Jim Smart
February 1, 2001
Photos By: Steve Turner, Super Six Motorsports

Truck Parts Shelf

Another engine that Mustang buffs may be unfamiliar with is the 4.2L Essex V-6-standard in the '97-'01 F-150 pickup trucks. We learned from Super Six Motorsports that the 4.2L truck V-6 is dimensionally the same as the 3.8 used in the Mustang. This engine differs, of course, in induction and accessory packaging. It is also externally balanced, unlike the 3.8L V-6-which is internally balanced. The 4.2 also has a larger flywheel and clutch for truck use. Your challenge as an Essex V-6 buff is to marry the best features of the 3.8 and the 4.2 for best performance.

Stage 3

Fuel And Ignition Events Improved To Bring Super Six 185 Stage 3 takes us to an overbored 54mm throttle body and a 190-lph fuel pump. Along with these modifications, fuel and ignition events improved to bring Super Six 185 rear wheel horsepower and 222 hp at the crank at 6,000 rpm. What does this mean in the real world? It means 15.0 seconds in the quarter-mile; a stock V-6 Mustang clocks 16.9-17.3. If you figure the new 151/48-inch long-tube headers into this equation, even greater power is possible.

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Stage 4

When we step up to Stage 4, the Hi-Po 3.8L Power Pack takes on a significantly more powerful personality. Installing a Vortech supercharger, a 75mm mass airflow sensor (MAF), 30-pound Ford Racing Performance Parts injectors, and a 6:1 FMU, boost exceeds 10 psi at 6,000 rpm. The key is safe computer function that won't harm the engine. We want a 12.4:1 air/fuel ratio. With all of this in tow, Super Six was able to pull 305 rear wheel horsepower from the 3.8L V-6. With a smaller Vortech compressor pulley, more than 330 hp is possible.

Super Six Motorsports shows us what can be achieved with the 3.8L Essex V-6. Super Six focuses on the '94-2000 engine because it yields a stronger block and better heads and induction, which make it a better platform for development.

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Biport Head

In 1999 Ford began using a biport cylinder head on the 3.8. Super Six is developing Stage 1, 2, 3 and 4 packages for the '99-'01 Essex V-6. Super Six is expecting as high as 400 hp from the Stage 4 package. The biport head employs oval, long (low rpm) intake runners and circular, short (high rpm) intake runners to make the most of the displacement. This head can be installed on '94-'98 engines.

Super Six Motorsports takes the biport design and makes the most of it with porting treatments that include a gasket-match port along the entire runner. Super Six refers to this as "taper" porting, which means the heads are fully ported-with the intake ports finished to 80-grit. The bowl and port divider are blended to smooth out the airflow. On the exhaust side, the bowl is blended and the port is slightly enlarged at the header gasket, with a complete polish job. Supercharged versions get their squish or quench zones beveled to increase combustion chamber volume and lower compression.