What Do You Know About Mustang Engines?

AUTO

Dave Davis

7 Min Quiz

With a distinctive body style and a powerful 428-cubic-inch Cobra Jet V8, which of these models do some consider THE Mustang of their youth?

With a name that just SOUNDS fast, the Mach 1 was the definitive Mustang when it hit the streets in 1969. It had three V8 options, including the powerful 428-cubic-inch Cobra Jet that put out 335 bph, and the subsequent 1971 model was even more powerful, with a 429 Super Cobra Jet that offered 375 bph. By its third generation, however, market forces persuaded Ford to downgrade the Mach 1 to a V6.

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When someone refers to the famous "302" Mustang engine, what does that number actually mean?

The Ford Boss 302 engine is a high-performance motor that displaces 4.9-liters, or 302 cubic inches, of air. This is the measure of the volume of the engine's cylinders. Generally, the more air, the more fuel, and the more fuel, the more power.

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One of the most famous Mustangs was a 1968 model with a 6.4-liter V8 that could produce 320 horses. Which movie featured this car?

Steve McQueen pushed his green Mustang to its limit in the 1968 film "Bullitt," which features one of the most iconic car chases in movie history. The chase — and the Mustang's role in it — is so well-known, in fact, that Ford has offered "Bullitt" editions of Mustangs over the year, including one in 2019.

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The Mustang is always getting bigger and better — what is the horsepower rating for the 2020 Mustang Shelby GT500?

It might not be the biggest engine on the market, but the powerplant of the 2020 Mustang Shelby GT500 has it where it counts. The 5.2-liter V8 engine can generate 760 horsepower and 625 lb-ft of torque, making it able to hop off the line quickly and build speed from there.

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What does the "Boss" mean in the Boss 302 engine?

The designer of the Boss 302 Mustang, Larry Shinoda, wanted to keep the project he was working on under wraps, so when asked, he'd simply say he was working on "the boss' car — the "boss" in this case being Ford CEO Bunkie Knudsen. The name stuck internally in the Ford offices and eventually was just applied to the vehicle.

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In what year was automotive legend Carroll Shelby first brought in to work his particular brand of magic on the Mustang?

Carroll Shelby, although never actually a Ford employee, left his mark on many of the company's offerings, including the Mustang. Brought in to give their new, wildly popular car some "race cred," Shelby's design and influence led to the 1965 GT350, where it dominated the track for the next few years.

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Early Mustangs had an engine code to tell what the car had under the hood. What type of code was it?

With so many powerplant options available for the first-generation Mustang, a coding system was developed, with the fifth character of the car's VIN displaying the engine with which the car left the factory. The most common are "A code" and "C code" Mustangs, but there were several codes used throughout the 1960s.

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What years could you find one of the most classic Mustangs, the Boss 302?

The Mustang Boss 302 was a performance variant of the line and was available in 1969 and 1970. In the name of nostalgia, Ford brought the classic back to life for a two-year run in 2012 and 2013, which "Car & Driver" said of it in a review, "Faithful to the original, except for surpassing it in every way."

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Where was the Mustang first officially presented to the world?

Ford believed the Mustang was going to be a game-changing entry in the automotive marketplace, so they chose a very public venue to unveil the new car — the 1964 World's Fair in Flushing Meadows, New York. On April 17, Henry Ford II presented the car to the Fair; that same day, it was also presented in dealerships across the nation, immediately selling 22,000 copies of the vehicle.

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Although it was not the most powerful engine available, the 302 maintained a good ratio of what two factors?

The 302 motor has been around for decades because of two factors: it offers a lot of power for its size, and the engine is one of the least-expensive performance motors made. And, after all those years, there are a lot of parts and a lot of expertise to be found when working on them.

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When it first entered Ford's line up, what car did the "1964 1/2" Mustang borrow its engine from?

The first engine put into the first Mustangs — they are commonly referred to as "1964 1/2" models since they came out so late in the 1964 model year, was a 2.8-liter straight-six that was used in that year's Ford Falcon.

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When they first hit the streets, they looked great but the smallest engine in the line wasn't very impressive by today's standards. Which of these powered the early 'Stangs?

The Thriftpower Inline-six in the 1964 1/2 Mustangs were 2.8-liter single-barrel six-cylinder engines, capable of producing 105 braking horsepower. It wasn't the most powerful engine on the planet, but that didn't stop early admirers from jumping on the Mustang bandwagon.

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In its first generation, how much braking horsepower could the Mustang's most powerful engine option produce?

The first-generation Mustang, which was produced in the 1965 through 1973 model years, offered a number of different engine options. The most powerful was the 1970 Boss V8 and the 1971 429 cu. in. Super Cobra Jet V8, both of which produced 375 braking horsepower.

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For a time, the Mustang boasted the most powerful production car engine ever built in North America. Which engine was it?

Able to produce 662 horsepower with 631 pound-feet of torque, the 2013 Shelby GT500 Supercharged 5.8-liter was a monster lurking under the Mustang's hood; it was, in fact, the most powerful production car engine ever built in North America at the time. More powerful engines have come along since then, but this one is still a beast.

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Starting in the 1990s, what type of engine did Ford develop for its family of cars and trucks?

In an effort to simplify the manufacturing process, Ford started to develop what would be called the Ford Modular engine, which allowed engines to share parts and where the tooling in the factory could be changed more easily to make various versions of the engine family. Mustang engines would become a part of this project.

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In what year could drivers opt for a V8 engine under the hood of their Mustang?

While the first models off the line offered inline-six engines, fans didn't have to wait long to be able to order a V8 powerplant for their pony car. In April 1965 Ford offered the Mustang GT, and two V8 engines options — a 225- or a 271-horsepower motor.

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The 'Stang got a boost in power when a big-block engine was available to drivers. What year did this happen?

There were several engines available for the car early on, but Mustangs got a giddy-up-and-go boost in 1967 when a big-block engine was fitted under the hood. These 390-cubic-inch V8 engines could produce 320 horses and put a lot of pep in the 'Stang's step.

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In the 1971 model year, how many engine options did prospective Mustang owners have to choose from?

All Mustangs were not created equal, and there were many choices — eight, in fact — of engines to select from, depending on what you expected out of your 1971 Mustang. Choices ranged from the modest 4.1-liter Thriftpower I6, which could generate 145 bhp, to the monster 7.0-liter Super Cobra Jet V8, which brought 375 bhp to the table.

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Time off the Line: What was the quarter-mile time of the 1969 Mustang Mach 1?

It looked like it was built for speed, and with its 428 Cobra Jet V8 it had the heart, but it also had weight — too much in the front end to really blast off the line. The car carried almost 60% of its weight over the front wheels and took 14.3 seconds to run the quarter-mile, hitting 100 mph at the finish.

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They can't all be winners. Although the 1976 Ford Mustang II Cobra II sounds tough, how many horses did it REALLY have under the hood?

It looked great and the name SOUNDED like a fast car, the 1976 Ford Mustang II Cobra II was a disappointment to those who expected more from the iconic vehicle. While it had a 302-cubic-inch engine under the hood, the engine could only generate 134 horsepower and only had a top speed of 105.7 mph.

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One of the most famous engines used in Mustangs is named after which of these animals?

The Coyote crate engine first appeared in Mustangs for the 2011 model year and gave the car a great heart; it's a smaller performance engine, with only a 5.0-liter displacement, but it can generate more than 400 horsepower. Mustangs currently use third-generation Coyote engines.

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One of the technologies used in later Mustang engines is "VCT" — what is this?

By using Variable Camshaft Timing, or VCT, the engine can enjoy greater fuel efficiency while putting out lower emissions. This works through changing the camshaft's timing, via computer, speeding or slowing it depending on the engine load. Twin Independent Variable Camshaft Timing (TI-VCT) allows the camshafts to act independently, further improving power and torque.

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What is special about the Voodoo variant of Mustang engines, often used in racing?

The Voodoo variant of the Coyote engine uses a "flat-plane" crankshaft, where the cams have a 180-degree angle between the throws. This setup allows the engine to rev more quickly, making it popular in racing circles, although it is louder and generates more vibration.

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Where would you find the "Fox Body" Mustang, popular with those who like to experiment with their 'Stangs?

The "Fox Body" Mustangs are found in the vehicle's third generation, made between 1979 to 1993. The name refers to the Ford Fox platform used during that time, which was used as a way to downsize the cars for a more fuel-conscious era. Those who know their way around the garage like this model body because it can more easily accept stronger engines and other racing adjustments.

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Which of these vehicles was available alongside the Boss 302, offering a more powerful, more expensive option?

Another option available to pony-car fans back in the day was the Boss 429 Mustang, which was also sold in 1969 and 1970. As the name suggests, the 429 had a more powerful engine, with a 7.0-liter (429 cubic inches) displacement V8 engine that advertised 375 bhp, but might have actually been more powerful; the estimate was "low-balled," the theory suggests, to keep insurance rates lower.

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Even though it had a smaller engine than its predecessor, performance didn't suffer for the 1996 Cobra. What was its 0-to-60 spec?

In order to hit emission standards and other technological requirements, the 1996 Mustang Cobra had a smaller engine than its 1995 counterpart — a 4.6-liter mother rather than a 4.9-liter — but both engines had the same output (215 horsepower), and the 1996 version posted a respectable 0-to-60 time of 6.6 seconds.

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Which auto executive is credited with being the "father" of the Mustang, who knew it before it even HAD an engine?

Wanting to erase the public's memory of the disaster that was the Edsel project, Lee Iacocca, then the general manager of Ford's product development division, wanted the company to make a pony car that both looked sporty and had some power and yet still be affordable. By spearheading this initiative, the company soon developed what would be the Mustang.

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Which of these race championships was the Boss 302 Mustang designed to win?

The Chevrolet Camaro won the 1968 Trans-Am series, and Ford wanted to do something about it. The Boss 302 was created for the task and was up to the challenge, taking home the championship in 1970. The Boss 302 was then retired after its two-year production run.

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Which of these cars originated from a scrubbed plan to replace the traditional Mustang with a Mazda design?

Sales were slowing down for the Mustang in 1987 — so much so that Ford thought to "farm" its design and construction out to Mazda. The thought of the all-American car becoming a Japanese project riled up fans to the point that the company scrapped those plans and re-invigorated the Mustang line. Those plans weren't abandoned, however; they instead became the building block for the Ford Probe, which debuted in 1989.

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Ford's Special Vehicle Team, or SVT, created the Mustang SVT Cobra in which year?

Produced from 1993 through 2004, Ford's Special Vehicle Team, or SVT, created the Mustang SVT Cobra, which was developed to be the top-of-the-line model, over the GT and Mach 1 versions of the Mustang. The SVT models started out with a 5.0-liter small-block V8 that could generate 235 horsepower; by the end, the 2004 models had a 4.6-liter 32-valve supercharged V8 engine, producing 390 horsepower.

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After an estrangement from Ford, in which year did Carroll Shelby return to work on a new line of Mustangs?

Carroll Shelby cut ties with Ford in the 1970s after the company used the "Cobra" name on some vehicles without consulting him, but by 2007, he had forgiven and started to work with the company again, developing the Ford Shelby GT500, complete with a supercharged 5.4-liter, 500-horsepower engine.

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Which of the following is true about the EcoBoost engine now used in some Mustangs?

In 2015, Ford put something in the Mustang that hadn't been offered in a while: a four-cylinder engine. The EcoBoost engine, however, still provided plenty of horsepower — 310 bhp, in fact — through improved technology and turbocharging while delivering better mileage. In 2018, Ford went all in for the EcoBoost engine, discontinuing the six-cylinder option and only offering the inline-four EcoBoost or the V8.

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Produced in 1968 with a small-block 289 two-barrel carburetor, which of these models had a production run of just over 4,100 units?

The "California Special" Mustang was built for, you guessed it, California Ford dealers. Only produced from February to August 1968, 5,000 were to be made, but only 4,118 units were produced. And even smaller subset of this group was 251 units that were remarketed as "High Country Special '68s" in Denver.

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At the end of the muscle-car era, which of these Mustangs kept its spot alive in the Ford line up in the mid-1980s?

For a time, the market forces turned against the muscle and pony car segment, and automakers had to readjust. Reluctant to retire a name as popular as "Mustang," the line limped along in the late 1970s. In 1984, the Mustang SVO was offered to return a bit of the power to the nameplate. When introduced, it's four-cylinder engine put out 175, and by the end of its run in 1986, that had jumped up to 200.

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It looked the part, but this Mustang didn't have the horses under the hood as the cars that came before and would come later. What's this tough-but-toothless Mustang?

Produced in 1978, the Mustang II King Cobra's body had a shape reminiscent of the muscle cars that had come before, but it had an eight-cylinder engine that could only produce 139 horses. It was a limited edition; only a little more than 4,300 units were made. While the car was better on fuel economy than its predecessors, the thrill was gone for many drivers.

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About This Quiz

The sight of a Ford Mustang out in the wild makes the heart of a Blue Oval fan skip a beat. Every fan has their favorite model — the 1964 1/2 premiere model is the desire of many, while others crave the new 2020 'Stang with all the ultra-modern bells and whistles. Whatever the outside looks like, however, we can all agree on one thing: Without an engine, the car is just something to look at. Without its heart, you aren't going anywhere. This quiz will test your knowledge about the powerplants that have powered the dreams of Mustang owners throughout the decades!

Even though we can agree that the Mustang is the premier pony car ever to come out of Detroit, people have differing opinions on why they love the 'Stang and what they look for when it comes to the car. Some marvel at a garage-kept classic model that looks like it just rolled off the late-'60s showroom floor, where others long to find the parts they need in a field or junkyard so they can rebuild the car of their dreams with their own hands. 

Whatever camp you fall into, it's important to understand the soul of the machine. Between the engine that powered the first model that captured the world's attention to the beasts that power today's best pony car, it's important to know where we came from, where we're at and where we're headed. Strap in, rev the motor and hear that exciting, familiar growl, and let's see how quickly you get off the line. Let's go!

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