Steve Baur
Former Editor, Modified Mustangs & Fords
August 1, 2009
Photos By: Courtesy of Ford Motor Company
The '99-'04 SVT F-150 Lightnings laid the groundwork for future supercharged Fords. Its 5.4L Two-Valve engine offered as much as 380 hp and 450 lb-ft of torque. Tuner shops have been able to triple that number in recent years.

The all-new Ford Expedition debuted in 1997, and it offered the 4.6L with 215 hp/290 lb-ft of torque. Ford also optioned it with a 230 hp/ 325 lb-ft 5.4L engine. Ford's E-Series vans were also offered with the same engine choices. A year later, the Mustang saw power output rise to 225 hp and 286 lb-ft of torque. For 1999's New Edge Mustang, however, Ford's engineering squad heaved the old cylinder heads and intake manifold for a "power improved" set. Commonly known as the PI engine, the new Mustang powerplant improved to 260 hp and 302 lb-ft of torque.

In 2002, the redesigned Explorer, Explorer Sport Trac, and Mercury Mountaineer SUV's received the 4.6L with 240 hp and 280 lb-ft of torque. The Two-Valve 4.6L would remain largely unchanged through 2004, after which it was phased out of the Mustang for the Three-Valve 4.6L engine. Ford continued to use the Two-Valve in many of its other models for years to come.

Joe Cermin's Ford GT set the bar ridiculously high with over 1,400 very streetable rear-wheel horsepower. Though Cermin's ride utilized a twin-turbo arrangement to make its boost, it's not uncommon for modified supercharged GTs to make between 700 and 1,000 rwhp reliably.

Three-Valve Thunder
The Mustang was all new for 2005 and so were its engine options. The Two-Valve top end was ditched in favor of a new 300hp/320-lb-ft Three-Valve induction setup. The powerplant still utilized a single camshaft over each cylinder head, but the added intake valve, variable camshaft timing, charge motion control valves, and advanced engine management improved every aspect of performance. The Three-Valve heads found their way onto the 4.6 and 5.4L truck engines in the later half of 2004 beneath the hoods of the redesigned F-150s. One can also find Three-Valve 4.6L engines beneath the hoods of later-model Explorer and Explorer Sport Trac SUVs. The latest Mustang, the '10 model, continues to use the Three-Valve 4.6L as its base V-8 engine.

Four-Valve Fury
When 1993 rolled around, it was apparent that Ford's engineering team had been working hard to pump up the 4.6L's performance. This year ushered in the latest Lincoln coupe, the Mark VIII, which was the company's flagship luxury performance and touring machine. We all saw the television advertisements where the Mark VIII slipped under the limbo bar at speed, demonstrating it's new speed-sensitive ride-height control. As much as the suspension technology had improved, there was a new growl from the tail pipes too, as the 4.6L engine received a number of upgrades, including an aluminum block, and cylinder heads sporting four valves per cylinder and a pair of camshafts per head, which equated to 280 hp-a far cry from the Crown Vic's 235.

The Ford GT supercar was propelled to its top speed of 204 mph by this 5.4L Four-Valve engine that produces 550 hp.

Things continued the same until 1995, when the Lincoln Continental received the transversely mounted InTech Four-Valve 4.6L. While picking up these particular engines used is tempting given their bargain price, they won't work in a rear-wheel-drive application because the engine blocks are different from their Mark VIII and Mustang siblings. The Mark VIII continued with the Four-Valve engine until the model was discontinued after 1998.

Meanwhile, the Mustang Cobra received the Four-Valve 4.6L in 1996. Rated at 305 hp and 300 lb-ft of torque, the modular-powered Cobra packed a bit more bite than it's earlier 302-powered models. For 1999, the Cobra 4.6L received new cylinder heads and a new intake manifold. Power output rose to 320 hp and 317 lb-ft of torque. This year was also the debut of the 5.4L Four-Valve engine in the Lincoln Navigator, which churned out 300 hp and 355 lb-ft of twist.

For 2000, it was all about the Mustang Cobra R. The standard Cobra was sidelined for the model year, and the limited-production Cobra R stole the spotlight. Its 5.4L Four-Valve engine rocked the masses with 385 hp and 385 lb-ft of torque, as did its racecar-like handling. Ford finally had a Mustang that could run mid-12s out of the box without a blower. Like the R cars before it, Ford used the '00 model to introduce new technology. The cylinder heads would eventually be the design model for the later Cobra cylinder heads, and the IRS was used on the later Cobras. The standard Cobra Mustang returned for 2001 with few modifications, but horsepower and torque remained unchanged.