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Budget Mod Motor Build - The Mod Motor Rocks

Shed Those Pushrods And Embrace The Future. The Cobra Guys Have Known All Along That The Mod Motor Rocks

By , Photography by Courtesy Ford Racing and Performance Parts, , Nick McKinney

What were you doing in 1991? The Gulf War was waged, Rodney King got a beat down, the Pittsburgh Penguins won their first Stanley Cup, the Minnesota Twins won the World Series, and Ford Motor Co. dropped the first 4.6L single overhead cam, two-valve-per-cylinder modular V-8 engine into a Lincoln Town Car, thus beginning its phasing out of the pushrod V-8.

The early mod motor was almost universally panned. As it rolled out across the other FoMoCo car lines, the critics became louder and more numerous. The most vociferous among them were Mustang owners, who largely despised the engine. The '96 Mustang, the first to boast mod motor power, carried the same 215hp rating as the previous year's car, the last with the venerable Five-Oh engine, but you wouldn't know by driving it. The power delivery was differ-ent from that of the outgoing pushrod engine, it had less low-end grunt, and it needed to rev higher to reach its powerband. As the Europeans are quick to point out, this situation is intolerable to Americans who demand the instant torque needed to win stoplight drag race wars. Mod motor Mustangs were getting their asses handed to them at intersections all across the country by smug Camaro and Firebird owners who had 275 hp from 350ci LT1s.

Ford responded by rolling out versions with more horsepower, but the company was a little too slow in doing so, and the unfortunate gutless, complicated, expensive stigma surrounding this engine remains in some segments to this day. One could argue that Ford may have prevented this by introducing the 280hp four-valve version first and putting it straight into the Mustang. Such was not the case, though, and the engine has struggled to gain the hearts of the masses. Compounding the problem, the aftermarket was slow to embrace the modular V-8, and that has kept many enthusiasts from building these engines. With the introduction of Trick Flow's two-valve heads, we think the tide is changing and that we'll be seeing more of the mod motor in performance applications.

This article is an overview of the performance potential of the mod motor. We received expert advice from the guys at Modular Mustang Racing (MMR) and Modular Head Shop. They gave us a few build options to consider and warned us of some traps to avoid along the way. This engine is a worthy platform and is capable of making an impressive amount of power. Let's investigate.

Engine Blocks

  4.6L Engines 5.4L Engines
Cubic inches 281 330
Bore 3.552 3.552
Stroke 3.543 4.165
Bore spacing 3.937 3.937
Deck height 8.937 10.078
Main journal diameter 2.657 2.657
Rod length 5.933 6.658
Bare block weight, iron 154 pounds
Bare block weight, aluminum 86 pounds

Note that the bore and bore spacing are the same for the 4.6 and 5.4. Therefore, any cylinder head will fit on any block. You do need to check the head gaskets, though. The oil holes may be in different locations and could cause oil to leak into the coolant. Your best bet is to use Ford Racing's head gaskets.

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