Three-Valve Vibes: Why the 3V Engine Is A Good Base For Power

Three-Valve Vibes: Why the 3V Engine Is A Good Base For Power

Here in 2019, if you were to ask someone what the best foundation is for a good, solid street car build, they would probably answer “Coyote.” With the introduction of the Coyote engine in 2011, the world seems to have forgotten about all of the great choices available prior to the Coyote, such as the Three-Valve (3V) mod motor.

Back to Basics

The 4.6-liter 3V engine was available in the Ford Mustang beginning in 2005 and produced 300 horsepower and 320 lb-ft of torque from the factory. It got a small bump in power in 2010 to 315 horsepower and 325 lb-ft of torque before the Coyote’s introduction in the 2011 model year.

3V Mustangs are still a great foundation to build a supercharged street car. – Brent White, Brenspeed

So what makes the 3V different from Ford’s earlier two- and four-valve engines? The single overhead cam (SOHC) engine features aluminum heads with apex-shaped combustion chambers, and its additional intake valve improves airflow. The engine also features VCT, or variable cam timing, which moves the cam on its longitudinal axis in order to advance or retard valve timing, improving performance and reducing emissions. An electronic Charge Motion Control Valve (CMCV) system produces increased air velocity at lower engine speeds, meaning lower emissions and low-RPM torque.

The 3V also came with drive-by-wire technology, eliminating the need for a throttle cable, as its operation is electronic. Stepping on the gas pedal prompts the computer to send an electrical signal to the throttle motor gear drive, moving the throttle blade.

The same engine was also available in the Ford Explorer, Sport Trac, and F-150.

Base for a Build?

That’s all well and good, but does this make 3V engines a viable source of power in today’s day and age of Coyote-powered everything?

“3V Mustangs are still a great foundation to build a supercharged street car,” says Brent White of Brenspeed in Pierceton, Indiana.

If your dream is to build your 3V Mustang into one that can easily accomplish power ratings of 500 horsepower at the rear wheels, White is adamant that it is an easily reachable goal with the help of Brenspeed!

We asked White to send over some photos to accompany this article, and he compiled a bunch that were taken of a customer’s build. This 3V Mustang is a great example of what you can expect when you order one of Brenspeed’s B326 crate engines (more on that later) topped with a Roush supercharger.

Q’s and A’s

To begin, we asked White a few key questions.

Q: With 3V Mustangs encompassing model years of 2005 to 2010, and a lot of them being street driven, what would you say to someone looking to make more power with a car that is getting up there in miles?

A: As long as the engine has been maintained, you can typically add a supercharger even at over 100,000 miles. Routine maintenance as well as on-time oil changes allow the 3V engine to last a long time. We have seen engines with only 60,000 miles that look horrible because they were never serviced. We have also seen engines with 130,000 miles that look almost new inside because they were well taken care of. It’s not so much the mileage, but how the engine has been taken care of.

Q: Is it true that the 3V engine is not safe over 450 horsepower?

A: This is a big myth. The 3V engine, when equipped with a proper tune, good fuel, and on-time maintenance, is typically reliable at 450 rear wheel torque. It is not so much the horsepower you need to worry about. If you keep the rear wheel torque hovering around 450 to the tires or lower, the rods are typically happy. We have been supercharging stock 3V Mustangs since 2005, and even today we install superchargers on them every week. These installations provide us with a lot of data on what is “safe” or not, and that is a good torque level to be at.

Q: If I were to go ahead and order a supercharger from Brenspeed, do I need to go have my car dyno tuned?

A: Brenspeed mail order packages are designed to be installed and turn-key ready. This means that as long as it is installed correctly, you can simply load the calibration and you are good to go! We are able to do this because of the volume of kits we install here at Brenspeed. Many kits that we install weekly end up on the dyno for a video on, so this is a good quality control check on our end to confirm that the calibration that we mail order is on point.

Weighing the Options

What options are there out there for your 3V in terms of superchargers? Brenspeed carries just about every big-name supercharger on the market, including Roush, Paxton, Vortech, Edelbrock, and Whipple just to name a few.

While Brenspeed doesn’t lean towards any specific supercharger package, feel free to chat with them and let them know what you are trying to achieve with your Ford so that they can guide you in the right direction. After all, they have plenty of experience with each of the different manufacturers. They offer each system alone, or as part of what they call Turn Key Packages.

There are packages available for both manual and automatic Mustangs.

“These are not your normal kits everybody offers,” White explained. “Although we do offer base kits that all sell, 99% of clients go with our Turn Key Packages. We include the correct fuel system, tune, tuning device if needed, supercharger, spark plugs, induction – pretty much everything you need to install it on your car for great power and torque custom-calibrated for any current mods you have, like cams, intake manifold, headers, etc.”

Ordering a Brenspeed Turn Key Package makes it easy to pick the products that will work with the supercharger of your choice and have them delivered or installed all at once. It takes the guesswork out of trying to decide which products should accompany your supercharger of choice.

You might think that taking your 3V from 300 horsepower to upwards of 500 would mean that a lot will need to be upgraded in the process, but Brenspeed has good news for your wallet.

While Turn Key Packages don't include things like suspension, exhaust, or safety components, Brenspeed will gladly add them on and come up with a plan to build you the ultimate 3V Mustang. This particular customer went all out!

“Because we typically include a fuel system [in our Turn Key Packages], your injectors and pump are upgraded, so simply adding a new fuel filter pretty much wraps up the fuel side of things,” White told us. “Our kits include new spark plugs so that solves a high-mile spark plug issue. As long as the engine oil has been maintained you are typically good to go.”

Turn Key Packages

While Brenspeed’s Turn Key offerings are plentiful, here are examples of just a few of them so you can get an idea of what options are available. Keep in mind that Brenspeed also offers kits from Paxton, Vortech, Saleen, and more, and each of these kits is customizable and is offered in varying power levels, so basically, there is a package to fit every need.

Brenspeed 560R Roush Supercharger Package

The 560R package from Brenspeed is custom-calibrated to reach power levels of 560 horsepower and 458 lb-ft of torque at the flywheel. This specific package includes the Roush TVS 2.3L supercharger, Brenspeed custom calibration utilizing an SCT X4, a fuel pump upgrade, one step colder spark plugs, air induction system, intercooler, Roush upgraded belt tensioner, fuel rail assembly and pressure sensor, GT500 fuel injectors and throttle body, 3.5-inch bolt-on pulley, upgraded idler pulley, and wiring for installation. It has been designed for both automatic and manual-equipped 2005-2009 Mustang GTs.

Brenspeed Custom E-Force Supercharger Stage 2 Package

This particular Edelbrock package from Brenspeed includes the Edelbrock E-Force TVS supercharger, 41 lb/hr injectors, GT500 fuel system upgrade, Brisk spark plugs, a custom-tuned Brenspeed SCT X3, Edelbrock E-Force cold air induction, 3.25-inch pulley, and correct size serpentine belt (for 11 to 13 psi depending on RPM and elevation). This kit fits 2005-2010 Mustang GTs and allows for power levels of 600 horsepower and more than 450 lb-ft of torque, though Brenspeed suggests keeping the rear wheel torque under 450 lb-ft for engine safety.

Brenspeed Whipple W140AX Supercharger Package

This Brenspeed package features the Whipple W140AX twin-screw supercharger as its focal point, with available boost options from 6-20 psi, and the potential of making up to 700 horsepower at the rear wheels. The kit fits the 2005-2010 Mustang GT and promises at least 500 horsepower and 475 lb-ft of torque. At 11-12 psi, the package has made 550 horsepower and 540 lb-ft of torque. It features an aluminum air-to-water intercooler, Fluidyne heat exchanger, Shelby GT500 high-flow fuel pump, Ford Racing PCM flash tool, and more.

As with most Brenspeed products, these packages can be mail ordered to you at home or installed at Brenspeed’s Indiana facility.

Building On The Build

So what happens when you’ve also decided that the supercharged version of your Mustang isn’t quite enough power anymore? Once you’ve exhausted the options for a more stout tune and more boost, Brenspeed has a solution.

“A lot of times people think that the supercharger will be enough to feed their need for speed,” White explained. “Typically, it is — for a while. Once you are looking to exceed the potential of your stock engine, Brenspeed offers a B326 crate engine that can retain your OEM heads, cams, and headers. It is a 326 cubic inch stroker engine that is easily 1,000 horsepower capable. It was designed to operate in a street car or full-on drag car, and has been fully tested in both scenarios. The Brenspeed B326 crate engine can be purchased as a short-block or in three various stages of long-blocks which include different cylinder head and cam options.”

The Brenspeed B326 crate engine retains OE heads, cams, and headers and is easily 1,000 horsepower capable. It is available in three stages.

To wrap it up, the 3V engine is a great place to start on a mild to wild street or strip project. The modification possibilities are endless, with massive aftermarket support, and a properly-maintained engine is capable of producing big power on a relatively affordable budget.

As for Brenspeed, the team operates out of a massive 20,000 square foot installation and mail order facility, ready to accept delivery of your 3V-equipped Mustang. They are fully-staffed to build your dream car from start to finish, whether it be a mild bolt-on car or a fully-built engine and supercharged monster. They even offer a guest house for their clients so there is no need to stay at a hotel when visiting. An installation quote can be obtained by emailing [email protected]

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About the author

Stephanie Davies-Bardekoff

Stephanie Davies-Bardekoff got her start in automotive media while attending Rutgers. She worked for Roush Performance for a while, before eventually landing here at Power Automedia. Her Coyote-swapped 1992 Fox-body drag car is her prized possession.
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