...non-HO 5.0... ...AOD... ...55 ford customline 2 door sedan.
...budget minded build... ...going with Holley 600 cfm carburator.
1 I'm wanting to run a Comp cams Thumpr or an F-303 cam can I use the stock roller lifters with either?
2 Heads, i know about the GT40 and GT40P heads is there another factory head option?
3 Are the factory Mustang short headers a good idea? What years?
4 I've never installed or worked with a Ford AOD trans. Can I run a small stall converter? 2500 or less? How does the Lock up in the converter work ? electric?
Any other budget power upgrade suggestions would be much appreciated.
1. I would not use the stock rollers with either, that's my preference. I always pair a new cam with new lifters. As for the cam choices, that's going to be dependent on your heads, intake, and headers. The cam is the brain of the engine and the most critical part of a build IMO. I'm going to shoot down the F cam without even thinking much about it just because it's a letter cam that hasn't been relevant since the 90s. Going by the two options you listed, you're more concerned about having a lopey idle sound than having a good performing cam. With that in mind, I will revisit this a little later.
2. Check the heads you have now. Look on the bottom of the intake side of the head and on one of the ports between the pushrod holes, you should notice a 4-digit casting code such as E7AE. If you have a set of E7xx heads, then I'd just clean them up and roll with them. The Cobra GT40 heads were F3ZE (1993 model) and F4ZE (1994-95 models). The Exploder GT40 heads were F1ZE and GT40Ps are F77E. The GT40 heads are becoming harder and harder to find as people snatch them up and rape them. The ones you do find with all machine work already done and ready to install, you could buy a lower end set of aluminum heads for the same price.
If you do have E7 heads and you are handy with a die grinder, just give them a little work over yourself. Clean up and blend the bowl and throat but don't hog it out. Keep the throat between 88-90% of the valve OD. Slightly lay back the short radius but don't grind away at the floor of the port. You're just trying to make a more direct path to the valve. The pinch point around the pushrod holes is the smallest CSA of the port. Bump it on each side but don't get carried away and grind into the pushrod holes. You're not going to make it match the rest of the port's CSA so don't try. Just make it a smooth transition. You don't want any abrupt changes in CSA that'll interfere too severely with intake pulses. On the exhaust side, grind out the thermactor bump all the way down. Just get rid of it. Lay back the short radius again and most important here is a making a gradual long radius from the throat to the port exit. The exhaust velocity is typically supersonic in the port so it's going to screaming out of the cylinder so fast that it's not going to see the volume. It's going to want to go somewhere. Guide it where it needs to go. I like a D-shaped exhaust exit with the flat part being on the floor. The first pair of E7s I did, I got them to flow 226 / 165 @ .600" lift with 1.94 / 1.54 valves. It just took a few hours of my time on a Saturday afternoon and was way easier than I imagined it would be. I just followed the advice others gave me.
3. In theory... you should be picking headers based on the engine's cam specs, exhaust port CSA, exhaust velocity, compression, etc... In practice, the headers get designed to fit the car. For a cruiser that relies on low rpm torque, shorty headers are the ticket. You'll be relying on the 4th harmonic wave to scavenge the cylinder at low rpm. It's not ideal but unless you're able to build a set of longtubes with 8 foot long primaries to scout the 1st or 2nd harmonic, shorties are all you have to work with. I like to keep the primaries as equal length as possible but a 3-4" variance in length isn't going to hurt much. I can't help much as far as which pre-made set to purchase as I have no knowledge what is out there for your car with a 302. There may be swap headers available. I tend to prefer something custom with tuned lengths for the engine's needs. I'm not sure if the Lincoln's factory manifolds would work, but I wouldn't want to use them anyway. If you're going to choke the engine with factory manifolds, then might as well keep the rest of it stock because you're not going to see the benefits much anyway.
4. There's plenty of converter options for the AOD. Just remember that the stall RPM is dependent on the torque output from the engine. The same converter advertised as a 2400 stall may stall at 2200 rpm behind a 302 and 2600 rpm behind a 351w. The weight of the car (load seen by the converter) and the gear ratio will alter the stall speed as well. Converter theory can be as complicated as cam theory. That said, I've used the TCI Saturday Night Special converter with the AOD and have no complaints. It did it's job. There's better ones out there but if on a budget, the SNS works well. In the real world, the converter should be spec'd to the weight of the car and cam / torque curve of the engine. Get those details ironed out first and then worry about the converter later. The lockup works mechanically with partial lockup in 3rd gear and full lockup in 4th. Something the AOD is notorious for is snapping the inner input shaft due during the 2-3 shift when the trans tries to engage the lockup. PA makes a stronger inner shaft that keeps the lockup. I've used it and it's held well.
1 Revisited. From the cams you mentioned, it would appear you're mostly concerned with the sound of the cam. The Thumpr cam is designed for this. I'd choose it over the F-cam if I absolutely had to choose between the two. Those two cams really are polar opposites of each other in terms of performance, and you'll like driving the Thumpr cam much more. It's actually not a terrible choice here IF (and that's a big IF) you keep the heads stock. With stock valves and low lift flow coefficients, the more aggressive intake valve opening and exhaust valve closing points will help the stock heads get the air moving. It's not ideal but it's not terrible. For a stock headed 302 looking for an aggressive idle and better top end, I like the Howards 222755-08. It's about the closest you'll get to having your cake and eating it too without going custom grind.
The better the heads, intake, and headers all flow, the smaller the cam needs to be to reach a desired goal. The smaller the cam, the broader the torque curve in most cases. If you go with GT40 heads or a set of aluminum heads, the Thumpr cam goes out the window. It's now hurting power and driveability more than helping. Something like a Comp XE268 or Lunati 61003 becomes much more appealing with GT40 heads or other ported factory iron with larger valves. Something like a Lunati 61002 or Howards 221275-12 becomes more ideal if going with a set of budget aluminum heads. If you decide to use a single plane intake, these recommendations go out the window. If you decide to stroke the engine to 331 or 347, these recommendations go out the window. If you decide to keep the factory exhaust manifolds, these recommendations go out the window. There's a reason there's thousands of cam options on the market. It's because there's thousands of different applications. Decide on your heads, intake, headers, use, transmission, rear gearing, and then we can dial in the desired cam to make it all work together.