Michael Johnson
Associate Editor, 5.0 Mustangs & Super Fords
October 1, 2003

Horse Sense:
According to Panhandle's Mark Biddle, A3M and A3M1 computers have rev limiters of 7,000 rpm instead of the usual 6,200-rpm limiters of other Mustang computers. While the A3M isn't as recognizable a Mustang Powertrain Control Module (PCM) as the A9L, its 7,000-rpm rev limiter comes in handy in high-rpm applications.

In an article in the Oct. '02 issue ("Maximum Displacement," p. 151) Panhandle Performance began building our Lunati 349 stroker kit within a Summit Racing block. In the June '03 issue ("Top of the Block," p. 119) we chronicled the top-end installation of the Lunati cam, along with the Holley SysteMAX heads and intake. Panhandle's Mark Biddle picked out our cam, while our heads and lower intake were treated to Panhandle's port-and-polish treatment.

In the initial short-block installation, yours truly waxed poetic about reigning as king of the Primedia Lakeland, Florida, office. Well, we won't get too ahead of ourselves, but it looks as if the 349 may need a little more attention before waxing fellow 5.0&SF staffers Steve Turner and Mark Houlahan.

Sure, it's true that Editor Turner's car will never see the dragstrip, but he does say it's running much better (although he has yet to prove what "much better" means). Tech Editor Houlahan has an even weaker leg to stand on since his engine was dyno'd without any accessories, and his '90 LX features an AOD-although it has been built using good, strong parts. His 347 made 433 hp on Panhandle's engine dynamometer (out of order when our 349 was built), and he has yet to tune his car in and have it dyno'd. Furthermore, Mark has wondered aloud on the longevity of his AOD, which was built quite a few years ago (he's holding out for another AOD swap article). What we need to do is go to the track and find out who's the real king of the Lakeland office. Until then, we'll be racing dynos, telling lies, and bench racing our heads off.

Speaking of dynos, we did get the 349 stroker in our '93 coupe. Then, after putting a few miles on it, we made the trek up to Panhandle Performance to have it dialed in on Panhandle's MD-250 Mustang dynamometer. Seeing the numbers made us want to add a few more components, which we think will boost power to a more impressive number. Check out the captions for the full story, but we're far from done with our 349 stroker.

The first snag came in the way of the oil-pump driveshaft being incorrect. Panhandle's Mark Biddle likes to have a corresponding engine's distributor so he can make sure everything fits correctly or in case any adjustments need to be made. However, we didn't bring our distributor, and the one we tried to install wouldn't seat properly. We ended up getting an FRPP shaft from Parkway Ford. Once it was in, the distributor installed with no problems. Notice that the driveshaft on the left has a beveled edge, which was why the distributor wouldn't seat properly. World-famous Mustang wrench John Piskopos (left) just happened to be on hand to help us install the driveshaft and reinstall the oil pump and Canton oil pan.

When we began gathering components for our 349 stroker, we didn't think we'd be in a rush to get it done. The stock short-block had a lot of miles on it, but it wasn't showing signs of an early death, even with its daily redline punishment-that is, until the oil pressure would go to zero after the engine warmed up. At first it would drop to zero once the engine warmed up and the rpm was less than 1,500. However, it progressively became worse no matter how much we babied the car around town. We purchased a new oil-pressure sending unit, but since we knew engine failure was imminent, we decided to skip installing the unit and let it die a slow death. Sure enough, one day the engine was working hard to accelerate and it gave it up in a cloud of smoke and a trail of oil (thankfully just a mile from home). Our thoughts are that we must've spun a bearing and after time it seized up the crank, which resulted in breaking the crank in half, breaking two rods, sending the crank out of the engine, and busting a few holes in the oil pan. It was both tragic and hysterically funny at the same time. However, the new engine wasn't quite ready and we didn't have all the parts we needed, so we really had to step things up to get the engine in the car.

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