Chances are, Modular-powered Mustang owners with plans for installing a serious power-adder will need to consider a new short block at some point. The factory powdered-metal connecting rods are susceptible to increased cylinder pressures, and any additional power can likely decrease the life, if not damage, a stock powerplant. With that in mind, the following buyer’s guide is a who’s who of Modular engine builders who can assist in selecting the best foundation for a power Mustang project. Read on for more details!

Fox Lake Power Products

Ron Robart at Fox Lake Power Products has been at the forefront of Ford engine development for years, starting as the first head porter at Trick Flow Specialties in 1988. He opened Fox Lake Racing in 1992, filling a 5,000-square-foot shop with quality employees and an impressive line of engine products. Fox Lake’s cylinder heads have been atop the engines of many champions, most notably Bob Kurgan and Chuck Bartholme’s NMCA Xtreme Street entries. Through testing and refining Ford Modular packages over the years, Robart has learned what works on the track and street.

All block machine work is done on Fox Lake’s state-of-the-art equipment by Robart himself, while trusted right-hand man Jim Tomassetti completes the short-block assemblies. Robart says keeping the operation small allows him to maintain a reputation for quality. “We’ve had very good success with using Eagle’s stroker crankshaft and connecting rod upgrades in our packages. Bigger isn’t always better – it’s more important to design your engine package properly for your needs. The short-block with the connecting rod and crankshaft upgrades will handle plenty of horsepower,” he explains.

Fox Lake Power Products offers two basic Modular short-block packages with many options, like different blocks or custom crankshaft and rods combinations, are available depending on personal requirements and budget.

A stretch gauge is used to measure bolt length when torqued to assure proper preload is reached.

Cast Crankshaft Option 4.6L – $2,995

  • New Iron Romeo Block
  • Deck Squared
  • Mains Line Honed
  • Cylinders Honed With Deck Plates
  • Ford Cast Steel Production Crankshaft
  • Scat I-Beam Forged Connecting Rods
  • Diamond Pistons with Valve Reliefs For Platform and Moly Rings
  • Federal Mogul Engine Bearings
  • Internally Balanced

4.6L Forged Crankshaft Option ($700) Adds -

  • Eagle 4340 Forged Steel stroke Crankshaft
  • Eagle H-Beam Forged Connecting Rods

5.0L Stroker Option Upgrade ($300) Adds -

  • Eagle Forged Stroker 3.750-inch-stroke Crankshaft
  • Eagle Specialty Products 5.950-inch H-beam Forged Connecting Rod

JDM Engineering

Another veteran Mod player is Jim D’Amore at JDM Engineering in Freehold, New Jersey. D’Amore has 20-plus years of development with the Modular engine, including private contract work for Ford Motor Company that gave him access to valuable engineering information. “Each engine is built in-house by NHRA Pro Stock champion engine builder, Tommy Martino, and Modular specialist Matt Kennedy is responsible for finalizing all short blocks that go out the door. We have built engines for the likes of Jack Roush, Steve Saleen and Roy Hill, and we’ve also got a record-holding engine in Don Fezell’s 2008 Cobra Jet, with an 8.89 at 154 mph,” says D’Amore.

Like other players in this market, JDM has developed engine packages through years of analyzing, inspecting and testing the latest aftermarket parts to determine the best combination for their customers. D’Amore’s experience with the 4.6 stretches back to 1993 when he had one of two Mod Fox coupes used as engineering mules by FoMoCo. Even then, the car in D’Amore’s hands was a runner with its naturally-aspirated 4-valve engine. JDM concentrates current efforts on the 4.6L-based 302E stroker short block, as they have found this combination to be the best balance of performance versus cost.

JDM Engineering's 302E short block can be found in many of the JDM cars that compete all over the country.

Team JDM chooses to use a stroker rotating assembly in all 4.6L engine builds to maximize horsepower given the limited cubic inch of the Modular platform. – Jim D’Amore Jr.

“Although a cast iron block is cheaper and is available from Team JDM, an aluminum block is suggested for better cooling purposes and for the weight savings of over 70 pounds that it offers. Since the 4.6L version short block was available in the Mustang from 1999 to 2010, the JDM Engineering 302E stroker is built with a variety of options. Team JDM can build a short block for 2V, 3V, or 4V pistons for low- or high-compression applications, and we suggest the customer call us so that we can work with them to design the best package for their needs,” says D’Amore.

JDM Engineering Stroker 302E Short Block – $4,895

  • Ford Racing 2005+ Mustang 3v Aluminum Block
  • Kellogg Steel Forged Stroker 3.800-inch Crankshaft
  • Manley H beam 4340 Connecting Rods
  • Manley Custom Forged Aluminum Pistons (2, 3, or 4V)
  • Performance Main and Rod Bearings
  • Total Seal File-Fit Rings
  • Ford Racing Main Bolt kit
  • Fully assembled and balanced
  • 900 HP rated
  • 1 Year limited warranty
  • No core required

Livernois Motorsports

Livernois Motorsports has been in the automotive business since 1949, as Livernois Engineering was the first company to develop an aluminum radiator for automotive use, and it produced the tooling and machines to manufacture them. Livernois Motorsports grew out of Livernois Engineering and opened its doors in 1999 to serve high-end automotive enthusiasts. The company also works close with Ford on many confidential engineering projects. Livernois Motorsports was first to produce a stroker kit for the Modular engine. Previous attempts by others often failed when attempting to repurpose older small-block Chevy connecting rods, which often resulted in pulling the piston too far out of the bore at BDC.

Left - Here's a Livernois Motorsports rotating assembly, complete with coated pistons and the company's exclusive Manley connecting rods. Right - Livernois offers both an aluminum block and iron block version of the 298ci stroker.

“We’ve been involved with this engine and Ford since way back before it was ever released into the Mustang to begin with,” says company rep Rick LeBlanc. “Even to this day, we work very closely with Ford Racing and Ford Motor Company, and in fact performed all of the sleeve and block work for the 5.0 Cobra Jet program.”

With that experience, Livenois put together a solid lineup of short block packages that include custom pistons manufactured by Mahle to Livernois specifications. The pistons feature thicker ring lands and an increased cross-section to stand up to big power. LeBlanc says the company can build to any customer needs as their expertise level runs from street machines to cars like Dan Millen’s ADRL Xtreme 10.5 car. Livernois also boasts precise engine machining processes that have been developed over hundreds of hours of testing and development.

Livernois Motorsports 298 Cubic Inch Street Series Stroker Short Block – $3,999.99

  • Production Iron Block
  • Custom Livernois Forged Steel Stroker Crankshaft
  • Exclusive Livernois/Mahle Pistons, Rings, Locks, and Wrist Pins
  • Exclusive Livernois/Manley H-Beam Forged Connecting Rods with ARP2000 bolts
  • Clevite Tri Armor Engine Bearings
  • Limited One Year Warranty
  • Rated to 1,000 Horsepower

Livernois Motorsports 298 Cubic Inch Aluminum Stroker Short Block – $4,999.99

  • Production Aluminum Block
  • Custom Livernois Forged Steel Stroker Crankshaft
  • Exclusive Livernois/Mahle Pistons, Rings, Locks, and Wrist Pins
  • Exclusive Livernois/Manley H-Beam Forged Connecting Rods with ARP2000 bolts
  • Clevite Tri Armor Engine Bearings
  • ARP Main Studs
  • Limited One Year Warranty
  • Rated to 1,000 Horsepower

Modular Mustang Racing (MMR)

MMR trace its roots back to Mark Luton working out of a home garage in California and then prototyping supercharger kits for Paxton Superchargers, which led to a position as head of sales and design. Another stint at Best Products/Pro-M educated him in the dynamics of airflow and how mass-air-sensor technology works to tune today’s Mustangs. In 2003, Luton put MMR onto the map by building a turbocharger kit for the awesome 2003 Cobra owned by X2C Motorsports. A subsequent flirtation with the 5.4L-based Navigator engine introduced Luton to the capabilities of the 4V Modular engine.

MMR holds many records in the Modular racing arena, including that of the world’s fastest Modular-powered Mustang with a 6.14 at 241 mph in their PSCA Pro Street car. They’ve also got a GT500 that’s trapped 6.99 at 205 mph with a 4V. The same car was retrofitted with the Coyote (5.0L) engine and ran quick as 7.02 at 202MPH with its turbocharged powerplant. All of their racecars use engines that are built in-house in their Camarillo, California, shop.

File-fit piston rings are used to make sure your ring end-gap is correct, critical for power-adder engines. This allows the engine builder to ensure that ring seal will be correct for your application.

MMR offers a wide range of short-block configurations with options, depending on the owner’s needs and budget. “The connecting rods are no doubt the most important component of these engines when it comes to handling the different levels of horsepower. Our lower-priced engines use a Ford Racing cast crankshaft, and as you move up the line you get into a forged crankshaft, and then a billet piece for our top of the line short blocks,” explains Luton. MMR offers nine different options from mild to wild if a long-arm engine is desired. “We’ve been selling strokers for eleven years now, and these engines have no longevity issues as far as skirt wear or anything like that. If more stroke was such as issue, why did Ford go with the longer stroke to create the new 5.0 engine?” adds Luton.

It’s really about what the customer is looking for, and the long-arm engines will help to create more torque, especially in a power-adder application. – Mark Luton, MMR

MMR offers short blocks for 2V, 3V and 4V applications with no change in price – it’s only the specification from the customer about their application. MMR provides 15 options to choose from when it comes to displacement and power-handling levels, and they also offer a laundry list of upgrades like the Ford Racing Boss engine block.

Modular Mustang Racing 4.6L Street Mod 600 (2V, 3V, 4V) – $2,699 and up

  • Brand New Cast Iron 2004 Cobra block
  • Torque Plate Bored and Honed
  • New Ford Racing Cast Iron Crankshaft rated to 600HP
  • Forged 4340 MMR I-Beam Connecting Rods (Shotpeened, Magnafluxed, Weight Matched)
  • Manley Forged Lightweight Pistons
  • Total Seal File Fit Rings For Your Application
  • Clevite Rod and Main Bearings
  • Professional Assembly
  • Precision Balancing

Modular Mustang Racing 4.75 Street Mod 750SE – $3,099 and up

  • Brand New Cast Iron 2004 Cobra block
  • Torque Plate Bored and Honed
  • 4340 Forged US-made 4.75L crankshaft with Micropolished Journals
  • MMR Forged Steel 5.933-inch I-Beam Connecting Rods with ARP Bolts (Shotpeened, Magnafluxed, Weight Matched)
  • Manley Forged Lightweight Pistons
  • Total Seal File Fit Rings For Your Application
  • Clevite Rod and Main Bearings
  • Ford Racing Oil Pump
  • Professional Assembly
  • Precision Balancing

Left - MMR offers a couple of different levels of short block assemblies, mainly dictated by connecting rod style. From left to right are their budget-friendly 600-horse capable rod, and all the way to the right is a 2500-horse-capable billet aluminum connecting rod found in their top-line Modular. Right - Assembly lube is applied to the rod bearings before installation. This step ensures adequate lubrication upon first start-up.

Ford Racing Performance Parts

Perhaps the most telling answer to the “stock versus stroker” conundrum comes in the form of a short block from Ford Racing Performance Parts. At one time, FRPP offered a number of different 2- and 4-valve short block configurations, but in 2013 they are down to just one – the 5.0L stroker aluminum short block [FRPP PN M-6009-MOD50]. Ford Racing’s Jesse Kershaw is quick to tout the advantages of economy of scale. As these are production-level parts, they will never be the ideal basis for a twin-turbo, six-second stormer, but the short block will definitely handle plenty of horsepower.

Ford Racing Parts' economy of scale allows the in-house hotrod division of your favorite car company to offer an aluminum-block piece at a reasonable price.

Kershaw explains, “If there is one major point I’d like to make, it’s that by leveraging our service rebuild capacity and volume, we are able to offer a stroker with an aluminum block at a price comparable to iron block versions in the marketplace. We offer the short block with valve reliefs for 3V applications but it was tested in 2V and 4V builds with no issues. Also, while not a short block, we sell do our Boss 5.0 [M-6010-BOSS50] block, and I know many of our WD’s like D.S.S. Racing and Livernois Motorsports use it as the basis for many of their builds.”

Ford Racing Performance Parts 5.0L Stroker Short Block – MSRP $5,299

  • Aluminum 3.56” bore block with argent powder coating
  • Eagle Specialty Products Forged Steel 3.75-inch-stoke crankshaft
  • Eagle Forged Connecting Rods
  • Forged Mahle Pistons (work with 2V, 3V, 4V heads)
  • Compression Ratio: 10.8:1 w/3V heads, 9.6:1 w/2V heads)
  • Tested to 750 Horsepower with FRPP Three-Valve supercharger system

Brenspeed

Although a relatively-new player, Brenspeed and proprietor Brent White are drawing attention by racing and testing products on personal vehicles in the ultra-competitive NMRA Super Stang class. White started Brenspeed in 2002 with a vision where customers could have a one-stop shop for all Mustang street-performance needs. “The majority of the cars we build are fast street cars that can be driven daily yet run well at the drag strip. Our engines are designed to retain the factory VCT which is one of the coolest features of a 3-valve 4.6L engine,” says White.

Left - Brenspeed's lead engine builder, Kent Nine, tests all of his creations during regular competition in the NMRA, and on the streets of North Vernon, Indiana. Right - Brenspeed can offer you a Boss-block short block for high-horsepower needs.

So much more technology goes into our engines than just the ability to maintain a high horsepower number. The ability to handle daily driving and constant street abuse is just as important to us. – Brent White, Brenspeed

White and his team, including engine builder Kent Nine, offer two basic platforms, both with stroker crankshafts. The B302 is an aluminum block 302ci, 9.8:1 engine, and the B326 and B326R are iron-block 326ci engines. “The B326 is our most popular engine, as it is available for mail order and used in house for builds at our installation facility. The B326 is perfect for those looking to make big power on the street. For those who own a race car that does not see much street duty, our B326R is the perfect choice. It is available in lower compression for extreme high boost applications and will easily support well over 1,000 horsepower,” White says.

Continuing, White says, “All Brenspeed engines are built in house in our engine clean room, which allows us the ability to control the quality of the engines and availability as well. Typically our engines are in stock ready to ship for those who have urgent engine needs. They are not only used in all of our customer engine builds but also in several of our engineering vehicles. This gives us the ability to constantly test the durability of our design on the street and at the track.” Both the B302 and B326 short blocks include a 12-month warranty, and Brenspeed can handle all facets of your car build right down to the tuning in-house in their North Vernon, Indiana, facility.

Brenspeed B302 Short Block – $3,999 (available for install at Brenspeed only)

  • Ford Aluminum Engine Block
  • Kellogg 3.800-inch-stroke Forged Steel Crankshaft
  • Manley 4.6L Stroker Connecting Rods w/ ARP Bolts
  • CP Pistons and Ring Set
  • Clevite TriArmor Rod Main Bearings
  • Speed Pro Main Bearings
  • ARP Main Studs

Brenspeed B326 Short Block – $4,895 (available via mail-order)

  • Ford Racing Performance Parts Boss 5.0L engine block, machined in house
  • Kellogg 3.800-inch-stroke Forged Steel Crankshaft
  • Manley 4.6L Stroker Connecting Rods w/ ARP Bolts
  • CP Pistons and Ring Set
  • Clevite TriArmor Rod Main Bearings
  • Speed Pro Main Bearings
  • ARP Main Studs

D.S.S. Racing

With a racing background that includes NHRA and IHRA Pro Stock, Tom Naegele and his D.S.S. Racing team have been building engines for nearly 30 years, cranking out well over 10,000 bullets for street, drag racing, circle track and road racing customers. They have a multi-million-dollar investment into a high-quality machining center, and SuperFlow dyno and flow-bench equipment can verify development work. D.S.S. builds a number of specialty components, including their own pistons and a Main Support System to beef up the bottom end. Naegele also applies knowledge gained at the racetrack to all parts development.

We’ve found that when you’re trying to make over 1,000 horsepower, ring seal becomes real critical. – Tom Naegele, D.S.S. Racing

Equipment and expertise are two factors that Naegele says helps set D.S.S. apart from other shops. “Equal compression side-to-side, where you have a true blue-printed block, that’s been deck-equalized, bored, torque-plate honed all done and squared in the CNC machine, it’s about 40 horsepower better than not performing those operations. Also, it makes things better for your tune – if you have one deck that’s ten-thousandths off from the other side, that’s like putting in two different head gaskets – you’ll never get it perfect,” says Naegele.

The Super Mod option includes a main support, ARP main studs and their proprietary CNC block machining process, which adds $1,300 to the sale total. The D.S.S piston line also incorporates Naegele’s design expertise. The Base Mod short-block includes the SX line of forged pistons, while the D.S.S. Pro Mod and Super Mod short block uses the GSX line with its unique X-Groove skirt design for better oil control.

“We have more part numbers for pistons that anyone when it comes to Modular engines. You can order for Trick Flow two-valve, stock two-valve, three-valve and four-valve pistons in many different dish volumes to really optimize your combination, whether running naturally-aspirated, a blower or turbo. And if you’re not sure what to run, we’ll be happy to work with you,” offers Naegele.

The D.S.S. Racing Super Mod is a completely blueprinted and balanced short block, including the in-house developed Main Support System.

D.S.S. Racing 4.6L Two Valve Base Mod – $2,600

  • 4.6 Iron block
  • Ford Cast Steel Production Crankshaft
  • 5140 I-Beam Connecting Rods with ARP Bolts
  • Forged D.S.S. SX Series Forged Pistons
  • Ductile Iron Moly Rings
  • Clevite or Federal Mogul Tri Metal Bearings
  • Computer Balanced to Racing Tolerances

D.S.S. Racing 4.6/5.0/5.3L Pro Mod – Starting At $3,500

5.3L Option uses stroker crank and 3.700-bore FRPP Boss Block – $4,650

  • 4.6/5.0 Stroker Iron Block
  • Microalloy Forged KPC Crankshaft
  • 4340 H Beam Connecting Rods with upgraded ARP2000 bolts
  • Forged D.S.S. Racing GSX Series CNC Fly Cut Forged Pistons with head-specific valve reliefs and X Groove Skirt Option
  • Ductile Iron Moly Rings
  • Clevite or Federal Mogul Tri Metal Bearings
  • Computer Balanced to Racing Tolerances

D.S.S. Racing Super Mod Upgrade – $1,300

  • Featuring Fully CNC Squared and Equalized Decks
  • Block true style cylinder boring and deck plate cylinder finishing produces the ultimate in ring seal, friction reduction and cylinder balance
  • D.S.S. Billet Aluminum Main Support System, including ARP Main Studs

Coast High Performance

Coast High Performance has grown from a two-car garage to a large facility in Torrance, California, that also houses their sister company, Probe Industries, which manufactures pistons and machines connecting rods. Sourcing critical parts in-house eliminates the wait for an outside delivery. Coast takes an engineered approach to all its offerings, ensuring that the block/connecting rod/piston combinations work together for the intended application.

We use Eagle components in our stroker kits, and every item is double-checked before installation to make sure that all tolerances are held to our strict standards. – Shawn Mendenhall, Coast High Performance

Coast offers the 4.6L-based short-block in their Street Fighter and Pro Street lines, which incorporate brand-new Romeo blocks. In addition, all short-blocks are balanced, blueprinted and professionally assembled. They also feature Clevite rings and Clevite 77 P-Series engine bearings. The Street Fighter and Pro Street are offered in 4.6L 2V, 3V and 4V configurations with Probe Industries SRS Pistons designed with the proper valve relief for the intended application. Street Fighter 4.6L short blocks come with a factory cast crankshaft and forged I-beam connecting rods, while the Pro Street uses a forged-steel crankshaft and forged H-Beam connecting rods.

“We manufacture all of our pistons in-house, and our I-beam and H-beam connecting rods and forged crankshafts are machined in-house here as well. All of our engines include a new Romeo block, and we can offer a customer a Boss block, says Coast’s Shawn Mendenhall. ” We have our Street Fighter package, which supports up to 550 horsepower, and the Pro Street package will handle 800 horsepower, but additional options are available if the customer’s application requires them.”

Coast High Performance 4.6L Street Fighter (2V, 3V, 4V) – $2,377.99

  • Blueprinted Engine Tolerances
  • Professionally Balanced and Assembled
  • Probe SRS Pistons
  • Ford Cast Steel Production Crankshaft
  • CNC I Beam Forged Connecting Rod
  • Clevite Rings and Clevite 77 P-Series Engine Bearings
  • Rated for 550 Horsepower

At Coast High Performance, all engines come with a brand-new Romeo engine block.

Pro Street 4.6L Short Block ($1,022) Adds:

  • Forged Steel Stock-Stroke Crankshaft
  • Forged Steel H-Beam Connecting Rods

Coast High Performance Pro Street 5.0/5.1L Stroker Kit (2V, 3V, 4V) Starting At $3,171.99

  • Blueprinted Engine Tolerances
  • Professionally Balanced and Assembled
  • Probe SRS Pistons
  • Forged 4340 3.75-inch-stroke Crankshaft
  • 4340 H Beam Forged Connecting Rod
  • Clevite Rings and Clevite 77 P-Series Engine Bearings
  • Rated for 800 Horsepower
  • 5.1L Option Uses 3.625 Bore

Rich Groh Racing Engines/Justin’s Performance Center

Justin’s Performance Center and engine builder Rich Groh have teamed to power a number of championship cars, including Tommy Godfrey’s four-time NMRA Factory Stock car and JPC’s 847-horsepower 2011 Mustang. Rich Groh Racing Engines is a small, boutique-style engine shop with expertise in big-power racing engines.

ne of Rich Groh's full-boogie street engines wearing one of JPC's 3V intake manifolds

While RGR doesn’t compete in the budget end of the market, the shop offers a short-block assembly much like others in the market with H-beam connecting rods and forged-steel crankshaft. “We do offer a basic package with the good rod and crank and whatever piston the customer will need for his application, and from there it’s up to the customer’s budget. It comes down to whether they are using a power-adder or not – what the nuts and bolts are of the application and how much power the owner is trying to make. I work with them to come up with the best possible engine for their application. The Modular engine has a long stroke from the factory and I actually prefer to stick with the stock stroke where possible. The 4.6L engine is not that great of a performance engine if you’re just looking at the basics like stroke and bore, but the good cylinder heads are what help it to work well in these applications,” Groh says.

Rich Groh Racing/JPC 4.6L Short Block – $3,200 and up

  • Requires customer’s good engine block
  • Blueprinted (line hone, decked and trued)
  • RGR Spec 4340 Forged Steel 3.75-inch-stroke Crankshaft
  • 4340 Forged Steel H-Beam Connecting Rods
  • RGR Custom Forged CP Pistons with appropriate Valve Reliefs
  • Custom Spec Total Seal Piston Rings
  • Custom Main and Rod bearings
  • ARP Main Studs
  • Full Race Balance Assembly
  • Rated at 1,000 horsepower
  • Hand-built – this is not an assembly-line engine!

As you can see, there are a number of engine builders who can meet your Modular needs. Whether replacing the stock engine in a tired Mustang or designs on competing at the highest levels of the sport, there is a Modular specialist who can fit your needs. All offer additional options than presented in this basic buyer’s guide, so check out their websites to learn more.