1985 3.8L V-6

1988 3.8L Fuel Injection

1992 Supercharged 3.8L

Some Information on the 3.8L’s:

The Canadian Essex (90 Degree V) engine was a V6 engine family built by Ford Motor Company in Windsor, Ontario, Canada. Unlike the British Essex V6, the Canadian Essex was a 90° design. With Ford’s Essex Engine scheduled to close in 2008, the future of this engine is in doubt.

The Canadian Essex was a pushrod design featuring aluminum heads, which reduced its weight considerably and made it a very powerful engine for its size. The engine was offered in two sizes, 3.8 L for mid-size cars and minivans, and 4.2 L for pickup trucks. The 3.8 L was replaced by the 3.9 L in 2004. The Essex and the smaller Vulcan V6 are the last traditional pushrod OHV engines built by Ford.

The Canadian Essex’s origins are controversial. The most commonly cited story is that the Essex is a Ford Windsor V8 engine with two cylinders cut off (similar to what Chevrolet and Chrysler did to make their 4.3 L and 3.9 L V6 designs, respectively), but several important differences between the Windsor’s design and the Essex’s make this implausible. One source states that the Essex is instead a copy of the Buick V6 engine, done since Ford needed a working V6 much faster than building one from scratch would take (the Cologne V6 couldn’t meet fuel economy requirements, and the all-new Vulcan was several years away from production at that point).

The 3.8 L model was introduced for the 1982 model year, first appearing as an option on the Ford Granada. Bore was 96.8 mm and stroke was 86 mm. Output was 112 hp at 4200 rpm and 175 lbf·ft of torque at 2800 rpm. It initially had a 2-barrel Motorcraft 2150 carburetor. Central Fuel Injection was made available in 1984. Output was 120 hp at 3600 rpm and 205 ft·lbf of torque at 1600 rpm in these models.

Multipoint Fuel Injection became standard in 1988. These engines put out 140 hp and 215 lbf·ft of torque.

A supercharged version was used in the 1989-95 Thunderbird Super Coupe and 1989-90 Cougar XR-7, producing up to 230 hp and 330 lbf·ft.

The Police Package Taurus, Lincoln Continental and 1995 Ford Windstar had a high-output version with better cylinder heads and other modifications. It produced 160 – 200 hp and 220 – 230 lbf·ft of torque.

The split port cylinder heads were introduced on the 1996 Ford Windstar along with a variable length intake manifold.

The Mustang version was updated for 1999 with the split port cylinder heads originally introduced on the Windstar. These bumped output up by 40 hp to 190 hp.


  • 1982 Ford Granada
  • 1982-1983 Ford F-series
  • 1982-1997 Ford Thunderbird
  • 1982-1997 Mercury Cougar
  • 1982-1986, 1994-2004 Ford Mustang
  • 1982-1986 Mercury Capri
  • 1983-1986 Ford LTD and Mercury Marquis
  • 1988-1995 Ford Taurus and Mercury Sable
  • 1988-1994 Lincoln Continental
  • 1995-2003 Ford Windstar

Some 3.8 Facts from www.mercurycapri.com:

Carbureted and FI heads are different. Carb heads have larger intake ports. FI ports are shaped similarly, but smaller. FI heads have the injectors stuck right into the head, not the intake. There is a bulge in the top of the intake port for the stream from the injector.

The roller cam from the later 3.8s ones is a billet, not a casting. Several late 3.8s have a provision for the balance shaft, but not all of them had them. As far as I know, the late model Sable/Taurus/Continental FWD 3.8s apparently had them.

There are RWD and FWD blocks. They’re marked with big letters “RWD” and “FWD” on the front. The RWD blocks have the Windsor bolt pattern, but the bellhousing bolt holes are metric. They’re close enough to cross-thread a 3/8″ bolt into if you’re not careful.

The FWD 3.8 bellhousing is the same as the 3.0 Vulcan V6 (FWD & RWD), 3.0 SHO V6, FWD 2.3, FWD 2.5HSC. You can put a FWD 3.8 V6 into a RWD application by using a RWD bellhousing from a 3.0 equipped Ranger/Explorer and a T5.

Early 3.8s had plastic valve covers. Later ones have cast aluminum valve covers.

The front cover, oil pump, and distributor drive still look remarkably similar to the Buick V6. Remove the front cover, and the cam chain tensioner and front of the cam look remarkably similar to the Buick too.

Rod and main bearings are Cleveland size – 2.311 and 2.75. Rods are 5.95″, same as a 351… or a Buick 3.8.

The water pump has a true scroll housing, matched by the front cover. It has a real impeller. It looks much nicer than the 5.0’s “paddle in a box” water pump.

The oil pump looks to have about twice the capacity of the Buick V6. The Buick is a known ‘bleeder’, with lots of internal oil leaks and restrictions. Nevertheless, the ugly Buick oiling system suffices, even for the Grand National turbo motors. The Cleveland-style oiling of the Ford V6 is much cleaner. Given that, and the big pump, oiling ought not to be a problem for the Ford.

Two heads from the same motor – one has .502″ OD valve guides, one has .498″ OD valve guides. .498″ is a bastard size; You should ream the holes out to use standard .502″ guides.

Valve lengths are standard small block Ford, i.e., same as the old Ford flathead. Stem diameter is standard flathead 11/32″.

The cylinder head bolts are metric, close enough to 7/16″. Same size as the 5.0 Ford, the 454 Chevy, or the 455 Olds. The gasket-blowing problem may be because the bolt pattern is so *wide* – the bolts are out near the water jackets instead of in near the cylinders, like on most 4-bolt cylinders. There’s a lot more unsupported head on the 3.8 than on a 5.0.

The block looks adequately strong on the bottom end. You might want to weld or plug up some of the unused core holes on the deck surface, though. Same with the heads.

It’s a metric engine, but it wasn’t *designed* metric. The calipers tell you it was designed in inches, then they just used metric fasteners.

The new 4.2 V6 found in the newest F150s will physically interchange with the 3.8 V6.

The crank in the 4.2 is a direct replacement for the 3.8 V6. The mains and balance are the same as the 3.8 V6. I am not sure on the deck height of the 4.2. I believe it is the same as the 3.8 as well. Just swap in the entire motor, or swap in the crank, rods and pistons and you have yourself a nice little stroker.

On To The Swap………………..

Well this is one way to put a 3.8L in a Ranger. It is very similar to a 5.0L (302) swap so I will make comments to V8 stuff.


I used an 85 Mustang 3.8L with a C5. 84 Rangers came with a C5, so I rebuilt the trans with a Ranger 4X4 output shaft and tail housing to bolt up my transfer case. C5’s are the same as C4 except C5’s have a lock-up converter, which means, you can use a C4 instead. If you already have a C5 in your Ranger just change-out the bellhousing with a 3.8L or 5.0L (5.0’s have the same bolt pattern as 3.8L)

Transmission Tunnel:

The trans tunnel will have to be relieved around the seam area to clear the bellhousing. If you have a body lift this may not be necessary. 5.0L’s can use a Mustang II C4 bellhousing. It is the smallest housing for the V8 and should clear no problem. You’ll need backing plate, flex plate & starter (Depending on the year of the V8 you may have to balance the engine to the small flex plate.)

Heater Box:

Like the 5.0L swap, the heater box will need to be notched to clear the cyl. head and valve cover. The 3.8L is taller and wider than the 5.0L, more like the 5.8L (Hmmm there is an idea!!!!), so you will need to notch just a little more.

Motor Mounts:

My mounts came from the same 85 V6 Mustang. I had to cut out the pin that runs through the mount. The passenger side just needed a new hole and slot, and the drivers side needed a ¼” plate to level the engine side to side. I cut the metal out from underneath the ¼” plate to make sure the washer and nut sat flush against the plate. The crossmember is shorter on 2 wheel drive then the 4X, and will need a plate on both sides hanging off the back of the crossmember and connecting to the frame. By using the Mustang mounts I can just switch to the V8 mounts and swap in a 5.0L without making new frame mounts.

Transmission Mount:

The stock trans mount will work fine.

Exhaust & Manifolds:

I had to use the stock exhaust manifolds. I live in California and the smog laws require it to be unmodified, but they worked just fine. The top of the passenger side frame had to be notched to clear the manifold and a gusset was welded in between the spring tower and frame. My exhaust consists of 2″ head pipe into a single 2.5″ through a high flow cat. and Flowmaster muffler and on out the back. It sounds like a little V8, and has plenty of flow.


The radiator is just a 3 row Ranger unit and cools plenty. (My radiator shop says it will cool a mild V8) Fan is the stock Mustang.

Electronics & Wiring:

Again I live in California and had to use everything that came out of the Mustang, processor and all. I ordered a wiring and vacuum guide from Ford’s publishing co. (Helm Publications, www.helminc.com, 1-800-782-4356) and spent a day tracing down and connecting wires. Everything was soldered and shrink wrapped, don’t mess around here twisted and taped wires will really drive you nuts trying to figure out why things do not work right.

Fuel System:

The 85 Mustang has throttle body injection. I had to use a frame mount high-pressure pump and filter. Return lines had to be plumbed to the tank A fitting was soldered to a short piece of pipe and put in between the filler and tank.


The oil filter had to be relocated to clear the steering gear. Newer SFI 3.8L’s the oil pump housing will have to be modified by cutting off the filter mount, then tapping the pressure and return passages. DO NOT pipe thread these passages you could crack them without knowing it. Aeroquip makes a standard thread o-ring fitting that works great! I had to use the stock air filter housing (CA. Smog laws again) so the firewall up by the wiper motor had to be relieved to clear.

~Tony Berger

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