Modified Mustangs & FordsHow To Engine
50 Ford Performance Tips & Tricks
Half a Hundred Ways to Improve Your Ford's Performance
In maintaining our emphasis on Ford restomod performance, we offer these insights into making your Mustang or other vintage Ford run with the best out there. Whether it's horsepower, handling, or braking, there's something here for whatever project you're working on. Take a little time and study our list, and see how many of these pointers apply to your high-performance Ford.
If the engine you,'re planning for next season has aluminum heads in the formula, remember that you can be more liberal with your compression ratio. The superior heat-dissipating qualities of aluminum allow you to run a higher compression ratio than would be possible with cast-iron heads. Some new cars equipped with aluminum heads have a compression ratio as high as 10:1. Your aluminum-headed mill can go this high, too, as long as you run premium gas.
More Voltage, Less Filling
In the never-ending quest to keep weight off the front wheels, many Ford owners opt to move the battery to the trunk. While this does help, it involves lots of work in routing heavy cable all the way to the trunk, which leads to considerable voltage loss because of the distance of the battery from the starter. One great compromise is a dry cell battery. They,'re so light that weight is not much of a factor. These batteries are also very small, so they fit easily in special applications. Ours has lots of cranking power and has never let us down. Also, tech inspectors at the dragstrip like them because there,'s no liquid acid to worry about.
Another advantage to using an electric fuel pump is that a fuel cutoff switch can be mounted inside the car in a secret location. This is a low-buck anti-theft device that's worth lots more than some of the expensive car alarms we've seen.
Soak Your Header Gaskets
One problem you may be having with your headers is recurring leaks. A simple trick we use to solve this problem is to soak our paper-based header gaskets in water overnight before installation. This causes them to swell up and make a better seal. Fire the engine, and the heat will cure them into the correct position.
Ice, 'Er Down
Ever wonder why they sell so much ice at the dragstrip? They,'re not putting it in their beer cooler. Ice down that intake manifold after each run and your engine will get a colder, denser, fuel/air charge on the next run. We all know that a cool charge packs more punch, just make sure to put the ice in a bag first so you,'re not leaking water all over the track!
We've noticed that our EFI conversion cars are very sensitive to distributor timing advancement. Although the 9:1 compression engines will run fine on 87-octane regular fuel, our 5.0 likes more advance than 87 fuel will tolerate, and ping or detonation is the result. Rather than retard the timing, we're buying 92-octane premium fuel because the performance difference on the freeway on-ramp is dramatic. The improvement is well worth the extra cost.
You may not believe this, but the truth is that high-voltage ignitions can create an ionized condition under your distributor cap. When this happens, you'll often get a miss that is impossible to diagnose because the ions allow the spark to travel along wrong pathways under the cap. Lift the cap to inspect the rotor, and so on, and the ions dissipate, so the miss goes away--but just for a while. The solution is to drill a 1/8-inch hole in the rear of your distributor cap. This allows the ions to escape. We know this sounds far-fetched, but if you don't believe us, look at a new 5.0 distributor cap. You'll see that Ford has the vent already built right in on the top of the cap. It's covered by that little black, loose cover.