Muscle Mustangs & Fast FordsHow To Engine
Ford Mustang MSD Ignition System Install - The Big Squeeze - Tech
How To Upgrade A Nitrous-Sniffing 5.0 With A Proper Ignition System And Larger Jets For Better Performance.
The Rush a power adder can add to your internal combustion engine can be a fulfilling and fun experience. The surge of supercharged horsepower or the instant torque of a nitrous hit is sure to put a smile on any gearhead's face, so long as the sound of said power isn't accompanied by detonation or misfiring. To make sure that doesn't happen with our little black, nitrous-sniffing notchback, we called MSD to upgrade our stock ignition system with high-performance components that are sure to light the fire when the cylinder pressures are rising.
One of the great things about the 5.0 aftermarket are the numerous products that are simple, bolt-in pieces to make things work better. MSD's ignition components are just that, and they make beefing up your ignition system a relatively easy task.
In anticipation of an increased amount of nitrous oxide (we're going for the 150hp jets versus the 100hp ones we used last month), we called MSD and ordered a Digital-6 Plus ignition control, a set of Super Conductor spark plug wires, a Blaster TFI coil, and a TFI adaptor harness.
The Digital-6 Plus control unit ensures better combustion, quicker throttle response, and a smoother idle through a hotter and longer series of sparks. We liked its built-in features that would help us optimize our combination both on and off the bottle. The Digital-6 Plus features a two-step rev control, an adjustable start retard, and a single-stage retard. The single-stage retard will allow us to run increased initial timing while off the bottle, and once the nitrous system is armed, the 12-volt signal triggers the timing retard, so both operating modes are truly optimized.
Installation is fairly easy, and MSD includes excellent directions, with diagrams on how to connect it to a variety of ignition components. Since the control unit needs to be mounted in a dry place, we passed over the engine compartment and mounted the control unit in the trunk. The fact that our subject vehicle is a Fox-body coupe made the decision easy. MSD recommends stepping up one gauge in the wiring, which we did, and with using its adaptor harness, we didn't have to splice into any of the factory wiring, so we could take the unit out quite easily if we needed to.
The MSD spark-plug wires, coil, and cap and rotor were simple remove-and-replace procedures. After 80,000 miles of service, the stock ignition components had served their purpose. Last month, we installed a new Ford Racing Performance Parts Cobra intake manifold and shorty headers on the car, and upon startup, the owner had seen a slight blue flash near the header.
Our Mustang technician, George Xenos, sprayed the spark-plug wires with a mist of water, and we realized the spark was coming out of the No. 7 boot and arcing to the cylinder head. There was no visible damage to the wire or boot, but there was evidently a breach of the insulation, which was allowing the spark to divert from the combustion chamber. Not good, especially considering we're throwing nitrous at the engine and need every flicker of spark we can get.
The new Super Conductor wires solved that problem, and with the Blaster TFI coil and Digital-6 Plus upping the power output, we shouldn't have any issues with lighting the fire, so it's off to the track.
Last month, we headed to Bradenton Motorsports Park in Bradenton, Florida, for the local test-and-tune night and proceeded to drop elapsed times at the wheel of our little '92 coupe. Equipped with an AOD transmission, the Fox-body was less than stellar out of the box, even with a 3.55:1 ring-and-pinion gear change, FRPP underdrive pulleys, and Flowmaster mufflers. That led us to the installation of a Cobra intake manifold, DynoMax shorty headers, and an x midpipe. After those mods, naturally aspirated times dropped from 15.12 to 14.55 at 97 mph (thanks in part to some cooler air), and with the Nitrous Express fogger chilling the chambers, the coupe charged to a 13.06 at 111 mph.
That was with the 100hp jets in the Shark nozzle. This month, we looked to use the 150hp jets and possibly improve our N/A time since we were now able to run 14 degrees of initial timing versus the 10 we had before the MSD. The Digital-6 Plus was set to retard the timing 4 degrees when the nitrous was armed. On Ford muscle alone, though, we managed a 14.67 at 96.59 mph. This was obviously slower than the last time we were out, but the ambient temperature was also quite a bit warmer. Seeing that performance had dropped off, we thought we should go back to the 100hp jets first, and then run the 150 shot for a better comparison. With the 100hp jets, the coupe cruised to a 13.21 at 108.99 mph.
Switching over to the big 150hp squirters, our first effort stopped the clocks in 13.06 seconds at 112.48 mph. Massive tire spin slid the back of the car sideways when the nitrous came in. The track surface was fading, but with the nitrous hitting about 80 feet out, the car was well planted when the nitrous engaged. We're guessing the relatively small 245 series drag radials we used just weren't up to the task. Despite the wheelspin, we picked up 0.2 second over the 100 shot, but that's not indicative of what the 150hp setup is capable of.
On our next attempt, we heated the tires a bit more. They spun, but not as much, and our second attempt logged a 13.04 at 111.84 mph. Unfortunately, we couldn't dip into the 12s, as our subsequent passes-13.14, 13.10 and 13.12-all blazed the tires at the nitrous hit.
On another recent trip to the track, we encountered a serious threat that we need to address in short order. We watched a black Nissan Titan run a 14.91, while its opponent in the opposite lane, a brand-new Tundra crew cab, ran 14.59. With our little ponycar barely running a headlight ahead of those two, we're definitely going to have to pick up the Ford muscle and hustle a little bit.
Next month, we'll install some low-buck bolt-ons, but we definitely have to do some-thing about the traction issue. We need it to stick whether the track is good or not, so we may look into a wider tire/rim combo and possibly some control arms. Stay tuned.