By Anthony DiPietro
Photos by Austin Akins
Ah, yes, my own little pet street project. Well, after wrestling all the tubing into place and turning the key to make sure it still ran, I had to refit the nose onto the car. If you remember back to part one (http://www.carsillustrated.com/project-street-beast-part-1-of-3/), this intercooler kit is designed for a fox body GT where the lower front portion of the bumper flares out forward. I have an LX whose lower bumper folds in and back. Can you say, “Interference fit?” Yeah, I knew you could. Well, out came my good buddy the sawzall, and over a three hour period one sunny sunday afternoon, I test fit, cut more, test fit, cut some MORE, and finally got the nose to sit on the car so I could bolt it on. I ended up removing the center three little ribs that connect the upper to lower bumper, leaving the outer two to shoulder the burden, cut away the upper part of the lower bumper, and trimmed the inner corner of the passenger side headlight bucket. It ain’t pretty but it fits. The lower still pushes against the grille but that helps keep it steady so I’ll leave it for now. Looks mean peeking out of there .
So, it starts and it runs. Now, we got to tune the thing. Those of you who may know me, know I hate to let anyone else touch my cars. And, since this is a pretty basic set up I thought I’d try tuning it myself. After speaking with half a dozen tuners nationwide, watching a few buddies get their late model S197’s tuned and seeing what was done, I had a pretty good handle on what was needed. My car was chipped to run with the lumpy cam I have so many years ago that I forget who did it, but I had high hopes it would handle the new set up. I have run the car without O2 sensors hooked up ever since I pulled the cats off two years ago – runs better that way with my set up .
As an aside, most late model cars which can be fine tuned to death usually pull no timing below 3000rpm, then start pulling timing by pulling about 1/2 a degree per pound of boost and go 1 to 1 above 5,000 rpm for cars running 10 to 12 lbs of total boost.
Since you can’t do that with just a basic fox body computer, most tuners use an MSD Boost Master and set it to pull 1 degree of timing per one pound of boost .
Well ok, we’ll start there , I installed the MSD boost master up behind the battery and T-ed the vacuum line into the same line that hooks to the blow off valve, set it at 1 to 1 to start off, set the fuel pressure at 45 pounds, and went for the first cruise with my bud Rick helping watch the gauges. Whoops, first hard pull is way lean. After two more tries, we ended up with 56 lbs of fuel pressure and acceptable air/fuel ratios .
Now to find an open stretch of road and really lean on this bitch! First hard pull up into 4th gear showed 7-8 lbs of boost at 6,000 rpm and HOLY HELL, this thing pulls like a fright train. Think I’m gonna like this boost stuff. Since no sign of knock or pre-ignition was heard, I decided to pull the timing back a bit less and rotated the dial to only pull 1/2 degree of timing per pound of boost. WOW! The tires and suspension were totally overwhelmed, spinning the Nitto NT-05’s through 1st, 2nd, and into 3rd from a roll before finally hooking up and rocketing this little 3300lb beast down the road.
The first thing that we noticed was that we were only seeing 7-8 lbs of boost instead of the promised 10 lbs. A little think tank action among friends, and we figured that the nasty overlap on my lumpy cam was likely allowing some boost to wash right through the cylinder. I’m sure a swap to a blower grind cam would up the boost, but I love the lumpy idle of my car and it’s street manners down low. And, I ain’t giving any of that up.
Maybe a smaller blower pulley come spring? Well see.
So, how does it drive? In two words- FRIGGIN’ AWESOME! Reminds me of my old big block duster – lots of torque, run it up to 3200 rpm or so between shifts, and you hear the blow off valve chirp on the shift. Cruising to a couple local car shows with some buddies, most drive late model GTs with big boost. I can hang with them door to door running up through the gears instead of falling back as they come on boost. And when I pop the hood at local car shows all that polished piping draws a crowd
I was initially worried about part throttle drive-ability since a few knowledgeable people felt that having the mass air mounted so far forward away from the blower would cause it to surge at part throttle, but it seems CXracing knew what they were doing when they designed that long air intake tubing. This car starts better, drives better, and one of my biggest annoyances – the fact that I couldn’t run in traffic in 5th gear below about 1350 rpm without the car surging and bucking, forcing me to downshift – is now completely gone! I can now lug the car down to 1000rpm in 5th gear in traffic and it just purrs along .
Ah, but I bet I know what you’re all saying to yourselves at this point – get to the point, HOW GADDAM FAST IS IT NOW? HEH-HEH .
Well, you race guys know that mph is a function of HP, while ET is more a function of torque and traction. If you don’t know, you can always use a busted-tire spinning run’s trap speed (MPH) divided into 1320 feet (a quarter mile ) to show what a cars capable of on a perfect run (ET).
That said my car had always run high 12s to low 13s at about 105 mph which meant on a perfect hooked up run it should go right around 12.85 , my previous best being a 12.96 at 105 .
So on a quiet wednesday night at Englishtown, I topped off the tank with 93 octane high test, grabbed my helmet and headed to the start line. Knowing that on my street tires, even aired down to 26 pounds, traction was gonna be non-existent, I set my goal as just getting it through the traps at 110 mph or better as that would equate to an 11-second pass.
First run after a light dry burn out, spun 1st, shortshifted 2nd, spun some more but feathered the gas, got it hooked, hit the rev limiter, cursed some more, grabbed 3rd and 4th, and held on. Thinking that was gonna suck, imagine my shock when the scoreboard lit up with 12.40@ 118mph!!!! Ladies and gents, that’s low 11-second territory. You can imagine my grin. A quick cool down and a way more aggressive burn out dropped the ET to the low 12s but still ran 118 mph. With only a 2.40 short time!
(My other ‘Stang , a 331 n/a set up with a c-4 trans that gets perfect traction runs 11.20’s at 118 in the heat with a 1.50 short time .)
This time when I let up in the traps the car went to the right. WTF was that?
Heading back up for a 3rd pass, when I dropped the clutch on the burnout I heard a loud bang through the chassis. I staged anyway, but when I let the clutch up and heard the same bang, I knew something in the suspension had given up the ghost, so I shut it down and coasted through. Further examination showed that the cheap lower control arms had pulled the center bolt right through the bushing, cutting it in half and allowing it to move forward and back. We were done.
So, was it worth it? HELL YEAH IT WAS. Remember, this was no magazine bought or donated parts story. I bought this shit with my own hard earned bucks to improve my ride the way I wanted to. I busted my knuckles on my car to satisfy my urge to make it better. I spent around $4400 of my own money to go from high 12’s to bottom 11’s, and I got a car that now plasters a grin on my face every damn time I drive it, draws attention everywhere I show it, and rarely loses a street race anymore. Am I happy with it? Damn, man I’m ecstatic.
And, as I have now replaced the entire rear suspension with some new Maximum Motorsports solid bushed control arms, come October at my club’s Fall track rental, a set of drag radials will be bolted on so I can throw a true 11-second timeslip in the glove box. And, who knows, if it’s cool enough out, maybe add a little more timing and try for a 10-second pass….?
Thanks for sticking around. Maybe I’ll be back with a Part 4 to this beast’s story.