For starters, I am not new to engine swaps. I am not a mechanic (was a nuke mechanic in the Navy) by trade but have rebuilt several engines during my tenure of working around vehicles since I got my license in the late 80’s. This is my first 4x4 as I have always had performance cars. I bought my 1995 Wrangler as an extra vehicle to have around and it was a good deal for the seller and I. The problem is that it is the slowest vehicle that I have owned. I have had a 77 Pinto SW but it was getting a 2.3Turbo from a Merkur. My wife has even said it is slow. It has grown on me though as I have had the top off all summer!
My dilemma is that I want a Mustang that is a Jeep. I know it is a brick and will not do good in the ¼ mile, but it could do well at an 1/8 mile track and light to light. Also, I live near Central Ohio and there are really not too many trails, so I see it being a 95% on the street vehicle. I have a 1” body lift on it as the originals were shot and will probably put 31” tires on it. The great thing about it would be much better winter capabilities. But I still want something that is the equivalent to a low 13sec vehicle. I also have a daughter that will be going to college soon, so I want to try and do this cheap. I know many will say buy this and that and it will happen. I don’t want to go that way. I swapped a 351W (69 original 4bbl with quench heads) into my 82GT back in 1991 with junkyard parts. For that swap I could buy a $100 oil pan or I found out I could get one off a police cruiser or SW for $5… I have done much research but am looking for advice. Looks like the options are a 5.0, 350, or 5.3LS. I have noticed that the Ford does not have much for OD auto trannies that work in these apps (I can see this turn into my DD if I get it right, so OD is a must with 4.10’s) so it seems an AX-15 is my only choice here. Also, it looks like the Cherokee AX-15 with the NP231 clocked is the best route because a Wrangler in junkyards are like finding unicorns! Too bad because it looks like a 4r70w with the bauman controller is more rugged than the 700r4/4l60/4l60e. The 5.3 is the best chevy motor because happiness is only a cam away as the heads flow well, but the FI looks like a pain compared to the 5.0 and the carb version for it is $700 just for the intake and ignition controller. The 350 looks like the easiest with the auto and the np231c/j conversion. The downside here is the heads are not near as good and finding a vortec 350 is harder than the unicorn! Have I missed something? I have even thought about the 2.3T from a Merkur into a Wrangler as the wiring harness is completely separate, but T-5s are not supported for cheap transfer case options.