When it's time to rebuild your vintage Ford small-block, the long list of things required can have you examining the checkbook and those credit card balances. While it's true an engine rebuild involves a lot of time and money, you can still realize great performance and enhanced durability at a reasonable price if you plan and build wisely. Did you know you can build a 300-plus-horsepower V-8 for under $2,000?
Building this kind of power doesn't have to cost a fortune if you plan properly and choose the right combination of parts. There are also simple procedures you can perform during the building process that make light work of getting big power for the money. Horsepower and torque are like weight loss programs. We're so busy searching for the easy route that we forget the common sense approach. Diet and exercise is the surest path to weight loss. Choosing the right combination of parts and assembly procedures is the easiest path to making power. It's just simple common sense.
Today we're going to Trans Am Racing where Mark Jeffery will show us what's involved in a properly planned and executed Ford small-block build. We're going to show you how to get the most bang for your buck, and how we found stock replacement parts to be adequate for as much as 300-350 hp.
The engine we're working with sports a '68 C8OE 302 block. We're after a mild-mannered street engine that will still deliver 300-plus horsepower when the pedal hits the metal. To begin with, we will examine our selection of components for this budget build, and then look at some of the more important aspects of engine assembly where extra care will pay dividends in improved reliability and a longer service life.
Budget Parts That Work
This is a well-used '68 C8OE block with the extended cylinder skirts designed to accommoda
Here's our factory 2MA nodular iron crank just back from the machine shop. To clean up any
We're using 4.030-inch Speed Pro flat-top hypereutectic pistons (PN H120CP) with Teflon-co
The factory C8AE Ford connecting rods shown here (5.0885-5.0915-inches center-to-center) w
Cam selection is an important issue. We've chosen a Crane flat-tappet hydraulic cam and li
These are the factory C8OE cylinder head castings for 302-2V engines with 58cc chambers pr
Look What You Can Get For $2,000-$2,500
With common sense planning and execution, look at how much power your small-block can produce for under $2,500. These are three dyno pulls that demonstrate how much power you can make and why.
Pull 1 demonstrates what our 302 can do with the modest build-up we have just performed. This is with an aggressive flat-tappet camshaft and 302 heads. Expect 285-300 hp with 350 lb-ft of torque. With carburetor and ignition tuning, you can make the most of these numbers.
|PULL 1 |
|RPM ||HP ||TORQUE |
|2,000 ||127 ||333 |
|2,500 ||162 ||340 |
|3,000 ||198 ||347 |
|3,500 ||234 ||351 |
|4,000 ||264 ||347 |
|4,500 ||284 ||332 |
|5,000 ||285 ||300 |
|5,500 ||273 ||261 |
|6,000 ||244 ||214 |
|6,500 ||213 ||172 |
In Pull 2, we've opted for 351W heads with stock valve sizing. these cylinder head castings won't cost any more, and we expect a solid 300-plus horsepower, with 350-plus lb-ft of torque. for just a few bucks more, go with a 650-cfm Holley and a roller cam for eye-opening numbers.
|PULL 2 |
|RPM ||HP ||TORQUE |
|2,000 ||127 ||333 |
|2,500 ||163 ||341 |
|3,000 ||199 ||349 |
|3,500 ||236 ||354 |
|4,000 ||268 ||352 |
|4,500 ||292 ||341 |
|5,000 ||298 ||313 |
|5,500 ||290 ||277 |
|6,000 ||263 ||321 |
|6,500 ||234 ||189 |
Pull 3 takes the 351W head further with larger 1.94/1.60-inch valve sizing. Check it out--327 hp and 367 lb-ft of torque. Again, we suggest a more aggressive roller cam, larger Holley, and deep-breathing headers for substantial gains in power. Expect 350-plus horsepower and 375 lb-ft.
|PULL 3 |
|RPM ||HP ||TORQUE |
|2,000 ||126 ||332 |
|2,500 ||163 ||342 |
|3,000 ||202 ||353 |
|3,500 ||242 ||363 |
|4,000 ||279 ||367 |
|4,500 ||310 ||362 |
|5,000 ||325 ||341 |
|5,500 ||325 ||310 |
|6,000 ||305 ||267 |
|6,500 ||283 ||229 |
In the interest of good low-to-mid-range torque, we opted for this used Ford Motorsport al
This is the Holley 4160 600-cfm four-barrel carburetor. With its vacuum secondaries, elect
This Speed Pro oil pump offers us plenty of volume and pressure for a street application.
We're going with a Speed Pro timing set, which features a double-roller chain and sprocket
As a final nod towards economy, we're opting for a rebuilt Autolite distributor with a new
Our 2MA crankshaft has been ground 0.010 undersize to true up the journals. Because Mark d
A micrometer is used to measure crankshaft journal diameter. Bearing clearances should be
Main cap bolts are torqued to a final value of 70 lb-ft. This should be performed in third
Each camlobe is generously coated with camshaft assembly lube. This aids in the work-harde
After the cam is positioned, the Crane dual-roller timing set is installed. Use a straight
Bore sizing gets checked right along with piston sizing to determine piston-to-cylinder-wa
Hypereutectic pistons use a tighter average clearance of 0.018-inch, which contributes to
Before pistons are installed, ring end gap must be checked. A good rule of thumb is 0.004-
Mark installs the pistons using a billet ring compressor. For home shop use, an adjustable
With the engine rolled over, rod bolts are tightened down to between 19-24 lb-ft using a s
Connecting rod side clearances should size in at 0.012- to 0.018-inch.
Be sure to install the head gasket correctly, with coolant passages located at the rear of
Crane pushrod guide plates are next. Use Teflon tape or liquid Teflon on the stud threads
Each valve lifter gets a coating of molybdenum grease at the lobe face before being insert
With the studs and guideplates installed, it's time for rocker-arm installation and adjust
Intake manifold and gasket installation requires caution. Fel-Pro Print-O-Seal gaskets sel
The dog-leg is a '69-and-up 351W thing and not applicable to the 289/302. Run a bead of si
Oil pump and pan installation wrap up this engine build. Check oil-pump-to-crankshaft clea
We like this Pro Street harmonic balancer. It is wider and a bit heavier than a stock Ford