Steve Baur
Former Editor, Modified Mustangs & Fords
October 1, 2004
Photos By: courtesy of Crazy Horse Racing

In the last six months, our Midnight Blue Metallic Mustang project car has logged a mere 145 miles. Winter and travel have prevented further accruement, so there is some anticipation of getting the pony up and running. It's been too long since we last rumbled down the road, offering 3,500 rpm worth of Team Bassani to the nearest contender.

That's all about to change as we've successfully swapped in our DSS Competition Engines 331ci stroker short-block with help from Crazy Horse Racing in South Amboy, New Jersey.

Why did we pick a 331-inch motor over many of the other popular stroker kits you may ask? We posed the same question to Tom Naegele of DSS and here's what he had to say:

"Our 331 offers the best combination of rod ratio, piston design and ring package for the given 8.2-inch deck height engine. Some people don't consider the frictional losses, poor ring seal and compromised piston design that the larger strokers create. You can fix the problems associated with bigger strokers by using a taller 8.7-inch deck FRRP block, but that incurs more cost. A 331 is almost 40 hp better at 6,000 rpm than a 347. With the 331, we use a 5.315-inch rod, which allows for better ring placement on the piston and proper space between the top and second ring.

"The 347 is good for heavier cars where extra low-end torque is needed. Early on, many builders were using (and some still use) the wrong piston ring packages. This gave this combination a bad reputation for consuming oil. In some extreme cases, the poor rod ratio can even collapse cylinder walls as it side loads the piston in the cylinder really hard. But a 347 is good for 15-20 ft-lb more torque at 3,000 rpm.

"The 327ci stroker is a 331 with a standard bore. It's not a good choice for big-valve cylinder heads due to valve shrouding. The .030-inch overbore of the 331 unshrouds the valves and the machined block offers torque plate honing that a stock block wouldn't normally have. Both of these attributes are worth up to 40 hp. It's really a non-engine builder's combo as anyone with a toolbox can put one together. But you leave a lot of power on the table.

"The 318/320 was an economical combination we used to build before when modern strokers were still very expensive, but they're kind of obsolete now. When you get into the 355, bigger is not always better. Rod ratio, piston design and ring seal are traded for extra cubic inches. Some builders don't think about what they are giving up to obtain those cubic inches-usually around 40 to 50 hp and some reliability. This kit is not very popular anymore."

With that said, the 331-cubic-inch stroker package made sense to us since we would be using a stock-block. DSS has made great strides in getting the factory iron to survive under three times the stock power output, but it has its limit like anything else.

Mmfp_0410_01_z DSS_competition_engine Ready_for_the_new_engineMmfp_0410_02_z DSS_competition_engine Box_of_powerMmfp_0410_03_z DSS_competition_engine Ready_for_assembly
Glenn Knell and Robert Epple of Crazy Horse Racing set our new DSS SuperPro Bullet on the engine stand so we can begin assembly.
Mmfp_0410_04_z DSS_competition_engine Removing_the_old_motor
Before we start bolting on the parts though, the old motor has to come out. It has served us well for its 143,000 miles and was good for 473 rwhp.
Mmfp_0410_05_z DSS_competition_engine Engine_disassemble
Glenn disassembles the 5.0-liter, as we will be reusing many of the existing parts including the cylinder heads, intake manifold and timing chain.
Mmfp_0410_06_z DSS_competition_engine Old_cylinder_bores
Despite the mileage, all of the cylinders still bore the original cross-hatch marks.