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

Speed Breeding
Our delight with the Coyote starts with its existence. That Ford would develop a new performance V-8 in the midst of a perilous economy, nagged by debt, and busy delivering the advanced EcoBoost technology, was a surprise to us. Congratulations go to Ford management for its focus on product and ability to make the difficult financial decisions to keep the company independent. Without that foundation, this Coyote may have never been born.

So why did Ford commit to the Coyote? The short answer is because we enthusiasts demand a winning V-8 and Ford could logically build one. Most fundamentally, the Coyote could be built inexpensively. Gary Liimatta, base engine systems supervisor for Coyote, summed it up. "This program was done inexpensively compared to other comparable programs of a similar content. I've always liked to call it sort of a dividend program; we had facilities in place, we could make an all-new design, but basically run it down the same lines and same machine processes without making a major investment. And so when people say, 'How could Ford do this right now in this economy with the fuel CAFE and everything else?' It's because we had all these things in place. We could do that inexpensively and have it be good business, so we weren't being irresponsible, even though it was a lot of fun."

Due to Ford's tremendous investment in V-8 manufacturing capacity, the new engine would take that form. To an enthusiast it may seem self-evident any new Mustang GT engine would be a V-8, but not necessarily so in this age of turbo V-6s. However, as Ford's plans clearly forecast more V-6s and fewer V-8s, making good use of Ford's existing excellent V-8 production capacity made financial sense.

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As Mike Harrison, Ford's program manager, V-8 engine systems, and likely the highest ranking manager with daily oversight of the Coyote put it, "The overall goal early on was a brand-new platform-we call it a modular family but we needed a brand-new platform as we had tapped out the current architecture. If we were going to get more power we were going to have to increase the bottom end, and we were going to have to do things to enable [engine] speed."

"The early thing was to set out a brand-new platform for further expansion. Bringing in new technology, bringing in new upgrades, but we really needed a new, stronger, better base. And that was our initial goal," Mike added.

Part of a new base engine is its longevity. With engine production life-spans often measured in decades it was important the Coyote had long-term breeding. Mike explained it: "We knew that someday there would be a DI version of this engine. We knew someday there would be a supercharged version of the engine. We knew that someday someone would want to do something on it," he explained. "So we wanted to make sure when we did the initial design work that it would be robust enough to not have to re-engineer the whole thing down the road and any subsequent programs would be very investment efficient and time efficient and so we did package DI injectors, we did really improve the bulkhead strength to take supercharging, we upgraded the cylinder head bolts and the main bearing bolts, all of that stuff ... We just wanted to make sure it was a good base going forward, that the architecture would last us the next 10 or 15 years."

And while you, the Mustang buyer, may not directly have had a seat at Ford's conference table, you still played a major role in deciding on a naturally aspirated V-8. Enthusiasts themselves, the Coyote team understands that overall the Mustang GT market is technologically conservative, or maybe we enthusiasts better understand there is no replacement for displacement. And so the team wanted to introduce the new engine in traditional, less-expensive, naturally aspirated dress.

But as we just heard, this doesn't mean the Coyote will always keep its traditional charms. The engine was engineered from the beginning for supercharging or EcoBoost, so why not EcoBoost the engine now?

"We were able to meet our objectives without it, and quite frankly, it's quite expensive," Mike educated. "On this platform, its $50 to do DI on the V-8 with two pumps and eight injectors ... And the other thing is, we only had two years to deliver it, from initially talking about it to spitting 'em out at the factory. It could have been potentially one of the technologies that tripped us up in terms of timing."