Mark Houlahan
Brand Manager, Mustang Monthly
October 18, 2011

As we wrapped up our engine swap this month, we began to look back at the swap process itself and found it rather easy. Of course, we were swapping V-8 for V-8 with the same block architecture, so that made it a bolt-in effort right there. But when you start factoring in the conversion to fuel injection, modern induction, upgraded wiring, revamped cooling system, and more, the spend-o-meter can really start climbing. Honestly, we're putting a lot of hardware into this Ranchero all at once. Not only are we upgrading to a fresh engine and topping it with EFI, but the owner desired to make the car more road friendly with power steering, power brakes, upgraded cooling, an A/C system, and more, so why not install everything at once and save time? We know plenty of classic car owners that sock away parts for months until they have everything they need to do a big swap or upgrade all at once, saving time and labor in the process.

There is always more than one way to accomplish said swap though, including buying a wrecked late-model Ford and swapping everything over, but we went the aftermarket hardware route. This not only showcases your options, but rarely would a performance-minded reader like you just swap over a completely stock EFI engine, right?

Of course, you're not going to find a good small-block with low mileage these days, as the last 302 Ford built hit the road in the '01 Explorer; that's 10 years ago now. Most likely that Explorer would have more than 100,000 miles on it, gasket leaks, and so forth, necessitating a rebuild, which is why the Ford Racing X302 crate engine is such a viable option in the first place. Then factor in that the Explorer (or even earlier '87-'95 Mustang) EFI systems take considerable time to swap over, diet out the unused wiring, and so forth, and you can see why we quickly ran to the aftermarket for wiring, injectors, fuel rails, induction, and more.

Sure it costs a little more overall versus stock EFI parts/wiring, but what you save in cleaning and refurbishment time, plus the many hours tackling all of that OE wiring harness nightmare, more than makes up for it.

With the engine down on its mounts at the end of last month's installment we were ready to finish our swap with installation of the EFI wiring harness, off-engine sensors, and induction, and of course convert our carbureted fuel system to a high-pressure EFI-style fuel system with a return line.

We've hit a few snags along the way, but nothing that a little time and head scratching (and running to the parts store) couldn't get us through, so check out the final build photos here and look for more photos and some video of the Ranchero running (and possibly a pull or two on our dyno) on our website soon.

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