BLUE OVAL ENGINE SWAP

LKR050106

Q:

I have a 1954 Ford Mainline two-door sedan, and my husband is restoring and updating it. We want to change engines since it’s got the original 223-inch 6-cylinder. We’d like to install a later 302-inch (5.0-liter) Ford V-8. We cannot find any information on this swap, specifically regarding motor mounts. Can you help? Also, will the bellhousing from the original 6-cylinder engine fit the 302? The transmission is a 3-speed manual. Any help or direction you can offer will be greatly appreciated. Heather Fuller Lexington, NC

A:

The easiest V-8 swap would be to go with a Y-block Ford V-8, since they were offered in your car. While the Y-block won’t have the kick of the later 302, it could have plenty more power than the six. It would be a relatively easy upgrade since so many factory parts could be used, and modifications would be minimal. There are plenty of great hot rod options for the Y-block out there now to make it a true performer, and it would certainly be ‘period correct’ if you’re after a ’50s style. There are some great new parts that have been developed for this engine, including a new single 4-barrel carb intake, MSD ignition, and ’50s-style ribbed valve covers. Whether it’s a 239, 272, 292, or 312-inch Y-block, it could be fine, but naturally the larger displacements are preferred. These engines are relatively affordable and shouldn’t be too hard to locate. If you’re committed to the later model 302, you should consider a subframe swap. By upgrading the entire front suspension, you’d get plenty of modern goodies like disc brakes, power steering, and plenty of room to run headers, etc. This would also allow you to use factory-type 302 motor mounts and other accessories with relative ease. TinMan Fabrication also makes a fair number of engine mounts, however this would be a hot rod installation and require some fabrication. The bellhousing patterns between your early 6-cylinder and the later 302 are very different. Besides, the early Ford 3-speed stick was never designed to handle the kind of torque the later 302 makes. If you could get it all hooked up and working, it probably wouldn’t last too long. So, those are just a few options you’ve got to choose from. You can update everything from the firewall forward to give modern ride, braking ability, and ease of engine/transmission installation, or you can keep most of the original chassis and upgrade using ’50s period parts with modern upgrades. The ’54 Mainline is not among the most popular of cars, so there’s not a wide range of aftermarket options out there for you (like the ’55-’57 Chevy, for instance.) Your choice of vehicle will make it really stand out among the rest once it’s done, but finding parts and pieces will surely be more challenging. Mark Simpson Managing Editor
Discussion
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12 Responses to “BLUE OVAL ENGINE SWAP”
  1. joe ennesser

    On this swap, I did a similar swap in a ’56 F100. I had (and still do) 233 with the 4 speed granny stick. The change was made to a low milage ’92 HO 302 that had burned on the top (manifold and F.i.)and with the AOD trans. This made a very nice swap. It will require thinking about some engine modifications, if you use an engine of this year or later .later.

    The mounting for this engine is different than the 233. The 233 has one front and two mounts on the engine and no trans. mount ,but the 302 has two mounts on the side of the engine and one at the rear of the trans… I fabricated mounting plates from an I beam and bolted and welded the to the side rails ans found a rear cross member and floor shifter on a junked little later ford pickup. Iused stock motor and trans. mounts Becase of the F 100’s underside space no cutting was required. You will need a new drive shaft and make sure there is some vertical offset between the trans and rear end (there should not be a straight line relationship.
    There are too many small things to go into, and their are many, but overall this was a nice conversion and done by myself on one side of a plain old two car garage with much junk around. I would also include that I had much tech help from a great friend,Kenny, that is a certified Ford nut. I hope this helps, there are probably differences in the units one that would be main going from a 6 volt positive ground to a 12 volt negative ground system. Good luck

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  2. Leeand

    Hello there. The very best place for information on your 54′ Mainline, is to go to the 1954 Ford Club of America. The Club Members are 54′ Ford Enthusiasts and many members have done this 302 swap, so the should know all of the tricks of this procedure. Here is the link, http://www.1954ford.com/. I also have a 54′ Customline, but it has a 1959 Mercury 312 in it.

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  3. Rob Brownell

    I have found that using motor mounts from the early small block fords IE (260 – 289) from 63 – 64 full & mid-size car’s will allow the 302 to fit in the older cars, the mount bolts on the block & has a stud bolting it to the motor mount block on the frame, you will have to up grade the transmission to fit the new engine & may have to modify your existing cross-member to accommodate the new transmission

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  4. EUGENE

    BACK IN THE LATE 50’S TO EARLY 60’S I WORKED ON A LOT OF FORD Y BLOCKS. ONE 1954 FORD HAD FACTORY 239 WITH 2 BARREL CARB. RATED AT 130 HP REMOBED IT AND REPLACED IT WITH A1956 MERCURY 312 WHICH CAME WITH FACTORY 4 BARREL CARB AND WAS RATED AT 230 HP I BELIEVE. THIS MADE A HUGE PERFORMANCE INCREASE. IN 1968 WE RACED AT THE U.S. NATIONALS WITH A 57 CHEVY. SEDAN DELIVERY IN STOCK ELIMINATOR. IT WAS POWERED BY A STOCK LEGAL 283 HP ROCHESTER FUEL INJECTED 283. WE RAN CLASS AGAINST AN IMPRESSIVE 57 FORD STATION WAGON POWERED BY A FORD 312 ” Y” BLOCK WITH FACTORY SUPERCHARGER. WE HAD THE NHRA RECORD AT THE TIME BUT THE FORD BEAT US, BECAUSE OUR CAR RAN OUT OF GAS AT HALF TRACK. I ALSO HAVE A FRIEND IN MY GALAXIE CLUB THAT BUILT HIS DAILY DRIVER, A 1955 MAINLINE WITH A 460 FORD. ANOTHER COMMON SWAP IS TO USE A FORD FE ENGINE LIKE A 332-428. WHICH ORIGINATED IN 1958. AT THE SAME TIME THEY STILL USED THE “Y”. BLOCK. THIS SHOULD BE ALMOST A BOLT IN SWAP.

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  5. warren

    I have a 1954 ford two door coupe with a 351 cleveland engine the only problem was the motor mounts and the trans mounts, warren

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  6. Pete Swarr

    I would suggest using a Ford Crown Vic cop car as a perfect donor car for everything. They are quite common, heavy duty, and have lots of options to put into the old girl.

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  7. Don Schools

    I’m suggesting ypu consider a a late model complete front crossmember off a Lincoln or crownvic. It’s complete and easily installed. Street rod mounts and use an overdrive trans. Or can use a manual transmission if preferences dictate. Fuel milage is much better than the old yblocks. And parts are expensive for any yblocks. Twice to three times. Plus if using later model if traveling and have issues you can get parts anywhere for it then

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  8. Bud Hennessy

    The swap of a 302 or 351 Windsor version Ford motor into a 54 Ford is a popular swap and not that difficult. Anyone with experience in swapping later engines into early cars can do it. The usual swap includes an automatic transmission C4, C6 or AOD and a Mustang, Comet, Meteor, Versailles or similar size Ford rear axle assembly. Radiator hose connection moving can be done by any competent radiator repair shop. Wiring should be upgraded too, as well as 12v alternator, coil, regulator, light bulbs, etc. The brakes and steering components should also be upgraded with disc brakes, dual master cylinder and power rack and pinion steering or Borgeson power unit. If done properly, you will end up with a car that drives like a modern car, but still looks like an old classic.Might as well add AC while you are at it. Hope this helps, have fun.

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  9. joe

    I did a similar swap. A1996 302 ho/a.o.d. trans. into a 1956 f100. Some items:

    1.unit fit with no mod, cutting of body or frame. Had to make motor mount frame parts. Used I-Beam welded up to fit C shaped frame and stock ford motor mounts. rear trans mount required a different cross unit (found on a junked truck). The unit sits low, but everything fit nicely fit over the solid axil and old cross member. This required a new drive shaft (note that the shaft has offset, so u-joints have angle.)
    2.The cooling may need modification. I had to add a trans cooler and a electric fan (this is a 2 speed unit out of a Lincoln) since the engine fan was to low to cool to radiator. Check that cap used is proper for the radiator or you can blow it. An electric fuel pump was needed since the there was no michanica pump.
    You electrical system may be a consideration. 54 is 6 volt + ground generator ,302 is 12 volt – ground.
    3.My motor required changing water pump, intake with 2 bblo carb, distributor with electronic module and change of distributor grear.

    These are some of the main things I can think of and there are small things not covered. I did all work and fabrication of the swap in my garage. Iwill add a good friend, that found the motor/trans and has a long history of working of Fords and swaps.
    You can do the swap, just remember take your time, think out you moves and the think it over a second time before starting.

    Good luck

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  10. George McNeley

    My question is there a newer transmission that will connect to a 1955 Ford F-100 233 6 cylinder without many problems?

    Reply
    • Customer Service

      Hi George. To make the conversion you’ll need a transmission adapter.

      Bendtsen Transmission makes the Speed Gem adapters that would even let your connect a AOD transmission to your engine.
      Here is a link to their site: http://www.transmissionadapters.com
      Tell Bob we sent you!

      You may also find an adapter to a C4 transmission from Wilcap.
      Here is a link to their site:
      http://www.wilcap.com

      Wrench Safe, Mark-CCRC

      Reply