Dr Jamie Meyer
August 1, 2004
Photos By: Courtesy Of Lindsey Druien, Courtesy Of Steve Turner

Horse Sense:
If you're thinking that a big-bore modular Ford small-block is just what you want for your high-performance Mustang, make sure you hook up with a machine shop outfitted with the right equipment to handle the specific hardware this engine demands. Check out the modular specialists in this magazine and talk to folks who have completed similar projects.

Everywhere you look, the modular Mustang takeover is in full swing. Ford is offering the hot-test Mustangs ever with the GT, the Mach 1, and the Cobra; our magazine is full of ads offering cool parts for your new Mod-'Stang; and modular-powered Mustangs are legitimate threats in heads-up Ford drag racing.

It would seem that everything is perfect in the modular performance arena. But the bulk of parts sold to modular racers are basic ones-shifters, cold-air kits, suspension components, and bolt-on power adders. Hard-core fanatics of the modular Ford are longing for the aftermarket to develop proven stroker kits, ported heads and intake packages, and-perhaps most of all-reliable valvetrain and camshaft gear that can take the ravages of big modular power without puking all over the starting line.

Andrew Cluck of Columbus, Ohio, approached us with an interesting story idea. He wanted to share his trials and tribulations of designing and building a big-bore modular DOHC engine to help educate anyone else facing the same daunting task. A reformed street racer with 13 speeding tickets on his résumé, Andy knows a thing or 13 about fast cars. His bolt-on '98 Cobra had run 12.30s at more than 110 mph with the stock exhaust manifolds and no computer tuning, so he was off to a good start. Having driven 450-rwhp cars before, he set that as his goal for a wild-street-car combination.

Not wanting to go the blower route or rely on nitrous during those "special" moments, Andy decided that a naturally aspirated version of the Four-Valve motor that the car came with could be just what he needed to scratch that itch. Once he began looking around, he realized that modular bore-and-stroker kits were coming onto the market, so he thought he'd add that into the project as well. When all the details were listed on paper, Andy had planned out a 5.3 naturally aspirated combination that would reliably crank out 450 rwhp on pump gas, with the strength to take a 200hp shot of spray if the opportunity arose. With the right suspension and supporting gear in place, the car would have the potential to run in the nine-second zone while still having the quality reliability of a commuter car. But where to begin?

When you're talking DOHC modular Ford small-blocks, you begin with those massive cylinder heads that are just dripping with high-rpm potential. Andy was nice enough to share his personal notes on all the different versions of these cylinder heads that are available to the hot rodder.