The Ford Modular V8 (AKA "Mod V8") engine is the basis of practically every V8-powered vehicle made by Ford Motor Company (FoMoCo) in existence today. It is also the basis of the V10 powerplant inserted into a prototype Mustang and several Ford trucks. The "Modular" name has little to do with the motor, but on the manufacturing methodology; the plants can be retooled to put out different versions of the Modular powerplant in a matter of hours.7
Prior to the introduction of the 4.6 liter Mod V8 in the 1991 Lincoln Town Car, Ford's flagship V8 was the 302. The 302 has been around since time immemorial and is found in vehicles across FoMoCo's various primary product lines (Ford, Lincoln, and Mercury) from the 1960s to the 1990s. The 302 is a solid motor but over time it has been changed many times and eventually became something of a mismash. In addition, it is based on decidedly old technology.
The most significant characteristic of the Mod V8 as opposed to the 302, or for that matter the other popular Ford engines, the 351 Windsor and 351 Cleveland, is that it is an overhead cam (OHC) design, coming both in single-cam (SOHC) and dual-cam (DOHC) designs rather than being a pushrod/overhead valve (OHV) design. On the positive side, this allows more control over intake and exhaust timing, as well as higher RPMs. On the down side, this significantly increases engine complexity and makes the cylinder heads much larger and heavier. Many modern engines are still OHV designs, such as the V10 powerplant found in the Dodge Viper.
Aside from going OHC, there are other advantages to the Mod V8. Except for the earliest models the heads are mostly aluminum, as are the engine blocks after 1995 or so which translates into huge weight savings. (Chevrolet went to an aluminum block in the LS-series third-generation V8s, starting with the LS1.) Going to an aluminum block saves around 60 lb (27 kg) on its own.
Aside from inherent benefits of OHC, there are other numerous improvements made across the Mod V8 line. The engine uses "extra-hard aluminum main bearings, high-silicon hypereutectic pistons, low-friction rings, sintered iron valve seats and inserts, roller finger cam followers, and a unique connecting rod design wherein the big-end bore is "cracked" (that is, mechanically separated along a fault line on a special anvil with great force) instead of sawn so the grain matches up for extra strength."1 All Mod engines are equipped with SEFI, or sequential electronic fuel injection, which means there is one injector for each cylinder and each injector fires independently.
Now, let's return to the name of this thing; it's the Ford Modular engine. It's not just for V8s; there are two cases of Mod V8-based V10 engines in Ford concept vehicles, and one case in which they're found in a production vehicle. The 2003 Ford 427 Concept is a four-door sedan much like a late-model (2000s) Chrysler 300M with a 427 cubic inch Modular V10 with 590 horsepower and 590 ft-lb of torque.3 The vehicle is very much styled after the Galaxie 500 XL 427, down to the transparent, semi-square speedometer and tachometer.
A Modular V10 was spotted again at the 2004 North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in a Mustang Cobra Concept, but this one is only 390in3 — a mere 39 cubes more than the 351 ci Modular V8 in the 351 Mustang GT. This 11 percent increase in displacement provides a 20 percent improvement in horsepower and a 13 percent improvement in torque (From 500hp@6,750rpm/440lb-ft@5,500 to 605hp@6,750/501lb-ft@5,500.)2
Before either of those engines were displayed, however, a 6.8 liter 265hp/405ft-lb V10 appeared in 1997-2002 Ford trucks as the Triton V10. This is a marketing response to the Dodge 8 liter OHV V10 found in Dodge vans and trucks, and in the Viper. It was not a particularly convincing one, however, as the 2006 Viper SRT-10 model provides 500hp @ 5600 rpm and 525 lb-ft @ 4200 rpm. Even the "base" 1997 Viper made 450 hp @ 5,200 rpm and 490 lb-ft @ 3,700 rpm.5
Besides V8s and V10s, there is also a Modular V6 which is found inside the Mustang. It also uses the three-valve SOHC head, at least in the 2005+ models. For 2006, Carroll Shelby will be releasing a Supercharged V6 mustang with over 300 horsepower.
Modular Ford engines typically come with one of three types of head. There are 2 valve SOHC heads, mostly used in the early 1990s, with iron heads and blocks. There are 4 valve DOHC heads, with aluminum heads and blocks, mostly used in the late 90s. And, there is a 3-valve SOHC head, used in the 2005+ Mustang and the 2006+ Explorer. The three-valve head utilizes variable valve timing in order to improve horsepower output, and smooth out the torque curve.
Several Mod V8 engines come with Superchargers, particularly the Terminator Mustang, the Ford GT, and the 2007 Ford Shelby GT500. And the most powerful Modular V-engine Ford has ever made was in the Ford GT90 concept car, a six liter Quad-Turbo V12 with 720 bhp @ 6600 rpm and 660 lb-ft @ 4750 rpm. It was created by lopping the first two cylinders off of one Mod V8, and the last two off another, and welding them together.
The Modular V8 follows Ford's general tradition of making parts incompatible from revision to revision. Engines built at the two plants (Romeo, Michigan and Windsor, Ontario) have different characteristics as well. '91-92 SOHC heads will not swap onto '93-95 engines, though the latter heads will swap onto SOHC engines until 1999, when the engines were redesigned. However, that only holds true for engines from the Romeo plant. The Windsor plant began making SOHC Mod V8s in 1996, mostly for SUVs and trucks, and these heads won't interchange with anything else.8 In fact, the very early 4.6 liter SOHC powerplants have the same bellhousing as the vintage 289/302/351W blocks (they shared a bellhousing in early years, but changed later) and as such will bolt up to old transmissions including the AOD, AODE, and C4.7 In general, you have very short year ranges guaranteed to work together, and in almost no situations can you use parts for Mod V8s from one plant on a Mod V8 from another.
Firing order for the Mod V8 is 1-3-7-2-6-5-4-8.
- Freudenberger, Bob. Ford's Modular V8's. AIC AutoSite, 2005. (http://www.aicautosite.com/garage/encyclop/ency19h.asp)
- Sawyer, Christopher A. Eight Down, Two to Go. Field Guide to Automotive Technology, 2005. (http://www.autofieldguide.com/articles/050401.html)
- 2003 Ford 427 Concept. Fast-Autos.net, 2005. (http://www.fast-autos.net/ford/ford427.html)
- Ford Modular engine. Wikipedia, 2005.
- 1997 Dodge Viper Specs and Data. InternetAutoGuide.com, 2004. (http://www.internetautoguide.com/car-specifications/09-int/1997/dodge/viper/)
- 1995 Ford GT90 Concept. Fast-Autos.net, 2005. (http://www.fast-autos.net/ford/fordgt90.html)
- Smart, Jim. Modular Engines Explained. Mustang & Fords, 2005. (http://www.mustangandfords.com/techarticles/mufp_0509_swap/)
- Smart, Jim. Modular Engines Explained Part 2. Mustang & Fords, 2005. (http://mustangandfords.com/techarticles/mufp_0510_swap/)