Tom Wilson
February 1, 2005
Photos By: Courtesy Of World Products

Horse Sense:
Race-only blocks such as the Man-O-War are a given on race-only engines such as twin-turbo dragsters and endurance circle track machines such as Nextel Cup cars. But they also provide peace-of-mind durability for all-out street machines. And with their ability to run all stock internal Ford hardware, don't be surprised to see some of these blocks on cruise night.

Silly us. When Ford ceased production of pushrod small-blocks, we were quite concerned where high-performance blocks were going to come from. We needn't have worried as the aftermarket stepped up in a big way. Newest of this new breed, and looking rather studly at that, is the World Products Man-O-War block gracing these pages. Designed from the outset on a clean sheet of paper as a no-excuses, cast-iron race block for anyone running huge boost or requiring the stability and durability of a true racing part in 302- or 351-based engines, the unit is available in four deck heights, three main bearing diameters, and it sports a pair of extra cylinder head bolt holes for the last word in cylinder-head retention. Quality meets World Products' QS-9000 certification, the same as required by the giant Detroit automakers.

Let's begin with deck heights. The Man-O-War is offered in 8.200-, 8.700-, 9.200-, and 9.500-inch deck heights. That covers both stock 302 and 351 Windsor deck heights, and also the 302 and 351 tall-deck optional heights. Combining an aftermarket 4.250-inch stroke crankshaft with the largest block deck height-9.500 inches-will yield a big-block-like 460 ci. Internal supporting parts, such as the long-armed crankshaft, are readily available, as tall-deck Fords have been popular for big-cube racing engines for years.

Main-bearing diameters are another important choice, depending on if you want more main-to-rod bearing overlap in a high-torque engine or you value slower bearing speeds in a tach-twisting top-end screamer. The three available main bearing sizes are 2.248, 2.749, and 3.000 inches. Again, these are popular choices with matching main bearing inserts readily available.

As for the extra cylinder-head bolts, they're a nice touch you can either use or ignore. Because the standard head bolt pattern is employed and extra bolt holes are added at the 12 and 6 o'clock positions, standard cylinder heads bolt to the Man-O-War block and work just fine.

On the other hand, if more head gasket clamping force is desired, the World Products block is ready with the two extra bolt holes. Pro 5.0 racers and anyone else running eye-watering blower and turbo boost levels are the sort who get excited about such developments.

Now, there is the minor matter of having cylinder heads with matching holes, as well as the need to find a suitable torque plate when honing the block. At our press deadline, no cylinder head was available with the extra bolt holes, but Canfield was finishing development on one. Furthermore, World Products has released blueprints to the aftermarket, so cylinder head companies could produce heads to match, and one could logically assume this includes World Products itself.

Oiling has also been addressed. The lifter galleys are predrilled so they can be cross-fed, a boon to getting equal oiling throughout the valvetrain. Furthermore, the oil galleys are 0.500 inch in diameter, so volume shouldn't be a concern.

Because high-performance engines are often dry-sumped, the Man-O-War block is cast with dry-sump oil pump bosses. If wet-sump oiling is desired, the Man-O-War is set up for that too. In 302 dimensions, it accepts all standard 302 oil pumps, pickups, and oil pans. A C-block version uses 351W oil pumps, pickups, and pans, and is the version clearanced and ready for a 4.250-inch stroke crankshaft. That's because the 351W oil pump sets 11/42-inch farther from the crankshaft centerline, allowing more room for the rotating connecting rods.

Strength is always a premium on aftermarket blocks, and obviously the Man-O-War has been cast with plenty of meat throughout the casting. Just about every dimension on the block is thicker than a stock, thin-wall 5.0 casting, even down to the reinforced bellhousing bulkhead and core (freeze) plug bosses. The latter feature two small pads for core-plug safety screws, which NASCAR requires.

Not quite so obviously, World Products' new blocks feature enough material surrounding the cam journals to allow align boring them to 60 mm. That's a plus to tuners wanting to run roller bearings on the cam.

A given on cylinder blocks in this league are four-bolt main bearing caps. The World Products Man-O-War boasts billet-steel four-bolt caps, with the outer bolts splayed for maximum strength.

World Products is especially proud of the overall quality of the Man-O-War block, especially because it is one of the company's first, all-computerized designs. Unlike previous block and head castings from World Products, the Man-O-War block was put together entirely by computerized design, which World Products says has helped hold thicknesses more consistent throughout the casting, along with reducing core-shift issues.

We'd love to report World Products was able to deliver the Man-O-War block for $10 more than the dirt-cheap, stock 5.0 blocks that are still trickling out of warehouses, but we can't. Just the same, World Products has held the price line well-the Man-O-War price tag is "just" $2,395. That's a pile of money for what would otherwise be a bolt-on engine, but it's rather reasonable to the serious racer who needs the numerous features and outright strength of the Man-O-War. As for availability of this brand-new piece, shipments are expected by the time you read this.

Ultimately, we expect to see Man-O-War blocks in more than just racing engines, as their strength would be welcome in high-end street engines for durability reasons. And, with so many features, the Man-O-War makes it easy to configure the final engine with the oiling and other systems sometimes demanded by the most aggressive street and hot-rod builders.

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