View Poll Results: What should I do?

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  • 2.3 turbo/T5 swap - a lighter, more efficient performer

    12 23.08%
  • HO/T5 swap - Mainstream, reliable performance

    30 57.69%
  • 351/carb/5-speed - What driveability? Go for speed!

    10 19.23%
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Thread: As God is my witness I know not what to do...

  1. #1
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    Default As God is my witness I know not what to do...

    I need your help to decide what direction the T-Bird is gonna take. Please read the below long-winded presentation and vote for what YOU would do, and feel free to post why. Also feel free to post any input (advantages or disadvantages I may have forgotten, etc)

    Here's the dilemma: I want to upgrade my T-Bird. I've always wanted to "hot rod" my T-Bird, and I've finally got the place (garage) and money to do so. The problem is that I don't know what direction to go. I have a few possibilities that I've been tossing about in my mind but can't decide which way would be the best to go.

    Naturally any project is highly dependent on what the owner wants from the car. With me I simply want the car to perform and handle much better than it does now (not too much to ask, right? ). My recent suspension parts buying spree will help on the handling side, but as for performance I'm not looking for a drag car (there are no drag strips within 200 miles of me anyway). I simply want "respectable" acceleration - respectable meaning that the car will at least keep up with mainstream cars such as Camrys, Accords, etc, and will outrun stock (or even modified) econoshitboxes.

    I also want to keep the car very drivable. By very drivable I mean that the A/C must function and the car must be reliable enough to drive 600 miles on a whim.

    I've narrowed it down to three scenarios:

    1) I've got an '88 5.0 Thunderbird with a great body and an '87 Turbo Coupe with a rusted shell. The TC is a 5-speed with 120k miles on it. Scenario 1 involves freshening the 2.3 turbo without doing a full-tilt rebuild (honing the cylinders, new rings, bearings, valve job, gaskets, etc) and swapping it into the V8 'Bird. Since I'm already planning on installing the TC's hood, header, rear end and interior I'd essentially be making a TC clone. I would add some minor modifications to bring the power up to (or slightly over) stock 5.0 HO levels, such as a Gillis valve, 3" downpipe, free flowing exhaust, etc.

    Advantages: I've already got the whole shebang (engine, tranny, wiring) so this would be the cheapest, and with gas at a buck a liter ($3.80/gallon) this would probably be the most frugal long-term choice. Since the '88 is a fairly option free car (no power seats) and it doesn't have the TC stuff like PRC and ABS brakes it would be lighter than a TC as well, so it should perform quite well

    Disadvantages: It's a 4-cylinder, turbo or not, and I don't like the sound. Plus I wouldn't get to use my "Chucky mounts".

    2) Do the HO/T5 thing. Since the 88's engine is still low mileage (about 65k) I wouldn't get into the bottom end. Just a set of E7 heads, a set of 19lb injectors, HO cam, HO intake, and some minor aftermarket upgrades such as headers, TB, etc. I'd likely stick with speed density because if I go this route I'd have no interest in cranking things up too far (for the reasons listed under "disadvantages")

    Advantages:
    torquier, more reliable and sounds better than a 2.3 turbo, I've already got the foundation, and I'd get to use the Chucky mounts

    Disadvantages: Cast, flat top pistons would rule out future upgrades such as a blower, big cam, heads, etc. Plus I'd pretty much have to find a Mustang donor car to get the engine parts plus the T-5 and swap parts. People around here think Mustangs are gold, regardless of condition, and they are priced accordingly.

    3) This is the most extreme option, and it may happen eventually regardless of what I decide to do in the short term (it may not happen to this particular car, but it is likely gonna happen). My brother's got a '94 E350 van that is approaching the end of its useful life, and he's promised me the roller 351 that resides within. If I went this route I'd forego EFI and switch to a carb because EFI parts are just too damned expensive. I would go with a dual plane intake, 700cfm carb, and a set of Trick flow heads, aiming for about 350-400 streetable horses.

    Advantages: This would obviously be the most powerful option, and of course power is always an advantage. The torque of a built 351 would be nice, and being able to say I've got a 351 in there would be pretty cool, too. And of course, the Chucky mounts.

    Disadvantages:
    No more EFI means sacrificed driveability and the fuel costs would suck. The engine currently has over 400,000 km on it, so it would need a complete rebuild. Finding a 5-speed tranny that would stay together would be an expensive proposition. More weight over the front end would hurt the handling, although this would be offset somewhat by the aluminum heads. And my tripminder wouldn't function anymore.

    I'm actually leaning toward the 2.3 swap because this would leave me open to do either of the two other swaps in future. What do y'all think?
    2015 Mustang GT Premium - 5.0, 6-speed, Guard Green - too much awesome for one car

    1988 5.0 Thunderbird SOLD SEPT 11 2010: TC front clip/hood ♣ Body & paint completed Oct 2007 ♣ 3.55 TC rear end and front brakes ♣ TC interior ♣ CHE rear control arms (adjustable lowers) ♣ 2001 Bullitt springs ♣ Energy suspension poly busings ♣ Kenne Brown subframe connectors ♣ CWE engine mounts ♣ Thundercat sequential turn signals ♣ Explorer overhead console (temp/compass display) ♣ 2.25" off-road dual exhaust ♣ T-5 transmission swap completed Jan 2009 ♣

  2. #2
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    man...IMHO its a no brainer...you are allready just about set up for the HO. i know its all over the place here and considered quite "vanilla" and overdone, but out in the real world its just not that common. its easy, and the sky is the limmit. maybe we could even work out some sort of deal for the HO parts i have...who knows. wink wink...

    the 351 would be sweet, but if it were me, it wouldnt be my thing...

    TC clone...well, you do have it all already.


    if i remember right though, you had mentioned before that you wouldnt mind a 4.6 DOHC under the hood of your car
    Last edited by shame302; 03-13-2006 at 05:21 AM.
    1988 Thunderbird Sport, Former 4.6 DOHC T56 conversion project.

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  3. #3
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    I say 5.0 HO upgrade with aftermarket dished pistons added in for future upgrades and such.
    Temporarily Foxless? Ride the Bull...

  4. #4
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    I'd stick with the 5.0 option. To do the 2.3 swap, you'd have to go through the hassel of changing all your wiring and whatnot. The 351 idea is nice but you already pointed out that it wouldn't be that practical. The 5.0 would be the easiest most cut and dry option. Can't go wrong with it and the possibilities of modifications are endless. I also think that would be the most reliable option. Just my

  5. #5
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    My vote is for the 2.3 swap, it's the most economical and I doubt you'll be dissapointed by what it can do.

  6. #6
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    Well, it sounds like you are going to have to do engine work no matter what route you go. You mention going the 2.3 route "first" and leave the others as an option for later. Wouldn't you just rather do one engine refresh/rebuild?

    With alot of intown driving, the 2.3T loses a bit of it's "economy" bonus. They can pull down great numbers on the interstate, but alot of stop and go pulls that down quick.

    The wiring part of the 2.3T swap is nothing....you pull one engine harness, you install the other.

    How much use is this car going to see? Type of driving? What kind of "reliability" issues do you see different between a 2.3T and a 5.0? Really with regular maintenance there are none.

    You know my choice, but only because I'm just not a V8 guy.

    BTW...I do make 86-88 2.3T mounts
    Long live the 4-eyes! - '83 Tbird Turbo

  7. #7
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    If I were in your shoes I would go with the 351w. Especially since this isn't a DD. The carb setup will be much simplier and you'll have all the torque you'll ever need. But then again... I like carbs.
    2005 Subaru WRX STi|daily driver

  8. #8
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    id put the ho in, its just easier imo. then i'd probley build up the 2.3 and put it into another tc if the time comes.
    1987 Ford ThunderBird Turbo
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  9. #9
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    Have you ever considered a stroker kit? With a 331 you could have those extra cubes while still using 5.0 parts for the engine. You could keep the fuel injection too for better economy and driveability. A 347 would offer more torque, but some people are leary of the reliability of those.
    Foxless

  10. #10
    302Fairmont Guest

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    I voted for #2

    Just do it. Its easy, cheap, they generally sound better than 4 bangers, and guarunteed to be quick and reliable.

    Although I wouldn't cheese out on the bottom end. Spend the little extra dough for a more solid bottom end so eventually you can put a blower on it (or NOS, if youre "that" kinda guy). 302's are SO cheap to rebuild - I have a total of maybe $600 in mine as of now - including machine work & new stock replacement pistions (no overbore, just a hone) and that includes all parts, machine work, & a fresh valve job. It's ready to be built @ right around $600! Additionally, my friend is building a 302 almost identical to mine, but he's going with .030 over TRW forged stock style pistons, built rods, (he plans on a 150 shot) and decked heads and his total is just over $1000, incuding a head job.

    So, in conclusion, I'm down with 5.0/T5, but you might as well build the motor while its out.

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