The 7.3-liter Godzilla engine from Ford Motor Company has become quite the hot-rodders delight. The 445 cubic-inch engine provides plenty of power out of the box and has the capabilities of handling extreme horsepower levels with minimal modifications. As the aftermarket industry has started to furnish parts, we’ve seen a rapid rate of swaps showing up at car shows. Instead of seeking out our favorite Mustangs of Holley Ford Fest, we went on a mission to find the 7.3-liter lovers who managed to shove this Super Duty engine between the framerails of their vehicle. Here are a few of our favorites.
Mix And Match Garage Godzilla
There is a popular graphic reference to feline taxidermy that can be used in almost any process. In the case of James Hartwick’s S197 Mustang, his approach to building a Godzilla-powered Mustang was far from conventional. Instead of sourcing products that were intended for the 7.3-liter engine, Hartwick derived parts from the Godzilla, Coyote, Modular, and Boss engines to complete his build and use the factory Coyote ECU.
In a true test of transmission strength, the MT-82 transmission was paired to the torque-monster Godzilla engine. Although the two share a common bolt pattern, Hartwick still needed to use a Coyote flywheel and a Crown Vic starter to bring it all together. Hartwick’s method seems to have worked, as the car cruises thousands of miles and still gets 24 miles per gallon. Instead of saying there are multiple ways to build a car, Hartwick’s motto could easily be, ‘where there’s a will, there’s a way.’
Fox Body Bird Soars Into The 9s
While Fox Body Mustang prices continue to skyrocket, the Thunderbird Turbo Coupe has remained a viable and much more affordable option for drag racing. The benefit of not having to pay the enthusiast tax on the initial purchase means more money can be put toward the build. In fact, Dave Henderlong purchased his first Thunderbird from a brother-in-law for the low price of two movie tickets and popcorn! Since then, the car has received several motor revisions, with the last one being a 7.3-liter Godzilla. The engine is now equipped with a set of Willis Performance Stage 1 cylinder heads and 002 camshaft.
When chasing naturally aspirated records, drivetrain and suspension are key components to a winning combination. Henderlong’s Thunderbird received a massive weight reduction and proper suspension from Strange Engineering and QA1. Power is transmitted through a Powerglide with a 5600-rpm stall FTI converter, before it heads towards the 8.8 rearend. At Holley Ford Fest, the ‘bird managed a 10.20-second pass, but a week later Henderlong entered the nines with a 9.92 at 132.3 mph. Now that Henderlong has achieved his goal, he plans to go turbo and enter the 8-second range with his street car.
Cobra Jet Strikes 8s On Nitrous
The modern Cobra Jet was built to showcase what an engine could do with a proper chassis. Completely redesigned from its factory counterpart, the Cobra Jet features a fully adjustable suspension, manual steering and brakes, a roll cage, and everything a drag racer desires. With a fully sorted and adjustable chassis, the Cobra Jet makes the perfect test mule for newly-developed engines, such as the 7.3-liter Godzilla.
No one knows this better than Paul Svinicki, who has had numerous engine combinations enter the engine bay of his Cobra Jet. The latest engine is a nitrous-huffing 7.3 that attacks the quarter-mile in 8 seconds. Svinicki kept his engine build simple with Mahle pistons, Molnar rods, and a VCT delete kit. The 445 cubic-inch engine receives one shot of nitrous from a Nitrous Outlet kit to load the converter and another to awaken the beast down the ‘strip.
A FuelTech FT600 not only determines the precise time the nitrous will be activated and used, but is also used to data-log each pass. The combination of tuning and nitrous has allowed the 3,430-pound Cobra Jet to run a best of 8.91 at 150 mph in the quarter-mile. Needless to say, this Cobra Jet would make the engineers at Ford Performance proud.
F-100 Gets Wild
The F-100 is currently experiencing a great deal of interest, with builds ranging from full chassis restorations to time-attacking performance hot-rods. As one could imagine, this will quickly bring in the latest engine combinations. Wildside Kustoms decided to jump on the opportunity to build a few F-100s of their own, that range from daily drivers to show trucks, all of which add performance and handling to the early F-series trucks.
Wildside brought out its olive drab F-100 as the “show” vehicle. Instead of being an over-the-top aesthetic creation, they utilize the truck as a way to show potential clients what can be done. “This is our show vehicle – by show I mean, this is what we can do. It’s made to drive, beat on, and still be comfortable,” explains William Leimbach, director of research and acquisition at Wildside Kustoms.
Under the hood is a 600 horsepower Godzilla engine that is paired to a TREMEC TKX five-speed manual transmission. Handling characteristics have been altered for the better, utilizing a Crown Vic front end with coilovers on all four corners. Bringing the beast to a stop is a four-wheel disc conversion. While the truck has the ability to hang with sports cars, it still has the creature comforts of a modern vehicle with air conditioning, power steering, and a full TMI interior. We’re excited to see what else erupts from the doors of Wildside Kustoms in the future.
The Godzilla Whisperer
Being a pioneer is a difficult task for some, however, for Brian Wolfe, it comes easy. It all started when the 7.3-liter engine was originally conceived on the Ford Motor Company drawing board. It was during this time that Wolfe began the process of working on the engine’s development from the OE side. After retiring from the company, however, the OE spectrum faded and the performance side took hold. Now, instead of drawing up business plans and propositions, Wolfe’s time is spent developing new performance parts for the Godzilla platform at Willis Performance Enterprises.
In addition to running the shop, Wolfe campaigns an Ultra Street Fox Body that means business. An F1A-94 ProCharger hangs off the front end of the stock-block Godzilla. Internally, Wiseco pistons, MGP aluminum rods, and Jesel products make sure the engine is stout enough to handle the 21 psi of boost that is thrown down its intake. This winning combination has resulted in the car achieving 7-second quarter-mile passes. These time-slips make his Fox the quickest Godzilla-powered car in the world.
Folkestad’s Fox Body Affirmation
It’s rare that a final product will mirror the original rendering. However, when the Folkestad’s get involved, anything is possible. The father and son duo decided a Fox Body would be the perfect candidate for a wicked, all-purpose Mustang that would endure drag racing, autocross, and more. Just before the 2021 SEMA Show a rendering was made available to the public with a deep blue Mustang slammed on Forgeline Motorsports wheels. It was only a few short months after that the Mustang was deployed and everyone saw their initial vision turned into a real-life car.
While the car stands out from any other Fox Body on the scene, it doesn’t spend its time being paraded to car shows. Instead, Preston Folkestad pushes the chassis hard on the track and continues to test out Foxzilla’s performance and handling. The ProCharged Fox won the Grand Champion Vintage class at Holley Ford Fest and will be competing in the Optima Street Car Challenge. If this Fox Body doesn’t do it for you, I’m not sure what will.
The Viable Engine Option
The 7.3-liter has proven to be an engine that can be used in a variety of situations. From drag racing to autocross, the engine’s versatility relies more on bolt-on configuration than actual engine build. The engine’s simplistic push-rod approach means an easy swap for those looking for 400 horsepower from a modern engine, but also the ability to massively increase horsepower with minimal modifications. As Ford Performance continues to push the 7.3-liter crate engine and the aftermarket community builds parts to take it to the next level, we’re excited to see what else this 445 cubic-inch engine ends up in.