Michael Johnson Associate Editor
December 1, 2007
Does this engine look capable of making 300 hp at the wheels? We thought the Cobra intake would hold things back, but that was just us. We know what most NMRA Factory Stock cars have done to them to make more than 300 hp at the wheels, but they have lightweight engine components and other tricks our test subject didn't have. We were using an off-the-shelf Steeda no. 18 camshaft, while most combos exceeding 300 hp to the wheels utilize custom cam designs. We were hesitant to allow ourselves to think this combo could make the power we desired. As usual, we were wrong.

Horse Sense: Steeda Autosports says its no. 18 camshaft-the one we used in this article-is ideal for making horsepower on a streetable 5.0 with or without a supercharger. Although originally developed for supercharged applications, Steeda's testing found it beat out a lot of aftermarket cams in power production for naturally aspirated combinations as well.

When it comes to naturally aspirated horsepower goals with our Mustangs, one of the main targets is the 300hp mark. We're not talking about engine dyno numbers, we're talking power to the wheels-that's what matters most. The 300hp mark has always been difficult in the Fox Mustang arena, and some of us fall short even with the best-laid plans in place. With a supercharger, turbocharger, or nitrous, surpassing that number is relatively easy, but doing it the natural way can be difficult. We say any goal worth setting is worth going after-or something like that.

When Patriot Performance released its Freedom Series 5.0 heads, Blow-By Racing looked forward to putting them through the paces and seeing if 300 hp was a reality with the new castings. Before now, Patriot stuck to the modular field, along with some LS-style Brand X castings. With its new Freedom as-cast heads, Patriot is making inroads into the pushrod Ford market. Judging by the numbers, these heads are going to free up a few more ponies from our Ponies.

Patriot Performance's Freedom head is a new casting with several designs available for small-block Fords. The ones we're featuring sported a five-angle valve job, 185cc runners, 60cc combustion chambers, 2.02/1.60 valves, 0.550-inch hydraulic springs, steel retainers, and 31/48-inch rocker studs. "Just expanding our market," Patriot's Gunner Bowlin says when asked why a 5.0 pushrod head was added to the lineup. "We're bringing a new model to the market with excellent performance at a good price." Speaking of price, Blow-By lists the heads at $895.95, bringing them in at a lower price point than most, if not all, aftermarket heads.

Blow-By Racing's Chris Jones knew that just adding the heads wouldn't get us to our 300hp goal, so he threw in a Cobra intake, Prime One 1.6 roller rockers, a Steeda Autosports no. 18 camshaft, and BBK long-tube headers. He didn't quite make the 300hp mark with the stock throttle body, mass air meter, and air intake, so Blow-By replaced those items with a 70mm throttle body, a 73mm mass air meter, and a JLT Performance cold-air kit. These products helped us meet our goal. Read on to find out how we did it.

Though we were most interested to see the new Patriot Performance Freedom Series heads, we matched them with tried-and-true 5.0 Mustang performance veterans such as a Cobra intake, Prime One 1.6 roller rockers, a Steeda Autosports no. 18 camshaft, a new timing chain, new pushrods, new lifters, and ARP head bolts.

The new Patriot Performance Series 5.0 head is ideal for street Mustangs, thanks to its 185cc intake runners, 60cc combustion chambers, a five-angle valve job, and 2.02/1.60 valves. The 0.550-inch valvesprings are perfect for street-style hydraulic-roller cams, especially for the Steeda no. 18 camshaft we're using here. This cam features a 0.480-inch lift with 1.6 roller rockers, a 220-degree intake duration, and a 226-degree exhaust duration. A 112-degree lobe separation further exhibits mild street manners.

Speaking of the cam, Blow-By Racing's Chris Jones is seen here installing the Steeda no. 18 camshaft. Use either a cam or assembly lubricant to make it easier. As you can see, this seasoned short-block is free of its stock valvetrain. The new lifters are soaking in oil as we install the cam, so they'll be somewhat pumped up when we get the engine running. We didn't mess with any cam timing tricks; we installed it straight up. With 143,000 miles on the short-block, we knew it was time for new lifters...

...and a timing chain. Chris added a double-roller version to make sure the combination would hold proper timing.

Once the Steeda cam and new timing chain are installed, the lifters are inserted into the lifter bores. They use tie-bars and a guide retainer to keep them in place, so don't forget to reinstall those items. It's a good idea to insert the lifters before adding the heads; it's a lot easier that way.