Agustin Jimenez
Technical Editor
May 21, 2015

How addicted are you to craigslist shopping? If you’re anything like us—especially on payday, you probably frequent the online classifieds in search of killer deals to make your Mustang rip down the road. Usually we refrain from our natural urges to go fast and make lots of noise but every once in a while, we’ll find smoking deals on speed parts we just can’t pass up. Heck, we’ve even bought parts that sit on a shelf in the garage that we’ll probably never end up using, however day dreaming about what we would do with them seem to make it all worthwhile in our mind.

This got us to thinking—can you find killer deals on used parts to make your Mustang faster without breaking the bank? The answer to that is a quite resounding, yes! Unfortunately a clean Mustang platform isn’t as affordable these days as they were in the past, at least for the Fox body platform. Fortunately the four-cylinder models are a dime a dozen and are typically great platforms to build your track monster out of. The biggest problem is the lack of power of course, but you can remedy that with a good old fashioned engine swap. While that might sound like a bit of a headache, it’ll give you a clean platform to start your build while also opening up your options to make a silly amount of power on a budget.

We decided to take a look at some of our local classified ads to seek out some affordable engine swap options for those of you who might be ready to transform a pedestrian four-popper Mustang with some serious potential under the hood.

The legendary 5.0L HO V8 engine from 1987-1992 Mustangs is still a popular platform to build off of, and why not? With forged aluminum pistons already in place, the stock “five-point-oh” can take a licking and keep on ticking. The going rate for these engines is right around the $650 mark, which makes them ideal to swap into four-cylinder Fox body Mustangs.
While the 1994-1995 5.0L V8 doesn’t have quite the following that the previous generation had, they are still pretty darn affordable engines that can be built to make some serious power with basic bolt-on modifications. The great thing about these engines is that you can find them for relatively cheap and sometimes even drive the car before buying the engine.
The 4.6L 2-Valve Modular motors are often overlooked by the masses, but in the world of heads-up drag racing, they are known for making big horsepower numbers when adding large amounts of boost. Best of all is they can do so while using a stock bottom end even up to 600 horsepower. You just can’t go wrong with buying a used mod motor for $1,000?
As we mentioned above, 2-Valve modular motors can easily be found for reasonable prices, so why not consider one for your next engine swap? Aftermarket support for the 2-Valve engines has come a long way since they were first introduced in the 1996 Ford Mustang GT (some will point out the 1991 Lincoln Town Car, but we’re strictly talking about Mustangs here). Look for smoking deals on takeout engines that come with accessories included to make your life easier when swapping one into a Mustang that didn’t originally have a mod motor in its engine bay.
Don’t overlook the S197 3-Valve 4.6L V8 engines when shopping for a modern powerplant to motivate your older rides. At $2,500, we would definitely consider swapping one of these bad boys into a first generation Ford Lightning.

Bonus Dirt Cheap Speed Parts:

If you’re looking to give your old Mustang a little kick in its step without dumping a ton of cash into an engine build, a set of GT40 heads will instantly give you more power than the factory E7TE heads ever dreamed of. You can’t get much more bang for the buck than a set of used GT40 heads for $300. A quick search of GT40 heads will likely net you some pretty good results as many enthusiast’s favored them for the simple performance versus cost factor.