Steve Baur
Former Editor, Modified Mustangs & Fords
August 1, 2009
Photos By: Courtesy of Ford Motor Company
Want to know how much power you can make from a supercharged Lightning engine? We've seen upwards of 800 rwhp, which is enough to yank a two-ton truck's front wheels off the ground.

In 2003 there was a lot going on. The new Lincoln Aviator sported a Four-Valve 4.6L engine, as did the new Mercury Marauder. Also new was the popular Mustang Mach 1, which offered a naturally aspirated Four-Valve 4.6L making 305 hp and 320 lb-ft of torque. With more models utilizing the Four-Valve engine, SVT had to step it up. Truthfully, it was more of a giant leap, as the '03 SVT Cobra debuted Ford's first supercharged Mustang powerplant. The Four-Valve 4.6L engine utilized a cast-iron block for extra strength, and an Eaton supercharger pressurized the cylinders to give the little 281ci mouse big-block-like torque. All told, the 390 hp and 390 lb-ft of torque was a huge upgrade over previous Cobra models.

As the SN-95 chassis was replaced with the S197 unibody, the Four-Valve-powered Mustang went on hiatus for a few years. The big news for 2005 in addition to the debut of the new Mustang was the debut of the Ford GT supercar. This mid-engine rocket featured a supercharged, all-aluminum 5.4L DOHC powerplant that pounded out a smooth 550 hp and 500 lb-ft of torque, and propelled the GT to a top speed of 204 mph. The GT's engine utilized a dry-sump oiling system and cylinder heads, camshafts, and a supercharger that were all GT-specific. Eventually, many people purchased the GT blocks from Ford dealers and had them machined for conventional wet-sump oiling. Ford Racing Performance Parts now sells them already machined. In addition to the GT, you could still get a Four-Valve Aviator or Navigator from Lincoln, but it wasn't until 2007 that you could get a Four-Valve Mustang again.

SVT's Super Stallion project showed that the Blue Oval was tinkering with a supercharged Mustang engine in 1998. Its blown DOHC 5.4L engine made over 540 hp on premium gasoline, and upwards of 580 on ethanol. This ride was green before being green was cool.

Carroll Shelby and Ford once again rekindled their romance with the S197 Shelby Mustangs, and 2007 marked the return of the Shelby GT500 Mustang. The Four-Valve 5.4L powerplant benefited from an Eaton M122 Roots-style supercharger, which also made it the most powerful Mustang engine ever with 500 hp and 480 lb-ft of torque. Ford followed up the GT500 with the 540hp GT500KR shortly thereafter, and Shelby returned the volley by offering Super Snakes with over 700 hp-crazy times indeed.

For 2010, the Shelby GT500 pounds out 540 hp and 510 lb-ft of torque, all from a silky-smooth modular engine that people once cringed at the sight of.

V-10 Madness
Yes the 6.8L (413-cid) Triton V-10 is part of the modular engine family, and there have been a few fanatics that have been crazy enough to shoehorn these behemoths into a Mustang chassis. They can be found in both Two-Valve and Three-Valve configurations in a number of Ford F-Series Super Duty trucks, E-Series vans, and Ford Excursions. In addition to their immense size, they are also quite cumbersome, as all of them used a cast-iron engine block. Given how much power can be extracted from the Three- and Four-Valve 4.6L engines, they're more of a novelty than a genuine way to make good street power.

Head Games
Over the years, the modular engine family has continually improved, and one of the key areas modified for improved performance is the cylinder head. The Two-Valve 4.6L received its first upgrade in 1999. The Four-Valve 4.6L started out with the IMRC-equipped swirl port castings on the '96-'98 Cobras and '93-'98 Mark VIIIs. The intake-manifold runner-control (IMRC) plates were discontinued with the new tumble-port castings used on '99-'01 Snakes, and then the further improved U231 castings were implemented for all '03-and-newer Four-Valves. The '00 Cobra R and Ford GT both employed unique castings, though many of the features can be found on the tumble-port and U231 heads. The GT heads eventually showed up on the '07 GT500, but with a different intake-bolt pattern.