Off Topic 3L Swappin' Contour


Mazda Protege5
Not to suggest that this thread will contain the same amount of technical details that my KL Swappin' thread contained. This will probably become a photo thread, general upkeep thread, and there will of course be some wiring info thrown in here for those who enjoy that stuff.

The vehicle as it sat the day I bought it:
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It's an apparently very early build 1998 SVT Contour, in Toreador red. I found the original FS thread on and it suggests that I'm the third owner, after picking it up off of a fella who was local to me that'd had it for a few months as the FS ad suggests. He didn't have the time or space to really give this thing the love it needed, and I was itching to get into another project, as my Pro5 is in need of a transmission and having something that's not my GTI to tinker with throughout the rest of the summer was a desire. This was almost a parts car, but the bloke who almost bought it to part out was kind enough to let me have first dibs at it. He's a mate of mine, and ended up coming into another parts car that had a 3L and LSD-equipped MTX-75 transmission, among other goodies, so I am happy he made out well there!

I got it back to a mate's place relatively trouble-free. The cooling fans were on all the time, and there was a switch panel in the radio spot with two switches, neither of which seemed to do much... That said, my Contour-owning friend who came with me was tailing me for a bit of the journey but overtook me after the smell of coolant was too overwhelming for him. Needless to say, I knew that I wanted to swap out the 2.5L for a 3.0L, and the second owner/seller also threw in a 3L engine and spare transmission as a part of the sale!
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-Above left is an "E1" harness - the "E0" harnesses were poop and insulation tended to fail, leading to shorts, sensor issues, and all sorts of malarkey. No stranger to wiring danger, I wanted to tackle the conversion myself from E1 -> E0.
-Middle is some of the wiring mess that existed on the E0 harness that was in the motor. There's a glaringly obvious photo below that shows the worst of what can happen to these poor harnesses over time...
-Right is the PCV system - milky due probably to age, tuckered out headgaskets, and copious amounts of coolant that infringed on areas it had no business being in!

This is a good representation of old and shwonky versus new and less prone to electrical fires... Positive battery lead to engine fuse box... Great!

We called this fella (curious) George as he waltzed right in to see what we were up to and kindly distracted all of us for an hour or so the day I believe we pulled the engine out of the car!

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1) BAT struts, a common aftermarket solution that was available for the Contour guys back in the day
b) old and tired lump, ready to be retired
3) rear bank, with signs of an unhappy headgasket between rear/leftmost cylinder and the outside of the gasket
iv) closeup of that cylinder and it's amount of "nope"
E) this was my mistake - I was overzealous taking off the main power feeds into the fusebox, so this was a rash pinout after consulting a mate's spares harness

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More to digest, from right to left this time (making sure you're paying attention):
Wiring spaghetti, wrapped and accounted for. Sans knock sensor, because I'm ignorant and the engine doesn't neeeeeeeed it (it'll always see 93 octane)
E1 PCM connector, notice the extra pins on the bottom left row, those get rearranged, sort of
E0 PCM connector
Wiring spaghetti, this was tearing apart the E1 harness to inspect the pins and ensure that nothing was totally botched. I noticed a few pins that appeared to have had a bad time, so I tidied those up and found out what's actually required to convert a harness...

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Perks, and downside of having friends owning the same cars you buy... Nice MSDS headers!
3L innards, pre- cam swap. Clean, suggested low mileage!

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Maybe I shouldn't promote tools but this Milwaukee die grinder really cleaned up shop! I bought an aluminium burr from McMaster Carr and cleaned up both heads over 4 evenings, working maybe 4 hours each evening? Finished the ports off with a sandpaper drum on a Dremel. Much more involved than the port matching I did on the KL when I went from oval-port heads to "square port" to match the Millennia intake manifold that's on there. The swarf could have been dealt with better. Note the edge of what used to be a box which probably would have helped keep things contained... Nothing a shopvac couldn't sort out though! The keen-eyed among you may notice the doubled up/relocated injector holes. Ford kindly never made a split port 3L cylinder head, so a simple mix-and-match wasn't possible. There are threads explaining the difference, but the TL;DR is that the "easiest" way to complete the swap is to go this route, which allows use of stock fuel rails, lower intake, upper intake, throttle body, and PCV system. The only other option is to hybridise things, but that is its own can of worms, and this birdy wasn't keen to go for those this time around.

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This was the biggest "err mmm hmm" moment of the entire build. I didn't catch this tearing the 3L down, and kinda kicked myself for it. I think that this was due to poor quality coolant being in the system previously. I took a leaf out of the Sloppy Mechanics book and liberally applied some copper gasket maker to the headgasket and am proceeding to send it. I cleaned up the face of the block as best as I could, and I'm anticipating this will withstand the test of time.

Double check things when they seem "prepped" This was double o-ringed - not a great setup for an engine that self destructs at the mention of low oil pressure!!!

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This was various stages of reassembly. I'll be honest, I mostly cleaned things, as I preferred to let the two guys go ham who knew what the hell they were doing. 3L engine was prepped to go back in just two weeks after the 2.5 was torn out. Not bad I wouldn't say! My body hated me for a few days, I was genuinely sore all over for two days after the engine went in, and I couldn't fathom the thought of the wiring not working. Thankfully though, I keyed on and the engine fired right up! We fought a loosey goosey serpentine belt as we'd swapped to an Escape alternator. This swap greatly simplifies things with regards to servicing the alternator should it need removing. Think FSDE alternator location, on the KLDE engine... It's not a simple job to access, and so I say thank you Mazda for your alternator placement on the KLDE! LOL


Last photo for this post is a shot of the car cleaned up. I neglected to reinstall the jack point cover like a numpty. Forgive this hideous monstrosity :D In fact, here's a video of how the exhaust sounds currently. It's loud, I know. I actually intend on quiteting it up some because it's genuinely that loud. It encourages short shifting, it's that bloody loud. But my god is it a fun experience!

Wiring conversion to be explained in the next post, as well as examining the cooling fan woes I'm fighting now.


Mazda Protege5
Hopefully this shows up right. This is what I did to prepare the E1 harness to be used in place of the E0 harness. Now, one point I'd like to make is that Bnn is actually referred to as C3000 or something like that in the Ford diagrams. I made it easy on myself this go around and picked a nice simple letter... I also did that with the connectors, they're in the 100-number range in the Ford manual, but I went with how Mazda did is and called them X-01, X-02, etc. Way easier, and much nicer to work with!

Despite spending copious amounts of time confirming that the pins were all in the right spots, it really is around five (5) steps... I'm genuinely baffled at its simplicity, but nonetheless, some folks aren't messed up like I am and don't enjoy wiring spaghetti!
Contour Harness Pinout.jpg


Very cool, thanks for sharing this with us (and for using the OT prefix). Always liked the SVT Contour and swapping in a 3L makes it even cooler...I also like how you're including bits about Mazda as well...Looking forward to updates! 😁(y)


Mazda Protege5
Thanks Antoine - I actually followed 323's lead with regards to their OT Fozzy XT thread/worklog.

I don't know that I would have bought the car without the knowledge from my mates - yes I could have learned, but they dropped tons of knowledge on me that I kind of just hung along for the ride for.

Here's some handy comparos between the two engines, since you said that and I had a desire to post up some A-B pics :D

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Here's some comparisons of the blocks (KL left, Duratec right)

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And heads/intake ports...

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And timing...

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And heads!

The sheer size of the Duratec versus the KL illustrates what I assume is the difference in design mentality between FoMoCo and Mazda at a similar time. The 3L is dimensionally no different to the 2.5L variant on the outside. The transmission is where the next bit of fun is, but I don't have many photos of the two in similar positions. The Mazda 'box is very petite compared to the G-series box.


Mazda Protege5
This weekend afforded me some time to install speakers, something the car conveniently lacked when I bought it. The speaker (more on that later) was donated from another SVT parts car and also came with the added fun of having to reconnect the speakers inside the car that ran to the door harness...

I found remnants of wiring in the passenger door, and depinned the OEM plug to connect the terminals to the speaker sans issues. Used the stock headunit (throwback to the era, with just AM/FM/CD) and a new to me harness, as the PO cut the old one up to install switches to run the gauges... No biggie.

The unfortunate finding was that the second Polk speaker had a bad voice coil, so I subbed in a Rockford Fosgate speaker on the driver's side. Of course, the second speaker of that pair had a split cone, so I really had to take what I had access to. Sound is better than silence in this case. A bonus of getting the stereo working is that I also get to see/hear the power rear antenna working :D

Wire nuts are the devil's work on cars, and I've got no clue why the PO didn't use butt connectors as I've seen elsewhere in the vehicle!!

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I also found loose wheel weights in the trunk, something I'm not sure I want to dig into further! This was while replacing the trunk struts, as they were dead.

Here's the daily and the Contour at my mate's place. I've got on the list of things to do still on Thing 3 before I return attention to Thing 2:
diagnose cooling fans constantly on, I have a lead, or closer to having a solution
coolant flush - running water currently; have replacement t-stat to go in when I decide the time is right
confirm IMRC (think VTCS or VICS in Mazda terms) operates correctly; confirm no CEL related
new tierods, alignment
new (stickier?) tires and a second set of wheels...


Mazda Protege5

Autocrossed it this weekend, and it was an absolute riot!

Bought the Team Dynamic wheels off of a mate and threw some RT660s on. The car as it sits isn't as nimble as the Pro5, but that's likely due to weight, suspension, wheelbase, and the overall goal for the car during engineering. The midrange torque was very much enjoyable, and I really can't wait to see how the Probe GT transmission might liven up the Pro5 as a result.

Here's a video from the weekend. Took last in class, but was 0.7## off from my friend in his rather well prepped Contour :)


Mazda Protege5
Oh yeah, confirmed it's build number 0086 for 1998! Mate called the production-number number because I am terribly lazy. I've been driving this to work this week in an effort to figure out what sort of MPGs it gets when it's not driven in haste. Last tank was 20.8 and that included the autocross, which I know doesn't help on the MPG-front!

I hope to take a weekend to pull the transmission from the Pro5 so I can get it back together. I ought to take the Probe box apart to have the ring gear removed from the differential. That'll be a machine-shop job as I don't have a cutoff wheel that's nearly large enough, and I don't want to bother acquiring one tbh.


Mazda Protege5
Ran the car again today, this time with the pillar gauges hooked up. HOT oil pressure dropped between 0 and 25 on Autometer gauge, taken from the spot where the dummy light normally goes, and the oil temps got up to between 120 and 250F. No issues at these values. Let the car run for a minute or so after the runs and the car seemed happy.

I need to acquire a water sprayer, as the tires did NOT take too kindly to the temps that I was running them at. I also want to diagnose a pull under accel to one side, and a pull under braking to the opposite side. Might "retire" the car from racing for the rest of the season, dependent on what I choose to get into regarding fixing things is concerned.

The list of things to buy/replace, required:

rear endlinks
front 4-bolt LCAs

And to buy/replace, desired:

front non-sunroof dome light map lights (I have no bloody idea what bulbs they are (i searched and found the lighting FAQ on the Contour forums, but it seems the bulbs that are called out are not correct.

No different angle this time; I think that the window view worked well this event.

Curious if anyone’s done this to their MKI/II/III? Since I’m ripping the engine and trans out, swapping the engine, doing the clutch and CV axles anyway, and I want to have better cornering/straight acceleration with the added power, I figured now would be the time to do an LSD.

What I want to know is this: if you have done one, what type: helical or metal plate? What brand? I’m looking at MFactory personally. Did you DIY or have a shop do it, if DIY, how long did it take and is there anything to watch out for? Did you do new bearings too? Tutuapp 9Apps Showbox
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Mazda Protege5
Are you referring to putting this engine into a Protege? Would like to know more details before I offer up more direct info. I'm not sure this engine will fit *well* into the Protege chassis. It's big. Much bigger than the KL V6 that I put into my Protege5. And I would hard pressed to say it doesn't weigh more too.

For the KL swap into a Protege, there's not really a ton to replace. I have a build thread that covers what needs doing, and it's really not tremendously complex, all things considered.

The MFactory diff in my Pro5 is nice - I can't really comment to "better" or "worse" than the Torsen that's in the Contour. Both afford more grip than an open diff. But because the cars are different, I can't totally and fairly compare them apples to apples.

I have a friend who's at a transmission shop install the diff. You could DIY the LSD install, but you'll have to cut the rivets holding the ring gear to the stock open diff. I did not replace the taper bearings, but did replace the halfshafts seals. The shift shaft seal can be got to while the box is open too, that tends to weep as the transmissions get older.

Hope that helps. If you're referring to a different car, I can't offer much more advice tbh.


Mazda Protege5
Had a bit of an oops this past weekend with the wheel bearing on the Contour. The TL;DR is: I changed out LCAs, noticed worn wheel bearings, got a set of assembled knuckles from a friend, one of those wheel bearings was bad on arrival, assembled my removed set of knuckles, same side bearing shat itself.

I have a loathing towards the LCAs on the Contour due to the way the suspension droops, which leads to tight access to get the balljoint out of the knuckle. Whereas the Protege knuckle is bolted to the strut, the Contour is similar to the Mazda3 in that the strut slides into the knuckle - a PITA if you have rusted knuckles (not me) or new struts (not me) or are trying to do it alone (me). I ended up ripping the inner boot of the "new" halfshaft, the outer boot of the "old" halfshaft, and the boot of the "new" balljoint. Not off to a great start with that job at all. Ended up realising that I couldn't finish the job alone, so I had my Contour-owning friend come help me put the thing back together, and of course it took all of 15 minutes to do both sides, all said and done.

I think what happened with the bearing failure is that, since I reused the axle bolt, it didn't have the stakes on it, so it backed off once I started loading the car up in an aggressive (AutoX) manner. It's that, or somehow the bushes in the subframe being worn loaded the driver's side bearing up in both cases, leading to premature wear on the bearing in both cases...

In any rate, here's a few photos of the car in recent weeks. I hope to sort it out prior to the winter settling in, and I am thinking of moving the Protege5 back to be able to work on it inside the garage this winter.

Here it sat like this for a few days, as I thought "I can do this in an evening..."

Knackered rear endlink next to nice new one. I should have left it here for the season, and addressed the LCAs and knuckles over the winter. That might have saved me the hassle of broken bearings and halfshafts, but hindsight is what it is...

Torn "new" CV. I will be re-booting this, as I didn't drive it with the tear.

Confangled setup. This was the "old" halfshaft - I tore the outer boot on this one :(

Worn out "old" hubs. I bought new, as I didn't trust these to fare very well.

Washed and waiting to go under the knife. She cleans up well!

Subframe out. This suffers the same potential fate as the Protege - the rear through bolts that go into the body tend not to want to let the captive nuts go. As I used a breaker bar slowly, the nuts caught as intended, and I was able to remove all four bolts sans issues. A good start. Also, as with the Protege, having the subframe dropped lends itself to replacing the front swaybar bushings, something that needed doing on this old gal. I'm waiting for