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


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

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29 Responses to “BLUE OVAL ENGINE SWAP”

  1. William Robinson

    Back in the early 60's I had a 53 that I installed a 322 cu in buick nail head. Great running car. That's been a while ago so don't much about installation problems but they were not a stopper. Did lot of drag racing with it and had no problems with trans. Good driver. Just out of college and worked in MD and came home to south Jersey on weekends. No problems. 53 trans held up but rear was problem if I raced too much. Good luck.

  2. Rick

    Hi I have to agree with gentleman that left a message , yeah a later year V8 a 239 flathead would look and suit the car. I have a 239 in my Ford and plenty of power and can be easily bumped up for more power.

  3. Steven More

    Checkout Shoebox Central for engine mounts

  4. Len Williams

    I can’t believe you are suggesting someone put a “Y-block” Ford engine in anything , they are junk ! It would be absolutely unconscionable to do that. A 289-302 would be a much better choice ! Obviously they need some assistance finding a competent source for information as well a shop to do the minor fabrication required for engine installation ….

  5. Dale Davies

    If you chose to ho with the 302, use the above recommended subframe (Fatman Fabrications). When it comes to transmission choice, I would recommend using a T5 or Tremec TKX. For the T5 you would probably want the S10 Chev tail housing and shift lever. This puts it farther ahead so it does not interfere with the bench seat. You probably want a world class T5 with 2.97 or 3.27 first gear. The S10 is a 4.1 gear which is useless. Bellhousings to use on the 302 are readily available for either the T5 or the TKX.

  6. Don rector

    My opinion is completely opposite of the opinion given above. The Y-block is inherently unreliable. It has very poorly designed heads, which makes performance very limited from that engine. The only easy part is the engine mounts are available in the aftermarket, but that engine is mounted in the front center and back transmission crossmember. The engine mounts fail frequently. Your transmission will bolt up to the Y-block, but that transmission is really garbage. When I was in high school, we got to the place that we could repair that transmission literally blindfolded . That was from lots and lots of practice. A very straightforward swap would be a Ford Windsor 351. Those engines are reasonably priced, readily available and simply installed. There is a mount referred to as a saddle mount. It is designed to match up to the late model, side mounts of the Windsor motor. Transmission wise, if you want to keep a three speed, Ford build some very strong, three speed transmissions that will bolt up to the Windsor. It requires what is referred to as a small block bell housing. You will also have available with that engine , a couple of very very strong four-speed transmission, or if you decide to go automatic, you have both the C4 and the C6 transmissions. Other items such as headers are readily available as are complete 12 V conversions. If you need some questions answered, or some help, please feel free to reach out to me. My phone number is 408–9 30–4065. DTW, I belong to the F 100 elite club. Our members all own 1954-1956 F-100 trucks. All members are using late model engines. A bit more involved, but simple to install are Ford 460 engines.

  7. Ron

    Done a few custom builds on those old 223 fords. Boy they run strong when rebuilt properly. Nothing beats than inline six , Has good torque

  8. Ron MAxwell

    1954 Ford engine and Trans swap and upgrades done right check it out first as questions if you want I have all the info.

  9. Ron MAxwell

    You tube link: no BS just facts

  10. Embree

    I would consider a 351 Windsor motor