It’s an age-old rivalry that dates back to the 1930s. Bowtie versus Blue Oval is tantamount to good versus evil, no matter what side of the battle lines you stand on. No more fierce is that rivalry than when it comes to the original pony car and its upstart competitor. Mustangs are the OG and Camaros were created to take them down.
Along the way the two cars have had their ups and downs. The Mustang kept its streak alive for 50 plus years, while the Camaro ghosted enthusiasts only to return and challenge its rival again. Along the way,both have been powered by a variety of engines, but when Ford pursued overhead cams and smaller engines, Chevrolet stayed with pushrods and cubes.
To build a boosted Coyote to take on its LS rival, the Horsepower Wars team turned to Tim Eichorn at MPR Racing Engines (left). (Photo Credit: Ryan Merrill)
Today those engines are the Coyote 5.0-liter and the LT1 6.2-liter V8. In stock form they crank out 460 horsepower and 455 horsepower, respectively, right off the lot. Back in 2016, EngineLabs pitted these two engines against one another in a controversial, but popular competition. This contest was the genesis for the entire Horsepower Wars series, so it was only fitting to return to the scene of the crime — and add in boost to see what happens.
The result is Horsepower Wars: LS vs. Coyote, Part 2,which pits the two engines against one another. Judging in three categories will deterimine the winner: total result of peak power plus peak torque (four points), average power from 3,000 below peak horsepower to peak horsepower (three points), and horsepower per cubic-inch (two points). The rules are pretty open. Any shelf ProCharger supercharger with up to a 12-rib belt, E85 spec fuel, hydraulic roller cams, and no displacement limit. To keep things in check, however, there is a $15,000 budget limit on each engine build.
Tim opted to bolster the factory Coyote block with a set of Darton Sleeves, which make the block more stable and the cylinders more robust. It will need that to withstand huge ProCharger boost and 12.25:1 compression supplied by MAHLE domed pistons. Keeping those pistons where they belong are a set of heavy-duty billet Manley I-beam rods.
Blue Oval Builder
For the Ford Coyote engine,Horsepower Wars turned to one of the leading builders in the field,Tim Eichorn of MPR Racing Engines. Tim and his son Tyler are well-known for their success racing in the NMRA Ford Drag Racing series, and their shop established itself as a go-to builder for those seeking huge but reliable power from the Coyote engine platform.
“Basically back in 2010 we started having a hard time getting our engines done. I have been building engines since 1990, but we always had a plethora of machine shops around, but the owners were getting older and retiring,” Tim reflected. “It came to a point in 2012 that I said, ‘I need to step up my game because we are getting busier and we need to have more control of our timeframes from the machining aspect of it.”
Tim machined the factory crankshaft for double keyways to keep the SFI-spec ATI damper in place. It will reduce crank twist and hopefully help keep the cam timing stable in the process.
With a move to a new facility, he decided to bolster the shop’s capabilities with new machines. Over time he kept adding to MPR’s capabilities until it became a one-stop shop for engine builds.
“When we moved from Pompano to Boynton Beach, I ordered our first machines and we were able to do stuff in-house,” he said. “It has just grown from one machine to a full machine shop. We do everything in-house, from cylinder heads to balancing to full CNC capabilities. We have just grown over the last six years.”
Tim spec’d a custom set of bumpsticks from COMP Cams with the intention of improving the engine’s average power under the curve and improve scoring in this competition. He also upgraded the valve springs with higher-pressure Manley coils that will withstand the intense cylinder pressure of a boosted 12.25:1 Coyote.
During that time, the Coyote engine platform came along and its skyrocketing popularity seems to track with the growth of MPR’s engine-building business.
“The modular stuff is probably 65-percent of our business and the other 35-percent is pushrod stuff. I would say the Coyote definitely stepped up our game, but having such precision machining capabilities in the shop has also stepped us up to the next level as far as other engines as well,” Tim said. “These engines are tight-tolerence engines. A lot of people know that they have extremely tight tolerances and they know we have the equipment and the CNC machines to make sure their pushrod motor, no matter how old it is, is going to be exact.”
While having an engine that is built to perform is obviously crucial for this competition, picking the right blower for the job is key. Both the Blue Oval and Bow Tie teams can use any production ProCharger unit, but the characteristics of the two engine platforms dictate different supercharger applications
“ProCharger superchargers are designed to provide maximum efficiency for the greatest power return, especially at higher RPM, which make it ideal for both the Coyote motor that loves to rev high and the LSX motor,” David Turner, Marketing Director at ProCharger, said. “Our broad offering of superchargers also gives the customer the option to custom-select a ProCharger supercharger to their power level and RPM operating range to get the most out of their engine setup.”
The Coyote engine is uniquely suited for boost because of his high-flowing cylinder heads, which help it make big power in a modestly sized package.
“Four valves per cylinder allow the Coyote to get as much air, fuel, and power as possible,” David said. “This has to make up for the fact that it is smaller in displacement.”
Because of its wider powerband, the company recommended a blower that will match its power profile. That means the smaller engine will pair with a smaller blower to take on a bigger engine and a bigger blower. It will be a true battle of David versus Goliath.
“The DOHC Coyote revs higher and likes a higher-revving supercharger, which makes it ideal for our F-1A-94 supercharger,” David said. “The LSX, being a bigger motor that doesn’t rev as high as the Coyote tends to prefer a bigger supercharger, which is why we recommended the F-1X supercharger for this contest.”
Each builder had the option to work with ProCharger to choose the best fit for the rules and their application/combo.
While MPR Racing Engines is a top builder in the Coyote world, this shop doesn’t just build Ford engines. Tim and his crew don’t discriminate. If you need and engine built, MPR is happy to create a robust, powerful combo. As such, he turned to his Chevrolet engine building experience to help create a Coyote that can take out an LS goliath.
“Because we do a wide variety of engines here, I looked at it and said, ‘How would I build an LS for this competition?’ I looked at the budget and there are so many more aftermarket parts available for the LS,” Tim said. “I put it together in my head. ‘I would build an LS like this and it would make this kind of power. I thought, ‘That’s kind of attainable.’ I took it over to the Coyote, and I said I know what kind of power it will make, and I know what kind of power the LS is gonna make, so that’s kind of how we factored it in. We tried to build the LS in our heads and on paper, and forward that over to the Coyote stuff to make sure we could beat what we built on paper.”
To hold things together, Tim always relies on ARP fasteners and Cometic gaskets as they always offer predictable, reliable performance. The predictability is key to ensure the hard parts remain torqued to spec.
While Ford’s Coyote might not have huge cubes, it does have certain advantages offered by its high-flowing cylinder heads. These engines tend to really respond to forced induction.
“The Four-Valve engines are always begging for boost,” Tim said. “They are such efficient engines that they swallow it and just keep asking for more.”
Because of this efficiency, the build wasn’t too exotic, which is an advantage of the Coyote platform.
Formidable from the Factory
“This was a straight-up build,” Tim said of his creation based on a Gen 2 Coyote 5.0-liter engine from a 2015 Mustang GT. “Luckily we had used core block, so we were able to put the money in the special machining to make and hold the power.”
And, while the aftermarket isn’t as robust for these engines, the stock hardware is pretty stout. With the right upgrades the stock block and cylinder heads can support huge power. As such, Tim started out with a stock engine and worked his magic from there, and that started with how to seal those parts under boost.
In addition to the typical block machining — line honing, deck prep, etc. — the cylinder bores require boring to accept the press-in sleeves from Darton. Factory blocks are only as thick and beefy as they have to be. Installing these iron sleeves fortifies them well beyond their intended horsepower range.
“The parts we used out of the core are basically the parts we use on a day-to-day basis, regardless. We have used those for several years with no issues,” Tim said. “When you are making this kind of boost, you want to know that you have parts that will withstand the power levels and boost levels. Cometic has come through for us for over 15 years. It’s a no-brainer. When we want to put head gaskets on, it’s always Cometic.”
Of course, you can’t seal those gaskets without quality fasteners, so Tim turned to ARP for a whole host of bolts, including the head studs, rod bolds, bearing cap bolts, and more.
“A lot of the fasteners on any newer engine are all torque-to-yield or torque-to-angle bolts,” Tim explained. “They are not high-performance stuff. I am glad ARP has pretty much everything for the Coyote, and they are quality fasteners.”
Tim gave the high-flowing factory heads a CNC port job, a valve job, cleaned up their deck surface, and installed upgraded valves from Ferrea and higher-pressure springs from Manley. The Ferrea valves are 1mm larger than stock on the intake and exhaust, which required CHE ductile iron valve seats. The chambers measured out to 55cc.
Robust fasteners are crucial from a durability standpoint, but they are also key for a shop that hand-builds its engines without the benefit of high-tech, computer-controlled torque wrenches like those employed at the factory.
“The biggest thing for us is the repeatability of the fastener,” Tim added. “Even when you are setting the main-bearing clearances, it is not cost-effective to have 14 sets of bolts, so repeatability is really the most appealing aspect (of the ARP bolts).”
Tim opted to fortify the block with Darton sleeves, which are filled with MAHLE 2618 alloy forged pistons and Manley 4340 Pro Series I-beam rods with ARP2000 rod bolts. It is a fairly labor intensive process to install Darton’s flanged sleeve kit, but one that MPR is very familiar with. MPR has a proprietary process of heating the block and freezing the sleeves to get them to mate and seal properly. With the 3.640-inch Mahle slugs, Manley 5.933-inch rods and factory 3.65-inch stroke crank, the Coyote specs 304 cubic-inches.
The aforementioned fasteners and gaskets hold those parts together, while stock cylinder heads were CNC-ported, decked and fitted with better valves, valve seats, and valve springs. Ferrea supplied 1.500-inch Competition Plus Stainless Steel intake valves and 1.262-inch Super Alloy exhaust valves. The CHE ductile iron valve seats are key to fitting the larger valves, which work in concert with MPR’s supercharged port program.
A set of custom COMP camshafts were ground to MPR’s specs for this unique mission. 244-degrees of intake and 250-degrees of exhaust duration with .576-inch lift on the intake side and .512 on the exhaust (with a 115 LSA) should do the trick. At this power level MPR chose to lock out the cam timing for optimum performance utilizing its own lock-out plates for the cams, actuator block-offs, billet lower gear and secondary chains. The oil pump gears, a known weakness to the factory Coyote, were also upgraded with MPR’s billet version.
Utilizing used factory covers and oil pan helped save a little coin, which was well spent on the ATI Performance SFI-certified Super Damper. In addition to providing 20% overdrive to the supercharger for max boost, it has provisions for double keyways to keep it locked securely to the crankshaft snout.
Pressured for Power
“We know we are going to win the horsepower-per-cubic-inch deal, that’s a given hands down, but we trying to go after that average power to bring home the trophy,” Tim explained. “That was our biggest concern in grinding the camshaft — average power. Another thing that came into play is that they only make an eight-rib belt for the Coyote, so had to the cam timing where we know it’s going to be most effective, because I don’t think that we are going to get the boost out of it that we wanted to.”
Pressing in the sleeves and assembling the short-block, Tim screwed in the ARP head studs an laid the Cometic multi-layer steel gaskets into place.
Another way that Tim opted to bump up the under-the-curve performance of the compact Coyote is more compression. He shaved the heads and spec’d for MAHLE slugs with a 10mm dome in an effort to pair over 12:1 compression with as much boost as the Coyote’s eight-rib belt drive can generate with a ProCharger F-1A blower. That also means the rods will have a lot of, well, pressure on them, even though the engine really only has to live for five dyno pulls.
“In order to make the power we want to make, we have to put a lot of compression in the motor, so the cylinder pressure is going to be humongous. We wanted to make sure that rod was stable to keep that piston where it needed to be to keep that thing all sealed up and make the power,” Tim said. “Manley makes its I-beam rods in lightweight and heavy-duty versions. We chose the heavy-duty beam because we don’t want to have any issues with the rod.”
To survive big boost and add compression to the compact Coyote engine, Tim wanted a domed piston that was rugged. He also didn’t want to break the bank, as budget is a concern in this contest. Fortunately, MAHLE Motorsports has off-the-shelf units that are built rugged from years of OE development.
“Drawing from the OE background gives you insight on the failure modes and ‘trouble spots’ that were identified during the engine’s development. Our job is to translate that knowledge into the realm of performance where the limits will be pushed far beyond what the factory anticipates,” Eric Grilliot, Application and Design Engineering Manager at MAHLE Motorsports, said. “Even more applicable was our work with Ford Performance to develop its parts for kits and crate engines. There you’ll find an even closer merge of aftermarket performance and OE-style testing as a measure of both performance and durability.”
To gain more power across the rev range, Tim wanted to add compression. As such, he opted for pistons with a 10mm dome, which happens to work well with the Coyote engine.
“The advantage of the Four-Valve design, creates a simple, perhaps elegant, dome design that allows you to run higher compression without compromising airflow and creating massive hotspots,” Eric said.
And, just because it’s a readily available unit, doesn’t mean it’s not rugged. These MAHLE pistons are built to withstand just the kind of power Tim planned to create.
“This particular Coyote piston, is an off-the-shelf power-adder ready design. Features like crown thickness, 2618 material, land thicknesses, and the skirt shape have all been optimized within the space available to handle four-digit power levels.”
The aforementioned MAHLE pistons aren’t exotic, save for the aforementioned compression boost. They are basically a shelf-stock part and quite similar to the part run Ford Performance’s vaunted Cobra Jet engine.
“It was the best option for the money. It is pretty much a Cobra Jet-style piston,” Tim added. “This engine is pretty much built to a Cobra Jet specification, except for a few things here and there. Basically we are taking a Cobra Jet with a different kind of blower and trying to get where we need to be.”
The pistons also came with wrist pins and rings as part of the PowerPak, modeled after the Cobra Jet offering. The Top Ring and Second Ring measure 1.5mm, while the Oil Ring measures 3.0mm. The Top Ring is made of ductile iron with a plasma-moly face, while the Second Ring is made of cast iron and the Oil Ring is stainless steel.
Allowing the boost in from that centrifugal-style blower is one of Holley’s affordable Sniper fabricated intakes designed for the Coyote engines. It is paired with one of Holley’s 90mm, cable-actuated throttle bodies, which will make calibrating and dyno testing the combo easier.
“Our budget didn’t leave much for the intake by the time we had to do all the special machining,” Tim said. “From a budget standpoint, the Holley is a really good piece. It performs well. We have it on a lot of customers’ engines that have a lot of records… Because of the budget constraints, the Holley offered the best bang for the buck.”
Since injectors didn’t count against the budget, MPR didn’t skimp there and spec’d DeatschWerks 2,200cc injectors. These should support over 1,500hp with 85% ethanol, and are a direct fit for the Coyote fuel rail. DW’s injectors come with flow data and have been dynamic flow-matched to ensure they are easy to calibrate. Though we’ll be using Holley EFI on the dyno, these high impedence injectors will work nicely with a factory ECU should this engine ultimately wind up in an S550.
As we mentioned before the two engines in this competition could run any commercially available ProCharger supercharger. However, going too big or too small for the given mission won’t help the cause. With counsel from the blower manufacturer, Tim decided on the F-1A-94 as a perfect fit for the Coyote.
Tim installed the custom set of COMP Cams using mostly factory hardware augmented with billet chain guides. He also locked out the cam timing in the spot he felt most advantageous for the performance metrics measured in the competition using MPR’s own lockouts. For durability he upgraded to a heavy duty secondary chain with a billet chain guide. He also replaced the stock chains sprockets and oil pump gears with more durable billet units.
“It is not a big motor, so putting a really big blower on it really wasn’t in the cards,” Tim said. “We all kind of agreed on the F-1A-94. It is pretty much the best choice for this displacement and application. We are trying to go for points here, so we needed a package that‘s going to rack up the points where we want them to go.”
So how will this high-compression, big-boost combo fare against a big-inch LS relying on a lot of aftermarket gear? It really comes down to earning points in the right categories.
“These things are not torque monsters compared to an LS with cubic inches and a big stroke. We are working with a small-stroke, small-bore motor, so in order to combat that, we put cylinder pressure in it to try and get that torque up,” Tim elaborated. “When I read the rules, I knew torque was something we would struggle with, but we are going to try and out-power it, so maybe the power and the torque together will come out on top.”
While cam swaps are far more common in the LS world, that’s not to say that Coyote engines can’t benefit from better bump-sticks. Like any application, it’s important to choose the right grind for the application, but it is particularly important to get that selection right when you are ponying up for four cams.
“The only real weakness is that the factory camshaft is very small in duration, really restricting airflow through the stock engine,” Aaron Mick, Performance Account Manager at COMP Cams, explained. “Coyotes have a great flowing cylinder head from the factory, as well as a very good intake setup. That can only help so much though, if you’re not holding the valve open long enough for much air to go through.”
That’s why Tim Eichorn of MPR Racing Engines worked closely with the experts and COMP Cams for this build.
“Tim and I discussed the specifics of the engine build and what the test parameters would be,” Aaron said. “From there, it’s just doing what we do every day to select the best grind possible for the given application and usage.”
As we mentioned in the main story, Tim’s focus was on improving the under the curve performance of the smaller engine while not sacrificing peak power. To help achieve that goal, a custom cam grind was needed.
“The increase is simply going to stem from being able to move more air in and out of the engine. The factory camshaft is highly restrictive because it only opens the valves for such a short time. You can try to cram as much air in it during that short period as you can, and that will help, but it’s far more effective to adjust how long the valve is actually open,” Aaron explained. “Our camshaft is simply moving the valve timing to something that promotes much higher airflow through the engine. This will really make use of how good the cylinder head is and allow the supercharger to force more air in as well. More air in and more air out equals more power.”
Tim is a little skittish about the eight-rib belt drive delivering as much boost as the 12-rib that’s available on the LS platform, but he has built it to attain certain targets and he knows what to expect from the competition.
“We built it as a dyno queen,” Tim said. “Not to say that it won’t perform well in car, but what we are looking for, the ways the rules are set out on this thing, are a few key points. We want to go after the torque and horsepower peaks, but it is going to be tough because of the smaller displacement.”
Topping the new long-block is one of Holley Performance Products’ Sniper fabricated intakes paired with the company’s 90mm throttle body. Tim says this intake offers great bang for the buck.
We won’t know how it goes until this engine hits the dyno at Westech, but Tim has some bold aspirations for his entry. “If it can get the boost to 30 pounds it should make around 1,000 lb-ft and high-1,300 horsepower,” Tim concluded.
His confidence is echoed by some of the manufacturers helping out with this build as well.
“The Coyote platform can hold its own against any engine platform there is; it is a great engine design,” Aaron Mick, Performance Account Manager at COMP Cams, enthused. “I expect it to show very well in this test, especially when you have a guy like Tim at MPR putting it together for you.”
“I believe the Coyote will be viewed as the underdog in this shootout,” Eric Grilliot, Application and Design Engineering Manager at MAHLE Motorsports, said. “However, as we’ve seen the development of that platform continue to evolve, I think the potential is there to surprise some people.”
Of course, Coyotes and boost have long been fast friends, so we shall see if that advantage plays out on the dyno.
Here is the completed MPR Racing Engines-prepped Coyote engine ready to do battle with an LS in Horsepower Wars: LS vs. Coyote, Part 2. Tim predicts it will make well into the four-digit range if it gets enough boost. Will that be enough to take the win?
“We have seen customers push pass the 1,200-horsepower number so, it is hard to tell what power the Coyote team will deliver,” David Turner, Marketing Director at ProCharger, added. “It is primarily dependent on the tuning setup to get the maximum power out of the Coyote. With E85 fuel, these motors can handle an amazing amount of boost. Both are awesome engines and we look forward to the contest.”
When the Coyote arrives back at Westech it will be primed with some Royal Purple break-in oil, ran and replaced with XPR 10W40 oil. XPR is Royal Purple’s racing line-up of oil that provides greater wear protection on start-up, non-foaming, and resistant to dilution and emulsion by ethanol. E3 provided its brand-new DiamondFIRE racing spark plugs designed specifically for boosted Coyote engines. Initial dyno testing has proven these new plugs are worth some power, in addition to being a reliable flame producer over many combustion cycles. The Coyote will also be fitted with a Holley Dominator ECU, wiring harness, and Smart Coils. Though the Dominator can handle variable cam control with the new Ti-VCT Control Module, MPR’s choice to lock out the cams negated this feature.