Evan J. Smith
Mustang360 Network Content Director
February 7, 2012
Photos By: Phil Moran

The crate engine craze is nothing new--smart builders have been shipping ready-to-go engine combinations for years. Packaged engines have become a legitimate way to get your horsepower fix--someone's already figured out the combination, ordered the parts, done the machining, and handled the assembly.

There are dozens of companies selling crate engines, from $1,500 basic short-blocks to high-end race engines assembled specifically for competition. But no one can offer what has recently become available from Roush Yates Performance Products in Mooresville, North Carolina.

With the recent introduction of the specially built FR9 Ford NASCAR engine, Roush Yates Engines, the sole supplier of Ford NASCAR engines for the three top series, now has a surplus of Windsor-based 358-inch engines, which you can purchase through RYPP. We're talking about honest-to-goodness 800-plus-horsepower, take-out race engines that you can install in your drag car, open tracker, or if you have the guts, street Stang (or Ford).

Imagine hitting the strip with a mill previously run by Carl Edwards, Daytona 500 winner Trevor Bayne, or 2011 Nationwide champion Ricky Stenhouse Jr.? No one will one-up you at the cruise night or the track with a legitimate NASCAR engine thumping under your hood.

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"Every Roush Yates used engine has its complete history documented," states Phil Morin, who handles e-commerce sales at RYPP. "Every mile, or dyno session is recorded.

"Most engines have only 350-1,000 miles on them, so they have a ton of life left," he added. "They are a natural in a drag car, drift car, circle track, or wherever you need 800-plus-horsepower and huge rpm. In addition, Roush Yates Performance Products stacks a complete line of accessories for these engines. The dyno is done when the motor is first built--if the customer wants a re-dyno, that service runs $650."

We recently spoke with Doug Yates, who heads the Roush Yates engine program. Yates, a fan of MM&FF, discussed the opportunity to work with us on some editorial projects, but it all came together when we were contacted by Phil Morin, a former Ford salesman from Long Island, who thought we could put a Cup engine to the test.

So, off we traveled to NASCAR country for a complete tour of Roush Yates and Roush Fenway Racing. Roush Yates Engines currently builds engines for the three NASCAR categories. We also toured the RY Performance Engine Group (PEG), responsible for rebuilding existing Windsor 358-inch engines, preparing the Four-Valve modular engines for the Ford Daytona prototypes run in the Grand Am Rolex series, as well as the Mustangs run in the Continental Tires series.

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But there was a lot more to see. PEG is responsible for other special-interest projects, such as Steve Matusek's twin-turbo Pro Modified big-block engine, Roy Hill's NHRA Super Stock Cobra Jet Mustang, and we saw a few Pro Stock powerplants being constructed. In fact, PEG is a full-service engine shop ready to work on a rock-crawler, street machine, or anything else you can dream up.

While the list of possible story ideas was overwhelming, our focus was on the Windsor 358-inch engine program, because we plan to stuff one in a Mustang in the coming months. These engines are based upon a 9-inch-deck, Windsor-style block and will bolt into any chassis that accepts Windsor style mounts. They naturally accept Windsor-style transmissions or bellhousings. "It's important to note that these engines can't be used with nitrous due to the high location of the top ring land," states Morin.

According to Morin, there are two versions of "452" (the code on the block) engines for sale. One is the Sprint Cup version that has a flat- tappet cam and produces 840-850 hp at the crank. The other is the slightly lower horsepower Nationwide version.

The Cup models require idle to be set at 2,500 rpm, as this prevents the lifters from dragging and wearing prematurely. The camshaft is lofty with 0.840-inch lift and uses lifters and rockers made in house by Roush Yates. Cam bores size is 55 mm (which is oversized), and allows a fatter-core camshaft to be installed. The physically larger cam is designed to resist flexing. Excessive cam flex can result in bearing or valvetrain failure or cam breakage.

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To arrive at 358 ci, the cylinders are bored to 4.09 inches and the stroke measures 3.4 inches. These engines all use D-3 Yates heads, an evolution of a Cleveland head. All heads are CNC-ported, along with the intakes, which can be shot-blasted after porting to help airflow.

Heads feature 2.180-inch intake valves and 1.650-inch exhaust valves. The flat-tappet motors use an aluminum oil pan with a dry-sump oiling system, and will safely rev and pull to 9,400 rpm!

Second is the Nationwide engine; the biggest difference is the roller camshaft. These engines are similar in many areas but make slightly less horsepower. A roller 452 will make 800-820 hp, and idle can be dropped lower because of the roller cam. The roller motor also uses 0.840-inch lift and Jesel valvetrain parts.

The bore and stroke is also different. Roller engines have a shorter 3.260-inch stroke with a 4.175-inch bore and will turn to 8,700 rpm. These engines feature dry-sump oiling with hand-fabricated sheetmetal oil pans.

RY NASCAR engines have been described as tall-deck 302s or a short-deck Windsor with a 302 crank. When using these engines in a drag car, the ideal stall speed converter is 7,200 rpm--you won't have to worry about converter selection if you run one with a stick. We've seen a few transplants into Fox-body Mustangs, including one owned by Terry Bren, whose Twisted Cheeto LX has run 9.11 at 148 mph.

Priced well under $20,000, either engine option is a smokin' deal compared to what a similar engine would cost to build, plus the time to order the parts, do the machining and assemble the engine.

"Whenever one of our engines is in a (NASCAR) race or test, one of our tuners is standing by to tune the motor properly," states Morin. "Whether it's Roush Fenway team or a small team, no one gets one of our engines without a tuner present unless they buy it outright. The NASCAR engines are leased to the race teams--that is how we get them back."

To make your swap easy, Kook's Racing Headers offers a bolt-on set of headers for using this engine in a Fox-body Mustang. The biggest thrill of the day was in the dyno cell, where the 358 was cracked off and run in anger. All Marc and I could do was stand and grin as the aggressive idle and tuned pipes produced a wonderful, rhythmic V-8 symphony.

After a short warm-up, we cleared the room and the fun began. First the small-block was taken to 7,000, then 7,800, then 8,500, and each time the sound got better. With everything looking good, the handle was rolled to WOT and we watched the electronic tachometer soar past 9,000 rpm on its way to 9,300. Our photo was clicked a touch early (9,298). It belted out 853 hp at 9,200 with peak torque of 550 at 7,500 rpm. And the power was broad, as there was over 500 lb-ft of torque from 6,000 to 8,900 and over 800 hp from 7,700 to redline.

Check out www.musclemustangandfastfords.com for a video tour of Roush Yates and more photos.

Pricing
Complete NASCAR engine less carburetor, headers, and oil tank; includes intake manifold and front dress
Flat tappet version: $15,000
Roller version: $17,500

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Roush Yates 358-cube NASCAR Sprint Cup Engine

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