Tom Wilson
June 1, 2001

Step By Step

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Central Coast ships its short-and long-blocks on pallets via motor freight. They arrive in the perfect state of semi-assembly for painting and careful assembly of your tricked-out chrome valve covers and other goodies. You’ll definitely need a Mustang oil pan—Mustang pans bolt right on—and a front cover.
Production 5.0 blocks are piled high and wide at Central Coast Mustang these days. Here Dennis Hilliard examines just one of many pallet loads of the brand-new blocks stored in his Tehachapi, California, warehouse.
“Hmmm, stock rods and bolts,” we said. And Dennis replied, “How many have you heard breaking?” Good point—especially in the 350hp range where moderate horsepower and rpm mean the stockers hang in there just fine. Central Coast supplies these F2TE-BA AQ51 stock Explorer rods in its standard and high-compression engines, while the stroker engines feature Eagle rods. If you need only a set of these stockers, they’re just $129.
While a stock oil pump could provide all the lube these mild Central Coast engines would need, CCM goes the safe route with Melling (sold by Avon) high-volume pumps. The Melling pumps provide inexpensive insurance for the inevitable antics some of these engines will see, and they support oil coolers and remote oil filters as well as their associated plumbing. CCM says it doesn’t sell heavy-duty driveshafts with these pumps anymore, as too many customers were stuffing early driveshafts in these late-model engines and jamming the drive gear into the pump cover. A heavy-duty driveshaft is still a good idea, however. Just be sure to buy one for a late-production block.
Because Central Coast buys engine parts in considerable volume, it often deals directly with large OEM parts manufacturers with which we in the aftermarket aren’t overly familiar. A good example are these Engine Tech BC240J bearings. Dennis says they are the equivalent of Federal Mogul 4125M or Clevite MS590Ps. Brazilian made, they have stood up well, he says.
Both the standard- and high-compression engines use these Federal Mogul Speed Pro H273CP hypereutectic pistons. With a tight 0.0015-inch minimum clearance, these flat-tops are quiet runners, with no early morning piston slap or other hot-rod noises. The coated skirts are helpful with tight-running clearances such as these.
Engine Tech got the nod for CCM’s piston rings as well. They are the industry standard, double-moly top, double-moly second ring and iron oil ring, and they’re aimed at street and street/strip duty.
Another engine-builder parts’ name is Avon, CCM’s supplier for its double-roller timing chain. Dennis figures these are likely repackaged Cloyes units, and at any rate they’ve never come back in the hundreds of engines sold to date. One cost-cutting feature is the single keyway design, but as most customers still do nothing more exotic than line up the dots during cam installation, this hasn’t proven a huge deficit. If multiple keyways are desired, an FRPP-or-equivalent timing set can be substituted.
We didn’t have any trouble recognizing the camshafts CCM uses as they’re all out of the FRPP catalog. Here’s an E303, which is one of the options in the standard- compression, standard-stroke 5.0 engines. The high-compression engine uses an X303.
Thanks to the 6,250-rpm-or-less redline the CCM engines are designed to run at—that’s the stock fuel cutoff in a 5.0 Mustang—high-rpm parts are not needed. This pays off handsomely in the valvetrain, where stock pushrods and valve lifters are used. These OEM-quality units are one reason CCM is comfortable in offering its 90-day warranty on its 5.0 long- and short-blocks.
Central Coast Mustang uses stock 1.6 stamped-steel roller rocker arms in its 5.0-based engines. They may not look sexy, but they work. For the old men in the crowd, the stock rockers are quiet, so if you’re looking for a tight, smooth-running 5.0 for your nice street driver, this is the ticket. If all the speed you can muster is the agenda, then what the heck—you can start running on these stock rockers, then easily swap to 1.7 aluminum roller rockers when the budget allows.
Even the head gasket is an OEM Ford part. Central Coast points out that these late-model stock gaskets are good units. Made by Fel Pro, the F6TE-6051-KA part numbered gaskets are graphite coated and will stand up to any reasonable use.
As with everything else on the Central Coast engines, the GT-40P cylinder heads are brand-new. CCM notes Ford does not drill out the air-injection ports on these late heads because the Explorer pipes its air injection into the exhaust manifolds. So, for Mustang use, CCM drills the exhaust port for the Mustang-style air injection (through a passage cast in the head). Should you want to buy the heads separately, they are $200 a pair bare, $269 drilled, and $639 assembled. They flow 200 cfm at 0.500-inch lift on the intake and 140 cfm at 0.500-inch lift on the exhaust, both at 28 inches of water.
This is where the only difference is between Central Coast’s standard and high-compression engines—the combustion-chamber face. By milling the heads, the compression is raised to 10.5:1, which nets another 20 hp. Well, we shouldn’t forget the X303 cam is in there too, so together the compres-sion and larger cam made the CCM high-compression long-block a 340hp unit. That’s enough to have plenty of fun in a street driver. Obviously, these are definitely premium gas–only engines.
Central Coast uses well-known SI Industry stainless steel, swirl-polished, one-piece, back-cut, high-flow valves in its assembled heads, as well as in its standard and high-compression long-blocks. These are good-quality, affordable valves that are widely used throughout the performance industry.
Fully dressed CCM engines and heads feature valvesprings with 120 pounds of seat pressure and 280 pounds of open pressure at 0.550-inch of valve lift. The retainers and keepers are hardened steel and use stock mating angles. The springs sit on 0.030-inch shims to arrive at the 120 pounds of seat pressure.

Like the last heat waves shimmering silently out of a hoodscoop in the paddock, small-block Ford production has dispersed noiselessly into history. No announcement, no fanfare came from Dearborn--just a quiet factory-side service for those intimately involved. The last 5.0-powered Explorer had been built, extra service parts cast and machined, and then the casting plant went cold, the machining centers quiet, and the assembly line motionless. While most enthusiasts were barely aware of the exact end of Ford's pushrod V-8 era, a few have been stocking up. Among these is Dennis Hilliard at Central Coast Mustang.

Exercising some carefully cultivated contacts at Ford, Hilliard has ordered hundreds of 5.0 blocks, heads, and associated parts from the factory and is offering same either solo or assembled all the way up to long-blocks. Several variations of the assembled short- and long-blocks are offered, including a $1,895 version built using a new block, a new Ford crankshaft, new Ford connecting rods, new hypereutectic pistons, and new GT-40P heads. This combo arrives at what is essentially an all-new '93 GT-40 engine fitted with either a B303 or an E303 cam. CCM rates this engine at 320 hp, which can vary some depending on whether it is dressed with carburetion or fuel injection, of course.

Stepping up to a $2,199 price tag brings you to the engine we're paying the most attention to here. That's the high-compression version--meaning the heads are milled to achieve a 10.5:1 compression ratio and the cam is moved up to Ford Racing's X303. CCM rates this combination at 340 hp. If you need more, CCM has stroker versions too.

All these engines are built from the last run of GT-40P parts--that is, stock two-bolt blocks and GT-40P heads as Ford was using in the 5.0 version of the Explorer and Mercury Mountaineer. These parts are essentially identical to Mustang practice, differing only in sheetmetal configuration--namely the oil pan, which is not included--and exhaust-port location. Naturally, the blocks are roller-cam, single-piece rear oil-seal units, while the heads are identical to the GT-40P castings sold by Ford Racing Performance Parts.

Central Coast Mustang augments these stock bits with selected after- market items to arrive at low-cost, high-performance short- and long-blocks that can boast all-new parts reliability. At $2,199 for the high-compression long-block, for example, this is quite a deal for the enthusiast in need of a new or better engine. In fact, if there is a downside to this arrangement, it is the supply of these all-new engines is bound to dry up rapidly. CCM estimates they'll have a three-year supply of blocks and heads, but after that… Such estimates roughly agree with what FRPP says it has available in its warehouse, so it seems the market for new small-block Ford blocks will be wide-open here shortly.

In the meantime, these engines slip into a Mustang with little fuss or financial hardship. A Mustang oil pan takes care of any clearance issues at the bottom of the engine; a set of GT-40P– specific headers are necessary to mate with the late-style head's exhaust ports. Other than that, it's dress the engine with your choice of carburetor or fuel injection and enjoy your part of an era that is certain to be the best of Ford V-8 engine values. Ever.

Horse Sense:
Now that 5.0 H.O. engine production has ended, speculation on who will build a replacement 302 block--and where--is rampant. A few U.S. sources make sense, but so do Mexican and Chinese foundries. At this point, gaining access to Ford's production tooling is the main issue. Word is Ford has ordered the tooling scrapped. We certainly hope such a misguided decision is not carried out.