Q&A

Mailbag: Engine Swap, Transmission & Rear End Recommendations for ’89 Ford Ranger

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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.

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5 Comments

  1. Ive got a 87 ranger with a 5.9 amc swap it currently has 4″edelbrock headers hard as hell to find
    1.7 full roller rockers ported stock heads decked to 0 block has been decked has mahle diamond head postons billet aluminum crank H beam rods and a edelbrock high rise dual plane intake and a edelbrock 1050 carb with 3 fuel pumps truckhas a bullet proofed 9 1/4 dodge rear end 3.06 gears top speed of 180mph and to top it of it has 736hp 912fpds torque

  2. horse in a coyote!

  3. I have an 88 ranger with a 302 and a c4 transmission.. and a 1994 with a Chevy 350 and a th350 trans. Both trucks are extended cabs with 8.8 rears. They both are fun. But The Chevy swap is cheaper at least mine was

  4. Even though I’m really a GM guy, I’ve done a few Ranger swaps over the years, including a 351W into a ’90 4×4. Trust me when I tell you that a 351W into ANY Ranger is a HUGE pain in the butt! My current project is a 94 2wd that’s getting a 302/C4, along with an 8.8″ rear from an early 90s Explorer. Of course the spring perches on the Explorer rear will have to be relocated to the top of the axle tubes, but, that’s no big deal.

    I saw that Summit listed all of the individual part #s for a Ranger swap, however, you should just buy the Trans-Dapt “swap in a box” # 97361. It includes all the individual parts in one kit. Summit has it for under $500. The only part of the kit that I’m not using is the oil pan. I have 2 reasons for this…1) I don’t want a chrome oil pan, 2) more importantly, I want a 5 qt pan. I’ll be using the Trans-Dapt plain steel 5 qt pan and painting it when I finish the engine.

  5. F.Y.I. the part # for the Trans-Dapt plain steel 5 qt oil pan is # 7572. Summit has it for $110.

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