The mustang. It is a real underdog for those who know how to set it up. It is a fairly big car, but so were the old Fairlanes, and they were the kings of the drag strip.
The trick is to bet one of the 1973 mustangs that came with cleveland engines. The fastest timed quarter mile and 0-60 runs recorded for any of the early year mustangs was a 1972 with this engine.
If you can find a 351 mustang of this vintage, preferably a 2 bbl version, as the 4 bbl actually had too much breathing for street use, then you have a vehicle that can really haul with only minor modifications.
The 351 cleveland was designed to take over the drag lineage of the old Ford 427 and 429 big blocks in the larger cars of 1964-1970. The 351 is not a small block, as many believe, but actually a big-block engine in a slightly smaller footprint. Some people do mix parts with the 351 windsors (and then call them "clevors"), but the windsor is a small block.
The cleveland got such poor gas mileage and such high emissions that Ford quickly dropped it. Once you have heard one in race form, you will never forget the sound.
Of course, the modern mustangs are better daily driver cars, with improved brakes and handling.
But a cleveland engine, set up properly, would walk away from a 4.6 if set up properly. It is a drag strip monster.
Modern tests show new Mustangs outperforming old ones (although the Boss 302 from 1969 was pretty capable) but the big Fords were the real blue oval race cars of the 60s and 70s, not the mustang. Torinos, Fairlanes, Cyclones.....now forgotten.
These cars, when set up for oval track or drag racing, would demolish the new mustangs.
Most of the old factory race Fords have been forgotten, but if anyone doubts any of this, just check out the the fastest factory drag car of all time.....the 1964 Ford Fairlane with the 427 Ford engine.
It was called "the thunderbolt", and it was so fast out of the box that some of its records still stand, and many are still racing, and winning.
Look out Saleens and Roushes.
So the 351 cleveland in a 1973 Mustang
might surprise a few folks as well.