Ford Starters. Which one to Use?

Which Starter fits a Ford Small Block T5/TKO Conversion?

High Torque Starter
High Torque Starter

Which starter to use is a common question and a common source of frustration for people doing a T5 or TKO conversion behind a Ford Small Block. The problem stems from the mis-information in the literature and from the starter manufacturers themselves. It was, and still is, very common to read that you need a starter for a manual transmission (M/T).

But this is not enough. It really depends on the flywheel size being used. Small block Fords (260, 289,302,351w, 351c, 5.0L) can except either the 157 tooth or the 164 tooth flywheel with the corresponding bell housing. Early Mustangs were mostly 157 tooth, but some were 164 tooth, as well as, other Fords and trucks.

157 tooth flywheels in front of both the automatic (A/T) and the manual transmission used the same starter. This same starter was also used with the 164 tooth automatic transmission. It is only the 164 tooth in front of a manual trans which used a different starter (3/8″ depth).

It is this starter that people end up with which gives them grief. The local parts store may call out this starter as the starter of choice for a “manual” transmission. They don’t differentiate the flywheel.

So it is best to specify a starter for a “automatic” transmission as you will be using a 157 tooth flywheel in the majority of T5/TKO conversions. If you are using original bell housing and it is for a 164 tooth flywheel then you will need the 3/8″ depth starter (see chart).

The Details
As seen in Powermaster’s “Ford Starter Tech Bulletin” there are 2 critical dimensions, the diameter of the registration hole, and the depth of the ring gear.

Ford Starter Depth

Ring Gear Depth Registration Diameter
164 tooth, M/T 3/8″ 4.130″
164 tooth A/T
157 tooth M/T & A/T 3/4″ 4.084″
So what are our recommendations?
Starters 157 tooth M/T & A/T
164 tooth A/T 164 tooth M/T
Ford Racing High Torque M-11000-B51 M-11000-MT164
Power Master 3124/9162/9103/9603/9503/9403 9604/9504/9403
Tilton 54-10013 54-10018