Words And Photos: Richard Holdener
Back in my day…okay, here we go again, another old timer story about how tough things were and how he walked to school up hill both ways in the snow, right? Truth be told, small-block Ford enthusiasts do have it easy now. Back in the mid-late 80’s when Ford 5.0L performance was just getting started, parts availability was somewhat limited, especially in the cylinder head department. Fast forward through the introduction of the fuel-injected 5.0L (the little motor that jumped started Ford performance) and you now have what can only be described as an abundance of go-fast goodies for your Ford. In fact, the problem now might be one of over abundance, as choosing the right combination from all the available components is considerably more difficult. If only there was someone out there who supplied tried and true (meaning dyno verified) performance packages that bolted right on with no problems and delivered the promised performance. Enter Edelbrock Power Package Top End kits.
Already famous for their three-tiered, power packages (Performer, RPM and Victor Jr.), Edelbrock now offers dedicated (and dyno verified) Top-End packages that include not only matching heads, cam and intakes, but all of the sub components necessary to complete the conversion. The list included things like gaskets, intake and cylinder head hardware and even a fancy double-roller timing chain, since the one on your high-mileage motor is sure to be getting saggy. Like their previous packages, these top-end kits are available for different engine families and even power levels to suit your needs. For our 1992 Ford 351W, we chose pt# 2090, that included fully ported, E-CNC 185 heads, an RPM Air gap intake and healthy hydraulic roller cam that offered a .573/.582 lift split, a 235/239-degree duration split and 112-degree lsa. Edelbrock also offered a slightly less powerful version of this package for use with a flat-tappet cam.
Having tested the 2090 package, Edelbrock advertised the power output of this combination at 443 hp and 424 lb-ft of torque. Their test data indicated the dyno results were obtained with a 351W short block sporting a 9.5;1 compression ratio, but we were wondering what would happen if you applied it to your average (low compression) wrecking yard Windsor? Junkyard motors are as abundant as they are affordable and with a little luck (meaning planning), make an excellent starting point for any performance build up. The Edelbrock top-end kit can also be applied to your existing 351W (or other) motor.
To illustrate the effectiveness of the kit, we first secured a 1992 5.8L 351W from a local LKQ Pick-a-Part. We were smart enough to shop for our motor on a sale weekend when every part in the yard (including a complete engine) was 40% off. This pushed the price of our complete, hydraulic-roller, EFI 351W down to just $149 (plus $60 core). We had a complete, running 351W, from throttle body to oil pan, including accessories and flex plate, for the paltry sum of $209. Now it was time to hit the dyno!
Venturing to our second home at Westech Performance, our junkyard jewel was first met with skepticism. Apparently, we won the award for the engine with the most dirt, oil, and grim ever run on the dyno! Since we planned on running the motor in carbureted trim, off came the upper and lower EFI manifolds to make room for an Edelbrock Performer RPM intake, and Holley carburetor. We also replaced the factory EFI distributor with an MSD unit. Run with Hooker headers, the stock 5.8L Pick-a-Part special produced 254 hp at 4,400 rpm and 352 lb-ft of torque at 3,300 rpm.
The motor was pulled down for installation of the Edelbrock top-end package (and Westech-mandated cleaning), then run once again on the dyno. Check out the photos and captions for full details on the components and installation procedure. We also took the liberty of installing a set of Edelbrock valve covers, despite Westech’s insistence that all of the shiny new components were too good for our oil-encrusted short block. It seems that the Edelbrock dyno testing was, if anything, a tad conservative, as (despite the lower compression) the topped-off 351W pumped out 460 hp at 6,100 rpm and 435 lb-ft of torque at 4,300 rpm. There is nothing we love more than when a manufacturer under promises and over delivers!
After replacing the factory EFI upper and lower intake with an Edelbrock RPM intake and Holley carburetor, the stock 351 produced 254 hp at 4,400 rpm and 352 lb-ft at 3,300 rpm. Obviously Ford was more concerned about torque production on the 5.8L truck motor, but Edelbrock saw some real potential in that short block. After replacing the stock heads, cam and intake with the RPM components, the peak numbers jumped to 460 hp at 6,100 rpm and 435 lb-ft at 4,300 rpm. The Edelbrock kit offered not just more peak power, but more power everywhere. These were pretty impressive results from a motor that we originally purchased from a local LKQ Pick-a-Part for around $200.