Q: I own a 2WD 1989 Ford Ranger. It has the 2.3L 4-cylinder engine with the headache-prone dual spark plug cylinder head. I’m thinking of switching from the four-popper to a V8.

I can’t decide which engine to use—the 289, 302, or 351W.

Which engine will fit best? I’m leaning toward the 351W, but I’ve heard its taller height interferes with the master cylinder. Which transmission should I use?

A: The Ford 302 is the most common engine swapped into a Ranger. Yes, there are several clearance issues with a swapping a 351W into a Ranger—most notably master cylinder, oil pan, and exhaust routing issues.

Whichever engine you end up using, we suggest using a C-4 transmission. Automatic transmissions are far easier to swap than manuals because you don’t have the added hassle of modifying the clutch and shifter linkage.

We will list some parts that will make the V8 swap a little easier for you:

As with any engine swap, some welding and fabrication is required.

We also recommend upgrading the rear axle. The stock 7.5-inch rear end is fine for a four-banger, but a healthy V8 and gobs of traction will cause sudden radical disassembly all over the pavement.