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I want to know if I am starting from 100% clean slate, what is the best 302 to start with? And why?

I was thinking '91 after reading the carcraft article. As delivered, 5.0 engines of this vintage had forged-aluminum pistons, a hydraulic-roller camshaft (see spec chart), a double-roller timing set, and stamped 1.6:1 nonadjustable rocker arms. Rated static compression runs around 9.0:1 with the stock cast-iron E7TE cylinder heads, which are equipped with puny 1.78/1.46-inch intake/exhaust valves and nominal 60cc chambers. With stock fuel-injection, this engine was factory rated at 225 hp at 4,200 rpm and 300 lb-ft of torque at 3,000. http://www.carcraft.com/techarticles/116_0307_ford_302_v8_engine_buildup/index.html

I plan on doing AFR aluminum Heads, a slightly larger than stock cam, and headers/exhaust.

I would LIKE to do an EFI motor, but am not 100% sure either way yet, I have to do more research into the topic.
 

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1985-1992 5.0s from Mustangs/Capris had forged pistons. They went to hypereutectic in 1993. 1985-end of production had roller cams. If you are looking for the EFI too, then you will need 1989-up for the mass air system. The best of all worlds is 1989-1992.
 

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For just the block, the now discontinued Ford Performance Parts A4 block was the strongest - including 4 bolt mains. The new Boss 302 block is an improvement beyond the A4 block. Apart from those two, the next down would be the Mexican block 302, which has a little extra beef in the webbing and also the HiPo style larger main caps. The Mexican block is not a roller block so a restrofit kit would have to be used for a roller cam application.

The 1993 5.0 Cobra R engine is probably the top rated 5.0 complete factory engine. However, for just the computers, the 1993 NON Gt and NON cobra has a better tune built into the chip. Ford detuned the cobra/gt computers for EPA reasons. The Ford service replacement computer for all 5.0 EFI engines is the standard 1993 computer. Note a different computer was used for manual versus auto transmissions.
 

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The 5.0 motors in stock form have a lot of torque. The aftermarket base for performance goodies is basically unlimited. If you think EFI is in your future, you could look for a decent donor car and get everything. You should try to get an '89 or later because they have mass air which is more "mod-friendly" than the earlier speed density models. As far as blocks in general, unless you are building something to race, a stock block should be fine. The 5.0 blocks have taller lifter bores that were designed with roller cams in mind. While it is possible to use a small base circle (special retrofit) cam with special roller lifters on any SBF, the cost is much higher than just going to a late model block.

In any case a complete donor engine with wiring harness and eec would be a good start, if you can stomach the look of the stock intake under your vintage hood. I've basically reached the conclusion that a stock ford EFI system is the only cost effective way to get to EFI on a vintage car. There are several aftermarket systems out there that look 100 times better, but there aren't any that will run better on a well built street car. There's just been so many people build 5.0's over the years with stock EECs that there's just nothing left to learn. You can duplicate what someone else has done, be that a head swap like you're thinking about, an intake swap, a stroker kit, a blower, a turbo...you name it. It's been done.

I saw a fairly complete EFI system from a 5.0 sell for about $205 last week on Ebay, less computer and wiring harness. EEC's are bringing about $100 used.

Compare that to roughly $3,000 for an aftermarket EFI system, that won't run any better than a stock ford system...and you begin to see that the bling of a mass-flo or Accel aftermarket system or God Forbid, an Imagine Injection system (DROOL) is a lot of cash for what amounts to eye candy.

Phil
 

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good advice but on the computers what you want to look for is a 89-92 5 speed computer..it will have the code A9L on it.....these are the computer with the factory tune taht accepts cams,,etc without throwing a check engine light..the 93 cobras will accept mods as well,,but are generally thought to be crap compared to the A9L i believe the 93 cobra ones are coded X3Z if i remember right...and if you see a 89-93 automatic trans computer it will be a A9P most likely..they are OK,,but have different timing settings becouse of the auto trans..so less power...best bet is a 89-92 engine as stated above and any 89-92 5 speed computer with A9L printed on the case..they came in LX and GT cars,,never in cobras (go figure)
and for teh 93 cobra R engine its the same as any other cobra engine (93) except where blue printed from factory...i know of a 95 cobra engine in a wrecked 95 here locally if interested...i dont need it but did talk to the guy today about the brakes off the car..still has intake,,GT-40 heads,,and factory crane roller rockers...pm me if you want his number...hope this helsp,,jack
 

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I like the '68 heads on an early 302 block. The heads because they have smaller chambers and if you put bigger than stock valves in and gasket match the ports, the heads do surprisingly well. The early blocks are seasoned and if you have to do a rebuild you can put whatever pistons, cam, etc. you want into it. While there are roller conversions, you can use roller rockers and that makes a difference and with synthetic oil, the flat tappet cam is more efficient. It is not at all hard to build a 300HP engine without going roller and torque can be at around 300 for that grunt we all seem to like. Now, that is my experience and prefrence; the later model 5.0s are very good too as a start pont; I just don't have experience with them. As I recall, they are rated at 225 HP or so depending upont the year. A neighbor had a police version and while it was nice, it was slower than my car. My $.02...
 

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"good advice but on the computers what you want to look for is a 89-92 5 speed computer..it will have the code A9L on it....."

I ordered a Tweecer RT (EEC programmer with realtime monitoring) yesterday. I think I'm going to learn a lot about tuning EEC-IV in the next few months. Can't wait to try it out on my '89 GT.

Phil
 

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Stay away from the 1986 engine. You will have to fly cut most the pistons to make aftermarket heads fit. My engine in from a 1990.
 
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