The nature of the group 96 is that it's much shorter in height than just about any other battery. I don't think any other battery will fit the car. I believe Ford placed it on a pedestal, closest to hood as possible, to keep it away from exhaust manifold heat.
group 65 is 7.6 inches tall
group 96r is 6.9 inches tall https://www.batteryweb.com/bci.cfm
Walmart has the cheapest battery and they do stock the 96r and it's around $97. plus core charge.