But this one is not just any old engine. It is the all-new 5-litre Coyote V8 that will soon be slotted into the Ford Falcon XR and, once a supercharger is bolted to the top, become the hero engine at Ford Performance Vehicles. In its most basic form it pumps out 307 kiloWatts of power and 529 Newton-metres of power, well up on the current Falcon V8 and even better than Holden's 6.2- litre Chevrolet V8.
The Coyote is seen for the first time in Detroit as part of the unveiling of the latest Ford Mustang, and is a radical remake of the V8 blueprint with lightweight, all-alloy construction and twin- overhead camshafts. "We will be taking an engine from the Coyote family," admits Ford Australia's spokesperson, Sinead McAlary, in Detroit. But that's as far as it goes.
No-one is saying yet if the Coyote will be in the XR8, or used by FPV, or subject to a supercharged upgrade. Even the American engineer in charge of the Coyote program is sworn to secrecy in Detroit. "I keep getting asked all these questions but I honestly cannot say anything. My boss would kill me," he tells Carsguide.
Ford Australia is moving rapidly towards a Coyote future as it also prepares for a four-cylinder Falcon, as well as an LPG upgrade and a diesel powerplant for the Territory. Even its gearbox strategy is set for an overhaul, with the old- fashioned four-speed used in lower-grade Falcons and the LPG model heading for the scrapheap in favour of a six-speed self-shifter.
The reasons for the changes _ and an investment of $230 million to keep the Falcon current through to its current replacement date in 2015 _ hinge around changing consumer tastes and new emission regulations. Ford is well aware that it needs to make the Falcon more fuel efficient, which is why it has a local program tied into the goals of the Ecoboost operation. But it also needs to keep the car attractive to muscle-car shoppers.
The big problem is that Ford's current 5.4-litre V8 cannot meet the next generation of emission-control regulations that come into effect later this year for new cars. The Euro 4 standards are much tougher and are compulsory for any vehicle sold in Australia from the start of 2011.
So Ford is forced to find a new powerplant and Coyote is the key, with an easy entry to the world of Euro 4 together with better performance and economy. There are rumours that Ford will keep the Coyote just for FPV and can the XR8, but Ford's president Marin Burela is not convinced.
"The XR8 has worked, and worked well, for us," Burela says, without giving anything away. "We're still doing the research. We have to find out what people want from us."