Panel Swap: A Thames Wagon With A Surprise

Is there anything more ‘hot rod’ than a performance motor stuffed into a car originally fit with a hamster wheel? Motor swaps are at the core of our hobby, and the center pin of many Speedhunters features and spotlights. Some motors get used quite often, like the LS or 2JZ, and commonly work incredibly well. But these re-powers aren’t always the most exciting.

That’s not to say I don’t like both, and I find no fault in anyone who puts an LS in anything. I just like being confused when I look under the hood of a car.


On that note, I am totally comfortable admitting that when I looked under the hood of this Thames Panel I was plenty confused. I found the Ford stamping easily enough, but I wasn’t at all familiar with this particular V8.


The Ford fans among us have likely already identified it by the intake runners, but for the rest this 235hp engine is usually found under the hood of a third generation Taurus SHO.

Originally mounted horizontally, positioning it longitudinally under the hood of a Thames required the use of a particularly large shoe horn. But, the builder, Ben Coulson, made it all work by fabricating nearly the entire engine room, and using hard lines wherever possible for fluid transfer to assist with the tight packaging. Typically fit with a transaxle, in this case the motor is backed by a Lincoln LS 5-speed transmission. This rare transmission was selected because it has the closest bell housing to the Ford block.


Under the truck, a Mustang II style suspension is used up front, and a triangulated 3-link is used in the rear. Because the large steam rollers out back didn’t afford a lot of space, a single airbag is used there, straddled by a pair of shocks.


According to Ben the setup works pretty well for everything he’s put it through thus far, but obviously the car wasn’t really built for the road course.

Because it’s a work in progress the interior is fairly sparse, but I don’t imagine it will stay this way forever. After all, Ben has to keep up with his dad, Bill.


The older Coulson owns the 400 small block-powered Ford Anglia that was parked beside Ben’s panel at the 2018 ELTA Summer Bash and Go Big Drags.


Bill calls his car “old hat”, as it was originally finished in ’92, but I’m sure you’ll all agree that it’s still pretty cool, regardless of its age.


Though they intially told me they wouldn’t, the chance for a father versus son battle at the drags wasn’t an opportunity the pair could pass up.

If you’re curious, on this occasion, father beat son. Perhaps Ben will call a best two out of three?

Dave Thomas
Instagram: stanceiseverythingcom



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Are you positive about that engine? Because I count 4 ignition coils on that cylinder bank... and four intake runners. SHO’s had a V6 did they not?


First and second gen were V6. Third generation were V8, fourth went back to six. Truth be told I didn't know the third and fourth generation SHOs existed before this car.


I love this! Extremely unique and original.


For some reason, I thought it was Porsche 928's V8 to begin with.

The SHO V8 are surprisingly small at 3.4L, has small bore of 82.4 mm & even small stroke of merely 79.5 mm, I wonder if anyone made it into a super high revving engine before?


I truly hope they remembered to weld the cams. That was the Achilles heel of these engines. They ran amazing and hard when they were welded correctly.... but not welded... the cams were basically press fitted on. I loved my 96 SHO that I had, ran great till it developed a transmission issue and everyone wanted like 2 grand to R&R the trans instead of just fixing the 13 dollar part due to the mileage and age.