early 90's 5.0L vs older 302 - Vintage Mustang Forums

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post #1 of 9 (permalink) Old 08-23-2008, 11:04 PM Thread Starter
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I do apologize that this might be a duplicate post but I can't seem to find the old one that talked a little about this. What I'm trying to figure out is what's the big plus of a 88-93 or so 5.0 versus an early 302. I realize that the 5.0 is a roller block but you can buy retro roller lifters for the 302. I also realize that the 5.0 has forged pistons....but that doesn't mean squat to me because just about any block you pick up with high miles will have to be bored. If so, then you just go forged at that time in the 302 or 5.0. So what am I missing Is there a huge diff in heads I'm not comparing EFI to carb'd. This is just a long block question. Also....will a T-5 bolt up to an old 302 (aren't they bolt 6 bolt housings)??

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post #2 of 9 (permalink) Old 08-24-2008, 12:00 AM
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Yes, a T5 will bolt any 302, 5.0, or 351 block, they all have the same bolt pattern on the back of the block. You can also include '65-'68 289 blocks, it was only the older 289's that had the early 5 bolt pattern.

As far as advantages of a late model block go, the main difference is the roller cam and the 1 piece rear main seal. Even though retro fit lifters are available to allow roller cams in older engines, they are pretty expensive lifters. Taking into account all the expenses of retrofitting a roller cam and comparing it to the cost of buying a late model core vs an early model core it is generally cheapest to just get a roller block when selecting a core to rebuild. It's also 1 less mod to worry about during the build. Not that it's a big deal, but anytime you modify something there's always the chance some unexpected difficulty will pop up.

The 1 piece seal isn't a big deal either, but is generally more reliable and less prone to leaking than the older 2 piece rope seals.

Lastly, some people will cite the better quality iron used in late model 5.0 blocks. It is true that during the 80's Ford increased the nickel content of the iron in the blocks (actually they just returned the nickel content that they removed in the mid 70's), resulting in stronger castings and reduced cylinder wear. Ford's reasoning was that a harder iron in the block combined with low tension oil rings reduced friction and improved efficiency of the engine. Although not the primary reason, the secondary benefit of reducing cylinder wear also meant fewer engine related warranty issues since rings and cylinder seal routinely lasted twice the mileage covered by the drivetrain warranty.

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post #3 of 9 (permalink) Old 08-24-2008, 12:03 AM
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Go with the newer 5.0.. But then again I am biased!
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post #4 of 9 (permalink) Old 08-24-2008, 02:16 AM
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5.0 magazine several years ago had a technical piece on comparing 289/302/5.0 blocks. The conclusion was that the aftermarket Ford Racing A4 5.0 block was the strongest of these, then the Boss 302 block, then the 289HiPo/Mexican 302. The 74-? 302s were rated the weakest, I am not sure about the 93Cobra R model, where it lined up. They did not like any of the 5.0 factory blocks when compared with 289 and EARLY 302s. Areas of comparison were the size of the main caps, the thickness of the pan rails, webbing at the front and rear of the intake valley, some other webbing somewhere in the front, lower part of the block, don't know where exactly. Perhaps you can try the 5.0 website and check through their archives for the story.

As for the T5 tranny, the issue with the T5 is simply the length of the input shaft. If you use a 5.0 bellhousing say 1983 or later, the bellhousing provides the correct spacing, when bolted to the 289/302. However, if the bolt pattern of this bellhousing will not work on the older block or for whatever reason you decide to retain the stock bellhousing, you will need to purchase and install a spacer plate (roughly 1 inch thick) to accommodate the longer input shaft found in the T5.

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post #5 of 9 (permalink) Old 08-24-2008, 02:34 AM
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I think the reason why that specific time period is chosen, isn't necessarily due to the block. It's due to the type of EFI system found on those particular years. '88 was the first year for Ford to switch from the Air Density style EFI, ove to the Mass Air Flow style system. This was for California only cars that year, with ALL 5.0's going to the MAF system the following year. The last year for forged pistons was '92 (according to the info I've found). So that wouldn't be an issue for a '93 motor. Ford started changing more parts and pieces on the 5.0 starting in '94, that's why the desirability stops at '93.

Generally, the '89-'93 5.0's are the preferred years for restomod EFI swaps and hotrodders. Also, the aftermarket offers most support for those years due to that popularity.

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post #6 of 9 (permalink) Old 10-26-2010, 12:50 PM
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what about 80 to 86 blocks ? are they any good?..do they use a roller cam and do you have to change the harmonic balancer, distributor and firing order also when putting in a 60s mustang?

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post #7 of 9 (permalink) Old 10-26-2010, 01:14 PM
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Originally Posted by jpm_68cougar View Post
what about 80 to 86 blocks ? are they any good?..do they use a roller cam and do you have to change the harmonic balancer, distributor and firing order also when putting in a 60s mustang?

You resurrected a 2 year old thread. The benefit of the 5.0L isn't necessarily the block. The 87-93 mustang HO motors came with a roller cam and forged pistons. The engines lasted a long time if taken car of properly. Many have purchased a 150,000 mile motor and only needed a hone job with a new set of rings and bearings. The other benefit is cheaper roller lifters versus a lifter set designed for a non lifter block. Often times the old ones are reused. Another benefit is the availablility of cheap good used roller cams. Fox guys love to change that stuff around.

I don't believe the 80-86 had forged pistons. I don't think they had roller cams. I could be wrong on both.

You can do a search to find the answers to installing into a vintage mustang. There isn't one answer to your question. The distributor will need a cam gear designed to work with the cam. Non roller cams are cast and soft and typically use a cast gear. Roller cams are not soft and need either a billet gear, polymer gear or a bronze gear.

Older balancers are designed for a 28 ounce imbalance rotating assembly and can have 3 or 4 pulley bolts. Newer balancers are designed for a 50 ounce imbalance and have 4 pulley bolts. If you choose to run the old V belt drive system on a HO motor you will need to buy a balancer with the correct balance and bolt pattern for your pulley. I am not sure if there is a V belt pulley available that has 4 bolt holes. You may also choose to run the serpentine set up with the HO accesory mounting brackets and get a higher rated alternator in the process. You will need to make some wiring adjustments for the new internal voltage regulator located inside the HO alternator. That can be found on this website also. Do some more searching to understand some of the other things that will need to be modified.

oil pan
oil pump pickup
belt system
possible wiring
oil dipstick
manual clutch linkage issues
distributor gear
firing order
water pump
radiator fan

I do not have AC or PS on the car I converted. I went with the serpentine belt setup and used a trick flow AC and PS eliminator bracket for a fox belt routing. I drilled a hole in the fox timing cover for a oil dipstick. I used the fox alternator bracket. I plugged the dipstick hole in the block with a wooden dowel and gasket sealant. I used a front sump oil pan with the proper oil pump pick up. My manual transmission uses a cable set up from mustang steve. I used an aluminum radiator with a driver side intake on the water pump. I bought a reverse rotation flex fan to work the with the fox reverse rotation water pump.

Sense is not as common as you think.
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Last edited by OCHOHILL; 10-26-2010 at 01:16 PM.
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post #8 of 9 (permalink) Old 10-26-2010, 01:46 PM
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Any 5.0 block from 86 to 94 is more desirable than the earlier blocks purely because of the factory installed roller cam.

As a short block the desired years are 86 to 92 because of the roller cam and also because of the forged pistons. in 1993 the 5.0 got hyper eutectic pistons.

If all you want is the block then any in that era is as good as another.

I have never heard of Ford increasing the nickle content in that era of block. Is there some way to confirm this? I have seen pictures of 5.0 blocks that have split in half so I do wonder about whether there really is more nickle content.

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post #9 of 9 (permalink) Old 10-26-2010, 02:12 PM
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I've been hearing rumors about "high nickel content" this or that blocks for years. I personally suspect Ford settled on a cast iron mixture many many years ago and for added needed strength just varied casting thicknesses. It sure would be nice if somebody had the equipment to test the various blocks in question so we'd actually know. By the way, I haven't figured the "higher strength nickel" blocks anyway. Look up the definition of nickel-iron and you get this-
Nickel cast iron: "(metallurgy) An improved-strength alloy cast iron containing a small percentage of nickel (2-5%); in larger amounts (15-36%) nickel primarily imparts corrosion resistance."
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