Mark Houlahan
Brand Manager, Mustang Monthly
February 1, 2006
Photos By: The Manufacturers

For many of us who drive a fuel-injected car every day, we often take the easy-starting, rock-solid drivability and excellent fuel economy for granted. Let's face it, the last Ford to roll off the assembly line with a carburetor was sometime in the late '80s, over 15 years ago. But when the weekend rolls around, we hop in our classic Fords for a cruise and think nothing of the extended crank times, rough idle, and having to wait for the choke and the car to warm up. Why is that? Is it because carburetors are classic, just like the car? Could be. But I'd hazard a guess that most people are just scared of installing a fuel-injection system to replace the touchy carburetor. Well, we're going to exorcise those demons and open your mind to fuel-injecting your ride, or any classic Ford for that matter.

At the least, fuel-injecting your classic Ford requires an intake manifold compatible with other fuel-injection components, a series of sensors and actuators (i.e., inputs and outputs of the system), a computer to run the electronics, and a fuel system capable of carrying the high fuel pressure modern EFI requires. Does this mean you need to drop a complete 5.0 engine and high-dollar aftermarket fuel tank into your classic Ford? No, although that is one way of fuel-injecting your Ford. We're going to discuss the many options you have, from stock, used fuel-injection parts to complete turnkey EFI systems for street or strip, and the ancillary components necessary to make everything work.

If you're looking for the same easy-to-use factory electronics but want to purchase your system new, you have a few choices, like the one from Mass-Flo. Mass-Flo uses factory Ford electronics with a GM mass air meter mounted within the air-cleaner housing itself.

"But which one is right for me?" you're asking. We'll discuss that too. The available systems on the market can handle everything from a stock 289 driver to a 500hp stroked 351. Of course, even if there isn't a fuel-injection intake manifold made for your setup, it doesn't mean you can't run fuel injection. Get a bit more creative with your system by installing your own injector fittings, creating your own fuel rails, and so on. It's not impossible, just a bit more difficult. But can you think of a better wow factor than the sight of a fuel-injected straight-six under the hood of a Maverick?

We only have so much room within our pages to cover the available EFI systems, so we recommend picking up some quality literature on fuel injection and/or checking out various fuel-injection Web sites if you're thinking of adding EFI to your classic Ford. So read on and learn, then go out to the garage, open your hood, and imagine that sweet-running EFI system sitting there on your classic Ford-I know I am.

Factory-Based EFI
Using what Ford has in the parts bin is often a smart choice. You can purchase your swap parts new or used and the system is simple to work on, only needing a few wires spliced into your car for the system to run autonomously. The Ford-based systems can be serviced at any Ford dealer or any repair shop familiar with the Ford EEC-IV/EEC-V system, and emergency repair parts are as close as your Ford dealer or auto parts chain.

With a little patience and a big board, you can rework your own harnesses for your conversion.

Unfortunately, Ford Racing no longer sells a swap harness in its catalog, but you can often find the same type of harness in a 5.0 HO-equipped Ford such as the '86-'93 Mustangs or the '86-'93 Lincoln Mark VIIs. If planning modifications, you'll want the mass air meter-equipped version of this EEC-IV system, so make sure you know what you're buying. Some late-model Mustang-specific salvage companies, like All Mustang Recycling and Mustang Parts Specialties, specialize in these swaps and can set you up with everything you need for your classic-Ford or kit-car project. Expect to pay as little as $100 to around $500 depending on the items required and their new or used status.

Here's a custom-made harness from DVS Restorations for use in an early street rod.

Plight of the Modular Swap
If you're thinking of going with modular motivation for your next classic Ford Restomod project, fear not: You can still utilize factory electronics, but there's a bit more work involved. We spoke with DVS Restorations about swapping the 4.6 mod motor, and while it's not for the faint of heart, they tell us it's possible. First off, the modular system is more integrated into the main body harness than the 5.0 EEC-IV of the past. Getting the engine harness out of the car doesn't necessarily mean you'll get your modular up and running. Other subsystems are needed and DVS recommends getting as much of the car's wiring as possible. You might consider buying a wrecked car for the wiring and electronics. The harnesses for modulars are model specific and you can't mix and match between car lines easily. With enough of the car's harness, a good wiring manual, and plenty of patience, you can get it done. There are always aftermarket solutions, which we'll discuss shortly.

DVS Restorations sells the SDS EEC-V computer system which works with the original engine-harness components.

Aftermarket Options
While the Ford EEC-IV and EEC-V fuel-injection systems are reliable and feature easily-sourced hardware, the performance tuning of the system leaves something to be desired. Ask any late-model Mustang owner, especially the EEC-IV-based systems, and they'll tell you that getting the computer to handle performance upgrades requires custom-burnt chips that are plugged into the processor, assuming your PCM still has a J3 test-port. The EEC-V system is a little easier because you can flash tune the processor with a hand-held programmer, but these programmers use either preset "tunes" or have limited tuning capabilities for full fuel-injection modifications required by a custom EFI setup like the ones discussed here.

One of the big problems with mod motor conversions is the harness. This is a shot of the main computer-to-engine harness connector.

Using an aftermarket EFI setup offers great tunability via the included controller or a laptop, depending upon the system. This advanced tuning might have a steeper learning curve, but in the end, the system is more adaptable to the needs of the engine's induction demands. With many aftermarket systems, you can also have complete one-stop shopping since the major players feature their own line of fuel system components (pumps, filters, line, fittings, and so on), sensors, ignitions, and more through a catalog or sister companies.

Help Is On the Way
If your idea of fuel injecting a classic Ford is dropping a late-model Ford 5.0 fuelie into your ride, then you'll need some help with various connections and sub systems. We spoke with several companies, including Mustangs Plus, Reen Machine, and Ron Morris Performance, about dropping a 5.0 into a classic Ford or Mustang: Here are some great tips and time-saving products.

Edelbrock's Performer RPM Pro-Flo EFI system is a port-injection based system with a central-mounted throttle body.

The Do's and Don'ts of Fuel-Injecting Your Ford
While speaking with various shops and manufacturers about this story, we came up with some great tips for purchasing EFI parts and performing the installation.

Be careful when using a late-model induction setup (the stock two-piece intake manifold) with early iron heads. The ports don't match up well and you can have a coolant leak. Inspect the alignment carefully or use an aftermarket intake.

If swapping a late-model engine into a classic, use an RMP alternator harness adapter to connect the modern alternator to your stock wiring with plug-in simplicity.

All late-model cars use some sort of fuel-pump shutoff in the event of a collision. You can use an OE or aftermarket-style inertia switch wired into the fuel pump wiring circuit to shut down the pump in the event of an impact.

When choosing where to return the EFI's high-pressure fuel to the fuel tank, many people use the filler neck. While this works, it puts a fuel line inside the vehicle. A better idea is to use the RMP fuel sender with a return-line fitting or the drain-plug fitting if the tank is equipped. An even better idea is to use a Fuel Safe EFI tank with safety bladder.

Factory EFI fuel tanks have baffles or an internal sump to keep fuel at the pick-up in the tank during all driving conditions. This is important on an EFI application since the fuel is moving so much faster. Solve this problem by installing a small surge tank just before the fuel pump to ensure a constant supply of fuel to the pump.

The fuel in an EFI fuel system is also used as a cooling medium for the fuel injectors. It gets hot sitting in the fuel rails and squeezing through the regulator on its way back to the fuel tank. Keeping fuel lines away from the hot under-hood area and under-car heat sources, keeping your exhaust system away from the fuel tank, and employing heat shields can help keep your fuel cool.