Tommy Lee Byrd
March 12, 2010

These days, it's not hard to find a really powerful four-cylinder or V-6 engine, and many enthusiasts are beginning to realize Ford had a pretty good thing going with the 2.3L turbo engine. It will run forever, take a serious beating and get good gas mileage all the while. The little SOHC engine was stuffed under the hoods of countless Ford vehicles, but its highest point came in the Mustang SVO and the '87-'88

Thunderbird Turbo Coupe. With more than 200hp on stock boost settings and ultra-restrictive exhaust, the little screamers made these cars very fun to drive. Not to mention the fact that some of the Turbo Coupes came with manual transmissions and limited slip 8.8-inch rearends make them all the more inviting for engine swap fodder.

Josh Dillon bought an '88 Turbo Coupe a few years back and kept it basically stock for a while, but he certainly put it through the wringer. The car had well over 250,000 miles on it, but it handled the everyday thrashings, which included thousands of donuts and lots of hard shifts. Leave it to a car guy to mess up a good thing-Josh just had to start trying to make it fast. Small modifications here and there led to the car's demise, as a little too much boost killed the original head gasket. He'd driven the car for quite some time, so it was hard to let go of such a good drivetrain. Josh stripped the car and scrapped it, but kept the turbo-charged four-cylinder, five-speed trans and 8.8-inch rear. He then looked for another car, one that would be lighter than the T-bird and something a little more attractive. Wanting an early Falcon but having a tight budget, Josh settled for a '73 Maverick when a good deal came up. The car was actually a Grabber with a running V-8 in it, but this was to be his next four-banger hot rod.

Josh started on the project with this mindset: "Build a unique car and use my old four-cylinder, so I can drive it everyday and get decent fuel mileage." He stuck with that plan all the way through the project and created a cool car with a very deceiving look and sound. He's not finished with it, as his profession is bodywork and paint and he plans to completely restore it someday-whenever he feels like parking it long enough to strip it down and give it a fresh coat. For now, he's having way too much fun driving it and getting 29 mpg with an estimated 400 hp at the mercy of his right foot. See what it took to build this low-buck Maverick and check out the photos of Josh thrashing on it and start looking for your own low-buck project to build. You never know when you might stumble upon a wrecked Turbo Coupe, Merkur, Mustang SVO, or other Ford with a spicy drivetrain to give your classic some modern, fuel-efficient fun.

Josh started on the project with this mindset: "Build a unique car and use my old four-cylinder, so I can drive it everyday and get decent fuel mileage"

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