T-Bird SC 3.8 build


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Some fairly bad news--someone hit and ran the T-Bird in a parking lot (not a true hit and run, since I had a witness that had taken a picture of the other party's car and licence plate), and there's $1900 damage to the car. It was on the front driver's side bumper and wasn't too bad, but i'm assuming that Autopac is going to try to write it off. It's been in two salvage/ repairable accidents (one of them I knew about....the other, I had no idea), and the insurance company law here is that after one of 'em, the car isn't supposed to be put back on the road. The adjuster had no idea how the car got back on the road after the second salvage/ repairable collision, so knowing this, i'm reluctantly content to accept the fact that the car was already on its second lease on life. It's a shame, but hey, that's life.

Assuming this right now, i'll probably buy the car back and take the engine out of it and put it in my Mustang and bolt it up to the 4R70W with whatever it requires, then try to tune it through my Livewire with some help. The nice thing is that the blocks are the same, so my BBK shorty ceramic headers should still fit.


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I'm not fully sure that it will get written off.....i'm going to fight it the best that I can. The damage isn't bad at all--with a bit of buffing and a little touch up paint, it shouldn't be too noticeable. I thought about it more--it doesn't make any sense just to send a car to scrap, just for someone to buy and try to part it out. It's way too nice to be parted out.

Get this--the guy that hit and ran, I had asked the insurance company if he had responded to their letters, and he hasn't. This guy's a total idiot--messes up the side of his Nissan Rogue (according to my witnesses), puts a fake phone number, fails to report his accident, and apparently, won't respond. The idiocy revolves around the common sense idea that, if you messed up the side of your vehicle to what has to likely be 5 thousand (if not more) damage (i'm guessing front fender, definetely door damage and perhaps even rear quarter panel damage), and want to try to do it out of the insurance company's radar, the thing is: you're still out 5+ thousand bucks. Unless your driver's abstract is that messed up and it's about to get revoked, there's zero sense to prolong it.

At what point do people realize, "gee, I guess I should own up"?. It's pretty disappointing to see what some people will try to get away with, when they think that nobody's watching.



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If you want, I can post one up tomorrow. It looks to be mostly just a bit of spider webbing, and the bumper wasn't absolutely perfect to begin with (some paint flaking, some minor dings). The corner marker lens fell out, but only had a small chip in it, and can be put back in with a bit of glue/ silicone. The custom estimator came by today and was impressed by the condition of the car, so that's a positive.


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I may still post a picture, but I had lightly sanded the area, and since there was no cracking in the bumper, I had spraybombed the area white--didn't even mask it off, just took a piece of cardboard to roughly block off the area. It went from being visible from a few feet, to only visible from a foot or so away, and the spiderwebbing is gone. A good majority of the paint from the other vehicle had washed off with some light sanding. Thankfully, the other vehicle was a white vehicle, too.......something like red would have been difficult to get off. It's good that this happened to the Bird, instead of my Mustang--black is just a bitch to keep scratches off of, and I had just got the Mustang painted earlier this year in April or so. The Bird being white had made the damage far less visible than it would have been with a darker paint colour.

The paint had flaked off a bit with the accident, but nothing too bad. I'll probably take some 3000 grit sandpaper and ease the transition of the spray, but even that is basically not visible at all. The bumper wasn't absolutely perfect before the accident, so a couple of imperfections in the spray bombed area won't make a difference.


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I didn't actually get around to taking a picture, but Autopac fixed the car. That blows my mind. I was sure that they were gonna write it off. But if you have a stack of receipts for upgrades and stuff (not to mention the pictures of the work that you've done on your own time), it definetely helps. Good karma/ luck helps, too--what are the odds that one of your two witnesses has a picture of the other car/ licence plate? There's been times where I've stopped in traffic to offer my name and number as a witness, and I like to think that it's good karmic value.

Anyways, since I've owned the SC, I've felt that the shifts were sluggish, and that the car should feel like it has more power in daily driving. It's a heavy car and all, but something felt a little off. Someone had suggested that the TV cable on the AOD might need adjusting, and I'd adjusted it one notch tighter, and the throttle response was much improved. It's a huge difference. Also, the shifts, themselves, have always felt way too soft. I thought of getting a shift kit/ valve body upgrade, but the transmission felt like it was slipping on WOT shifts. Tightening up the TV cable fixed that, where there's a small chirp on the WOT shifts that was never there before, and the slippage is gone. One has to be careful with the TV cable, because the transmission can be fried if it's not adjusted correctly. We'll see how it works out in the long run.

I had got bored in the last month, as I'd done most of what I had planned to do on the car this year. Next year I'll put in the 36 lb injectors that I have, and will get the head gaskets done with some ported heads (head gaskets aren't fried yet, but some new MLS ones will give peace of mind), and will get it tuned properly. So this will have to suffice for now--some low budget and low time intensive things that can improve the factory intake system. I'm not putting a CAI in, because the metal tubing will heat up to ridiculous levels, and I want to use the factory intake because the thick rubber intake tube does wonders to keep heat out of the air charge, and I also don't want a cone filter sucking in hot air from the engine bay. These engines make a ridiculous amount of heat, so it's doubly important to keep heat out of the air charge. I also want to keep the factory look to the engine, for the most part.

Ported/ polished stock MAF:

It's doubtful that this will do much for power (especially since the post is still there), but then again, enlarging it slightly and getting rid of some of the casting problems may show gains, as it is the first potential bottleneck in the intake after the air filter. I wouldn't have bothered with this on an N/A car, but if at the very least, adds to the work of art in the polishing dept that is already in the rest of the engine. As mentioned, the 76mm C&L MAF made the car run like crap, and with the different sampling tube, it may have made the engine run leaner than it should. I put the polished stock MAF back in the car, and it ran fine. I'm hoping that it shows a small but genuine reading to the factory sampling tube. FI engines are traditionally very receptive to intake/ intake tract upgrades.

Also, trying to go about my build while using as many factory Ford SC parts as possible, is something that i'm trying to do (also because the adage about these cars is that they're "plug and pray" with aftermarket things is true!).


Airbox modifications:

At this point, it's wise to point out that my car just had an accident and was repaired, and has a rebuilt status when I had bought it. So modifications like this next one won't seem like such sacrilege. If it was a super low mile, all original car, I would leave it alone. But in the quest for more power.....

The factory setup has the much maligned air silencer in it--a large, bulky plastic thing that does silence the blower, but I don't want the blower to be quieter, I want it to be louder. I unfortunately didn't take a picture of my own silencer and the removal of it, but found a picture on the Interwebs:

air silencer.JPG

The other thing about the factory airbox is that it is very restrictive, as the silencer hole still remains at the same size, and that is a small fraction of how large the panel filter and upper airbox is. The air filter occupies the whole square area of the airbox, yet there's only that small hole for it to draw air through.


That's likely why the claims of removing the air silencer haven't shown much of a gain. If you look at the bottom half of the airbox where the round parts are, it looks as though that could be removed. I analyzed the metal area below the airbox, and it was a very thin sheet of aluminum. I used a metal cutoff wheel and some tin snips and cut out the pattern that matched the area that I cut out of the air box, and arrived at this:


The ram air tubing is running in there (not yet secured), but there is a significantly larger area for air to be drawn through. The foam edging will help to seal off the intake, as air would otherwise make it in through the thin area between the bottom of the airbox and the surrounding metal below it.

Here's with the modified bottom of the airbox, with the ram air secured to the air area. It's not sealed, which I think allows additional air to flow through the area. When I ran the ram air into the factory hole and sealed it with a rubber coupler, it felt like the car had lost power down low, as if its breathing resources were being choked off. At higher speeds, the ram air felt like it was working, but this particular design allows for some low pressure breathability, as well as a constant direct stream of air from the bumper at higher speeds.


There's not much that can be done with the top half. I looked it over, and I would prefer an angle that uses a wider angle/ range of the air filter area, as some of the tube entrance at the MAF will be drawing in air at an angle. I was thinking of custom designing some sort of airbox that had more of a 45 degree angle, but there's drawbacks to that, too. No point. This will have to do--though, I had radiused and bevelled the opening so that there wasn't as sharp of an edge for air to travel through.


Ram air tube:

It's not perfect, but my original mounting location was slightly under the bumper, which may have helped to draw air in, but it also looked a bit weird when you looked at it. This location is mounted behind the bumper air slots, which would cut down on airflow a bit, but the upside is that it is very hidden and stealthy. If you cannot see it, then that is even better!


Custom M/E Wagner dual adjustable PCV valve:

The idea behind the adjustable PCV valve, is that whenever you modify your engine, the vacuum will be changed. A factory PCV may not be adequate for the changes. Some guys try several valves in the hopes one will work, but there's never any guarantee that the vacuum will be drawing enough resources to vent the crankcase enough. These engine bays are really tight--I had to custom fab a bit of PCV hose to bend a little bit around the transmission dipstick. My idle has been off a little bit in the 'Bird, too......not bad, but a little erratic at times. Hopefully this helps with it. There's an idle circuit, and a cruise circuit, and I hooked a vacuum gauge up to it, but it also looks like there's a slight vacuum leak somewhere, too.

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I decided to finally hunt down a vacuum leak that has bugged me since I bought the car a year and a half ago. I was going to find it. :rage: It's never been a bad vacuum leak, but it has been noticeable enough to affect the air/ fuel ratios at idle, and I suspect that it has affected the air/ fuel at WOT, too. During the summer, the idle problem has never been much of a hassle, but it's in the cooler months of early spring and late fall, when the car takes longer to get up to operating temps. In the short period where the engine is in between slightly warm and almost up to full operating temps, it had an idling problem where I had to keep one foot on the brake, and the other one on the gas pedal with a slightly raised rpm, until the car's engine warmed up enough. I had changed the cam position sensor, thinking that the erratic idle may have been due to that, but no such luck.

In the past, I'd done the carb cleaner trick, and had also sprayed soapy water on all the hoses, and found no problems. It was a couple of hours, at least, trying to search for problems. I suppose that I was hesitant to spend the additional time, because finding the problem may have revealed another one that I may not have wanted to know about, and nobody that I know has a pressure tester, and I think that I just assumed because these cars can be full of gremlins, that it's at the age where it will just naturally be ornery.

The other crappy thing was that after I changed blowers and intake plenums to my upgraded ones, there was still the same vacuum leak. I had made doubly sure to check all the more obscured vacuum lines--the ones on the vacuum tree, etc. Still nothing. This time, I took some hose that I had laying around, and sprayed all the lines, and manually blew through it. A good set of lungs has way more than enough pressure to reveal a vacuum leak (throttle body blade will leak a bit, which is normal, but nothing else should), and I found one on this hose--bubbles coming out, and one that even had a hose clamp on it that was well tightened (the one connected to the U shaped vacuum line):


Low budget, for sure--but effective. The hose was long enough that I could blow into it and look around various parts of the engine--the PCV connections on both valve covers, vacuum tree behind the supercharger, lower intercooler connection, etc. The really good thing to know, is that since I had ported out the intake plenum mouth area that goes into the supercharger probably more than would be advisable (ie: 1/8" of surface area to seal with), that there were no vacuum leaks there, either:


Vacuum gauge reading 19" of Hg at idle. The factory Ford vacuum/ boost gauge has never been known to be very accurate, and getting a reading on a better vacuum gauge was reassuring. There's still a slight fluctuation at idle, but the system isn't dumping additional fuel anymore......you could smell it, especially on start up and in the first couple of minutes of the car being started after sitting all night:



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Forgot to post this a while back when I put on the improved blower--a view of the lower intake manifold, with a gasket matched/ ported/ polished opening from the intercooler/ return plenum. Due to the extremely restricted space in the engine bay, Ford had to put these here, and it's not a very big port to begin with, so hopefully this had created some power and efficiency, though the heads/ cam would still be quite the restriction at this point. I had also wrapped the fuel lines with reflective aluminum tape, in the hopes of keeping detonation down. Blown headgaskets are notorious on these cars, so any additional fuel cooling is welcomed. It was also a great time to make sure that the injectors were properly seated, and to clean out the junk and grease that eventually make their way in between the blower and the manifold.

These engine bays get ridiculously hot. The cooling improvements appear to have worked (so far), as well as the double intercooler/ fan--tell any Super Coupe specialist that you're running a heavily ported late model blower with 10 percent overdrive, along with 15 psi of boost, on stock '89 30 lb injectors and see the reaction they give you :eyetwitch: Ford equips the late model SC's with 36 lb injectors from the factory.


Throttle body coolant bypass hose: Ford had the coolant running through the throttle bodies on various cars (some Mustangs too, I believe), apparently to keep the throttle body from sticking with ice in the winter. Seeing as that I don't drive the SC in winter, and that I want to reduce any underhood/ engine temps, I bypassed the coolant through it:


On the subject of adjusting the TV cable, anyone with an AOD (Mustangs included, obviously) should read this if they are not already acquainted with it:



Part throttle acceleration was greatly improved in my case, and coming from a 4R70W car in my Mustang--as many of us are--going to an AOD equipped car was a whole new thing for me. In boost, the car seems a bit more responsive, but it's when the car is still under vacuum at cruise speeds is when it really is felt the most. Too little of trans pressure will make the car feel sluggish; too much will burn up a transmission.
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75mm Professional Products throttle body installed:


I had got this used, last year, along with my late model blower and double intercooler, off of the same guy, and had ported out the throttle body port to accept the 75 mm TB. Originally, the TB didn't work correctly, as it had a somewhat high idle and would "hang" on the downshifts (or when putting it into reverse). Finding and fixing the vacuum leak had fixed the problem, and the car runs fine. I had also RTV'd the crap out of the shaft bushings areas, just in case. I had also set up the TPS voltage correctly (though that was never the original problem, as I had set it within the acceptable range at that time as well). I'm wondering if the vacuum leak wasn't the problem that was causing the idling issue with the 76mm C&L mass air flow. I'll try that next year.....for now, the 'Bird is in winter storage, though I had bought a set of used heads and lower intake manifold and have been working on those, to put on the car next spring/ summer, along with a hotter cam.


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I'm mostly done porting/ texturing the heads, and am working on some lower intake manifold port designs that should improve velocity. The lower intake manifold isn't the most optimal design, but it had to be designed that way to be crammed into the engine bay. I'd vacuum/ thread tested it, and while the intakes don't flow much on the port roof/ intake roof, there's a wedge shape on the sides of the ports (pointed down) that speeds up the air along the sides to direct it down to the port floor, which is where the airflow is the quickest, and where it has the straightest, highest quality flow. Some guys have said that it's not worth it to port the lower intake manifold, but it appears that one has to be careful of where they remove material from......they've flowed 230-270 cfm out of the intake manifold on the flow bench, but far less than that when it's hooked up to the heads and flow tested that way. I'm wondering if one of the reasons for the airflow drop is hogging out the ports to where the wedge shape is ineffective, or if some people haven't almost removed the wedge shape, altogether.

I wish the SC heads had the multi-angle valve job and tuliped valves that the split ports do, and I wish that the split ports had the nice, flat, straight port floor that the SC ones do.
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Some guys might be interested in this, that are doing an M90 build--Magnum Powers is going to make a bunch of 94/95 Thunderbird Super Coupe (square inlet) M90 intake plenums. These are very difficult to find, as they're not made otherwise made new anymore, and the guys that have them generally don't part with them (unless selling with a modified M90). These are a big factor in making upper RPM power, because they're a much better design than the factory intake plenum, and they flow much more air, with a much straighter path into the supercharger. The price is $495, and if it gets to ten, it goes down to $435. Right now, there's about 5-6 of us that are willing to put down deposits to get these made, so if you know anyone that's interested, here's the official ongoing thread that we have going:


Captain Max Silver

Captain Max Silver
Great Detail Of What You Did. Hope SC Still Running. Ported My 2000 Mustang Upper, Lower And Head Myself It A Lot Of Time To Get Them Right!! (OCD) LOL