How to Get the Most Horsepower Out of a Ford 302

by Scott Eilers
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The Ford 302 engine, also known as the Ford Windsor engine, is a V8 engine produced by the Ford Motor Company from 1962 to 2001. It was produced in several different sizes and variations and used in many Ford vehicles including the Mustang, the F-150 and the Explorer. Because of the long production run of the engine and the multitude of vehicles it was used for, there are a large number of performance aftermarket parts available for vehicles using the Ford 302 engine which increase the horsepower and torque of the engine.

Step 1

Install a performance aftermarket cold air intake to replace the Ford 302 factory air intake. Performance air intakes enhance the airflow from the exterior of the vehicle into the engine and also cool the air more efficiently. Having more air and cooler air flowing into your engine increases horsepower and torque.

Step 2

Install a performance aftermarket exhaust system to replace the Ford 302 factory exhaust system. Performance exhaust systems improve the flow of warm air from out of the engine. This allows the engine to stay cool even under difficult operating conditions, which improve horsepower and torque.

Install a forced induction -- supercharger or turbocharger -- kit. Forced induction kits attach to the top of the engine and suck in large amounts of air, then divert this air into the engine. This provides a massive boost to the engine's horsepower, sometimes more than doubling available power. These kits are extremely expensive and challenging to install for an amateur.


  • Cold air intakes are a popular aftermarket upgrade because they are relatively inexpensive and easy to install. They can also improve fuel economy on some vehicles.
  • Performance exhaust systems are moderately expensive and difficult to install without professional assistance. They also increase engine noise and CO2 emissions. Some state regulations prohibit aftermarket exhaust systems, so check state regulations before performing this upgrade or you risk losing your vehicle's street-legal status.
  • It is recommended you upgrade other parts of your vehicle -- such as the brakes and tires -- to account for the huge power increase that will result from a forced induction installation. These kits will also lower the fuel economy of the vehicle.

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