I’ve got a winter beater of a Mazda B3000 pickup, because my daily commuter Honda Fit is both too light to handle slick roads and too low to the ground to rise above any kind of snow accumulation. So I’ve got a pickup that’s old enough to buy alcohol because fuel efficiency and inexpensive reliability don’t solve all of life’s transportation needs. Oh well, can’t have everything, and it’s nice to have a vehicle that can get me to work whether or not there’s 5 inches of snow, or 5 feet.

There is an issue (besides the whole “power nothing”, lack of cup holders, non-working AC, no cruise control, and AM/FM only stereo system, that is) that I was pondering on the way to work the other morning - the engine. See, I’ve got a very early last gen B3000, and it has the 3 liter v6, not the 4 liter. I’m not saying it’s weak, let’s just acknowledge that most people refer to that particular engine as the “3-point-slow”, and describe it as “having the power of a 4 cylinder, with the fuel efficiency of a 8 cylinder”. It’s that last phrase that got me thinking, if I’m already putting gas in it like it’s got a v8, are v8 swaps doable?

Turns out, yes, very much so (remember, if it’s a Mazda truck from the last 3 decades, it’s really a Ford Ranger with very, very slight modifications... seriously, the only things I’ve found different on mine from a Ford are the badges, the front grill, and the rear taillights, and that’s it), apparently doable and easy enough that I’m surprised the internet at large hasn’t shown up on my doorstep to do the swap for me. And used Ford 302 v8’s are cheap enough that, while I’m not doing the swap in the immediate future, if my engine craps out for whatever reason, I’m popping in the 302 without even considering sourcing a replacement 3 or 4 liter v6. How cheap are Ford 302s? Here’s just what I found on eBay, no telling what you could get the local junkyard to cough one up for.

The best part would be that the swap would allow me to keep the truck 4WD, the whole point behind purchasing this truck, one that seats exactly 2 and doesn’t have a bed big enough to fit a full sheet of plywood (hint: small trucks like that are toys more than they’re work vehicles) (and yes, I purposefully bought mine believing that). I’m not wanting to go crazy with it, not looking to mess with the engine, like messing with the cam and lifters, no turbos or superchargers, just a simple increase in horsepower from the age old equation of “there’s no replacement for displacement”, but some more oomph under the hood would make it far more enjoyable. What’s really funny is that due to the cherry bomb glasspack muffler the truck has (thanks to the old farmer I bought it from) and an exhaust manifold leak, the truck already sounds like I’ve done the swap. Never underestimate the power of poor exhaust to make your ride sound much cooler.