Those of you who regularly read our site might get the impression that we’re all about priceless engine builds, and it’s true that we go absolutely nuts for CNC billet parts and shaft mount rockers every now and then. But we’re also regular guys who understand that getting the most bang for the buck is the number one concern for most of you reading what we’re writing. Performance on a budget doesn’t necessarily mean cutting corners, and to prove it we’re going to show you how we put together a bulletproof 450 horsepower 363ci small block Ford based on Dart’s SHP short block and heads.
The premise of the project was to take a tired Fox body daily driver and turn it into something that can still be driven every day, as well as flogged regularly at the track. Previously we had equipped the Mustang with a full suspension kit from Granatelli Motorsports that dramatically increased the handling. The engine on the other hand is a tired 5.0 with a few mild bolt-ons. Though the engine is showing its age, it still managed to net 205 horsepower on our chassis dyno. With help from partners Dart, BBK, Comp Cams and Canton – our dream of nearly 400 naturally aspirated horsepower was going to become a reality.
The 5-liter Windsor Ford is a classic engine, and there’s a limitless variety of aftermarket parts and accessories for the pushrod 302. Our Dart build is going to take advantage of that fact – the fresh new engine will fit right in with a lot of performance hardware we already have, saving some coin in the process.
The Short Block – Dart 363ci
While there’s an infinite number of ways to put together a small-block Ford, we wanted to do it with as little hassle as possible, and come up with a properly-matched combination that will reliably make 400 horsepower at the motor. Dart had the perfect solution – an assembled SHP 363ci short block, capped off with a Dart top end kit.
With an as-optioned price of $3,940 for the 363 short block (the 347 is about $465 less expensive), and around two grand for the top end kit, this particular combination makes a lot of sense both from a financial and time-saving perspective. “The SHP combinations are pre-engineered and dyno tested, built by Pro Stock engine builders,” said Dart’s Jack McInnis. “We eliminate all of the guesswork, and you can count on your short blocks and top end kits to perform great in your street or track car.” Dart’s history of crafting race-winning engines is a good confidence-builder when it comes to laying out the cash for a new mill.
Short block includes:
• Dart SHP block in 4.030 (347) or 4.125 (363) bore sizing
• 3.400 stroke cast steel crank (optional 4340 forged crank)
• Mahle forged flat top pistons – 9:1 compression
• Hastings moly rings – 1/16″, 1/16″, 3/16″
• Clevite H-Series main and rod bearings
• Coated cam bearings
• Forged I-beam 5.325″ length rods with 3/8-inch cap screws (optional H-beam)
• Externally balanced cast crank (internally balanced forged available)
Dart’s Pro 1 Top End Kit
When it comes to heads, Dart offers two different options for the small block Ford: the cast iron Iron Eagle kit, and the aluminum Pro 1 kit. Both are ready to make big power straight out of the box, but we went with the C355-T61 aircraft aluminum Pro 1 heads (part number 13211111) for reduced weight and better performance. We went with their larger 195cc intake runner with a 2.02 intake and 1.60 exhaust valve and 1.250″ single valve springs with steel retainers. The assembled set of heads flow a respectable 285 cfm at .700″ lift on the intake and 185 cfm at .600″ lift on the exhaust.
Dart’s Horsepower in a Box
Designing an engine for optimal performance can be difficult. Different engine combinations like different parts, and selecting components from your local performance shop without knowledge of what you are buying can be taxing on the horsepower the engine will produce. When it comes to buying an assembled crate engine, it can take the fun out of building your own, unique engine combination.
For those looking to take the guesswork out of valvetrain selection, Dart offers a wide range of packages designed to match their top end kits. Through building many engines and customer feedback, Dart was able to put together a few camshaft options that suit a wide range of performance applications. Dart worked closely with valvetrain partner Comp Cams to ensure the cam selection would help validate the power potential of these engine packages. These include mechanical or roller, and mild to moderate camshaft profiles. The kit’s include lifters, COMP camshaft, timing set, and front cover gasket.
Comp Cams Valvetrain Parts
Hydraulic Roller Camshaft – PN# 35-425-8
• 230/236 degrees duration at .050
• .513 intake and .526 exhaust lift
• 110 degree lobe separation angle
Retrofit Hydraulic Roller Lifters – PN# 851-16
• Performance replacement for stock hydraulic roller lifters or retro-fit hydraulic roller lifters for non-roller blocks
• Decrease friction and increase longevity when directly compared to flat tappet lifters
• Accept much more aggressive cam profiles than flat tappet lifters will allow
Hi-Tech Pushrods – PN# 7768-16
• 5/16″ diameter, 6.550″ long
• One-piece construction from .080” wall, seamless chromemoly
• Heat-treated for extended durability & guide plate compatibility
• Precision formed & reinforced ends
Ultra Pro Magnum Roller Rockers PN# 1631-16
• 3/8th” stud, 1.6 rocker ratio
• 300% stronger than extruded 7075-T6 aluminum
• Weighs 5% less at the valve than most aluminum rocker arms
• Arms are proven to be 29% stiffer than the original Pro Magnum Rockers
Topping off the Oiling System
Canton stepped up to help us in the oiling department of our project. The 363 will see a wide range of street and track duty, so we needed a lubrication system that would be as versatile and reliable as possible. Here’s what they provided:
Front Sump Road-Race style oil pan PN# 15-630
• Diamond Shape Road Race Baffle Assembly With Four Trap Doors
• Crank Scraper
• Removable Windage/Anti-Slosh Baffle
• 1/2″ NPT Temperature Bung
Oil pickup tube – PN# 15-611
Louvered windage tray – PN# 20-931P
The pan has an extra-deep sump that gives this pan a total oil capacity of 7 quarts. One additional benefit of the wide, deep pan is that the extra surface area acts as a heat exchanger, cooling the oil in the sump as air passes over and around it while the car is in motion. The louvered windage tray keeps the crank from picking up excess oil by its rotating motion, further adding unneeded weight to the rotating assembly.
BBK SSI Intake Manifold and Fuel Rail Kit
To complete our 363, we turned to a company that will be familiar to anybody who’s ever put parts on a Fox – BBK. Though Dart had supplied a dual-plane intake with their kit, we wanted to retain the car’s EFI, and to do that we procured an intake manifold and fuel rails from BBK.
BBK’s SSI Intake Manifold for the small block Ford doesn’t look like anything else on the market for that engine, and for a good reason. Ken Murphy of BBK explains, “We looked at other intakes available for the 302 and took the R&D a step further to come up with an intake manifold that would have everything an enthusiast would want. ” The company has more than 15 years of experience with EFI Fords, so it’s no surprise that their intake design embodies some outside-the-box thinking.
The lower manifold features an open runner design for cooler intake air mixture and identical runner shapes for equal air flow distribution. The upper manifold delivers a standard 75mm throttle opening that allows the use of any 65-75mm throttle body as well as high torque twin plenums for great street performance. The BBK SSI Intake manifold comes complete with a BBK high-flow billet aluminum fuel rail kit, which delivers maximum fuel flow and works with all performance ignition distributors at the front of the engine block with no clearance issues.
The SSI manifold was also designed with a removable baffle plate that reduces weight and allows easy installation of nitrous oxide jets into each runner. Another great feature is the air flow gap between each runner – this provides greater cooling for the upper to help reduce heat soak. This manifold was also designed with a built-in EGR mount.
86-93 SSI-Series Intake Manifold Kit – PN# 5002
• SSI Upper and Intake Manifold
• Blue Anodized Fuel Rail Kit
• 75mm Throttle Body
• All necessary hardware and gaskets to complete the installation
For a street price of around $7,500 we were able to assemble a fresh 363ci small block Ford for our fox body Mustang project. Best part of all, the short block comes completely assembled from Dart. With about five hours worth of work, we were able to assemble the top end of the engine as well as the oiling system. Best part of all, the factory front drive accessories will bolt straight up to our newly built long block. In our next segment, we will be installing the engine into our Mustang and show you how we nearly doubled the horsepower while maintaining 100% street reliability.