Over the years Ford has produced a number of noteworthy engines, but their latest offering just may be the best yet. Most often referred to as the Coyote, Ford's official designation is the 5.0L Ti-VCT (Twin Independent Variable Camshaft Timing). Regardless of what you call it, this all-aluminum powerplant is light, powerful, and efficient and is finding its way under the hood of an increasing number of street rods. Thanks to Ford Racing and Performance Parts (FRPP) there are several versions of the Coyote engines in crate form available to street rodders. They range from the 412hp version that was introduced in the Mustang GT to the supercharged 500-plus horsepower engine found in the Shelby GT 500.

While the FRPP crate motor program makes engines readily available, dropping a Coyote in an early car requires more than hooking up a few wires and a fuel line. However, thanks again to FRPP, the complex needs of the Coyote are easily met with control pack M-6017-A504V. This kit includes a PCM with Ford Racing's unique calibration, electronic throttle pedal, wiring harness with an OBD-II diagnostic port, power distribution module, air box, inlet tube, MAF sensor, and HEGO (oxygen) sensors. It should be noted that this PCM will not work with the original returnless fuel system. (A simple method to convert to a return-style system is to use a fuel pressure regulator with a return port.)

The PCM in the FRPP kit is listed for manual transmission applications and that has led to some confusion. It does not mean that automatic transmissions can't be used—it simply means the computer will not support an electronically controlled transmission. If an automatic transmission is used this PCM will still operate the engine, however an electronically controlled transmission will require an additional, stand-alone computer.

Transmission Options

There are a variety of transmission choices for the Coyote. When it comes to manuals strength is a concern, which means a T-5 from a small-block isn't a good choice. On the other hand, TREMEC five- and six-speeds are up to the task and will bolt to the Coyote with the appropriate bellhousing. It should be noted that while flywheels and flexplates are the zero-balance, eight-bolt style found on the modular, the Coyote crankshaft sticks out of the block 0.167-inch further. Fortunately there is enough "wiggle room" with the input shaft/clutch package of manual transmissions and the torque converter of automatics that it is not an issue. However, be aware, the starter reference plate that goes between the engine and transmission helps provide adequate clearance (as well as properly locating the starter) and must be in place.

For those who want to go with an automatic transmission there are a number of choices. One option would be a Ford 6R60/6R80 six-speed but they are hard to find, expensive, and the aftermarket hasn't had a chance to address some of the issues that may cause problems in performance applications. For our application we chose a Ford four-speed overdrive 4R75W from Gearstar.

Gearstar has devoted years to finding the weaknesses in the popular automatic transmissions and then set about developing the parts to correct them. These improved components increase the transmission's capacity to handle more horsepower and improve longevity. In addition, when a transmission is ordered from Gearstar the customer is asked for information about the car, including engine displacement, horsepower, torque, weight, rear gear ratio, tire size, type of speedometer drive and the intended use of the vehicle. All these specs are then used to calibrate the transmission's shift feel for that application. All transmissions are custom built by one of five master techs from start to finish and then dyno tested with the converter for the equivalent of 100 miles to ensure that the entire package is in perfect operating condition before it is shipped to the customer.

Our Level III transmission is good for 500-plus horsepower and 450 lb-ft of torque. It is equipped with a long list of improved parts, including Alto Hardened Kolene Steels, Raybestos Stage I Frictions, and Transgo Reprogramming shift kit with Shift CommandFilter; electronics include an updated EPC, new shift solenoids, lock-up solenoid, internal wiring harness, output sensors;complete Torrington bearing kit, new bushing kit, new reverse band, alto red eagle wide OD band, 300mm, hardened input shaft; high-capacity four-plate intermediate clutch, direct clutch pack with eight frictions, reverse drum with heavy-duty mechanical diode, updated sun shell and gear, new low spring and roller, high-capacity pump assembly, expanded capacity overdrive servo, updated OD servo pin, updated Third gear accumulator piston, extra capacity aluminum pan, transmission mount,custom 360-degree adjustable shift linkage arm, and a 30,000 gvw cooler. All that and it came in a crate delivered to our door.

While computer controls have improved the performance and efficiency of modern automatic transmissions, without a transmission control unit (TCU) they're a better doorstop than a gearbox. But for every problem there is a solution and in this case it comes from the appropriately named Powertrain Control Solutions (PCS).

1. Officially designated by Ford as the 5.0L Ti-VCT (Twin Independent Variable Camshaft Timing) V-8, in rodding circles it’s the Coyote. Call it what you will, this new all-aluminum, 302-inch V-8, which cranks out 412 hp at 6,500 rpm and 390 lb-ft of torque at 4,250 rpm, is becoming more popular in crate form.

2. Given what you get, Coyote crate motors are a great buy. But once the box is open there are a few more things you’ll find operational, not the least of which is a transmission.

3. The eight-bolt crank flange is the same as modular motors so flexplates and flywheels are interchangeable. Basically anything that bolts to a modular motor will fit but keep in mind these engines are stout and will require a gearbox that can stand up to the power.

4. There are a variety of transmission choices, we went with a tried-and-true 4R75W from Gearstar. They come in several performance levels, have a reputation for being extremely reliable, and have an excellent gear spread.

5. This piece, often referred to as a spacer or block plate, serves a special purpose and is correctly called a starter index plate as it precisely locates the starter. Automatic transmissions use PN M-6373-A, manuals use PN M-7007-A. The only real difference is the automatic plate provides access to the torque converter bolts.