gasket-style sparkplugs and has guide plates for 5/16-inch pushrods and 7/16-inch rocker arm studs.
5. Attaching the new Z2 heads to the block and keeping combustion pressures where they need to be are these Boss-spec head bolts that must be used with the Boss 302 block, and FPRP’s new Z2363 exclusive head gaskets. Both the head bolt kit and head gaskets are available separately for servicing your crate engine or for custom builds with Boss blocks or the new Z2 heads.
6. Wrapping up the crate engine are these trick FPRP black-wrinkle-finish valve covers, along with a new timing cover that works with standard or reverse rotation water pumps, a standard rotation water pump, SFI crankshaft damper, and a set of intake gaskets.
7. We knew going in, our 1966 Mustang project would be driven a lot of miles. That’s true of all of the Week To Wicked projects. So we wanted to not only have power steering, air conditioning, and other comforts. We wanted reliable components and ease of service if we did have to tackle a repair on the road. Instead of piecemealing our front dress, we went right to a serpentine conversion kit, using this trick setup from All American Billet. High-amp alternator, compact power-steering pump, reverse rotation water pump, and Sanden rotary air conditioning compressor, all brand-new parts with known track records.
8. Induction wise, we knew we were going to be going with EFI. But we wanted something that would allow a period look with a round air cleaner, which left out OE-style fuel injection. Instead, we’d be running a throttle-body-type unit, which requires a standard square-bore intake manifold. We picked an Edelbrock intake up locally, and yours truly cinched it down with new hardware. More on the ignition setup in a minute.
9. The Z2363 crate engines do not come with a flexplate, flywheel, or block plate. So be sure to order the proper pieces for your drivetrain. We’re using a Performance Automatic 4R70W (look for more info on that in a future issue), and the folks at PA made sure we had the proper flexplate and block plate to get the job done. Here, Santa Ana TEN Tech Center manager Jason Scudellari is fitting everything up.
10. Our hardtop was a factory inline-six car, so we needed new engine-mount brackets and mounts for our Z2363 to bolt it down into the engine bay. The engine mount brackets were scored from a local Mustang part vendor, while we used Energy Suspension engine mounts (and trans mount, as well) on the install.
11. With the engine dressed, it was time for Jason and me to lower it into the engine bay. As a stock 8.2-deck engine, there was not a single bit of drama getting it down on the mounts like when you do a 351W swap. Yet we have more cubic inches than a Windsor (a stock one anyway).
12. Hooker supplied us with a set of its Competition full-length headers in its bright ceramic coating, along with a set of Aero Chamber mufflers and universal pipe kit to allow us to build our exhaust system onto the rear axle. Long-tubes have to be installed from underneath the car, and after our FPRP starter is installed and wired.
13. As noted earlier, we opted for a throttle-body EFI system for drivability and to give us miles of trouble-free driving. FiTech’s Go EFI 4 system is capable of handling 600hp, and it’s a simple bolt on with a minimum of wiring.
14. E3 Spark Plugs is known for their power-enhancing sparkplugs that can be used on just about any internal combustion engine you may own. The company has also recently begun offering full ignition systems to support its sparkplug line. Our Week To Wicked Mustang’s engine gets a hot spark from E3’s multi-spark ignition box, ignition coil, billet aluminum distributor, sparkplug wires, and of course, a set of their plugs.
15. Wrapping things up is a FPRP 14-inch air cleaner in a black-wrinkle finish to match the valve covers. At first glance, everyone thinks we’re running a carburetor, which is what we were going for.
16. Friday, our last day of the Week To Wicked build, was a long 20-hour day. That night, we were finally able to fill our engine, trans, and radiator with fluids and light off the engine to a round of applause from everyone who were still in the shop!
17. This is what it’s all about. After a weeklong build with its share of ups and downs, to be able to back the Week To Wicked Mustang out of the Tech Center and light up those brand-new Maxxis tires, dispensing every bit of the Z2363’s 507hp to the ground, is what made it worth it!