Explorer Power Up
I have a '97 Ford Explorer XLT with the 5.0L V-8 stock engine. I am interested in swapping out the old engine for another newer, more powerful one. The new 5.0L Cammer engine from Ford Racing really caught my eye, especially how the F-100 panel truck was beefed up. First question: Will said crate engine fit my ride? I'm willing to make any modifications to cram it in. I understand that a lot of work will be needed and other changes to be made to get it in if possible. Second question: Can you offer what I would need to convert my Explorer into the Ford Racing beast I'm dreaming of?

If it isn't possible to use the Cammer, can you offer another engine, preferably another Ford Racing engine and parts?
Ben Paisi, via e-mail

As sexy as the Cammer engine is, we'd pass on that approach, even though, with enough time, money, and fabrication skills, you can power your Explorer with any engine you want, even a super-tuned 6.0L Power Stroke diesel. (Don't laugh: These engines produce low-11-second e.t.'s in near-6,000-pound crew cabs.)

If you're up for an engine swap, we recommend you take the time and money you'd spend on fabricating and tracking down all the odd hardware and rebuild your engine. Beef up the bottom end with a forged crank, rods, and forged aluminum pistons. Try SCAT Enterprises Inc. [(310)-370-5501] and JE Pistons [(714) 898-9763] for recommendations on these hard parts. You'll also want a good set of aftermarket heads. Air Flow Research [(818) 890-0616] has 185cc chamber aluminum heads that bolt right on your motor. And with the JE pistons installed, you won't have to worry about the pistons interfering with the heads' big valves. Call Competition Cams [(800) 999-0853] for the right cam specs, bolt on a GT40 intake, and tune the fuel delivery, and you'll have a combo that will necessitate a transmission upgrade in a hurry.

If you really want to walk on the wild side, bolt a blower to the above combination. Explorer Express [(888) 397-5673] has an X-Charger system based on the Eaton compressor. It requires 92-octane fuel and fits '96-'00 5.0L V-8s with the exception of some '96 and early '97 models with internal EGR supply.

Just remember, after you build the motor, you'll need to enhance the trans and rearend.

Exploring the Possibilities
I would just like to say that I enjoy your magazine and thousands of soldiers are avid readers. I own an '00 Ford Explorer XLT and would like to do some interior as well as exterior upgrades to my truck. However, there seems to be a lack Explorer-exclusive accessory manufacturers; there aren't too many billet or otherwise Explorer interior accessories for my year truck. Are there any other Ford vehicles I could use to extend my search of accessories and kits?
Spc. Chelsea Plater
Fort Bragg, North Carolina

Glad to hear our armed forces are hard-core sport truck enthusiasts. You're right: The Ford Explorer isn't a high-demand vehicle for the aftermarket stylists. You can get performance parts for it, but it is somewhat limited on bolt-on aftermarket interior restyling; however, there is enough selection to personalize your rig. We recommend you start researching with our mail-order advertisers. For example, www.traders.com; www.truckperformance.com; www.stylinconcepts.com; www.sporttruckdirect.com; www.godfathers.com, www.explorerexpress.com - you get the idea.

Marine Needs Advice
I'm currently deployed in Iraq and am planning on lifting my 4WD '98 Tahoe about 6 to 7 inches when I get back. I also planned on upgrading the tires to anywhere from 35 to 37 inches. My truck is mainly for street/highway use, with occasional runs through the dirt hills in my backyard. My question is, which manufacturer makes the best kit for my truck and what size tire is best for this lift? The tires I have been looking at are the new Dick Cepek Radial F-C2s. They seem to be a good choice for my truck. Do they make 36-inch tires, and do you think that would be a good choice?

I want the mileage and engine stress to be as minimal as possible. I was thinking of throwing in antisway bars to smooth things out. Good idea or no? Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks for your time.
Josh McDonald, Iraq

Thanks for your time, soldier. We haven't reviewed the Cepek Radial F-C2, so we can't offer any firsthand experience with the gear. We have used the Mickey Thompson Baja Claw, and it's a great-looking tire that performed and rode well for us, and the company makes a 37-inch-tall tire. If you go with the 37-inch tire, you'll need to run at least a 4.88 gear to put you back at the stock effective final drive ratio. For the lift, Fabtech's Ultimate 7 kit is a great way to go. It's very complete and well-engineered. You'll need to add a 3-inch body lift; we suggest Performance Accessory's kit to fit your tire choice. As for bars, we think it's a good idea to have a good-handling street piece; besides, it's easy enough to disconnect the links from the rear bar when off-road to allow better articulation and traction. Hellwig has front and rear bars for your application. That's about it. Stay safe and stay strong, and let us know when you get your rig the way you want it.

Extreme Prejudice
Hello, first off, I must say I am glad you guys did the S-10 special. I do have a few questions that you might be able to answer. I have an '02 S-10 Xtreme 2.2L. I went and later tried to find some of the parts to buy so I could add them to my truck, such as the header. Do they make this header for the 2.2L? I have seen other companies also sell headers for the 2.2L, but they only went until the model year '00. I have an '02; is there no hope for me? Do I have to be the slowest car out on the market? Also, did you guys do some sort of testing to show what hp the truck was at before the modifications and then afterwards? Please help!
Brian Berger
Severn, Maryland

Well, we didn't do the testing on it, but GM lists the 2.2L (134ci) Vortec four-banger as producing 120 hp at 5,000 rpm; 140 lb-ft at 3,600 SAE at the flywheel. That's not a lot to work with. On the bright side, however, you're probably getting good mileage for it. Really, the best solution is a street blower (4- to 5-psi boost), or perhaps nitrous for a quick and easy street blast.