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479hp Ford 302 for $4,991 - Best Buck Banger

How we turned this Ford 302 in to a 480 hp rocket-sled fireball for only $4,900.

Photography by , The Invisible Hand

It has bad vacuum, you need a stupid converter or a clutch and deep gears to operate it on the street, and it spits and wiggles like a basket full of baby vipers. But we can't stop winking at it. We love this little engine and its brutal veneer, even though there isn't a machinist in the country who is going to touch the short-block with a 10-foot dial indicator. It's just too far out on the edge. This engine would be loads of fun in a 4:56:1-geared Maverick or a Mustang four-speed with a gutted interior bang-shifted at 7,800.

Way back in the Nov. '07 issue, we hot-tanked and dingle-honed this 302 before we reassembled it with original parts and made a street-friendly 279 hp with mid-300 lb-ft of torque using an RV cam and aluminum intake. A couple of months later, we added a set of AFR 165 street heads for a surprising 92hp improvement and a big, fat torque gain in the midsection of the curve without even changing the tiny 218/228 camshaft. The engine would have done a lot better with a roller stick and more compression, since the combo only netted us around 7.5:1. Still, the engine was an excellent example of a low-buck street combo that would have run happily for a long time on the worst sluice-water gasoline imaginable. We lied to ourselves and pretended to be happy with it. When we asked what you, the reader, thought, you told us, rather loudly, to see just how far we could go with the stock short-block, and you didn't care if we blew something off in the process. Gee, thanks.

We flipped through the JE catalog and found a set of off-the-shelf forged pop-up pistons that were designed to build 13.8:1 compression with a 58cc head and the stock crank and rod combo. Visions of another 100hp gain with a really radical, solid, flat-tappet cam for some serious noise drugged the brain hamster. How could we not do this? To top it off, Tony Mamo from Air Flow Research called and said there was a set of brand-new Competition Ported 185cc small-block Ford heads cooling in the CNC machine. Dude, what would you do? Our U-joints are done for.

OPTIONAL GOODIES
DESCRIPTION PN PRICE
Childs & Albert ring machine RF-112 $475.00
Ford valve covers M-6582-E302P* 114.95 each
Comp Cams nitriting service N/A 100.00
MSD pro billet ready-to-run dist. 8352 363.90
BIG FAT COMP CAM
DESCRIPTION ADVERTISED DURATION DURATION AT 0.050 LIFT LOBE SEPARATION
Comp Mech. Flat Tappet 282/294 256/265 0.609/0.624 108

SRP Piston SpecsPN: 150069Bore: 4.030Stroke: 3.00Cubic inches: 306Rod length: 5.090Compression distance: 1.600Dome volume: 18ccGram weight: 525

Head Flow Makes PowerBoth heads were tested using a 13/4 exhaust pipe on a 4.030 bore with 28 inches of test depression.

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