Under pressure to produce engines with lower emissions, better economy, more power, and less vibration and harshness, Ford recognized that the classic small-block was at the end of its engineering rope. A new engine was needed to power the iconic pony car. Ford wasted little time developing the modular line of engines. It took a few years for enthusiasts to warm up to the overhead-cam technology, but with time came horsepower. The Mustang G.T. evolved from 225 hp to 260, 300, and then 412—after the introduction of the Coyote 5.0L engine. The Coyote has also evolved into the Boss 302 and the new VooDoo 5.2L version in the Shelby GT350. These engines have given the Ford Mustang an edge in performance, even when the competition has many more cubic inches.
The 5.0L Ford engine debuted in 1968 when it was simply called a 302. With a four-barrel carb, it produced 250 hp (SAE gross) and gave buyers who didn’t want a big-block a nice-performing V-8 option. There have been many great versions of the 302ci power plant, including the venerable Boss 302s of 1969 and 1970, the 225 hp 5.0 H.O. (used from 1987-1993), and the Cobra 302 fitted to 1993-1995 SVT Cobra Mustangs.
Ford’s Coyote crate engine is a modular V8 engine with a 5.0L displacement. Despite its relatively small displacement, it’s able to create 412 horsepower by using Twin Independent Variable Camshaft Timing and Cam torque actuation. But to Mustang enthusiasts, the Coyote engine is much more than that. Though we’re currently on the third generation of these curiously strong powerhouses, they’ve been the beating heart of the Mustang G.T. since 2011.
From its history to its name, to the engineering components that allow the Coyote engine to produce so much power with a relatively small displacement, people have a lot of questions about the Coyote engine, and the answers are remarkably satisfying.
History of the Coyote Engine
Ford’s first Coyote engine was built in 2010. With an increased push for engines that had more power and more economy, it was clear that that technology needed to improve dramatically, and that wasn’t going to be possible if Ford chose to stay with a traditional small-block engine.
Ford had been making modular engines since the early ’90s. Modular engines allowed flexibility not possible with small blocks. Very easily, Ford could change the tooling in mere hours to create variants of engines to serve different purposes.
The modular engine had improved dramatically since the first iteration was used in a Lincoln Town Car back in 1990. Also, Ford had some exciting new technology that they couldn’t wait to add to the modular designs. 2010 was the first year that Ford added Twin Independent Variable Cam Timing to some of its engines.
Though eventually, Coyote engines would be added to F-150s as well, initially, they were developed with the Mustang G.T. ‘s in mind, and the 2011 G.T. was the first car with a Coyote. The Coyote engine was designed to compete with the Charger’s Hemi and the Camaro’s LS3.
Since 2011, a Coyote engine has been in all Mustang G.T.s and has been available as an option in upgraded F-150s. There are a fair number of differences between the Mustang and F-150 Coyotes. The Coyote was also used in the Ford Falcon, one of Ford’s Australian cars.
The 5.0 engine moniker was popular with the Fox-body crowd, so much so that many V-8 Mustang owners often referred to their Mustang as simply a “five-point oh.” Recognizing the significance of the term 5.0, Ford capitalized on the opportunity to bring back the moniker when the 2011 G.T. engine was developed. The world welcomed a modern 5.0 in late 2010. The decision proved popular with enthusiasts.
Along with the displacement, enthusiasts fell in love with the 400-plus horsepower (412 to be exact) that came with the 2011 G.T. Starting with a clean slate, and Ford engineered the 5.0L with power, efficiency, and economy in mind. Ford combined the very best attributes from the modular line of overhead-cam engines to develop the “Coyote” utilizing a strong aluminum block with deep-skirting, high-flow aluminum heads, variable cam timing, a composite intake, and tuned exhaust headers. Other features of the base 5.0 include 11:1 compression, 0.472/0.433-inch lift, and duration of 260/263 degrees. The engine includes a windage tray and an 8-quart oil pan, with a 1-5-4-8-6-3-7-2 firing order.
This was Ford’s chance to speak to the enthusiast by bringing back the iconic 5.0L. However, this time it boasted 412HP! Ford produced a remarkable engine with lower emissions, better economy, more power, and less vibration. This brought new light to the Ford Mustang. The Coyote has evolved over the years into the Boss 302 and the new VooDoo 5.2L version in the Shelby GT350. With many aftermarket parts, the all-new Coyote could make serious H.P. without affecting driveability. Although these engines were very similar, Ford changes little things throughout the years.
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The Coyote Name
Like with many projects, Ford asked for name suggestions. One of the V8 engineers found a part of Ford history that he thought was special enough that Ford should name their newest engine after it.
The first four-valve V8 that Ford made was manufactured in the 1960s for a race car. Driver AJ Foyt drove his car, the Coyote, to victory in both the 1967 and 1977 Indy 500’s. In total, he won 25 times out of the 141 races he participated in.
The response to the Coyote name was immediately positive, and it stuck.
The Coyote project began in the spring of 2007 when Ford’s director of large gas and diesel engines, Bob Fascetti, selected Mike Harrison to build a new engine for the Mustang. Harrison initially reported that his team could design and build an engine to make 370-380 hp, and Fascetti told them 400 was the number.
Variable Camshaft Timing (VCT) is a technology developed by Ford that allows for greater fuel efficiency and lower emissions. Variable, or changing, camshaft timing is achieved through electronically changing the camshaft’s timing by speeding it up or decreasing the speed as needed based on engine load and RPM.
VCT typically was used on either the exhaust camshaft, which allowed for better emissions or the intake camshaft, which allowed for greater power. Naturally, though, most people want power and better emissions. So, the question became how to allow for variable timing on both the intake and the exhaust valves, and allow them to function independently of one another.
The Twin Independent Variable Camshaft Timing (TI-VCT) improved on VCT’s technology by allowing camshafts to act independently. The result was improved power and torque.
In 2010, Ford finally had the opportunity to put all of this technology into a V8, and the first 5.0L Coyote engine was born. The first generation of the Coyote engine was capable of sustaining 412 horsepower and 390 pounds of torque. It was so powerful they had to figure out how to improve the engine’s walls. Instead of increasing the thickness of the engine’s walls, webbing was built into the walls to allow the block to handle the increased power output of the stronger engine. The Coyote differs from other Ti-VCT engines put out in the same period in that it also utilizes Borg-Warner’s Cam Torque Actuation (CTA) to use torsional energy to rotate the camshaft instead of oil pressure has driven cam phasing as Hondas have.
What the technical details boil down to is that the first Coyote engine was incredibly powerful for its size based on some really neat engineering ideas. The first-generation 5.0L Coyote engine was able to create as much power as a 6.4L Hemi with a significantly smaller displacement.
In 2011 Ford debuted the all-new 5.0L in the Ford F150. Replacing the 5.4L and 4.6L V-8 options from the previous years. Even though this motor’s compression ratio is lower than the Mustangs, it still made decent power from the factory. This all-new F150 5.0L made an impressive 360 hp and 380 lb-ft of torque. This was achieved using a smaller intake cam for more torque, different valve jobs on exhaust valve for increased cooling in high loads, exhaust manifolds and obviously the tune.
The Mustang Coyote Engine debuted in 2011 also in the all-new redesigned Mustang. This Mustang specific 5.0L Coyote boasted higher compression, 11.0:1, to be exact, which is .5 higher than the F150 coyote engine. The Mustang 5.0L Coyote made 412 hp, and 390 lb-ft of torque in it’s Gen 1 motor. Unlike the F150 Coyote, the 11-12 Mustang included piston cooling jets. However, Ford dropped the cooling jets in 2013, stating, “it wasn’t needed.”
The first year of the Coyote made its statement by producing 412 hp at 6,500 rpm and 390 lb-ft of torque at 4250 rpm while making 11:1 compression. Starting with a clean slate, Ford engineered the 5.0L with power, efficiency, and economy in mind. They did this by utilizing a string aluminum block with deep-skirting, high flow heads, variable cam timing, a composite intake, and tuned headers!
The 5.0L Coyote V-8 continued to make impressive numbers increasing eight hp while keeping the torque the same as the previous 2011-2012 Mustang G.T. model. The 2013-14 Coyote Block had smaller head bolts than the previous year and no oil cooling jets. The 2013-14 Mustang benefits from a phosphorous coating on the pistons as well as the piston rings from the Boss 302’s V8, and powertrain calibration improvements contribute to the increase in power as well.
Along with the redesigned exterior of the 2015 Mustang, the 5.0 received a few upgrades of its own. This all-mighty engine took a few cues from the 12-13 Boss, making this Coyote a 435 hp & 400 lb-ft of torque 5.0L monster!
Improving on the Coyote motor, Ford hit a home run with the new Gen 3 coyote motor. This new 5.0 features dual-fuel, high-pressure direct injection with low-pressure port fuel injection. This combo allowed the Gen 3 coyote to produce more power while becoming more efficient. The 435 horsepower/400ft-lb torque Gen 2 coyote motor has been quickly overshadowed by the new 460 horsepower/420 ft-lbs torque Gen 3 motor.
With 444 hp at 11.0:1 compression, at the time, this was Ford’s most powerful naturally aspirated engine they ever produced. To achieve this was no easy feat, and Ford has done significant upgrades compared to the 5.0L found in the G.T. The Boss 302 featured a revised composite intake system with shorter runners for improved airflow in the higher RPM range. The lightened valvetrain components provided improved performance and could easily handle the 7500 RPM redline. The Boss also had new cylinder heads that have CNC-machined ports and chambers for better airflow across the entire RPM range, forged pistons, forged connecting rods and a forged steel crankshaft. This 302 also had an engine oil cooler that improved oil pressure and longer-lasting lubrication during racing conditions. Needless to say, this 5.0L Coyote was a huge upgrade over stock! The Boss 302 engine was appropriately code-named “Road Runner” by the Boss development team.
Before any engine can make its way to production, it must endure serious testing. Harrison explains, “Despite its racing heritage—and the rigours of track-day testing—the Boss 302 V-8 is still a production Ford engine, built alongside the 5.0L G.T. engine at the Essex Engine Plant in Ontario, Canada. That means it has to meet or exceed all the standard durability testing every Ford engine is required to complete.”
He adds, “Ford had no engine test cells built to run at that kind of sustained speed. Ford Racing had one, but it wasn’t instrumented to do production durability testing. So we had to re-engineer the dyno cell with new balancers and jackshafts so the dyno wouldn’t fly apart running at redline hour after hour.”
Ultimately the Boss engine was tested at full output for hundreds of hours, where it outperformed the specifications. Ford stated that the test was equivalent to running the Daytona 250 race flat-out more than 175 times—in a row.
Through the years, Ford has created several specialized builds of the Coyote.
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The new 2012 and 2013 Boss 302 models demanded something special due to the associations’ people have with the Boss nameplate. Using Daytona prototypes to find something new that could be added to the Coyote engine to make it have the feel of a Boss.
The Daytona race cars used an intake method that eliminated lag when the throttle was opened. This allows the engine to “breathe” more efficiently at higher RPM, allowing the Boss to exceed the G.T.’s 7000 RPM redline and actually gain power at higher RPM. The engine is sometimes referred to as Road Runner.
Out of all the Coyote variants, the Voodoo may be the most unique. It has a 5.2L displacement, but unlike other modular V8 engines, the Voodoo uses a flat-plane crank. Flat-plane cranks are crankshafts that have a 180-degree angle between throws. This does cause the engine to vibrate more and be louder than other V8 engines, but that’s kind of the point. Flat-plane cranks also allow engines to rev more quickly, making it a popular choice in racing engines.
Ford used the Voodoo engine in the Shelby GT350 and GT350R.
The Shelby GT350 and R variants produced a whopping 526hp & 429 lb-ft of torque! To achieve the 5.2L displacement, Ford enlarged the bore size, and it also moved from a traditional crankshaft to a flat-plane crank. All-new heads get enlarged ports, bigger valves, and higher-lift cams. A new intake is used with taller ports, a larger plenum, and a 90mm throttle-body. We believe this high powered 5.2L V-8 will become a performance legend over time!
The 2015 Shelby GT350 and R variants will represent the pinnacle of naturally aspirated performance from Ford. The Coyote-based 5.2L “VooDoo” engine in the Shelby is expected to produce over 520 hp and rev past 8,000 rpm. This is an immense level of power from a modern production engine of the only 5.2L.
“The Shelby GT350R Mustang is a no-compromise car in the pursuit of maximum track capability,” says Raj Nair, Ford group vice president of global product development. “It is a thoroughbred street car making use of technology and ingenuity to deliver performance few enthusiasts have ever experienced.”
The Aluminator is another Coyote development. Ford wanted to ensure that the Voodoo engine was reserved specifically for the Shelby GT350R. Still, they also wanted a more powerful variant of the Coyote engine that they could add to the Ford Performance line-up. Hence, the Aluminator.
The Aluminator has a cross-plane crankshaft instead of a flat-plane crankshaft. Capable of reaching 580 horsepower and 445 pounds of torque, it’s certainly a worthy addition to Ford’s performance line-up.
The most recent addition to the Coyote Variant line-up, The Predator is a Voodoo with a cross-plane crankshaft and some other goodies that pump it up to be worthy of the most powerful production Mustang ever, the 2020 GT500.
The Predator has 760 horsepower and 625 lb-ft of torque, which is truly outrageous.
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