302 Engine Swap on a 1972 Mustang
This is the continuation of a series we started several months ago, documenting the refresh of this 1972 Mustang convertible. The owners sent the car to Pure Vision Design in Simi Valley, California, for some basic upgrades. They wanted a 302 V-8 in place of the stock inline-six, a five-speed transmission in place of the stock four-speed, disc brakes, power steering, and air conditioning.
Related: Pure Vision Design 1972 Mustang 302 Engine Swap, Part 1
When the car arrived at Pure Vision, owner Steve Strope summoned us to his shop to check out this cream puff. Some may quibble about the looks of this generation Mustang (your author included), but this car was such a nicely preserved time capsule, Steve wanted us to check it out before his team began working on it. You can read our initial impressions here.
Shortly after we photographed the car in its stock form, the team at Pure Vision began the work. Though no one actually shed a tear, we all commented that it was sort of a shame to remove such a nice-running engine. The stock 250 six didn’t make much power, but it ran like a top.
In its place, Steve and the car’s owners decided on a very mild-mannered and highly affordable 302 crate engine built by BluePrint engines and purchased through Speedway Motors.
BluePrint Engines 302 Crate Engine
This engine, P/N BP3023CTC is BluePrint’s “dressed” long block that comes with an intake manifold, HEI distributor, and carburetor; it lists for $4,199. Cast iron heads help keep the cost down, as does the hydraulic flat tappet cam. This 302 Ford engine has an 8.5:1 compression ratio, hypereutectic pistons, two-bolt mains, and a one-piece rear main seal. BluePrint Engines runs each engine before shipping and provides a dyno sheet, and ours read 238 hp and 317 lb-ft of torque. Those may not be impressive numbers, but they are more than the stock engine made, and the owners just want a reliable, trouble-free cruiser with a V8 rumble.
While the engine was out, the guys worked on cleaning up the engine compartment and installing the new disc brakes from Wilwood, and power steering components from Borgeson. We wrote about installing those parts here.
Though we called this build a long-weekend project, things don’t always go according to plans. When the guys dropped the engine in, they discovered that nothing lined up. The motor mounts were misaligned, the clutch linkage was off, and the driveline angles were wrong. After lots of head scratching and Internet surfing, they discovered that the engine sits lower in convertible Mustangs of this generation. Once the guys made a set of 3/8-inch spacers, everything fit into place.
Here’s a closer view of the spacers Steve’s crew made to fit the V8 motor mounts to the pads on the chassis. You can imagine how nothing would line up without them. The engine would be sitting too low for the mounts to line up with the holes in the block.
Overdrive for Success
With the engine in place, Tremec’s T5 five speed was next. American Powertrain supplied the transmission, bellhousing, release bearing, shifter, and transmission mount. Steve opted to keep the mechanical clutch linkage for simplicity and to keep the cost down. Here, Pure Vision’s Troy Bray raises the transmission in place.
The rear of the transmission is supported by American Powertrain’s adjustable transmission mount. It allows height and side-to-side adjustment for an optimal driveline angle and the urethane mount holds the transmission securely in place.
Troy drops in a pair of shorty headers that offer better breathing than the cast-iron manifolds, but also fit neatly between the shock towers.
Since there was a negligible difference between the length of the T5 and the stock four-speed transmission, Troy was able to re-use the stock driveshaft.
The new 302 crate engine looks great in the cleaned-up engine compartment. Troy degreased the firewall and sprayed the area with a fresh coat of chassis black prior to dropping the engine in. In another cost-conscious decision, Steve decided to keep a V-belt accessory system rather than switching to a serpentine drive. The cars’ owners requested a fuel injection system, however, so Holley’s Sniper system got the nod.
Steve also chose to install a mechanical fan and a larger capacity copper/brass radiator instead of a trendy “cooling module” aluminum radiator/electric fan combination. Something like that would have been overkill in this application.
Air conditioning and power steering were also on the list of customer requests, so Troy installed the Vintage Air system and a power steering conversion from Borgeson. With the engine in place, he could finalize all the plumbing.
Here’s the completed engine compartment. With the plug-and-play nature of the Sniper EFI system, we were not at all surprised when the engine fired right up at the first turn of the key and settled into a smooth idle. Steve put some miles on it to allow the ECM time to learn before the customer picked the car up.
Before and After
The last bit of cosmetic work Steve did was to replace the stock steel wheels and whitewall tires with a larger set of Keystone wheels and a set of raised-white-letter BF Goodrich tires. They certainly don’t hurt the looks of the car!
Watch! Pure Vision’s Take on a 1971 GTO
If you like this Mustang build, check out this 2018 video with Pure Vision’s Steve Strope, who takes you through the entire process of what it takes to turn a piece of junk into a restored classic.
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