Leader of the Pack – A Guide to the Ford Coyote Engine
When it comes to late-model engine swaps for Ford enthusiasts, there were a number of years in the not-too-distant past where the options were limited (or perhaps non-existent). No Blue Oval fan likes to see a two-letter engine series with pushrods under the hood of their favorite street rod or muscle car, even if they could understand the ease of installation and availability.
Then came the Coyote engine. Finally. However, what followed with the Coyote was nearly as important as the engine itself. Ford – and many aftermarket companies – understood the importance of designing products to help hot rodders retrofit the modern 5.0-liter driveline into classic cruisers and committed to making those products available.
When the 4.6-liter Ford Modular engine was introduced in the 1996 Mustang, taking the place of the venerable pushrod 5.0-liter small-block, the aftermarket was underwhelmed to say the least. This resulted in a less-than-enthusiastic response from many street rodders about incorporating modern Ford engine technology into their vintage rides due to the size, complicated electronics, and even the appearance of the OHC V8.
That all changed with the Coyote when it was introduced in 2011 and in the last few years we’re happy to say we’ve seen a lot more modern Fords under the hoods of classic rides. One can’t place all the credit on the new platform, as the Coyote engine never would have happened without the Mod Motor, plus enthusiasts have also evolved to accept and embrace modern electronics and controls in their hot rods.
Regardless, Ford fans can delight in the fact that the Coyote engine is available to power their favorite classics and there are plenty of components available to help their drivetrain swap go smooth from start to finish. Take a look.
Truck of the Year
Danny Bouchard’s ’58 F100 won the Goodguys 2019 Scott’s Hot Rods Truck of the Year Early honors with the help of a Coyote engine topped by a 29L Whipple supercharger. Custom valve covers by Korek Designs helped dress up the blown engine, while Ford Performance headers directed exhaust gases to a Flowmaster exhaust system.
In the past few years it has become a lot easier to install a Coyote engine into your Ford project thanks to companies like FAST. The team at Fuel Air Spark Technology has put together a complete engine management system for Coyote engines which includes a fully tunable ECU through their proven XFI Sportsman EFI kit.
The system also includes their XIM ignition module, a Valve Timing Control module, a complete engine harness and a Coyote-specific Big Mouth LT 87mm throttle body. The Big Mouth allows users to retain their cable-style throttle and factory pedal, avoiding additional electronics while delivering a more connected feel to the Coyote power on tap.
Four Speed Autos
There are a lot of transmission options to fit behind your Coyote engine and TCI provides two proven packages for four-speed automatics. For enthusiasts that want to keep things simple with fewer electronics, TCI has a proven 700R4 trans (yes, the GM trans) that comes with an SFI-spec adapter bellhousing. The 700 is controlled mechanically and is available in two levels to support either 550hp or up to 750hp. TCI incorporates a constant-pressure valve body providing more freedom when setting part-throttle shifts with no worry about a misadjusted TV cable.
TCI also offers an electronically controlled overdrive in the form of a 4L80E (also a GM unit). The unit includes an adapter flexplate with the GM converter bolt pattern. This is one heavy-duty trans supporting up to 875hp and is controlled by TCI’s easy-to-calibrate EZ-TCU.
Looking for a more versatile EFI system to manage your new Coyote? Holley now offers its Terminator X system for this favorite Ford platform. The Terminator X brings all of the tuning and functionality from Holley EFI and delivers it into a compact, entry-level system that is plug and play!
The new system is also capable of utilizing many of Holley’s fuel injection accessories such as their Pro Dashes and other analog gauges. Depending on the year model and injector configuration of your engine, Terminator X can be programmed to adapt to almost any combination! To ease the installation, Holley also has an all-new harness that plugs directly into the factory sensors, actuators, coils, injectors and more.
Ford Performance offers a number of complete Coyote crate engines with power output from 435-hp up to 580-hp. Engine and trans combinations are also available for a turn-key solution.
One of the major hurdles the Coyote engine presents to retrofits in muscle cars and classics is the lack of a hydraulic power steering system. Taking that one step further is fitting the engine with an air conditioning compressor and having room for the alternator as well. Vintage Air has answered all of these concerns with their Front Runner Coyote system.
The Vintage Air engineering team designed a complete system that retains the factory Ford alternator and water pump drive on the driver’s side of the engine while adding a compressor cradle positioned low on the passenger side along with a Detroit Speed power steering pump just above it. The result is a compact and complete accessory drive for your Coyote swap.
Summit Racing Equipment
It’s rare to find bolt-on engine components that not only add power, but also deliver cool looks. In the case of Summit Racing Equipment’s new sheet metal intake, it scores this rare win-win combination.
The aluminum intake is crafted from CNC-machined pieces and formed into an intimidating form coated in a show-quality black anodized finish. The intake, designed for 2011-2015 Coyote engines, accepts a 90mm throttle body and accepts the factory fuel rails.
The name Roush is synonymous with race-winning performance, especially when it comes to Ford engines and cars. Luckily for performance enthusiasts, Roush is using all of that performance experience to put the hot back into hot rods. One of their latest crate engine offerings is a 600hp Coyote engine that will get your Ford rolling quick with 475 ft-lbs of grunt.
Roush starts with an aluminum 302c.i. engine block topped with four-valve heads with variable cam timing to produce an engine that makes incredible power across the curve. The turn-key engine easily revs to 6,500rpm, making it a blast to drive. It’s even backed with a 2-year/24,000-mile warranty.
Setting the Pace
Crank ‘n Charge
With more than 25 years’ worth of experience in cranking and charging, Powermaster knows what it takes to get your Coyote engine fired up. They offer a full line of starters ranging from an economically priced bolt-in upgrade such as their PowerMAX+ with an adjustable billet mount and heavy-duty solenoid on up, to the Ultra Torque for high compression, forced induction race engines.
On the charging side, if your retrofit requires serious current due to electric fuel pumps, fans, ECU and performance ignition, Powermaster’s new HPR alternator is up to task. The alternator is also a direct bolt-in with a factory-size pulley and delivers a stout 195 amps at idle with over 245 amps at cruising speeds. Plenty of juice to keep your Coyote and other accessories fully functioning.
Gearstar Performance Transmissions
With your new Coyote comes the need for a transmission that can handle the power. An overdrive is the only way to go and if you’re looking for an automatic, Gearstar has you covered with their custom built 4R70W transmissions. Gearstar offers three level of builds that will support from 400-hp with 450 lb-ft of torque to the strongest Level 4 that supports 750-hp and up to 550 ft-lbs!
Their Level 4 4R70W is upgraded with a 300M hardened intermediate shaft and a heat-treated input shaft. A hardened sun shell and gear are used along with a high capacity 4-plate intermediate clutch and wide reverse drum. All of the electronics are upgraded and before the trans is shipped it is dyno tested, with its converter, over 100 miles!
When Good Enough Just Isn’t
Sometimes good enough just isn’t good enough. Gregg Dunkin stacked a Kenne Bell supercharger on top of the already stout Ford Performance 5.0L Aluminator engine in his ’67 Mustang. (Photo courtesy Shawn Brereton)
Worried about getting your new Coyote engine placed perfectly between the finders of your ’53-’64 F100? There’s no need to be concerned with TCI Engineering’s new IFS kit that was designed specifically to handle a Coyote engine. The crossmember has been notched and reinforced while the anti-sway bar has been moved to the front of the crossmember to make room for the 5.0L oil pan.
The one-piece crossmember design makes installation much easier with just a few simple measurements. The front end is based on TCI’s custom-designed spindle with bolt-on steering arms and proprietary geometry to maximize comfort and performance. You can choose dropped or stock-height spindles to get the height just right for your modern-power pickup.
The aluminum Coyote block is quite a durable design and capable of handling serious horsepower. The blocks were originally designed with thin iron cylinder sleeves and in 2018 moved to a plasma transferred wire arc cylinder wall. If you’re planning on serious cylinder pressures by introducing big boost, you’ll want to contact Darton Sleeves.
Darton came up with a solution for all Coyote blocks by utilizing their ductile iron Seal Tight Technology sleeve. Not only will these sleeves handle 1,600hp with the stock block, they also allow an increase in displacement to Voodoo levels (the 5.2L offering) safely. The sleeve kit is available for the Teksid 4.6L, 5.0L, Voodoo 5.2L, 5.4L and 5.8L aluminum blocks. Darton also offers installation in any of these blocks.
One of the wildest-looking Coyote engines we’ve seen is the one in Tom Agostino’s ’34 Ford built by Divers Street Rods. It was disguised with vintage aluminum 427 SOHC valve covers using adapters built by Hollywood Hot Rods, topped with a Whipple supercharger, and finished off with snake-like headers built at Divers.
Boost Is Better!
If you’re going for the Coyote swap in you classic, why stop with a naturally aspirated 5.0L when you already know that boost is better! Whipple offers a low-profile 3.0L Gen 5 supercharger that was designed and developed specifically for the Coyote!
Thanks to the inverted design, the assembly fits under the hood of many early- and late-model vehicles. A massive, dual-pass intercooler sits stealthily beneath the Whipple name plates to efficiently cool the air charge. This simple bolt-on can provide enough airflow to support well over 1000hp!
There is one intake manifold name that immediately conjures up years of performance experience; the Victor series. Named after founder Vic Edelbrock, the Victor II Coyote intake was designed for performance with nitrous, supercharged and turbocharged applications in mind.
The cast aluminum intake features long tapered, crossover-style runners connected to a large plenum. The manifold includes provisions for all emissions equipment and reuses the stock fuel rail and even features nitrous bosses for a direct-port system on competition applications. According to Edelbrock, engine dyno testing resulted in 27 more ft-lbs of torque over a common aftermarket plastic upgrade intake manifold with an additional 16hp over a stock manifold. A stock 80mm throttle body can be used or the Ford Performance 90mm version.
Faster with Fasteners
When you start building serious power with your Coyote engine, you’ll need to consider updating the fasteners. From the factory, most of the high-torque fasteners used on the long block are torque-to-yield designs which are meant to never be reused.
ARP has studied the Coyote platform and has developed high performance replacements that provide higher clamping loads with an extra margin of safety. The list is so encompassing, that they offer a handy guide on their website that is full of nothing but Coyote-specific fasteners! Find it at www.arp-bolts under the new product section.
Coyote Bill’s TVR 2500M
Ford fans are using the Coyote in all sorts of builds, such as this radical 1974 TVR 2500M project. Originally, TVR built some special-edition models with a 302c.i. small-block Ford in place of the weak Triumph six-cylinder. Bill Holland decided a modern-day Coyote would be a good way to go in his extreme TVR build affectionately deemed T-Rex. With 50/50 weight ratio and over 550hp of Livernois Performance-prepped Coyote, we can’t wait to see Bill on the autocross track soon! (Photo courtesy Holland-Communications)
Procharger has been boosting Coyotes from day one and now that it’s so much easier to put a new Ford in your old Ford, they’re offering Coyote Transplant Systems. This system provides the brackets, belt drive, and intercooler options to mount one of their superchargers from the P-1SC-1 to the F-1R for street to strip applications.
The brackets are modeled off their rock-solid 2011-plus Mustang system, but have been adapted to fit into more compact engine bays (such as a Fox-body Mustang). As for the belt drive, an 8-rib dedicated system is perfect for street cruisers and can be used with the OEM balancer (a 50mm cog belt is also available). The icing on the cake comes in the way of their compact, yet very efficient, air-to-air intercoolers, which are available in a number of different sizes depending on your application.
Little Shop MFG
What’s going to make cruising a classic Lincoln Continental even better? Having the smooth power range of a Coyote engine under its long hood! Little Shop Manufacturing has developed a kit that makes the installation of a 2011-plus engine into a ’61-’69 Lincoln as smooth as they start and idle.
The foundations of the kits are CAD-designed and laser-cut components and brackets that help mount the engine in an ideal position to avoid clearance issues around the stock crossmember and steering box. They also offer a high-clearance oil pan (with pickup) and transmission mount provisions for a 4R70W or 6R80. To finish off the swap, they offer set of trick TIG-welded stainless headers designed specifically for the tight Lincoln engine bay.
Truckload of Fun
The Goodguys Giveaway GRT-100, built by Lucky 7 Speed Shop, got red-hot power from a Roush Performance SR Coyote crate engine pumping out 425hp. It looked great in the well-tailored engine compartment and ran hard wherever we drove it. Winner Gene Moberly has been having fun with it since winning the truck at the 2019 PPG Nationals in Columbus.
When you’re putting a modern engine into the engine compartment of a 50-year-old vehicle, there are bound to be a few surprises. One issue that Hamburger’s Performance Parts can help you avoid is with their Oil Filter Relocation system.
Hamburger’s kits come with everything you need to move the oil filter to a remote, easy-to-maintain location. Kit #3377 is supplied with a 22mm-1.5 pitch thread that spins right onto the Coyote engine in place of the stock filter. Everything else you need to finish the install is supplied, including a multi-position remote filter base, aluminum AN fittings, high-temp Gates oil lines and hose ferrules. The billet components are CNC machined right in Whittier, California and clear anodized for great looks and protection.
Bowler Performance Transmission
Sticks for 5.0L
Looking to stick a stick behind your Coyote? There’s no need to settle for just four gears anymore, as Bowler Performance can set you up with five or even six gears to stir! As a Tremec Elite Distributor, Bowler offers full conversion options for the Coyote and Modular Ford engines.
The Ford version of the Tremec Magnum six speed has been the most popular option for these high-revving engines and Bowler takes any guesswork out of your swap. They’ve researched and assembled all of the components to get it done, from the bellhousing to a new trans mount. If you prefer a five-speed Tremec or would maybe like to go the automatic route with a 4R70W, the Bowler team is at the ready to help with your transmission needs.
Bev and Terry Bryant opted for Coyote power in their ’60 Ford Starliner built by Walton Customs. It was dressed up with billet valve covers from MMR, backed by a 6R80 transmission, and used electronic controls from Power by the Hour to get on the road.
Power by the Hour
Ford designed the cooling system of the 5.0L Coyote engine to work with a Degas bottle, the big, ugly plastic tank that most hot rodders refer as the overflow, though they’re not quite the same. Power by the Hour has designed a series of components that allow you to delete the Degas bottle to streamline the cooling system and replace the OEM radiator hoses.
With the cooling system dialed in, PBH also offers a hydraulic power steering pump solution in their Speed Drive system which is available for N/A and supercharged applications. As you can tell, PBH is hardcore about Coyote swaps and also offers complete 5.0L engines with power levels from 425 to 800 horsepower. Check out some of their useful videos on their YouTube channel.
Blue Oval 5.0L
It should come as no surprise that Ford Performance offers complete drivetrain solutions based on the Gen 3 5.0L DOHC Coyote engine that is found in the new Mustang GT. With a 12.0:1 compression ratio, the engine delivers 460hp and 420 lb-ft of torque. The engine features direct and port fuel Injection, Twin Independent Variable Camshaft Timing, and plasma transferred wire arc spray-in cylinder liners in a lightweight aluminum engine block.
When it comes to driveline options, you can choose between a Tremec six-speed (M-9000-PMCM3) or their state-of-the-art 10R80 10-speed auto trans (M-9000-PMCA3). Both drivelines are supplied as a turn-key solution with Ford Performance calibration and are supplied with the alternator, starter and all the parts needed to deliver performance, reliability, and drivability.
Looking for a quick way to make your Coyote-powered hot rod even quicker? Nitrous Oxide Systems, best known as NOS, offers a mini two-stage system that can easily be installed in a weekend. The heart of the system is a progressive controller that helps deliver exceptionally smooth power delivery.
The ½-inch thick nitrous plate mounts to the 80mm throttle body and is anodized black for a stealthy installation. NOS includes jetting for 75, 100, 125 and 150 rear-wheel horsepower shots and can support up to 250hp blasts. A custom solenoid bracket with pre-bent hard lines are included as well as a classic 10-pound blue nitrous bottle.
A Brief Coyote History
The 5.0L Coyote engine was launched nearly a decade ago in the 2011 Mustang GT and was welcomed by Ford enthusiasts with open arms. The hot rod faithful were happy to see an engine package with serious potential for swaps into muscle cars and street rods as Ford, and the aftermarket, brought out control packages, wiring kits, and other components to ease the melding of modern engine technology into our favorite classic Fords.
The engine has gone through a number of refinements and upgrades over the course of a decade, all in the name of efficiency and performance. In fact, there are three generations of Coyotes starting with the 420hp, 390 lb-ft model with its unique Twin Independent Variable Cam Timing (Ti-VCT). This dual-overhead-cam design allows the PCM to advance and retard the ignition timing independently, resulting in overall improved performance (as well as economy and lower emissions).
In looking at the Coyote engine platform, it is important to give a nod of appreciation to the 4.6L Modular engine that replaced the original 302c.i. small block in Mustangs back in 1996 (and even earlier in full-size Fords). The Mod Motor, given the name due to its ability to be manufactured for many different applications, was a completely new architecture and featured a single-overhead-cam, two-valve design. Several years later gave way to a three-valve 4.6-liter with variable cam timing followed by a four-valve double overhead cam (32 valves).
During development of the Coyote, the engineering team studied the Mod Motor platform reviewing its successes and its limitations. The two engines are dimensionally similar due to packaging constraints and even share similar appearances like that of brothers, but there are no parts that interchange between the platforms. The Coyote featured completely new architecture including the improved-flowing heads and composite intake manifold. The first gen of the Coyote ran from 2011–2014.
The 2015 model year marked the beginning of the second-gen Coyote engine platform and focused on improving the breathing of the engine with a new cylinder head casting. These heads were fitted with larger valves and revised ports to produce a straighter, less restrictive flow to the updated combustion chamber. (FYI: Gen 2 heads can be used on the Gen 1 Coyote as long as the second-gen head gasket is used, though piston-to valve clearance should be confirmed.) Sinter forged connecting rods provided more durable high-rpm operation and the piston tops were redesigned to accommodate the larger valves. The intake was also modified with charge motion control valves to close off the port flow at lower engine speeds, resulting in an improved air charge form for improved idle and economy.
The third generation of the Coyote launched in 2018 with a number of changes including the introduction of direct injection in conjunction with port fuel. Ford took the best characteristics of direct and port injection to develop a hybrid dual-fuel system that is flexible to meet different demands of engine operation. For instance, at cold start up only port fuel is used, but once running and as any loads increase, the direct injection comes more into the equation.
The valve size was also updated in the cylinder heads of the third gen, as was the cylinder bore, increasing from 92.7mm to 93mm. Gone are the pressed-in steel cylinder sleeves in favor of a plasma transferred wire arc cylinder wall that was used on the 5.2L GT350 engines. The compression was brought up to 12.0:1 and the heads received larger valves and port improvements while the cam lift increased by 1mm over the previous generation. All told, the latest Coyote produces 460hp at 6,500 rpm and 420 lb-ft at 4,250 rpm in a new Mustang GT.
Add a forced induction system and some hot rod tuning and the results are stunning. You have to love modern technology.