Jim Smart
May 5, 2010
Photos By: Benton Jackson

Part One In A Two-Part Series
One of Ford's most legendary engines is also one of its most short-lived. The 351 Cleveland small-block V-8 had a short production life-'70-'74 ('70-'73 in the Mustang) before it vanished into corporate oblivion. However, performance enthusiasts have never forgotten the 351C's broad-shouldered performance reputation, large-port cylinder heads, and throaty exhaust signature. This is why enthusiasts continue to build 351Cs for classic Mustangs.

MCE Engines in Los Angeles called us with this four-barrel 351C project and asked if we'd like to watch over their shoulders. MCE's Marvin McAfee is a born educator with a wealth of knowledge that comes from a half century of experience as an engine builder, racer, and Northrop aviation technician. He's wrenched on everything from Trans Am Boss 302s to Hemi drag racers to Pratt & Whitney jet engines.

When Craig Moore's '72 351C arrived at Marvin's shop from Mid-America Mustang in St. Charles, Missouri, it had seen better days. Marvin takes engine teardown as seriously as he does buildup. He stresses the forensics end of a teardown where you learn what an engine has been through and what needs to be done. Marvin doesn't mince words when he says, "Junk in, junk out." Just because it's new doesn't mean it is acceptable for use an in MCE engine.

Sometimes bad decisions are choosing a poor combination of parts that won't work well together. Marvin prefers to select parts or help his clients choose the right parts. All new parts are thoroughly inspected and either approved or returned when it's time to ship the engine home.

Marvin has learned through experience that an engine is the sum total of its parts, along with methodical technique. Marvin calls it attention to detail, knowing there's always a chance that a $15,000 engine could fall victim to a broken 50-cent fastener.

As Marvin understood it from the customer, he was getting a '72 351C-4V engine, but there was more to it than that. While knocking this engine down, he found a smorgasbord of Ford and aftermarket parts-a Wei-and single-plane high-rise manifold, an MSD distributor with centrifugal advance only, a Holley 4150 carburetor, Comp Cams roller tip rocker arms, a flat-tappet hydraulic street camshaft, forged pistons, and, believe it or not, '69 vintage Boss 302 head castings. It was also a four-bolt main block, which was the good news.

He also found evidence of abuse and poor tuning. He did, however, comment on how fortunate Craig Moore was. Marvin was able to save the block and keep 4.030-inch bores because they were within limits.

Next month: MCE Engines builds the 351C for street performance.

Comp Cams Camshaft/Valvetrain Information
Camshaft Part Number32-431-8
Kit Part NumberSK32-431-8
Camshaft TypeHydraulic Roller
RPM range2,000 to 5,500
Lobe Centers110 Degrees
Advertised Duration284/284 Degrees
Duration at 0.050-inch Lift224/224 Degrees
Valve Lift0.566/0.566-inch
Lobe Lift0.333/0.333-inch
Lifter Installation KitNo. 31-1000
PushrodsNo. 7980-16 One-Piece
Rocker ArmsNo. 1630-1 Ultra Pro Magnum
ValvespringsNo. 924-16
Valvespring RetainersNo. 741-16
Valvespring LocksNo. 611-16
Teflon Valve SealsNo. 503-16

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