5.0 Mustang & Super FordsHow To Engine
Ford Racing X302 Crate Engine - That's Crate
Ford Racing Finally Has An Affordable Replacement For Tired 302s
Engine buyers have been enjoying Ford Racing Performance Parts' extensive line of crate engines for decades. And why not? These are quality factory engines, built with Ford or Ford-approved parts at competitive prices.
Offering everything from classic big- and small-blocks to the latest in overhead cam units, the FRPP crate engine line has been an easy and smart choice for anyone in the market for a Ford performance power plant. Everyone, that is, except the one guy you'd think was at the head of the line: the Fox-Mustang owner wanting an affordable replacement engine with a bit more soul.
Truth is, Ford Racing hasn't had a price competitive answer for that guy ever since the pushrod 5.0 went out of production almost a decade ago. When the small-block production line shut down, so did Ford Racing's supply of inexpensive small-blocks.
For a while, Ford Racing had a small supply of M-6010-B50 Sportsman blocks, a lightly upgraded version of the production 5.0 H.O. block, but the short run of Sportsman 302 blocks ran out, leaving Ford Racing with just its fabulous-but-even-pricier four-bolt Boss block. Clearly more beef than the average Joe needs for a nicely warmed-up weekend toy, the racy Boss block is on one hand a welcome bit of overkill, but far too expensive at $1,750 for a bare block for the lower-powered, daily driver type of crate engines of interest to the majority of Mustang owners.
Even FRPP's entry-level M-6007-XEFM crate engine, using the last of the Sportsman blocks, has listed for $5,295. That's proven a bit much in a market more accustomed to something like $4,400 long-blocks. Of course, you got (and might still get, as a few XEFM engines may remain in the warehouse as this part number goes away) plenty of engine. The XEFM boasts GT-40X aluminum cylinder heads, forged pistons, an E303 roller cam, and internal balancing.
Just how much of the XEFM's price is due to the block can be estimated by comparing the similar 351 Sportsman block at $1,175, or the $1,759 Boss block to the more complex but mass-produced 4.6 block at just $599. Such are the economies of scale, a calculus that always works against short-run specialist pieces such as upgraded blocks and heads.
So imagine the XEFM Ford Racing 302 crate engine minus well over $1,000 in block costs. Suddenly you'd have an interesting 302 crate engine sporting new aluminum heads with a serious price advantage. That engine is the new M-6007-X302 we're introducing here. It retails for a competitive $3,495, and you can think of it as an XEFM built on a stock-block and stock, externally balanced crankshaft. It even retains the XEFM's 340hp power rating when fitted with an appropriate fuel system and long-tube headers.
With no new affordable 302 blocks available, the X302 crate engine has returned to the proven production 5.0 block that's been at the heart of the Mustang performance scene for so long. Good core blocks are sourced from the used market, cleaned, inspected, and rebuilt to Ford factory standards by AEM near Dallas, Texas. Among other things, this involves a 0.030-inch cylinder overbore, along with squaring the block's decks and re-setting the align hone if necessary. Likewise, stock crankshafts are reconditioned for the X302 by AEM. Obviously they retain the 5.0 H.O.'s 50-ounce imbalance and external balancing.
Considering the X302's intent and price, reconditioned stock connecting rods are the logical choice, and this is the plan. However, initially new connecting rods are being used in early build X302 engines. Other than the block, crank and later, rods, every other part in the X302 is new. That includes 0.030-inch oversized Mahle forged pistons giving a 9.0:1 compression ratio, plus a standard-style ring pack.
The oil pump, pick-up tube, and oil pan are all production parts from the '91-'95 Mustang. This rear-sump pan bolts right into a Fox Mustang, but doesn't have provision for the oil-level sending unit. That's hardly an issue for us, as the sending unit is a chronic oil leak and the sensor can simply be tapped off without the warning light illuminating on the instrument panel.
Ensuring plenty of breathing, Ford Racing fits the X302 with the X306 GT-40 aluminum cylinder heads and cams the engine with the time-tested and emissions-legal (if you have a T-5 transmission) E303 hydraulic roller. You can't miss this cam's stuttering idle, so the X302 comes off with a real attitude to anyone within earshot.
Because camming has so much to do with an engine's personality, a closer look at the E303 should prove helpful. As the chart shows, it's a definite step up-or two-from the most common stock 5.0 H.O. cam, the E8ZE-CA:
If it's a hot-rod presence you're looking for, the E303 will deliver. On the other hand, if you're still trying to sneak home at night, or if smoothness and the last word in driveability are requirements, the X302 crate motor is too choppy. In that case, simply get the X302 and re-cam it with a stocker. It's not that much work considering the engine arrives on a pallet and you only need to loosen the rocker arms, set the pushrods to one side, pull the damper, and remove the front cover and timing chain to change the cam.
Two items normally associated with crate engines are not supplied with the X302. There is no flywheel or flexplate. This is both to keep the advertised cost low as well as allow the buyer to fit their own. A pilot bearing is fitted so there's no worry for manual transmission owners.
At the other end of the engine, the water pump isn't supplied either. This is mainly because the X302 sells almost equally to Fox owners who need a reverse-rotation water pump and earlier Ford buyers using V-belt drives and standard-rotation water pumps. FRPP offers both styles of water pump separately- M-8501-G351 for standard rotation and, more likely for 5.0&SF readers, the reverse-rotation M-8501-C50. If you have a '94-'95 Mustang, then the short-nose M-8501-A50 water pump is what you need.
Of course, the X302 is sold sans intake manifold, so buyers must supply their own. That doesn't mean re-using the stocker. Its ports are far too small and we doubt the gasket would even line up. In any case, the result would be a doggy mess of an engine.
The large-port GT-40 heads and big cam need plenty of airflow to work at anything above putt-putt rpm, and the stock intake would be a deadly choke. Same goes for the stock throttle body and EGR spacer. Much better are any of the bolt-on street intakes. FRPP could supply their Cobra intake. Also the street-legal Edelbrock Performer or Trick Flow Street Heat castings are two good matches. A 70mm throttle body, 24-lb/hr injectors, and matching mass air meter are other needed accessories to get what the X302 has to offer.
We'll thoroughly cover installation of an X302 in our own project '91 hatchback next month, but for now understand that crate engines are not complete engines. They are the basic engines and feature all the major moving, wearable parts, but they are designed only to replace the core of an existing engine. In other words, there is a seemingly endless number of small items, such as stud bolts, brackets, pumps, compressors, manifolds, gaskets, ignition wiring, and on and on, that are not included in a crate engine. The idea is for you to supply new bits, or remove many items from the old engine and fit them to the new one.
This is a good system and works well for almost everyone. However, if you're interested in keeping your original engine intact for future restoration, or if you're starting with an engine-less project car, understand that you'll likely do best by having a complete donor engine for the small parts-it's that or be willing to use a large number of aftermarket bits for things such as the distributor, ignition wiring stand-offs, or vacuum hose attachments.
Ford Racing Performance Parts backs the X302 with its usual crate engine warranty. The term is 12 months or 12,000 miles. A power adder is not only not recommended but it voids the warranty. If you want a blower, turbo, or nitrous, FRPP recommends the X302B or X302E crate engines. They feature the stronger Boss block.
Assuming you add the short-tube headers of your choice and one of the intakes mentioned above, we expect the X302 to make maybe 300 hp to the tire, which is plenty of snort to reinvigorate a tired old friend. We'll find out for sure next month when we share the dyno results from our own X302 installation.
Even without dyno data, if you're coming from a stock-cammed 5.0, expect the X302 to be rev-happier up high and a touch soft off idle. Again, the idle has some chop or stutter to it and you'll likely find an elevated 900-rpm idle speed helpful, so brace yourself for some hot-rod vibes with the X302.
See you next month with our real-world results.