The Mustang II Internet Interest Group Presents:
The Ford Mustang II FAQ

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2.3L HiPo Section


How do I improve the performance of my 2.3L powered Mustang II?


The 2.3L four cylinder Ford provided in the Mustang II is a source of much derision among US auto enthusiasts. I believe the source of this is the "there's no substitute for cubic inches" theory among some people. While no normally aspirated 2.3L will ever produce the horsepower of a modified 5.0L V-8, it can produce levels of torque and horsepower that will be very entertaining in a lightweight chassis auto.

The Ford 2.3L OHC 'Lima' engine should not be confused with the Ford 2.3L OHV engine. The 'Lima' engine was Ford's first all metric dimension engine and was based on the German 2.0L OHC engine, as used in the Capri and Pinto. The 2.3L OHV engine is based on a Ford straight-six engine and has its cam mounted in the block operating the over-head valves through a set of quite long push rods. The 2.3L OHC 'Lima' engine has its cam mounted in the head (hence the title) with each valve operated directly via a cam follower. Valve adjustment is maintained by one hydraulic lash adjuster per valve.

Several sources report that the 2.3L OHC engine's ability to rev is limited only by the ability of the valve springs to control valve float. Thus bottom-end re-inforcement is not usually done until the very highest levels of performance are required.

The latest versions of this engine are available with electronic fuel injection and two spark plugs per cylinder for smooth and reliable power. The 1988 year marked the height of 2.3L performance with the electronically fuel injected turbocharged 2.3L of the Turbo Thunderbird. The 2.3L EFI Turbo was available with up to 225 horsepower from the factory, and can be easily modified to in excess of 300 hp. Watch this space for more Turbo 2.3L info from Turbo Joe (morgaj01@STUDENT.UCR.EDU)!

Sadly, Ford never attempted to improve the performance level of the 2.3L OHC over the level it needed to satisfy economy car goals. However, Ford did provide the basic design features needed for the production of more horsepower (i.e. flow through head, overhead cam, etc.). Thus, the goal of this section of the Mustang II FAQ is to provide information on improving the performance of normally aspirated Ford 2.3L OHC engines. Due to time constraints, our initial offering will be scanned pages from an article in Hot Rod magazine dating back to March of 1981. The basic techniques have not changed, but several suppliers, including Racer Walsh (, have improved both the design and the availability of the parts required.

Thanks to the folks at Hot Rod magazine for the excellent article. I appologise for the poor scanning quality. If you have questions about an unreadable section, please e-mail me.

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Please watch this space for more 2.3L performance information, including pics of 2.3L engines with Weber side-draft carbs.

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Contact the Section author: Bernie McLean:

Standard disclaimer: An automobile engine is an expensive and complicated device. Do not attempt to repair or modify the engine without expert knowledge or supervision. I will not take any responsibility for damages that may occur due to any person using the information contained on this webpage.

Last Updated April 6, 1998