King Of The Monsters: Team Z Motorsports And The 7.3L Godzilla Swap

When the demise of Ford’s Windsor engine platform became a reality in 1996, Ford motorsports enthusiasts began clamoring for a big cubic-inch pushrod engine configuration that could keep pace with the LS series of engines from General Motors.

The modular engine platform which replaced the Windsor has proven itself to be a stout performer. But the complexity and cost of adapting a Mod engine have kept it from being adopted widely by swappers, who have instead chosen to go the junkyard route and — gasp — scour junkyards for one of GM’s LS engines instead. As the LS shares similar dimensions as the vaunted Windsor platform, those swaps have been easy.

With a bit of modification to the oil pan, and rack mounts that are lowered about an inch and a half, Godzilla fits right into the Fox engine bay. It’s only a matter of time before we see these at the track.

Enter Godzilla, the brand-new, 446 cubic-inch (7.3-liter) pushrod engine Ford released in 2019 for use in the 2020 Ford Super Duty line of trucks. The engine immediately became the largest gasoline engine Ford manufactures. By virtue of its displacement, it becomes an immediate contender to beat back the LS engine as a swap favorite, especially in older Fox and SN95-chassis Ford vehicles, and now, Ford Performance has released the engine in crate form.

Dave Zimmerman and his gang of fabricators at Team Z Motorsports in Michigan have long been one of the companies that enthusiasts turn to for race-tested and race-inspired equipment from suspension kits to complete cars. Zimmerman has established a close working relationship with Brian Wolfe. Longtime Ford faithful fans will remember Wolfe first as a star of the Pro 5.0 class back in the 1990s and subsequently, the owner of one of the baddest all-motor Mustangs in the land. Wolfe also served Ford for many years as an engineer and retired from the company in 2018 after stints as the Director of Global Engineering, Director of Ford Racing, and several other high-profile positions.

Team Z’s engineering department worked to get the crankshaft centerline in the right place for optimum weight transfer and on-track performance.

Opportunity Comes Knocking

Seeing an opportunity, Wolfe and Zimmerman sprang into action, hatching a plan to be the innovators of platform transplantation by developing the swap components to fit Godzilla into the Fox chassis.

“We wanted to be ready with these swap parts ready to go when the engines became available. Brian came to me about a year ago, and we made a plan to start working on it,” says Zimmerman.

Wolfe had a hand in the engine’s development before his retirement and has pointed a laser focus on the Godzilla platform with plans to use the engine in Ultra Street and NMCA Xtreme Street competition.

Despite nearly two liters more displacement than the vaunted Coyote, Godzilla is significantly narrower due to the pushrod engine configuration. It should be a breeze to fit headers in the engine bay, whether long-tubes for NA and supercharged action or forward-facing shorties for turbo engines.

As such, he has been working on its development with noted engine guru David Visner of Visner Engine Development and other well-heeled engineers to flesh out its capabilities. So far, he’s cranked out nearly 800 horsepower on the dyno from one of these engines in 12.5:1 compression in a naturally-aspirated configuration, and with plans to put a 3.0-liter Whipple Gen 5 supercharger on top, there’s no doubt he’ll be able to develop the necessary horsepower to be on the pace.

It is important to note that Wolfe feels the engine will be extremely durable in race configuration; as its development focused on long-term durability in the highly stressed Super Duty truck platform, short race blasts should be no problem for the beefy components used in these engines. With traditional racing components like high-strength forged pistons and connecting rods, along with stiff pushrods and rocker arms, the engine should be quite the performer on the track. In the below video from noted Ford nerd Evan Smith, Wolfe discusses its capabilities and other notable information.

In factory configuration, the engine displaces 443 cubic-inches by utilizing 107.2 mm of bore and 101 mm of stroke. The cast-iron block means strength, while the aluminum cylinder heads help keep weight down to a semi-manageable advertised 580 pounds in crate form. A forged steel crankshaft combines with cast pistons to produce 10.5:1 compression as delivered and helps to keep things affordable; we expect anyone subjecting this engine to severe abuse will have a quick set of cast ashtrays on the shop bench.

With 430 horsepower and 475 lb-ft of torque right out of the gate, though, the engine will be a fantastic bracket racing engine that provides many smiles (and win lights if you’re good enough) along with many years of durability without changing a thing. Aftermarket engine management systems like BigStuff3 and the new Euro-8 from OBR Control Systems will manage the engine without any issues. Our understanding is that Holley EFI is also working on a system for the platform.

Additionally, the engine uses the Modular bellhousing pattern, which means that builders have a choice of several different Ford transmissions from the 6R80 to 4R70W, or even a Turbo400 or Powerglide equipped with the correct bellhousing. The engine allows the enthusiast to go from mild to wild with the build depending upon skill level, racing desire, and of course, the depth of one’s pocketbook.

Team Z will have transmission crossmembers to fit all popular transmission configurations.

Swap Notes

It is important to note that even though the Godzilla 7.3-liter engine features nearly 50-percent more displacement than Ford’s noted Coyote 5.0-liter engine, it is physically smaller thanks to the pushrod camshaft configuration. Cylinder heads with a simple rocker arm arrangement on top like those atop the Godzilla platform are notably less bulky than a dual-overhead-cam arrangement like the Coyote. What does this mean for an enthusiast who wants simple, big-inch Ford pushrod power? That the Godzilla is, quite simply, an easy swap into a Fox Mustang in terms of fitment and clearance. The pushrod engine is 4.5-inches narrower than the Coyote, and since we’ve seen plenty of Coyote/Fox marriages, it’s a no-brainer to understand that the Godzilla is ripe and ready for race duty in the Mustang.

Fitment of the Team Z Motorsports K-member system into the Fox chassis with Godzilla on top was not as difficult as you might expect.

“Fitting it into a Fox tunnel with a newer transmission — the transmission is huge — was a pain in the butt. The transmission is huge. We got the engine location right; we’ve got a crossmember made that will allow you to do that,” says Zimmerman.

Team Z can also outfit your K-member with trailer tie-downs, or mounts for a Stiletto-type steering rack.

The process of fitting the mockup engine into the chassis seen in the video above included modifying the oil pan for crossmember clearance and dropping the steering rack down about an inch and a half to clear the oil pan. Other than those two items, Zimmerman says the engineering process was mainly the same as Team Z’s engineers have employed for every other system the company offers.

Suspension pickup points and K-member mounting locations can’t vary much, so the process becomes about ensuring adequate header and oil pan clearance. The K-member fits 1979–’04 Fox and Fox-4 chassis and utilizes Team Z’s metal matrix arrangement (mild steel and chromoly tubes for light weight, immense strength, and reasonable cost), the aforementioned dropped rack mounts, and motor mount perches along with solid motor mounts and hardware for installation. Additionally, Team Z can ship you an all-moly K-member for an additional cost if the overall weight is your primary concern.

The solid engine mounts are designed for maximum clearance and maximum strength.

It doesn’t alter the wheelbase and can be used with Team Z’s non-adjustable or adjustable control arms. Zimmerman also says you can use factory control arms with modifications, but why would you do such a thing when Team Z’s components exist?

“It packages nicely because of the deck height and all that; it’s a little bit nicer than a Windsor and fits right in there,” he says.

Since the ability exists to use transmissions like the C4 and Turbo400, Team Z also plans to offer transmission crossmembers for each of those applications combined with the Godzilla engine. It is also working with several different exhaust companies to develop headers and is working internally on forward-facing turbo headers for the engine.

“When all is said and done, we’re going to use the mockup car as a project and make it as light as we can get it, and take a stock engine with better, non-plastic intake, a big turbo, throw boost at it, and see what the engine’s limits are and just how fast we can get it to go,” says Zimmerman.

Now how do you argue with a plan like that? Godzilla is reborn!

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About the author

Jason Reiss

Jason draws on over 15 years of experience in the automotive publishing industry, and collaborates with many of the industry's movers and shakers to create compelling technical articles and high-quality race coverage.
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