Mark Houlahan
Brand Manager, Mustang Monthly
May 1, 2002
Photos By: 5.0 Mustang & Super Fords Archives, Courtesy of Manufacturers

Building your own engine isn't something most people care to deal with. While it's true there are many companies selling stroker kits to put in your existing block, dealing with a local machine shop is often no better than pulling out your own teeth with rusty pliers. So, to answer their customers' needs, these same companies have been marketing short- and long-block assemblies of their own stroker kits. For those just tuning in, a short-block is a complete, assembled engine without cylinder heads, while a long-block is the short-block with cylinder heads and valvetrain installed.

Why are stroker engines so popular? One reason may be the old horsepower adage of "more cubes means more power." Bigger is better, right? Having a stroked engine-let's say the popular 347-means having plenty of power and torque on tap without having a supercharger, turbo, or nitrous system to give away your means of forward momentum. And there's something to be said for making more than 400 hp naturally aspirated.

But bolting a blower or nitrous onto a stroker isn't out of the question either, if the engine is built to deal with a power adder. We've even seen 331s with a blower and nitrous on them. A stroker with two power adders-that's like coming to a pistol fight with a Gatling gun! Of course, if you're building a new project from scratch, getting your Mustang up and running by purchasing a blower isn't going to work. You must first have an engine. This is where stroked short-blocks-and long-blocks and kits-developed their popularity. When building a project from scratch, which usually starts off with a four-cylinder or V-6 body, you must drop in a V-8 of some size before you can even think power adder. And, if you're going to be doing that, you might as well start off with a stroker-it's extra punch for little additional dough.

We spoke with as many engine builders and shops as we could reach by phone (seems they're all busy building engines!) to discuss their most popular short-block assemblies and what they're comprised of. Check out the offerings, choose the one you like, and then give that company a call when it comes time to build your next project or even replace that aging 5.0 in your driver. Just be sure to tell them we sent ya (since we're sure Associate Editor Johnson will need another engine sooner or later).

Bennett Racing Basic SVO 359
Bennett Racing's list of short-blocks and available displacements is quite impressive, from stock-block 331s and 347s at the low end of the price range all the way up to a 363ci Super Pro short-block sporting roller cam bearings, a Danny Bee beltdrive, a billet-steel crank, and even hand polishing of the block's inner surfaces. But by far, the best-selling short-block to come out of the Bennett Racing shop is the company's basic SVO 331 short-block in 359-displacement trim. Jon Bennett says this setup is his best seller because he has many customers coming in wanting to run low 10s or high 9s with a big blower while still keeping the car streetable. Since the production 5.0 roller block can't take that kind of abuse, the next most reasonable means of assembling a short-block would be to use a better block, which this kit has.

This 331 short-block starts off with a brand-new Ford Racing Performance Parts R302 four-bolt-main block that is fully machined in-house at Bennett Racing. The bore size is 4.100 inches, with a Scat forged-steel, 3.40-inch-stroke crank swinging the Scat 5.400-inch H-beam, forged-steel connecting rods. At the top of the rods are either Ross or CP pistons (any compression ratio and cylinder head type you want) wearing Speed-Pro file-fit rings. The entire reciprocating assembly sits in Clevite H-series bearings. The $5,895 entry fee includes the in-house assembly at Bennett Racing. For an extra $400, the company will also grind up a custom Comp camshaft and install and degree it with an FRPP timing chain and ARP cam bolt.

D.S.S. Racing 331 Bullet
D.S.S. Racing has specialized in building Ford stroker engines for more than 20 years. And the company offers it all in-house with its brand-new, purpose-built, 16,000-square-foot facility where you will find all the latest equipment including six CNC machining centers, a Sunnen CV 616, a Super Flow dyno and flow bench, and more.

While D.S.S. carries engine kits and short- and long-blocks in many configurations, including the ever-popular 331 and 347 variants, its best stroker seller is the 331 Bullet short-block. Popular with the street and race crowd, this block's features are impressive. It starts off with full race prep, including being bored and honed with a torque plate, thermal cleaning, and shot-peening and Magna-fluxing for strength and casting quality. The cylinder-head decks are squared and equalized, and the cylinder walls are clearanced for connecting-rod rotation.

For the rotating assembly, D.S.S. uses custom-forged flat-tops wrapped in Speed-Pro Moly rings and connected to D.S.S. 4340 forged H-beam or I-beam rods that are 5.135 inches long. The crankshaft is a cast-steel crank that is rated for 650 hp. The 331 Bullet also features the company's Main Support System for strokers with ARP studs, Federal-Mogul tri-metal bearings, screw-in oil plugs, and deep-seat freeze plugs (to prevent shifting and leakage). Finally, the entire assembly is balanced to 28 ounces externally, plus or minus one gram (racing tolerances). All this can be yours for just $2,995.

Options for the 331 Bullet include ultra-lightweight pistons ($100), a 4340 forged-steel crankshaft ($300), low-compression pistons ($200), or Twisted Wedge pistons ($100). D.S.S. can also turn the 331 Bullet short-block into a long-block with various cylinder heads such as the AFR 185, Canfield, Trick Flow Track Heat or Twisted Wedge or R-Series, or even Edelbrock Performer, Performer RPM, or Victor Jr. heads. For an additional $2,500-$3,900 depending upon cylinder head, porting choice, and parts and labor, you'll have a long-block with D.S.S. roller rockers, an FRPP cam and lifters, and ARP head bolts to boot.

Ford Racing Performance Parts 347 (M-6009-B347)
FRPP began offering this 347 in its '01 catalog as a great way to get 347 cubes of power right from Ford without having to assemble anything. Previously, you had to buy the crank and rods or stroker kit from the FRPP catalog and assemble the kit yourself. Now Ford handles all the block machining, balancing, and assembly for you.

The FRPP 347 features a new production two-bolt 5.0 block, a 3.40-inch nodular cast-iron stroker crank, 4.030-inch hypereutectic pistons with chrome rings (valve reliefs for inline valve heads), SAE 4130 forged-steel connecting rods (M-6200-D50), Federal-Mogul bearings, and 28-ounce external balancing. While the photo shows a cam and timing chain installed, the FRPP 347 will require a cam and timing chain (as well as heads and valvetrain) to be completed. FRPP's retail pricing on this factory gem is $2,495 retail.

Fox Lake Power Products 331/347
Ron Robart opened the doors at Fox Lake Power Products in 1993. Primarily concentrating on CNC-ported cylinder heads and intakes and custom cams, the Fox Lake name was quickly associated with some of the fastest cars in Ford drag racing. Soon the company was building engines for customers to match their CNC top-end offerings, though the machine and assembly work was done out of house, leading to occasional problems.

In late 1999, after a recent expansion of the shop, Ron and his staff brought the engine machining and assembly in-house so they could control the quality. Now Fox Lake handles the complete block machining and assembly from start to shipping with its Sunnen engine-machining equipment. Having the work done in-house also allows the company to work on custom machining orders that might have taken too long for a customer who didn't want to wait.

When we asked Ron to provide us with information on the company's stroker short-blocks and which is its best seller, he stated, "The 331 and the 347 sell about the same." Though some vendors told us there was a clear sales winner when interviewed for this article, Fox Lake's sales are about dead even on its two small-block offerings. Since basically the only difference between the two is the stroke length of the crank, and all other parts being equal, we included both engines in the listing here.

Fox Lake's 331/347 strokers start off with a seasoned block that is fully machined on its in-house equipment. Into this block goes an Eagle cast-steel crank, Eagle forged-steel I-beam rods, and SRP forged pistons (for inline valve heads). The entire assembly is then balanced to 28 ounces.

Options at Fox Lake include Twisted Wedge pistons ($100) and the option to build with either an FRPP B50 or R302 block as the base of the short-block assembly. Final pricing depends on options, so give Ron a call to discuss the details and to get an accurate price for your short-block needs.

Induction Dynamics Technology 331 Competition
IDT has been building stroker kits, short-blocks, engines, and more for seven years. There are two full-time engineers on staff with previous experience in such venues as NASCAR, CART, and IRL. Each stage of a short- or long-block buildup is carried out in-house on the company's machines for quality control at every step. Every block used in IDT short- and long-block assemblies is sonic-checked for cylinder-wall thickness and is also checked for microscopic cracks. After a four-step cleaning and preparation process, the block is bored with torque plates and then diamond-honed. Assembly is done completely by hand, with all tolerances verified and rod and main bearings sized to provide the best durability without sacrificing engine performance. IDT will even create custom crate motors and turnkey engines upon request.

IDT's most popular short-block package is its 331 Competition short-block. The 331 gets its displacement from a 4.030-inch overbore production 5.0 block and a 3.250-inch-stroke, 4340 forged-steel crank. JE or SRP flat-top pistons are fitted to 5.400-inch 4340 steel H-beam rods. The pistons use plasma-moly and cast-iron rings for optimum sealing and oil control, while Clevite 77 and Federal-Mogul bearings keep everything spinning right. The standard short-block also features an SFI-certified damper and flexplate and ARP main studs for $2,895.

If you prefer a brand-new casting instead of a used production block, IDT can put your short-block together with an FRPP A50 block for just $295 more. If you really plan to make some power and want a stronger foundation for your short-block, IDT can use an FRPP B50 block ($595 extra), a R302 block ($1,495 extra), or even an aluminum block. Furthermore, you can add upgrades such as billet main-stud girdles ($175-$300), windage trays ($55), multi-index billet double-roller timing chains ($80), and several connecting rod and piston upgrades as well.

Panhandle Performance 331/347 Superstreet Engine Package
Panhandle Performance is one of the few shops that not only can build a short-block (or long-block, or turnkey for that matter) completely in-house on its own equipment, but can also dyno the engine for you. If you choose, Panhandle can install the engine into your Mustang, and then chassis dyno and tune the combination, even to the extent of burning a custom chip for it. Now that's one-stop shopping! Panhandle's short-blocks are built one at a time to the customer's specifications, with horsepower and torque curves tailored to individual needs. In addition, every engine comes complete with a spec sheet that details clearances, torque specs, lubricants used, part numbers, and other pertinent information.

Panhandle Performance says its Superstreet 331/347 combination is its best seller with sales about even for the two displacements. While the Superstreet 331/347 is available as a complete engine (minus distributor and water pump) in both carbureted and EFI forms, the short-blocks are the same. The Superstreet short-block ($2,795) consists of a production 302 roller casting that is align-honed, with decks squared and cylinders bored with a torque plate attached. Other machining operations include oiling-system modifications, lifter-bore honing, and rod clearancing for the stroker kit.

Inside this pro-assembled block is a Scat cast-steel crank and Scat 4130 steel I-beam connecting rods wearing 31/48-inch ARP Wave-Loc bolts. For pistons, Panhandle provides the option of Ross, JE/SRP, or Probe flat-top pistons. Depending upon the piston choice, they are wrapped in either Speed-Pro, Childs & Albert, or Hastings file-fit plasma-moly race rings. The reciprocating assembly is held together with ARP main studs and rides on Federal-Mogul, Clevite, or King main and rod bearings. The entire assembly is then balanced to 28 ounces, while all reciprocating parts are balanced to one gram.

Options on the Panhandle Performance Superstreet 331/347 short-block include such popular choices as 4340 and billet steel cranks, Sportsman and R302 blocks from FRPP, main-cap support system, billet steel and aluminum connecting rods, dome or dish pistons, and gas porting of the pistons. There are further options when building up a long-block or complete engine, including rockers, timing chains, oil pans, balancers, and more. Of course, these are considered "base options" by Panhandle Performance. Further options depend upon the application.

Paul's Automotive Engineering 347
Paul Faessler has been running his shop for 18 years now, and he is known and respected in vintage road racing, vintage restoration, performance engine building, and chassis setup. Getting into the late-model side of the Mustang market about five years ago, he has built several NMRA combinations and has a 347 short-block that is a strong seller.

One thing Paul wanted us to note here is that PAE is not a high-volume engine assembler. While the company can build a race car from scratch or bend up a custom rollcage, the small-volume, precision engine shop builds one engine at a time. All its engines are machined and built by one person, Steve "Scuba" Barker. And while a short-block can be shipped to any customer, the company prefers to assemble the complete engine, install it, and tune it in-house on its chassis dyno. A wise move, if you ask us.

The Paul's Automotive Engineering 347 takes life from a late-model 5.0 roller block that is chemically stripped, baked, and then shot-peened and Magnafluxed. Once the block is prepared, it is then machined. The cylinders are bored with two deck plates on board, and the mains are align-honed. Clearancing for the stroker connecting rods is, of course, completed at this stage, and the entire block is decked square. Further machining includes lifter-bore honing, deburring of oil passages, and all bolt holes tapped. The internals of the 347 include a cast-steel crank with a 3.400-inch stroke and 5.315-inch, forged I-beam connecting rods that are CNC profiled and fitted with ARP rod bolts. Forged pistons with dual standard and Twisted Wedge valve reliefs machined in are used, along with file-fit piston rings, for a price of $2,690.

Options on the 347 include a Trick Flow race girdle ($325), dished pistons ($70), forged 4340 steel crank and rods ($300), and either the B50 Sportsman block ($700) or the R302 race block ($1,500).

Probe Industries/Coast High Performance 347 Street Fighter
Probe Industries was founded in 1987 as a manufacturer of roller rocker arms for Ford and Chevy engines. Since then, Probe has become a manufacturer of shaft-mount rocker systems, billet oil-pump drives, steel main stud girdles, EFI intakes, and, of course, forged pistons in more than 50 configurations. The company can crank out 300 forged pistons an hour! Probe piston users include John Gullett's 2,100hp turbo Pro 5.0 car, John "Fireball" Urist's 1,900hp Outlaw car, and many others.

The company also manufactures stroker engine kits, short-blocks, long-blocks, and crate engines under the Coast High Performance name, offering crate engines from 306ci small-blocks to 572ci big-blocks. All CHP cranks are finished in-house and come in nodular iron (cast steel), 5140 forged steel, 4340 forged steel, or custom billet-steel options. All CHP stroker kits feature either Probe TrackMaster I-beam or H-beam connecting rods that are fully CNC-machined with ARP rod bolts or cap screws.

When it comes to the company's top seller, it is unquestionably the 347 Street Fighter short-block. George Klass of Probe Industries states that 20 of these babies fly off the shelf for every 1 they sell in another size! That's a lot of strokers out there. The 347 Street Fighter comes in a production 5.0 roller block and features 4.030-inch, forged Probe (naturally) pistons hung on 5.315-inch Probe connecting rods. These rods are bolted up to a 3.400-inch nodular crank. The entire assembly is professionally assembled in-house and can be ordered with numerous options including a main stud girdle, a forged crank, various cam and timing chain sets, and more. The standard 347 Street Fighter short-block will set you back $2,595.99 in dead presidents, or you can opt to let Probe build you a CHP long-block or crate engine.

Can I Get a Warranty with That?
When it comes to many driveline parts, the warranty (if there is any) is relegated to a single part. If your timing chain fails, the warranty will replace it, but that's it. What would you think about a 347 stroker, complete and ready to run, that has a two-year/24,000-mile warranty along with it? Sound interesting? We thought so too. The Blue Oval faithful that is Roush Performance has come up with a 347-based small-block that puts out 430 hp, includes quality materials, and has just such a warranty. Inside the Roush 347R is a forged-steel crankshaft, forged H-beam connecting rods, JE forged pistons, a Comp Cams custom-grind cam, a Cloyes double-roller timing chain, and 1.6:1 extruded aluminum roller rockers. This bounty of speed parts is then topped off by the new Roush 200 cylinder heads to complete the 347R base engine. This setup will run you $6,150 and is limited to a run of just 1,000 engines, all serialized. If you want to go with a complete turnkey, the "deluxe" engine package is what you need at $7,600. This upgrade will get you an Edelbrock Air Gap dual-plane manifold, a Holley 750-cfm carb, an MSD distributor and wires, and polished valve covers with engine serialization on them.

D&D Motorsports Comp Hawk 331
D&D Motorsports can build a short-block in anything from a base 306 all the way up to a 347. Some of the company's more popular engine displacements include the 327, 331, 342, and of course the 347. D&D's line of Hawk Power short-blocks can handle up to 1,450 hp if you opt for the Pro Hawk that's built off the FRPP R302 casting and uses a billet crank and rods. But for most people, a $9,000, 1,450hp engine is out of their budget, which is why the Comp Hawk 331 stroker short-block is D&D's best seller.

Attractively priced at $2,295.95, the Comp Hawk 331 includes a new Ford 5.0 roller block stuffed with a CAT 5140 forged-steel crank, CAT 4340 forged-steel H-Beam connecting rods, JE/SRP forged pistons, and Childs & Albert moly rings and bearings. The complete short-block is balanced, blueprinted, comp assembled, and is capable of handling up to 650 hp.

Options on the Comp Hawk 331 include a 4340 forged steel crank ($125), a main support system with main studs ($99), JE custom pistons ($325), the FRPP Sportsman block ($895), or the FRPP R-302 ($1,795).

Scrape Your Own Knuckles If you want to build up your Mustang with the proven performance of a stroker, but you still enjoy bolting your own goodies together, you can order a stroker kit and a bare block from many of the companies mentioned in this article. Some of the big-name catalog companies have options for you as well.

Holley Performance Products, known for decades as the leader in air and fuel distribution, has now come to market with its own stroker kit using the strength of its sister companies. Holley's new kit is a 350ci-based 302 and features a 3.425-inch stroked crankshaft and Lunati Street Race connecting rods that are 5.400 inches in length. The kit is available with several piston combinations for dished or domed application needs. It also features a Lunati oil pump and is externally balanced. This kit is designed for '86-and-up 302 roller block applications.

Performance Automotive Warehouse (PAW) sells three different stroker block kits in 327, 342, and 355ci displacements. The kit includes either a new roller 5.0 block (327, 342) or a seasoned block (355) that is fully clearanced for the stroker kit and has the cam bearings and freeze plugs preinstalled. The stroker crank is a cast-steel piece with either a 3.25-, a 3.40-, or a 3.48-inch stroke depending upon the block kit ordered. Rods are new I-beam forged 5140 steel rods (5.400 inches long) with chrome-moly ARP rod bolts. You get Keith Black hypereutectic flat-tops, and the whole kit spins on tri-metal bearings. You also get a hydraulic-flat-tappet cam (an OE-style roller is an option) and a double-roller timing chain set. Everything comes prebalanced, and the pistons are even prefitted to the rods-simply bolt it together. The 327 and 342 kits are priced at $1,795, while the 355 kit will run you $2,895. Options include various items such as roller cams, forged pistons, H-beam rods, and more. Lastly, all three engines are available as long-block kits as well.

Another well-known catalog giant, Summit Racing, also has a 347 kit in its catalog. Though the kit does not include a block, Summit does offer production 5.0 roller blocks as well. Simply order the block separately, notch the cylinder walls for rod clearance yourself, and have your local machine shop bore the cylinders 0.030 inch over for the stroker kit. The Summit 347 kit includes a 3.400-inch-stroke, cast-steel crank; forged 4340 H-beam connecting rods; and Keith Black hypereutectic pistons. Sealed Power/Speed-Pro rings seal the KB pistons to the cylinder walls, and Clevite bearings keep everything spinning. Fel-Pro gaskets and a Melling oil pump are included as well for the sweet-deal price of $1,479.95. Throw in a Summit 5.0 block for another $329.95 and you're ready to begin wrenching.