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post #1 of 7 (permalink) Old 01-21-2015, 09:29 PM Thread Starter
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V6 Swap

I am in need of a new engine for my Bird. I have recently acquired this car and was formulating a mod plan based on the Three Degrees of Power thread. My first mod was going to be to replace the seats since I was tired of the ones in my last Bird which I had for about 10 years. Then start on the engine, do a manual trans transplant, rear disk brake conversion, suspension upgrade, rear end with a locker... Then it threw a rod. So, plan B. Start with the engine. After trying to learn about the 3.8L my first thought was to get a '96 Windstar engine; I know this is a FWD engine but from what I read you can use it in RWD applications if you use the 3.0L bell housing. It is a split port engine with more HP and torque than the one used in the Birds, and it would be the same year as my car. After doing some more reading I think I have decided a '98 F-150 4.2L swap is the better way to go. I have read the 4.2L Swap thread but it seems kind of old. Is there any more experience out there with doing this swap? Any other opinions? Any other advice?
My current Bird is a '96, very nice red paint job, the interior is almost new, it has 47,000 something miles on it, 46,000 something when I got it.

Currently '96 3.8L with a broken piston/thrown rod
Gone, but not forgotten, Silver '96 4.6L
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post #2 of 7 (permalink) Old 01-22-2015, 07:06 AM
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First off, the FWD engine isn't going to work for this application.

If you are wanting to do a 4.2L swap, I'd suggest looking for a 1999+ F-150/E-150 model. They updated the main cap studs/girdle in late 1998. You will also need to use a 1999+ 3.8L Mustang upper intake and 2001+ Mustang 3.8L oil pan and pickup tube. It would be a little easier to just find a 2001+ Splitport 3.8L from a Mustang. It depends on what is available to you and/or how much you want to spend. There are splitport and 4.2 swap write-ups stickied in this sub-forum. You will also need a chip and a tune for the computer.

If you have any other questions I may be able to help.

S4Gunn's 3.8L Single Port to Splitport DIY

4.2l Swap Article

1994 Thunderbird - 2000 4.2L M5R2 now has 55k

1995 Thunderbird - 2002 Alum 4.6L SVO - Awaiting transplant... (Parts donor)

1996 Cougar - 2004 3.9L 4R70W
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post #3 of 7 (permalink) Old 01-22-2015, 07:25 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the reply. I am looking for engines now. When you say the 3.8L Mustang swap would be a little easier and cheaper is that because I would not have to also swap the oil pan and upper intake or is there something else in the 4.2L swap which makes it harder? I have read over the threads you referenced but since I haven't done something like this before I don't have a good reference to go by.
I was planning on taking small steps at a time but needing to replace the engine is pushing me into a bigger first job than I was planning. Since the engine will be out I would think this would be a good time to swap the transmission also. Would this be a good idea?
Also, I haven't been very impressed with the heater in this car, what little I have gotten to drive it. Since it is a '96 with only 47K miles on it I am thinking the heater core is probably going bad. I had the one in my last T-Bird replaced twice in the time I had it and it went out again a third time last winter so I replaced it myself. Is there an easier way to access the heater core while the engine is out?

Currently '96 3.8L with a broken piston/thrown rod
Gone, but not forgotten, Silver '96 4.6L
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post #4 of 7 (permalink) Old 01-23-2015, 09:02 AM
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Yes, if you go with the Mustang engine you don't have to hunt down the other parts. The 4.2L also has a heater hose that comes out of the front where the Mustang has it on the rear. Not a huge issue to resolve.

This would be a great time to do the transmission. You can pull the engine and trans as a unit to save some hassle. The engine being out only helps with the access to the heater hoses, the dash still has to come out to swap the heater core.

It would also be a great time to look at your rack & pinion and maybe upgrade the front sway bar.

1994 Thunderbird - 2000 4.2L M5R2 now has 55k

1995 Thunderbird - 2002 Alum 4.6L SVO - Awaiting transplant... (Parts donor)

1996 Cougar - 2004 3.9L 4R70W

Last edited by jco1385; 01-23-2015 at 09:09 AM.
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post #5 of 7 (permalink) Old 01-24-2015, 10:15 PM Thread Starter
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I ordered a Shop Manual for the 1996 Thunderbird from Amazon and it came in today. I have always just had the Chiltons or Clymers versions, there is a lot in there. When I replaced the heater core last year I followed the guide on this web site and the pictures really helped a lot and the guidance made it suck a lot less. I think this manual with this web site will really help out.

Currently '96 3.8L with a broken piston/thrown rod
Gone, but not forgotten, Silver '96 4.6L
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post #6 of 7 (permalink) Old 01-27-2015, 12:54 PM
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You may also want to pick up an EVTM. It's handy for any wiring problems or upgrades you may have. Part of the problem with the heater cores going bad is due to electrolysis. Try grounding the core to the body. I used a piece of 16ga wire stripped back and twisted around one of the inlets and ran it to one of the nearby ground points.

1994 Thunderbird - 2000 4.2L M5R2 now has 55k

1995 Thunderbird - 2002 Alum 4.6L SVO - Awaiting transplant... (Parts donor)

1996 Cougar - 2004 3.9L 4R70W
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post #7 of 7 (permalink) Old 01-27-2015, 01:26 PM
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In your shoes, I would start with assembling the parts you need. After all, you are already talking about putting more money and/or time into the tbird than it will ever be worth.

Before buying this tbird, I had done a few brake jobs and other small items. Over the past 3 years and 1200+ hours, I've learned an amazing amount from Dan, this forum, and even youtube.

Suggested Steps:
1) Find a donor F150/E150 V6 or a donor 99-01 Mustang. Pull the engine, ECU, and wiring harness (might as well, just in case). Part out and Scrap the rest.
2) Learn to rebuild that engine on a stand.
3) Read up on the mods required to put the chosen engine into your tbird chassis (oil pan, fuel rail, distributor, etc). Implement them.
4) Acquire an M5R2 if you want to do that swap and all the parts. The cheapest way to do this is to buy the whole manual SC.
5) Grab the parts you want (M5R2 trans, clutch reservoir, clutch pedal, etc). Part out/scrap the rest of the donor car. Typical SC has maybe $1000-1500 parts in them minus a few important items you may want to keep.
6) Rebuild the M5R2 or have someone else do it. Nothing would be more disappointing than to have a "new" transmission in your car that grinds in 2nd b/c the synchros are worn. Do it right the first time.
7) Decide how you want to handle ECU tuning. You could buy a canned tune or buy a QH setup and do a lot of it yourself.
8) Put the newly rebuilt engine + transmission into your chosen chassis.

Price out the cost of a F150/Mustang and SC donor. You may find it's easier to just buy another tbird in better condition and swapping the interior bits over. Or, just buy a 99-01 Mustang.

-g

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