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.
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.