H/C/I Install

H/C/I or heads, cam and intake, are probably the most common and most responsive mods you can do on a 5.0.  There a many different variations, and talk to  5 Mustang guys, and you’ll get 5 different opinions on what combo is the best.  The best combination for me, is the one that cost the least and delivers the most.  I already have the Ford Explorer GT-40 intake, so I have been combing the forums and CL for used deals on heads.  It didn’t take long to find a friend of a friend selling a set of used AFR 165 aluminum heads.

Here they are side-by-side to my stock OEM E7 heads

AFR & E7sAFR & E7s

I weighed them both and the aluminum AFRs were 20 lbs. lighter.  The E7s are 50 lbs. and the AFRs are 30 lbs.

E7 weigh-in AFR weigh-in

I was actually debating this one, whether to do the  cam or save some money.  I don’t want a lopey, rough ideling cam.  Some large cams even create vacuum problems, among other issues.  I even was thinking of pulling the stock stick and retarding it 4 degrees.  I remember reading about this trick in a magazine, I think stock class racers did this.  By replacing the timing chain and accurately timing the cam, at 4 degrees retarded, the stock cam makes more power at higher rpms, closer to the GT-40 intake’s power band.  With everything apart now would be the best time to do it, I know down the road I would regret not doing anything , so I decided to start looking for the right camshaft.  As for the cams, again there are many to choose from and everybody has their favorites.  FRPP has a set of “Alphabet” cams which are very popular, the B, E, F, X or Z303 camshafts.  Each have different specs and requirements.  The E and B303 cams are probably the most popular for naturally aspirated 302 motors like mine.  But I did some research, and decided to go with a custom grind camshaft.  I discovered 3 popular grinders…Jay Allen, Buddy Rawls and Ed Curtis of Flowtech Induction.  After careful research and posting a thread on Corral.net, I decided to order a cam from Ed Curtis.  I filled out a full page questionnaire off his website on all the specifics of my car and engine.  He contacted me after some time and recommended a “Street Beast” cam of his.  I also added a set of hardened pushrods and purchased a set of Scorpion 1.6 roller rockers.

Cam Scorpion 1.6 RR

Full length headers are a great improvement over shortys, especially when adding heads, cam and intake.  Years ago when I was in high school, an old-time hot-rodder explained to me the benefit of tri-y headers.  It made a lot of sense to me, so one day at a swap meet in Englishtown, I picked up a set for a 302.  They made a tremendous difference on my slightly modified ’86 GT.  Basically, the reasoning behind a tri-y header is this…instead of each cylinder having it’s own primary tube and emptying into one large collector.  The result being better top end power but a loss of bottom end torque.  This is not a problem for most 5.0 owners, the 302 has plenty of bottom end torque and many of us have hi-reving rear end gears anyway.  The tri-ys have all the benefit of a the long tubes, plus no loss of bottom end power.  This is because of the tri-y design.  Two cylinders combine into a secondary and the two secondarys empty into a collector.  Luck would have it, I found a set of used fox-body 302 Doug Thorley Tri-y headers on Corral.net.  The guy was nice enough to ship them from CA to NY, they were in a bit of rough condition.  So I sent them out to Jet-Hot to be coated.

Doug Thorley Tri-Y headers (before) Doug Thorley headers


I also found a 2000 Ford Cougar electric fan.  I was originally looking for Contour fan, but snagged this comparable one at a salvage yard for $80



2000 Cougar electric fan



Install begins at Realspeed Auto







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