Ford Alphabet Cams: Everything You Need to Know About 303 Cams
If you are building up a Fox Body Mustang, chances are that you’ve heard of the Ford Racing cams (E303, B303, ETC.), commonly referred to as the “alphabet cams”. But, which cam is best for your application?
Before I tell you about the alphabet cams, you should know that these cams were all designed over 20 years ago, and designed for the masses. They are also known for poor quality control and are lacking in power output compared to modern aftermarket cams.
Modern age technology has allowed companies like Anderson Motorsports to develop cams strictly using computers to figure out what performs and what doesn’t.
With that said, Alphabet cams are still good cams, especially if you’re on a budget.
The E303 camshaft is the mildest of the ford racing cams as you might be able to tell from the specifications. It’s known for its excellent street ability and decent track performance.
The E303 camshaft is an excellent street cam, providing torque way down low for great driveability, but it sacrifices top end power, I personally love this cam for a daily driven Fox Body.
The B303 camshaft is a nice step up from the E303 cam, it retains the excellent street ability, but moves the peak power up a couple thousand RPMs.
The B303 camshaft is often used in various motorsports, because of its mid-high rpm power, but can be used a street cam if you don’t mind the power being so up high.
The F303 camshaft is loosely referred to as the “boost” cam because the F303 cam makes the best power under forced induction when compared to all the other alphabet cams.
We think boost guys love it because of its a happy medium between a high lift and long duration, it’s a decent naturally aspirated cam, but the boost guys swear by it.
- Forced Induction
The X303 camshaft is basically a dedicated track cam. It has less duration than the F303 cam, but it has the most lift out of all the alphabet cams. The X303 camshaft is not very street friendly and makes most of its power way up high in the RPMs.
This cam won’t perform all that well without a set of high flowing aluminum heads.
- Drag Strip
The Z303 cam is a lot like the X303 in the sense that it’s really designed for off-road track use. It has the longest duration and highest lift out of every 303 cam at 228 intake/228 exhuast and 0.552 intake/0.552 exhaust. Just like the X303, the Z303 isn’t very street friendly.
As with all big cams, the Z303 really won’t perform as you might expect without a set of aftermarket heads. With the smaller cams such as the E303 stock heads will work okay, but with big cams you really need to upgrade the heads.
- Drag Strip
The Down Side
Like I mentioned earlier, these cams are very outdated. They were designed with single plane technology and were built for the masses. Modern technology has allowed speed part companies to develop camshafts that make more power, more torque, and are more drivable.
The alphabet cams are also notorious for their terrible quality control which results in cam lobes that are all slightly different than each other. I had an E303 cam in my Fox Body, but if I were to do it again I would go with a modern camshaft.
The Importance of Cylinder Heads
If you just install an alphabet camshaft and nothing else, expect to be disappointed. The stock cylinder heads on the 5.0L are terrible. Even if you port and polish them, they still suck. To get the most of out an alphabet cam, especially an X303, you need to install a set of aftermarket cylinder heads.
The common upgrade is GT-40 heads. They are better than the factory Fox Body heads, but they aren’t all that good either. A set of aftermarket aluminum cylinder heads will do wonders for your 5.0L.
My Fox Body has a set of Edelbrock E-Series street heads. Combined with the E303 camshaft it made a ton of horsepower and a ton of torque. Although it was never dynoed, I would guess that it made 290whp.
The E303 is an awesome street cam, making power down low. The B303 is a good motorsports cam, making power in the middle. The F303 is an awesome cam for sub-600hp forced induction engines. The X303 is a great drag strip cam, making lots of power up high.
The reason all of these cams are popular is because they’re dirt cheap, ranging from $100-200, and make decent power especially when paired up with a set of high flowing aluminum cylinder heads.
However, I personally recommend spending the extra money and getting a modern camshaft that has a dual-plane lobe design. Or better yet, a custom made cam to match your driving needs and cylinder head flow.