Engine Options For Your 53-56 Ford F-100
I used to think it mattered that you keep a Ford engine in a Ford truck. I don't know if it matters to me anymore. I guess it just depends on the truck you build. And for me, I love the trucks, so what's under the hood is less important than someone taking care of it. I prefer to see a variety of trucks. I think that's what hot rodding is about. You get a mix of hot rod, restored trucks and nostalgia and you've got a good show. For nostalgia trucks, a 53 with a flathead in it is very cool.
For all around driving and decent performance, it's hard to beat the 5.0 EFI or 302 with carburetor. Taking the engine out of a late model Mustang and putting it in your 53-56 Ford F-100 (F100) will give you good power, reliability and a lot of tech articles available to make it go about as fast as you want. Fuel injection is nice once you understand it. It's actually not that bad to install. You just have to get the correct computer and wiring harness out of your donor car when you get the engine. Usually, computers differ from manual and auto transmissions, so if you pull an engine out of a car, take the computer and wiring with it. You'll need the oxygen sensors as well as the other sensors to make the EFI work right.
Installing a 4.6 Liter or 5.4 Liter Ford Engine In Your 53, 54, 55 or 56 Ford F100 F-100
The 4.6 or 5.4 Liter Ford is also a good runner. If you want to mount one of these up, get the book by Sean Hyland on building the 4.6 Liter and 5.4 Liter. He's the master and has built and raced the engine for many, many years. The book is a bit old now (written in 2003), but it's full of good info. for finding out what cars/trucks to get a 4.6 or 5.4 from. The book tells you tons of detail on crossover parts, heads used on each model and more.
The biggest hurdle most people see when contemplating a fuel injected engine swap is, of course, the electronics. What the heck are all of those sensors and wires for? Here are the basics: The engine is an air pump. The sensors give info. back to the computer to manage the engine. The mass air meter measures the air moving through to the throttle body. The mass air meter tells the computer how much air is flowing and the computer tells the injectors how much fuel to spray to match the air flow. On the exhaust side, the oxygen sensors (usually in the manifolds/headers) give information on spent gases. There are other sensors such as throttle position to make the system work. The point is, the computer does all of the work.
If you want to perform a 4.6 or 5.4 swap in your F100, pull the entire engine, wire harness and computer out of the donor vehicle. It's always best to actually see the engine running in a vehicle before you buy the engine (and other components with it). Keep in mind that the computer is specific to an engine in that it has been programmed to match the engine. And, the computer used for automatic transmissions will not generally work on a manual transmission car (and vice versa).
If you're not sure about fuel injection and the electronics, just get the engine installed. Producing more horsepower should be secondary to installing the 4.6 and 5.4. Get the engine in and running, and then hop it up. The computer program can be altered by aftermarket programmers or you can buy a new chip to get more power.
If you want to go all out, put a Chrysler Hemi in your truck. No one will whine about that! Those engines are just too mean and you can't really hate them!
Remember, the more unique you can be, the better!!!!