Steve Baur
Former Editor, Modified Mustangs & Fords
August 1, 2009
Photos By: Courtesy of Ford Motor Company
Ford's Romeo Engine Plant recently shipped its 10 millionth engine-a Three-Valve 4.6L destined to power a '10 Mustang GT. The Romeo plant operates a high-volume line for standard V-8 engines, as well as a niche line for special engines like the Shelby GT500's Four-Valve 5.4L.

Pushing The Envelope
The new modular engine program left many scratching their heads at first. Eventually that scratching led to tinkering, and pretty soon full-blown modifications were happening. Muscle Mustangs & Fast Fords magazine has documented the plethora of aftermarket speed parts for Ford's modular engines. We'd be remiss, however, if we didn't tell you that it was the hot-rodders that helped develop these products.

People like Sean Hyland, John Mihovitz, and Al Papitto have all been at the forefront of modular performance. Where Sean Hyland delved into the inner workings of the modular powerplant, it was racers like Mihovitz and Aeromotive's Steve Matusek that harnessed the modular power and put it down on the track, their highly modified, twin-turbocharged chassis cars capable of running well into the 6-second range.

Shelby picked up where SVT left off with the Mustang, as it's 5.4L-powered GT500 also utilizes a supercharger to make its 500-plus horsepower. Its cast-iron block is its only real fault, and most are willing to accept the extra weight so they can comfortably drive around with 700-plus rear-wheel horsepower, or they just swap in a Ford GT block when they get a chance.

Al Papitto's Boss 330 Racing shop in Vero Beach, Florida, has extracted over 500 normally-aspirated horsepower from a 5.5L DOHC motor, and Justin Burcham of JPC Racing in Glen Burnie, Maryland, has set the standard for street horsepower. Burcham's '05 Mustang testbed has set numerous elapsed time records for the S197 Mustang. The simple fact that he has extracted over 1,000 hp from a 4.6L Three-Valve shows the potential of both the hot-rodder and the modular engine family.

While the Ford GT is automatically expected to make huge power because of its supercar status, no one expected it to be capable of over 1,400 rwhp. Joe Cermin's Ford GT, equipped with a Stage 6 Motorsports twin-turbo system and tuned by the wizards at HP Performance, did just that, making it an Internet icon. Even the Ford engineering team thought it was pretty cool, drifting it around their top-secret proving grounds. Even with all of that horsepower, it was so easy to drive that your grandmother could take it to the store and bring home the groceries.

Available through the Ford Racing Performance parts catalog and its host of dealers is this Romeo 605 5.4L Four-Valve crate engine, which offers a stout 605 hp and 554 lb-ft of torque. FRPP also sells a control kit so you can drop this beast into just about anything.

Although most people opt for the Four-Valve heads-and more recently, the Three-Valve heads in a high-performance application-there have been plenty of people making astounding power with the Two-Valve engine combinations. Both JDM Engineering and Johnny Lightning Performance have made huge strides in building horsepower with the SVT Lightning's 5.4L Two-Valve engine. It's not uncommon for these trucks to turn out 700-800 rwhp and over 1,000 lb-ft of torque.For the average street guy and his daily driver, we can offer our '01 Mustang GT project Ice Box as the perfect example. We've logged some 40,000 to 50,000 miles while making 580 rwhp-over 620 with race gas-with our supercharged, 298-cid mill.

The Future
Our sources at Ford tell us that the biggest news for the future is the 6.2L truck engine. The big-block modular will most likely debut with Two-Valve cylinder heads in the Super Duty F-Series trucks, and we may see limited use in the F-150 and some passenger cars. We'll be sure to keep you up to date as the news comes in to MM&FF headquarters.