The 2.3l Duratec is a Mazda L engine
DOHC and a good reliable engine.
The M5OD-R1 transmission is bullet proof, very reliable, make sure to change the 3 shift rail plugs from stock rubber ones to metal ones, rubber ones would leak as they got older, costs under $2
The 23EW(east-west) was used in cars, transverse mounted(FWD), which was original design
The 23EW has cams that produce less torque but more horse power
The Ranger got the 23NS(north-south) it had cams that produce more torque and less horse power, and of course was mounted longitudinally(RWD)
The 2004+ Ranger 23NS had 10 more horse power(143) than the 2001-2003 versions(135)
The 2001-2003 versions also had a POS electric thermostat, so I would just get a 2004 or newer model
Google: Mazda L engine
Because original design was for transverse mounting there is a cooling line that comes out the back of the engine which is easy to get to in that configuration.
When they put the engine into a Ranger that cooling line became a problem if it should leak, can't get to it without dropping the transmission.
In a racing car you may have more clearance, or could cut a hole in firewall and install cover plate, before installing engine so you could have access there as needed.
Last edited by RonD; 10-03-2016 at 06:47 PM.