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The folks at Steve Morris Engines have been a blast to work with these past several years. It’s great watching them do what they do via the shop’s YouTube page, but it’s even more fun to see them do their thing in person, whether that’s at their Norton Shores, MI-based engine shop or at various tracks across the country.
We caught up with Steve Morris during last year’s Sick Week drag-and-drive event to talk through his twin-turbo SMX engine in the wagon, but this year, we took the opportunity to speak with Steve’s son, Kyle Morris, who was at Sick Week competing on his own for the first time with his 1996 Mustang and a twin-turbo 347 cid small block Ford engine. We got to snag a moment of Kyle’s time during day three when Sick Week competitors were tackling South Georgia Motorsports Park.
Kyle’s 1996 Mustang has been in the family for a while. Kyle bought the car off of his grandpa when Kyle was just 15, and immediately began to improve the car. When Kyle first got it, the Mustang had a stock 302 cid Ford engine and none of the go-fast goodies it does today.
“It started life as just a base model, V6 Mustang with a manual five speed, but it didn’t stay like that for very long,” Kyle Morris told us.
Morris had always planned on going the twin-turbo route with the car, but being a teenager at the time, Kyle had to do so on a budget. He swapped the stock 302 block for a Dart SHP block, a pair of Chinese turbos off of eBay and Holley Sniper EFI.
“That’s what it was,” Morris says. “A 347 cid Ford with an 8.8 rear end. It went 8.80s. It had a Dart block and heads and a hydraulic roller setup. Before long, I was running out of fuel and horsepower. Also, I didn’t want to go 8.80s. I wanted to go 7.90s.”
That meant a new engine would need to be built. This time, Kyle was older, wiser and had a desire to get into the drag-and-drive scene like his dad. Aside from the engine work, the Mustang would also need a complete overhaul to better tackle the track and the street.
Kyle’s new engine would remain a small block Ford and he would keep the 347 cid Dart SHP 8.2” deck height block, but everything else would be new. The block got outfitted with a forged Scat 4340 crankshaft, forged Engine Pro/Steve Morris Engines connecting rods with L19 bolts, custom anodized pistons, Trick Flow high port CNC-ported cylinder heads with hoops machined in, a solid roller camshaft, stainless steel valves, stud-mounted 1.6 ratio rockers, and twin 75mm Bullseye turbos.
The engine utilizes a wet sump oiling system for now, but Kyle did mention some oil pressure issues, so a change to a dry sump setup might be happening in the future. On top of the engine sits an EFI intake manifold that SME had, as well as a 4150 flange billet elbow from Shaun’s Custom Alloy with a Wilson Manifolds throttle body. The engine also has a Holley brushless fuel pump and runs on E85 and E98 fuel, which means no intercooler was needed. According to Kyle, the small block Ford makes in the neighborhood of 1,800 horsepower!
Alongside the small block Ford in the engine bay of the Mustang is a PRC radiator, twin Delta PAG brushless fans and a Delta PAG brushless water pump. Kyle also did much of the fabrication work himself on the hot and cold side of the turbos, with the exception of the headers from Stainless Works. He did the tubular front end, some of the interior chassis work and the wiring. The tougher chassis work was done by Bob Miller of Sick Fabrication. The Mustang now rocks a 25.5 chassis with a 7.50-cert cage and a 2” anti-roll bar.
Kyle is still relying on Holley EFI to tune and control the engine, along with a full Holley EFI digital dash. Helping the small block Ford put power to the ground is a Rossler Turbo 400 from K&M Transmissions with a Coan converter and a Moser fabricated 9” rear end. The car also sports a Precision Performance Products shifter, Champion beadlock wheels and Hoosier racing tires.
“Basically, everything you need to go sevens,” Morris admits.
During Sick Week, Kyle was running the twin-turbos on 35-lbs. of boost and low timing. Running in the Super Street class, Kyle was exceeding his expectations for his first major drag-and-drive on his own.
“It’s been not as rough as others, but pretty rough,” he says. “We started out with a really long, late drive and then it didn’t get any better with the drive from Bradenton to here to South Georgia Motorsport Park – about 300 miles – it was absolutely miserable. But, for the most part, we’ve been lucky enough to avoid issues. I did have a little mishap in the pits with a jack stand and a radiator, so I had to end up doing some quick, on-the-side-of-the-road repair for that. But, other than that, it’s been relatively trouble free.”
Kyle was running low 8s all week and searching for that 7, but it never materialized. However, despite not making a 7-second pass, Kyle showed great consistency and survived the full week. He made passes of 8.15 at 175 mph, 8.05 at 173 mph, 8.15 at 179 mph, 8.16 at 170 mph, and 8.04 at 176 mph for an average of 8.11 at 175 mph.
“It’s got all the mile an hour it needs to go 7.90s,” Morris says. “I just need to work on that 60 foot and hopefully we’ll get it done. For my personal expectations, I think we’re exceeding it. Honestly, I set my expectations very low when I came here being my first time bringing my own car and my own stuff versus going with my dad. The fact that I’ve made it this far, I’m pretty pleased.”
We were glad we got to see Kyle compete, and we can’t wait to see how his small block Ford-powered Mustang continues to evolve.
Engine of the Week is sponsored by PennGrade Motor Oil, Elring – Das Original and NPW Companies. If you have an engine you’d like to highlight in this series, please email Engine Builder Editor Greg Jones at [email protected].