1 2 3
L5wolvesf
L5wolvesf Reader
11/12/20 11:21 a.m.

I’ve tried to make this post as short as possible – it didn’t work out well.

 

Yes, I’m still looking for a tow vehicle for the IMCA Sport Compact I’m still looking for. The pickup availability in AZ seems to have dried up since the . . . disease. I’ve looked at a couple but they weren’t right for various reasons. I have narrowed the choices down to Ford F150 or F250, but should the right Suburban, at the right price, appear like magic I would go there.

 

About Ford engines, I asked y’all about the 4.9 / 300 cid I6 and that is on my radar as is the SBF 302 V8. I’m hands on familiar with both which is a big advantage in this situation – but they are older hence rarer.  

 

Realistically, based on prices I’m looking at a year range of 1980 (7th Gen) to 1997 (9th Gen) and possibly up to 2004 (10th Gen) or so. I prefer the look of the square front Fords and they are likely more simple (mostly less computerized). But once I get beyond the mid 90s or so my knowledge of Ford engines is very incomplete. So I did a bit of research and cooked up the list below of parameters with question marks where I’m looking for input.

 

The 351 SBF and 5.4L Modular V8 are not high on my list because of the MPG. What I get will see more than just tow duty. Conversely, the 4.2L Essex V6 gets good MPG but power-wise I’m not sure it can do the towing thing very well. Additionally, an Auto trans and 2wd are preferred in this situation but I might consider a manual or 4x4 if other aspects of a particular truck are very good.

 

It will be towing a trailer (1500 lbs), car (2500 lbs), and stuff (500 lbs) – est. 4500 lbs,

 

4.9L / 300 cid (I6) 1965-1997

HP: 150 – Torque: 260

Reliability: Nearly bullet proof

Parts (in emergency): Shouldn’t be a problem

Mpg: 15 / 20 – 1986

“Bolt on” Performance Upgrades: Not “a lot” available and quite expensive.

 

302 cid (SBF V8) 1967–1997

HP: 195 – Torque: 275

Reliability: Nearly bullet proof

Parts (in emergency): Shouldn’t be a problem

Mpg: 14 / 17 – 1986

“Bolt on” Performance Upgrades: A lot available at reasonable prices.

 

351 cid (SBF V8) 1980–1997

HP: 210 – Torque: 305

Reliability: Nearly bullet proof

Parts (in emergency): Shouldn’t be a problem

Mpg: 11 / 14 – 1986

“Bolt on” Performance Upgrades: A lot available at reasonable prices.

 

4.2L (Essex V6) 1998–2007

HP: 205 – Torque: 260

Reliability: ? ? ?

Parts (in emergency): ? ? ?

Mpg: 15 / 19 – 1998

“Bolt on” Performance Upgrades: ? ? ?

 

4.6L (Modular V8) 1997–2004

This is the Crown Vic Police motor correct?

HP: 225 – Torque: 285

Reliability: ? ? ?

Parts (in emergency): ? ? ?

Mpg: 12 / 17 – 1998

“Bolt on” Performance Upgrades: ? ? ?

 

5.4L (Modular V8) 1997–2004

HP: 235 – Torque: 330

Reliability: ? ? ?

Parts (in emergency): ? ? ?

Mpg: 11 / 15 – 1998

“Bolt on” Performance Upgrades: ? ? ?

Any of those will tow fine. 

The 4.2 has more HP and the same torque as the antique 300 I6. It is head and shoulders a better engine than the 300. 

None of those would scare me. Any of them would do what you wanted. Given a choice I don't particularly like the mod motors and I would pass on the 5.4. It burns gas like a 460. 

Streetwiseguy
Streetwiseguy MegaDork
11/12/20 11:47 a.m.
Toyman01 (Moderately Supportive Dude) said:

 

The 4.2 has more HP and the same torque as the antique 300 I6. It is head and shoulders a better engine than the 300. 

 

Good Lord, man, someone is going to murder you in your sleep for saying that around here.

Pete. (l33t FS)
Pete. (l33t FS) MegaDork
11/12/20 11:49 a.m.

I would not do any "performance upgrades" for a tow vehicle beyond simply keeping the rig maintained.

gearheadmb
gearheadmb SuperDork
11/12/20 11:53 a.m.

While hp/tq numbers look similar between the 302 and the 351 the difference in low-midrange torque in the 351 is very noticeable, especially with a manual trans. With a not too heavy car and trailer a 302 w/auto won't be too bad, but I would stay away from 302/manual. 

Rodan
Rodan Dork
11/12/20 11:55 a.m.

Anecdotally, my 2004 F150 5.4 standard cab long bed 4x4 got far better mileage than my 1992 Bronco 351W.  15-17mpg compared to 9-10mpg in everyday driving.  FWIW, my 5.4 was trouble free.

In an OBS truck, I'll take a 460 over a 351W any day... more power, same mileage.  Both would require an F250, which is going to be a little more money if nice, and values on the OBS trucks seem to be rising.  '97-03 F150s are probably the best value, being in the bottom of the depreciation curve.

I would also note that aftermarket stuff for 351Ws is a little thin, unless it will also bolt onto/into a 302W....

Streetwiseguy said:
Toyman01 (Moderately Supportive Dude) said:

 

The 4.2 has more HP and the same torque as the antique 300 I6. It is head and shoulders a better engine than the 300. 

 

Good Lord, man, someone is going to murder you in your sleep for saying that around here.

I have put literally hundreds of thousands of miles on both engines, towing and not. 

Sometimes the truth hurts. 

 

Tom_Spangler (Forum Supporter)
Tom_Spangler (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
11/12/20 12:22 p.m.

Parts availability for the mod motors is excellent. There are millions and millions of those engines on the road. In fact, I'd almost guarantee you that it's better than the 300, which hasn't been made in ~25 years.

L5wolvesf
L5wolvesf Reader
11/12/20 12:35 p.m.
Toyman01 (Moderately Supportive Dude) said:
Streetwiseguy said:
Toyman01 (Moderately Supportive Dude) said:

The 4.2 has more HP and the same torque as the antique 300 I6. It is head and shoulders a better engine than the 300. 

Good Lord, man, someone is going to murder you in your sleep for saying that around here.

I have put literally hundreds of thousands of miles on both engines, towing and not. 

Sometimes the truth hurts. 

 

I just looked back on my inquiry regarding the Ford 300 I6 and you didn’t chime in there. Before someone murders you in your sleep could you expand on your opinion on the 300? A number of people seemed to have good experiences with them.

https://grassrootsmotorsports.com/forum/grm/towing-with-a-ford-300-i6/176949/page1/

 

If you have a preference as to where your body gets dumped let folks know that too.

Pete. (l33t FS)
Pete. (l33t FS) MegaDork
11/12/20 12:37 p.m.
Toyman01 (Moderately Supportive Dude) said:
Streetwiseguy said:
Toyman01 (Moderately Supportive Dude) said:

 

The 4.2 has more HP and the same torque as the antique 300 I6. It is head and shoulders a better engine than the 300. 

 

Good Lord, man, someone is going to murder you in your sleep for saying that around here.

I have put literally hundreds of thousands of miles on both engines, towing and not. 

Sometimes the truth hurts. 

 

Yup.

 

The 4.9 was a beast but the 4.2 is a better engine.  

Bear in mind, the highest GVWR 3/4 ton Econolines had the 4.2.

The 4.2 does like to corrode out timing covers, and if you have a mystery coolant loss, do not pass Go, go directly to replacing the lower intake gaskets.  They are plastic composition like Chevy used in a lot of engines, but the geometry means that coolant can leak into cylinder 4 intake port.  I have replaced two engines for this, and there is actually a bulletin for engine knock.  After the rod goes S shaped and the piston starts thwacking the crank at BDC.

 

L5wolvesf
L5wolvesf Reader
11/12/20 12:37 p.m.
Pete. (l33t FS) said:

I would not do any "performance upgrades" for a tow vehicle beyond simply keeping the rig maintained.

Whatever I get will be well maintained. If I can improve performance and/or MPG at a reasonable price that may happen too. Thank you

L5wolvesf
L5wolvesf Reader
11/12/20 12:43 p.m.

In reply to gearheadmb :

I really prefer an auto for towing and will likely go that way. Thank you

In reply to L5wolvesf :

The 300 is a great engine. It's pretty bullet proof and has decent torque. I wouldn't buy one.  

The 4.2 is a great engine. It's pretty bullet proof and has decent torque. It also gets decent fuel economy and has another 50 hp the 300 doesn't have. It also weighs about 100 pounds less than the 300.

I've pulled 5000 pounds behind both. They both get the job done. Neither one is going to do it fast. Given the choice, I'll go with the 4.2.

L5wolvesf
L5wolvesf HalfDork
11/12/20 12:44 p.m.

In reply to Rodan :

Good input Thank you

Pete. (l33t FS)
Pete. (l33t FS) MegaDork
11/12/20 12:44 p.m.
L5wolvesf said:
Pete. (l33t FS) said:

I would not do any "performance upgrades" for a tow vehicle beyond simply keeping the rig maintained.

Whatever I get will be well maintained. If I can improve performance and/or MPG at a reasonable price that may happen too. Thank you

The discussion comes up a lot on Speedtalk.  "I want to build a new engine for towing,  what heads/cam/etc"

So my gut reaction for "performance upgrades" means building an engine smiley

 

Really the automakers would have done a bang up job at making the engine efficient in the 100hp range.  have never used WOT when towing, ever.

Mr_Asa
Mr_Asa SuperDork
11/12/20 12:48 p.m.
Tom_Spangler (Forum Supporter) said:

Parts availability for the mod motors is excellent. There are millions and millions of those engines on the road. In fact, I'd almost guarantee you that it's better than the 300, which hasn't been made in ~25 years.

Around here a 300 is dropped in the junkyard about once every other week (according to my email alerts) which is pretty decent.

In parts houses it isn't that great though.  On the flipside I haven't had to do many emergency repairs past the first 25k or so of owning it, so I haven't really needed to go find a part right now.

 

If you do go with a 300, the two things I would do are the oil gauge fix so it reads actual pressure, and upgrade the alternator to a more modern one.  Both are well worth it.

newrider3
newrider3 Reader
11/12/20 12:49 p.m.

I have never, ever, ever, seen 15 mpg with my 1982 F100 (short bed, 2wd) with the 300 I6. 12-13 highway. No difference loaded or unloaded, stock with the 1 bbl carb, after porting and polishing the head and installing a 4 barrel intake and dual exhaust manifolds, not even after installing a 5 speed trans in place of the 4 speed. The internet will claim 20 mpg out of a modified 300 and I think that is false. 

L5wolvesf
L5wolvesf HalfDork
11/12/20 12:49 p.m.
Pete. (l33t FS) said:
L5wolvesf said:
Pete. (l33t FS) said:

I would not do any "performance upgrades" for a tow vehicle beyond simply keeping the rig maintained.

Whatever I get will be well maintained. If I can improve performance and/or MPG at a reasonable price that may happen too. Thank you

The discussion comes up a lot on Speedtalk.  "I want to build a new engine for towing,  what heads/cam/etc"

So my gut reaction for "performance upgrades" means building an engine smiley

 

Really the automakers would have done a bang up job at making the engine efficient in the 100hp range.  have never used WOT when towing, ever.

I do not want to build an engine for this. I will have enough to do when I get the race car. I was thinking "bolt on" items like headers or a carb or ?? 

L5wolvesf
L5wolvesf HalfDork
11/12/20 12:52 p.m.
newrider3 said:

I have never, ever, ever, seen 15 mpg with my 1982 F100 (short bed, 2wd) with the 300 I6. 12-13 highway. No difference loaded or unloaded, stock with the 1 bbl carb, after porting and polishing the head and installing a 4 barrel intake and dual exhaust manifolds, not even after installing a 5 speed trans in place of the 4 speed. The internet will claim 20 mpg out of a modified 300 and I think that is false. 

FWIW, I used this for my MPG numbers https://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/findacar.shtml   

It probably isn't real world but is serves as a common reference. Thank you 

In reply to newrider3 :

I have seen 19 mpg out of a E150 with a 4.2 and a auto. Just drive really gently. 

I have seen 18 out of a E150 with the 300, a 5 speed and some ridiculously high rear end gears. My father special ordered the van in 1977. Don't ask about the times my brother and I had to push to get it moving up a hill in the mountains. Or dad had to back it down one side and up the other to get a running start so it would make it to the top. It wouldn't pull a sick whore off a bed, but it got great fuel economy.

L5wolvesf
L5wolvesf HalfDork
11/12/20 12:55 p.m.
Mr_Asa said:

If you do go with a 300, the two things I would do are the oil gauge fix so it reads actual pressure, and upgrade the alternator to a more modern one.  Both are well worth it.

I recall your input re the 300 and found a couple good info sites. IF I find a decent pickup with a 300 I plan to upgrade a few things. Thank you

Mr_Asa
Mr_Asa SuperDork
11/12/20 12:55 p.m.
newrider3 said:

I have never, ever, ever, seen 15 mpg with my 1982 F100 (short bed, 2wd) with the 300 I6. 12-13 highway. No difference loaded or unloaded, stock with the 1 bbl carb, after porting and polishing the head and installing a 4 barrel intake and dual exhaust manifolds, not even after installing a 5 speed trans in place of the 4 speed. The internet will claim 20 mpg out of a modified 300 and I think that is false. 

I personally have done 21MPG on a stock 93 F150.  EFI, and driving more gingerly than a granny, but I've done it.

15-17 is much more common for me.

Curtis73 (Forum Supporter)
Curtis73 (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
11/12/20 1:01 p.m.

I'm going to say it, even though it is blasphemy in some circles.  I think the 4.6L and (almost) the 5.4L are way more bulletproof than the 300 or the 302.  One of my closest friends has a 1998 F150 with the 4.6L with 380k, and at 225k he added the Lightning supercharger.  So far he's replaced the normal items - plugs, wires, belts, hoses, but it is on it's original radiator, alternator, and starter.  He replaced the water pump once as far as I know.  Otherwise, it is has never even had the valve covers off.  He and I have used it primarily as a tow pig with a 2000 lb trailer and have hauled anything from small cars up to 8000 lb tractors.

I have owned two 4.6L and one 5.4L.  I have also had a 302 and a 460.  My neighbor had a 4.2L so we swapped stories, but I only ever drove it a few times and only once towing.  The coil-on-plug on the later versions of the Triton/Mod was a wee headache, and the later versions you either had spark plugs that welded themselves in the head, or plugs that ejected themselves out of the head.  All three were intensely bulletproof.  They will all crack the passenger side manifold, but that's just an excuse to replace them with headers.

The 300 is "1970s bulletproof."  That is to say, it was bulletproof by the standards of the time... a time in which 100k was "old."  Take advantage of the advancements in newer metallurgy, machining, and computer engineering.

None of the above engines will be super happy with 4500 lbs behind it, but they'll do fine.  I will suggest (with both Chevy and Ford) that you step up to the 3/4 ton.  The half ton will be more than adequate, but if you want overkill (trans, rear axle, brakes, suspension), the 3/4 offers it in spades.  You'll notice that you have to do things like brakes about 1/3 as often, and other suspension stuff like tie rod ends, bushings, and bearings are also much longer-lived.

Not sure if you've owned the 4.2L before, but claimed MPG and what they actually get are very different.  The difference in power and MPG between the 4.2L and the 4.6L is so insignificant, I wouldn't recommend one over the other.  I might lean a little toward the 4.6L simply because the 4.2L likes to consume intake manifold gaskets.  Once fixed with quality gaskets, it's usually not any further issue, but the aftermarket seems to favor the 4.6L a little more than the 4.2L  Also, the 4.2L needs to be revved a little more before you find the torque compared to the 4.6L.

Honestly, of all those above, given your needs to pull 4500 lbs and have something reliable, I would do the 4.6L

Tom1200
Tom1200 Dork
11/12/20 1:05 p.m.

I have a 1990 Ford E250 Campervan (7100lbs) towing an 800lb trailer and 1600lb car (9500 total). I've used it for the last 13 years without issue.  The worst that's happened is I'm down to 40-45mph on 6-7% grades.  I gets 12 mpg empty and 10mpg towing.

Curtis73 (Forum Supporter)
Curtis73 (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
11/12/20 1:07 p.m.

And yes, the 4.6L in the truck is the same basic Crown Vic motor.  Heads were different, but everything else is mostly the exact same thing.  Think of it like the difference between an LS1 in a Camaro and a chevy truck LS-based motor.  Same architecture, different heads and intakes.

1 2 3
Our Preferred Partners
eaq5C2FzbnuUnLwAkEOYFS2MkZRNPBXDqVm4bFUKU5DWpN1L7cp54qSmNeBtD8uR