Project Street Beast, Part 2

Text by Anthony DiPietro
Photos by Austin Akins Photography
Ah yes , the proverbial lure of a faster car.  The base desire to go faster than the other guy that is the bane of hot rodders bank accounts the world over. And, I am no exception.  As chronicled in part 1 (,  I have managed to build a relatively quick little street car out of an 87 Fox-body Mustang for a modest investment. It drives well, handles great, shows well at car shows, (even managing a 1st place in class at Fords at Carlisle last year ), and can manage a high 12 sec pass at the drag strip.

Pretty good eh?  Nah ,the engine compartment is a little plain, so let’s rip it apart and make it “better”, lol.

After acquiring the high output Vortech blower  and Cxracing air to air intercooler kit, the first order of business I figured was getting the intercooler and it’s myriad assemblage of pipes  and silicone connectors shoehorned into the front of the car.

First order of business was to remove the nose cone off the car and fit the main body of the cooler


intercooler 008


intercooler 009


After trying to get the main body of the intercooler mounted correctly going off the pictures provided with the kit – there are NO instructions provided – it was quickly realized that this was NOT going to be a “bolt in ” experience.  So, as always in these case , I was quick to resort to my favorite installation tool, the sawzall!
First to be removed were the inner tabs on the bumper reinforcement mount, followed quickly by many chunks and pieces of the bumper reinforcement itself.  A quick aside here, while I had planned to remove the entire bumper brackets, shocks and fiber support and replace it with one of the available cheap light tube bumpers, the intercooler actually mounts to the bumper shock supports so I decided to work with that .

First stumbling block was realizing that the cooler support bracket for the driver side had the mounting holes incorrectly drilled.  There is a close spaced set of holes on the cooler and a wide spaced set on the shock mounts.  Mine had both sets closely spaced – so out came the drill and a new set of holes drilled.

After a quick test fit of the nose of the car, it was quickly judged that there was not nearly enough room to avoid cutting the crap out of the lower bumper.  In an effort to avoid as much mangling of the pretty, painted virgin bumper, we was decided to modify the mounts slightly so they could be mounted behind the bumper brackets and a bit higher, despite the instructional pictures showing it in front.  This, of course, required breaking out the good ol’ sawzall again and lopping off the ends of the ears that mount the air conditioning condenser to gain a few precious millimeters of room.  After punching a few gratuitous holes in the fiberglass bumper reinforcement so we could eyeball the tight spots, we mocked up the lower hoses and then decided it would be better to mount the blower and intake tube and work our way downstream to fit the piping in case we need to “modify” (read:  hammer and cut ) along the way in spots that were not easily visible.


intercooler 010


intercooler 009


Despite being very annoyed to realize that only the head unit and intake tube were black powdercoated in the kit, I decided to press ahead with the installation.  When out for the inevitable rebuild,  I will have all the brackets blacked out at a future date.  Quickly pulling the radiator, fan, and alternator, we bolted up the blower support brackets and lower pulley.


blower 002


Problem numero three, despite my aftermarket high output alternator conforming to Vortech’s stated 3 inch mount pad measurement, when it was all mounted up, the alternator pulley was approximately a 1/4 inch too far forward which preventing the accessory belts from lining up. (grumbling and cursing were heard at this point for the third time)

So, once again the almighty sawzall was pressed into service to cut a 1/4 inch slice off the back of the alternator mount which was then replaced with washers acting as spacers on the front side to bring the recalcitrant pulley into line.  After this minor mod, the rest of the blower mount was pretty straight forward.  It was now time to move on to remounting the electric fan and fan controller and the intercooler pipes .


blower 006



Ah, the pipes.  See that little oval hole to the left of the blower in the fender? Yeah, that’s the left over air filter feed hole that both of the intercooler pipes are supposed to route through.  Yeah, not gonna happen.  After wrestling with both pipes, the silicone angle adapters and the clamps to connect them for an hour.  You guessed it, out came the sawzall and a body saw to enlarge the opening a wee bit so my fat fingers could get in there and connections could be made .

As we quit work for the day another ugly problem reared its head.  Trying to close the hood revealed that the blower actually hit the hood.  A quick survey showed us that the combination of the Maximum Motorspots K-frame and Pro-Thane motor mounts had the motor sitting a bit too proud in the bay.  Luckily, I had a set of solid motor mounts handy that were destined for my other car that were quickly installed alleviating that clearance issue by scant millimeters and, despite the naysayers, has not noticeably increased any vibrations in the car .

While the radiator was a straight bolt in, finding room for my two-speed fan controller was problematical.  We finally solved this by bolting it up behind the passenger side headlight, but I’ll neaten that up and redo it eventually .


Which brought us to the two-speed Lincoln fan I run.  Said fans are super cheap on ebay and in junkyards across America, mount easily, and cool fantastically.  Of course, with space at a premium, the fan now came into contact with the large Vortech lower crank pulley.  A little trimming of the mounting pads to bring it closer to the radiator and pulling it up high and to the driver side managed to get it in there with little space to spare.  If you can see it in the photo, that fan motor bolt is almost kissing the pulley.  Thank God for solid motor mounts.  Next time I have the radiator out, I’ll grind that bolt mount a bit to enlarge the clearance.  Spacers and new bolts, along with flipping the mounting bracket over, let us move the overflow tank to the passenger side for now.  I’m not satisfied with the look but will address it at a future date.





Which brings us back to the intercooler pipes.  Ah, the pipes.  SIGH, the pipes.  How can I explain how much I hated those pipes while installing them?  They can only fit one way; must go in in a certain order; and scrape and rub on each other as they sit into their assigned positions.  Of course, all the hose connections are for stock components, so the intake elbow was 3 inch to 3 inch, while I have a larger 3 1/4 inch throttle body.  I ordered a blue or black coupling on ebay from China, a red one showed up.  Fine for now, SIGH.  The black adapter from the blower kit was pressed into service to mount the outlet elbow to the supercharger body feeding down to the cooler since it was a bit longer and seemed to hold better.  The two pipe nipples that mount the blow off valve lined up well, but of course were too long , not allowing the valve to fit.  So, yeah, you guessed it … sawzall time again .

I’ll leave you all here with a couple pictures of the pipes squeezed into their final configuration making an impressive under hood statement .

cooler 002

Come back next week when I can cry to you, um, I mean explain and show how much cutting was required on my front bumper, and we’ll test run it, get into tuning it, and hopefully get it to the track and see if the performance was worth the money invested and the work involved. Damn well better be !



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