Miles Cook
September 1, 2002

V-6 PerformanceI have a '94 Coupe with a 3.8-liter V-6 and a five-speed. I'm looking into what I can do get a little more power and have been thinking about a Borla exhaust system. Are there better choices for a V-6? What else can be done to assist the breathing? I have replaced the air filter with a K&N, but it's still in the factory box. Does the throttlebody need replacing? Can you also give me a laundry list of other enhancements I could do, keeping in mind I am one of the poorer folks out there? As such, I'm looking at doing it in stages to spread the cost out over time.

I would also like to know what I could do to reduce the clutch pedal travel. There seems to be a lot of travel before engagement. Is the only solution clutch replacement? If so, what is the best one to go with? Also, will the stock or aftermarket sway bars for a GT or Cobra bolt onto the V-6 car without any extra hassles?

One more thing: If I put on a set of 17-inch wheels from a newer GT or Cobra, will it affect speedometer accuracy? Thanks very much for your assistance.Michael CoxHalifax, Nova Scotia, Canada

A supercharger is a great way to go for real V-6 performance, but they're pricey. A mild nitrous kit with about a 75hp hit would also wake up the flavor on your car for a lot fewer Canadian bucks compared to a blower. The Borla exhaust system would make a fine upgrade on your car, as would just about any of the others. Shop with an eye on price and let that help guide your decision. And don't let another effective change go unnoticed-lower rear-axle gears. Your car has a 3.27 ratio. Switching to a 3.55 or 3.73 gearset would make a big difference in how quickly the car accelerates off the line.

As far as your clutch, it sounds like the cable might need to be adjusted for wear. If, or when, the clutch might need to be replaced, a factory Ford one would work fine or one from aftermarket sources such as Centerforce (928/771-8422,

Larger antisway bars from either the aftermarket or from a GT/Cobra should bolt onto your car with no trouble. Finally, the 17-inch wheel combo might affect your speedometer accuracy slightly, but not enough to cause any worry. For those wheels, tires, and antisway bars, check out a story in the June, 2002 issue of Mustang Monthly that takes a look at Saleen's (800/888-8945, takeoff parts program. "Clear for Takeoff" appears on page 86 of that issue and it discusses a great way to acquire parts to upgrade V-6 Mustangs.

Better Fuel Economy?Besides owning a '71 Mustang convertible, a '71 Mach 1, and a '71 Shelby Europa SportsRoof, I recently acquired an '87 GT convertible with an AOD automatic. I have a few questions about this car. At about 65 mph, the car gets about 15 mpg. Is this typical for a 5.0L? Since fuel here in Europe is nearly $4 a gallon, I'm wondering if there's any way to improve this a little. The car has the factory 2.73:1 gears, the stock AOD, and has about 108,000 miles on the odometer. Is it a good thing to swap the gears to a lower ratio (higher number)?

Also, can I change the way the transmission shifts so it shifts at a higher engine speed without any added throttle input? Because of the really tall 2.73 gears, the car shifts at about 2,000 rpm and the engine runs about 1,600-1,800 rpm at 60 mph.

I also have a problem with the headlights. When I drive with them on for a long period, sometimes the lights go off for a while and then come back on. Is this a common problem on these cars? How can I fix it? Thanks in advance.Edwin Van BeurdenVia the internet

I've recently run across the same situation on a '95 GT convertible with an automatic. Unfortunately, you're both in sort of the same boat as far as owning the heaviest type of Mustang-a GT convertible-with an automatic transmission. As far as my friend's thirsty '95, a colleague of mine suggested maybe the car just needs a new pair of oxygen sensors to improve fuel consumption a little. That might help for your car, too.

In any case, don't expect your car to get mileage as god as a Fox-body V-8 Mustang on the other end of the weight spectrum-an LX 5.0 sedan with a manual trans. Compared to the sedan body style (as well as the transmission type, which not only is a weight issue but a drivetrain issue since any car gets better fuel mileage with a manual transmission versus an otherwise identical model with an automatic), your car is about 200-300 pounds heavier, which partially explains why the '90 LX sedan I used to own would routinely knock down about 22 mpg on a regular basis. Its five-speed manual trans helped, too. Since your car has 108,000 miles on it, maybe it just needs a traditional tuneup with new spark plugs and a new distributor cap and rotor. Take a look at the engine timing as well. If it's too far advanced or retarded, that might have an effect on fuel economy. I'd say a good balanced setting for good fuel economy and optimum engine performance would be around 11-12 degrees initial-a hair more than the factory setting, but not enough to require higher-octane (more expensive) gas. Don't forget to remove the spout connector on the distributor wiring harness when setting the timing. With the car tuned up, you might get another 2-3 mpg, which seems reasonable for a heavy GT convertible with an automatic.

Changing to a lower (numerically higher) gear ratio might help some. Even though I love freeway-flier gearing, the 2.73 is still a bit much. If nothing else, the gear swap will make the car drive better and take the engine out of the range where it always seems to be lugging. Since you want to keep the car fuel efficient, I'd probably go with a 3.08 ratio-maybe a 3.27. But that might hurt gas mileage. While many enthusiasts run a 3.55 (or a 3.73 ratio for cars with automatics) for more off-the-line acceleration, these make the car use more fuel. Try the 3.08 and see what happens. Even if the mileage doesn't change, the car will still feel slightly more lively from a stop and the engine cruise speed will be about 1,900 rpm at 60 mph-just right, in my estimation.

Installing a shift-improver kit would likely help the shifting schedule of the AOD or you could try a modified valvebody, available from Performance Automatic (800/767-8174, There are also options for different torque converters that various U.S. transmission shops offer but that, of course, would require removing the trans from the car.

Finally, I don't recall the headlight glitch you mentioned as being problematic on Fox-body Mustangs fleet-wide. It sounds like a short in the headlight wiring system-or maybe just a faulty switch in the dash. Either way, you could start with a test light or ultimately take the car to an electrical shop and have them chase the problem down for you.

A Wheel ShineI have a '92 Vibrant Red 5.0 LX convertible feature car that I bought new and drove daily for eight years. I am now in the process of restoring it and I'm having difficulty restoring the wheels to their original Pearl White finish, mostly due to brake-dust staining and 48,000 miles of wear and tear. Do you know of any source for white replica replacement wheels? I've tried many of the restoration companies that advertise in your magazine, but can't find the wheels in white. If I can't find replacements, do you have any suggestions on the best way to restore what I have, if they are restorable? Any help would be greatly appreciated. Patti MooreSpringfield, MO

These final Fox-body feature car LX ragtops have always been great cars, so this sounds like a worthwhile resto project. Even if you could find a set of replacement wheels, I would keep the car's original wheels under any circumstances. As is always the case with restoration work, the more original parts you have that can still be used, the better.

I don't see why your wheels couldn't be brought back to their original luster. They just need to be repainted like any body panel on the car itself. I'd surmise that a body shop that does quality work would be able to help you. Just like repainting a car, the shop could prep the wheels by either sanding them or chemically stripping them down to the bare aluminum. They might even fill in any imperfections with a light usage of filler, then repaint them in a spray booth with the correct color (a good shop could research and mix the color for you) and finish the job with a clearcoat application. Of course, you would have to take the wheels off the car and remove the tires from the wheels, but that's no big deal. It might cost you as much as buying another set of wheels, but with a unique car such as yours, having the original wheels is the best way to go. Good luck with your project.

Helping Out Those V-6ersI've seen the responses to some of your readers who want to modify their late-model V-6 Mustangs. I thought I would let you know of a very informative enthusiast Web site dedicated to V-6 performance. Called, it has a great bulletin board with tons of information about modifying the V-6. Cams, roller rockers, stroker kits, etc. are all available. Thanks for taking the time to read this. I enjoy your magazine and have been reading it now for the better part of 20 years.Bruce ParkerVia the internet

Thanks for the info, Bruce. It sounds like the V-6 movement is really catching on. You V-8 guys better keep an eye out! Don't make the same mistake I did when lining up next to a turbo Buick and thinking, "Ahh, it's only a V-6."

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