Engine swaps are one of the foundations of the hot rodding and muscle car world. Some of our most prized muscle cars can be traced back to the idea of an engine swap. With the advancement of engines and technology, that most basic idea has keep up with the ever-evolving interpretation of the muscle car. With the recent release of the new Modular 5.0L engine from Ford, I think that idea now has a whole new head of steam.
I started off wondering what would I want to see this new modern mill push the rear tires on. Ford has a history of making some very popular cars, and trying to narrow it down was really tough, but we also had a bigger question to ask – could it be done? To answer that, we rifled through the Rolodex, searching for anyone that could have any information. We quickly compiled that data and included it below.
Swaps I Would Like To See
Over the years Ford Motor Company has produced some really great cars, many of which came with some super-stout engines already. While I’m not saying you should yank out your prized FE or 385 engine (though it would be an even horsepower trade with a HUGE jump in fuel economy and reduction in weight), many of the cars that could be optioned with these giants ended up lucky to get 260 cubic inches, with an even more lacking number in the horsepower column – perfect candidates for a modern engine swap.
1960-1970 Ford Falcon
The Ford Falcon was the Blue Oval’s answer to the American-car-buying crowd wanting smaller cars to sit in their driveway, and the really nice part about small cars is their light weight. The Falcon boasted a curb weight that was almost 1,000 pounds lighter than other Ford cars of the time. That makes them a prime choice for both pro-touring builds and drag racing machines.
I would love to see this thing house a new 5.0L. It’s perfect for this car when you consider that many of them were sold with the popular 302 Windsor V8. Chances are you would end up notching the fender wells a bit to fit the wide new DOHC 5.0, but that is nothing in the grand scope of things.
1960-1968 Ford Galaxie
If the thought of cutting the fender wells scares you, then these next two cars should be easier to swallow. Starting with the Galaxie, this boat of car has plenty of room, as they were designed to house Ford’s physically largest engine offering at the time, the FE 427. I could just imagine a ’66 convertible cruising to the local burger joint with 412 modern horsepower. Now I’m a believer in the motto, “there’s no replacement for displacement,” but that might be changing. The epic 428 FE produced around 410 SAE gross horsepower at best out of its 7.0L displacement, while the 2011 5.0L gets the same amount of work done with two less liters. I didn’t even want to bother measuring the difference in gas mileage or reliability.
1970 & 1971 Mercury Cyclone
This swap really is about power, and if that is what you are talking about, then dropping this engine into the infamous Mercury Cyclone has to be the top on the list of what I would like to see. No, not the older Comet versions; I’m talking the Fastback ones that were on the verge of dominating NASCAR. This is just the swap job for anyone that was really hoping to buy an old Spoiler edition and take home the Super Cobra Jet 429, but just couldn’t sweat the price. Now you can bolt in an engine that has just about the same horsepower, with a fraction of the weight – a real sleeper, just as the Cyclone was designed to be.
Two Favorite Swap Builds
While the previous three builds would be some really cool projects, lets be honest, – the Mustang is hands down the greatest offering Ford has ever created. Then, given the fact that many of them share the same Modular-style engine as the new 5.0L, dropping the new engine into the Mustang is going to be pretty common – but which ones?
Fox Body Mustang
This one was a no-brainer. The Fox Body Mustang saw a few engines between its frame rails during its production run, but it was racing that lead to this platform becoming popular for a number of different engine swaps. From previous Modular engines to small block Chevys, the Fox has seen them all. Plus you add in the fact that most 5.0 fans will be dying to update their now-old-school 5.0 for the new one, and this is going to be a race to see who can do it first.
While not always the most popular Mustang project, I think that this car is the best vessel to carry the new 5.0. Think about it, these cars came with the the first of the Modular engines, making it a bolt-in job. On top of that, most of these engines are really getting up there in the number of miles and age. Many owners are on their second or third motor! That’s not that bad when you think that the oldest of these cars are now more than 15 years old and not exactly babied around. Instead of replacing the 4.6 with another 4.6 to expire in a few years, why not really update the forgotten non-PI or New Edge Mustang with some modern power? Here is the real kicker – at best, the most horsepower a non-supercharged 4.6 made from the factory was 320. The new 5.0 has that beat by almost 100.
Can It Be Done?
Ask any fabricator and the answer is simple; with the right amount of time and skill, anything can be done. That’s great if you have 20 years of experience or a bulging wallet that has been bothering you lately. For the rest of us, if we were going to perform a swap like this, we would need to rely on the install being relativity easy to complete. I started out by comparing this new 5.0L to the previous generation of Modular engines. Swap jobs involving the popular 4.6L and 5.4L have become all the rage, so let’s assume there is plenty of support to make that happen. So if the old 4.6L will fit, could the new 5.0L?
I talked to sources inside Ford Racing to find out. Hours of homework on the internet came up with not a single measurements relating to overall size to compare to the 4.6L. Thankfully my guy knew how to use a tape measure, and happen to have a new 5.0L sitting near by – here is what he found.
The DOHC 4.6L measures in at 28.9 inches wide, 29.6 inches tall, and 27.1 inches long. The new 5.0L roughly comes in around 30 inches wide, 30 inches tall, and 27 inches wide. That’s pretty close! The weight comparison makes it even a sweeter deal: 576 pounds to the 5.0’s 530 pound estimated weight.
Will any of these swaps really happen? We think so! Engine swaps are just part of the games these days; always have been, always will be. It was the fundamental act that started the hot rod and muscle car movement, and it’s nice to see it is going to carry forward into the future.