Tom Wilson
February 16, 2010
Photos By: Dale Amy, Courtesy of Ford Motor Company

Of the many milestones in the Mustang's 45-year history, one of the greatest has come to fruition. For the first time the Mustang is debuting its own V-8.

Not a derivation of an existing engine, not borrowed from a sedan, not developed to satisfy a sanctioning body, but conceived, designed, and built as a Mustang performance engine. It is the new 5.0 Four-Valve TiVCT V-8, which simultaneously pays homage to Ford history and traditional enthusiast performance expectations while fully embracing new technologies. Given its intent, performance, and mainstream production, it promises to be one of the most important Mustang V-8s of all time.

Developed under the code name Coyote, the new 5.0 was conceived in 2007 to replace the 4.6 and 5.4 Modular V-8s, which were approaching the end of their development. Ford needed a Mustang GT engine to compete against the new Chevy and Dodge efforts. While the Hurricane and Boss were explored initially-eventually a 6.2-liter SOHC Two-Valve version of that program ended up in the SVT Raptor and soon other F-150s-those large engines proved unsuitable for the Mustang. With time running short, Ford regrouped at the familiar modular engine family with plans for an all-new modular development specifically for the Mustang.

Few hard points were fixed at the Coyote's conception, but a handful were quickly set. The new engine's point of departure was the existing 4.6 modular architecture. It would not use EcoBoost- Ford's combination of direct fuel injection and turbocharging-but it would be engineered to withstand forced induction and to package EcoBoost fuel injectors in the future. The new engine would be as physically small as possible while physically stronger than the 4.6. Naturally, the team quickly landed on 5.0 liters of displacement. It needed to make 80 hp per liter, or 400 hp. Best of all, as a performance engine the Coyote development team knew the importance of delivering an exciting engine, one that just didn't meet its numbers, but had the precision and responsiveness enthusiasts crave.

It was not easy. The power goals far exceeded the then-current Three-Valve 4.6 Mustang GT's 65 hp per liter, equaled those of Ford Racing's limited-production big-bore Cammer T50 crate engine, and trounce a hand-built, ported, cammed and electronically tuned 5.0 H.O. pushrod engine with long-tube headers. There were no bye runs from Ford management on durability, cost, noise or other guidelines. Furthermore, the job had to be done in less than two years, a previously impossible time frame.

Known more formally as the 5.0 4V TiVCT V-8, the new engine is an all-aluminum, 5.0-liter, double-overhead-cam, four-valve-per-cylinder powerhouse. It redlines at 7,000 rpm, boasts an 11.0:1 compression ratio, a low-friction compact roller-finger follower valvetrain, varies timing on all four camshafts, weighs a svelte 430 pounds as-shipped (approaching 1 pound per horsepower and not gaining a pound over the 4.6 Three-Valve), and sails through every brutal Ford durability and emission test. Benefitting from the latest in computational fluid dynamics, computer modeling, computer-aided engineering and rapid prototyping, the Coyote answers Mustang enthusiast's dreams with 1.4 horsepower per cubic inch right off the showroom floor!

Rated at 412 hp at 6,500 rpm and 390 lb-ft of torque at 4,250 rpm in the 2011 Mustang, the Coyote is built at the Essex Engine Assembly Plant in Ontario, Canada, a medium-volume facility. The Coyote seems destined to appear in other rear-drive applications to justify its development costs and Essex plant status, but when and where remain unknown. For now, the Mustang has the Coyote to itself.

Furthermore, completely overlooked in the pre-release speculation are the all-new six-speed manual and updated six-speed automatic gearboxes developed for the Coyote/Mustang combination. They promise equal steps forward in smoothness and fuel economy as the new engine.

In these pages we're presenting the most in-depth look at the new 5.0-liter you'll find anywhere. Researched directly with the Coyote development team, this article is as close as you'll come to an official handbook on the new engine; we hope you enjoy learning about this tremendous Mustang improvement as much as we did.