They say that the road to a certain lowly, hot, lava-filled place is paved with good intentions, and whether or not that's true, good can come from missed goals. I tell myself this when it comes to my '68 Ford that is long overdue from the one-year build time we originally set--well over a year ago.
They also say that if the ifs and buts were candy and nuts, we'd all have a merry Christmas. Well, it is Christmas in April for me. When the build started and I got in contact with Ford Racing Performance Parts' national sales rep Jesse Kershaw about putting a late-model EFI Ford engine in the F-100, he thought it was a fantastic idea, as they had plenty of Mustang-based 4.6L SOHC V-8 engines that they intended to start offering in crate form. Sounded great to me, but there was one catch--they weren't sure how to control it in a non-stock vehicle. I didn't think too much at the time because I figured there was probably some smart cookie in the aftermarket who had come up with a wiring harness for these engines. To my dismay and subsequent delay, there wasn't. So a long working relationship with Jesse and the engineers at Ford Racing soon began.
It turned out that the '05 and up 4.6L and 5.4L three-valve Ford engines were unique to the earlier two- and four-valve engines. The three-valve has variable cam timing that was designed to make the lightweight engines run even better. This, coupled with Ford's special plugs they use in their wiring harness and reluctance to sell them to anyone, made it real hard for an outside company or individual to make something work.
About a year later I received the second prototype from Jesse and Ford Racing. They had successfully fired a stand-alone engine there in Detroit using several modified Mustang harnesses. Ford Racing's Controls Specialist Steve Bandy then sent me a personal email with instructions to hook it all up. This was great news, but it was obvious there needed to be some packaging refinements done for the classic truck/muscle car/street rod market to accept it. The bulky OEM Mustang power distribution box was just that--big. There were also wire length issues that would need to be handled to make it a more "universal" system. Steve and his team had some technical things to smooth out as well that were way above my head, so it was back to the drawing board.
Recently, Ford Racing made an announcement within the industry that they had indeed come up with a production-worthy harness/control system, and soon after a box showed up at the office--pay dirt! Except my truck was/is still in limbo as far as being done, but it was clear that I needed to get it ready to at least fire up regardless of the sheetmetal, bodywork, paint, etc., being done.
So here's the exclusive introduction to what Ford Racing ended up building, thanks in no small way to our own Bumpside Build-Off. In a couple of weeks from when I write this, Jesse Kershaw and Steve Bandy will be out here and we'll hopefully be lighting off the '68--stay tuned!