Muscle Mustangs & Fast Fords
Project Smog-Legal Killer - Little Mods Equal Big Gains
Project Smog-Legal Killer receives affordable mods that will protect our investment and maximize the combo.
If the capabilities of the failsafe feature aren't enough, the gauges can also store up to three hours of onboard data-logging memory at 25-hertz per second, and can also be connected to a stand-alone computer for greater capabilities. It's also affordable at $316.35, and looks damn cool with its LED perimeter ring and full-color Organic Light Emitting Diode inner screen. The gauge comes with multiple face-plate covers and can be configured in dozens of combinations. Want your info in the middle screen and the boost to rise around the edges with the LEDs? Sure. Or maybe you want boost or a/f ratio solely displayed on both screens. You can have that too—it's all user-selectable.
We inconspicuously housed them in the center stack with a gauge plate from Latemodel Restoration. This quality aluminum panel retains the radio slot, while adding a spot for three gauges. Speaking of multiple gauges, since our coupe has dual exhaust, we opted for two AEM gauges, one for each bank of cylinders. Those with a Y-pipe or single setup can get away with a sole gauge, but we wanted the utmost protection.
As for the actual execution of our failsafe feature, we decided that pulling timing during a lean condition was the best method of protection. Since the Vortech V-3 Si super- charger kit came with an MSD 6 BTM, we opted to also use the MSD 8982 Timing Control Unit to pull timing on command. The 8982 is a nifty add-on that not only allows the timing to be retarded during cranking to help fire-off a high-compression motor, but it also has a single-stage, high-rpm timing activation that can be used to pull timing for nitrous applications, to preserve a race motor against rising combustion temps or in our case, to pull timing if the failsafe triggers it. The $179.95 unit comes with chips to retard the timing from 0 to 4 degrees, but we opted for an additional package with 0-to-10-degree chips.
After careful consideration, we decided 10 degrees of timing retard would be sufficient to save the motor under a lean condition, as anything less and we'd be leaving too much on the table; anything more, and it could result in too drastic of a power cut (imagine if that happened mid-corner on a road course). During a failsafe test, we noted that 10 degrees of retard was immediately felt from the driver's seat, reminding us to instantly cut throttle. As for the desired a/f range, we dialed the failsafe to trigger at 12:5.1 on the lean end and 10.0:1 on the rich side. This left a window wide enough to prevent false alarms, while also leaving enough wiggle room on the lean side to chop throttle before nuking a piston.
No More Miss-Shifts
The factory Fox-body tachometer has proven to be anything but accurate under full throttle. It might correctly reference to a timing light at steady throttle, but under acceleration the stock tachs can be severely inaccurate. Despite seeing redline on the tach, you may actually be shifting several hundred-rpm shy. In both cases, you're leaving e.t. on the table since you're either banging the limiter or short-shifting.
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We chose to preserve our LX's sleeper status and mount a quality shift light. No big-face tach here—just a small digital LED shift light from MSD. The lightweight unit (PN 8963) has six LEDs and can be mounted in a variety of locations. For now it's on the column, but eventually we'll hide it in an air vent for ultimate sleeper status.
The digital shift light is easy to mount, compatible with almost any engine and can be programmed with multiple set points (in case your shift points vary per gear). The intensity of the LEDs is adjustable and the side-mounted LED screen makes setting such shift points a breeze.
The digital gauge is a cinch to install and proved we'd been previously short-shifting far below our intended redline. In fact, 6,000 rpm on the shift light displays as 6,600 on the inaccurate factory tach. That means we were severely short-shifting because 6,000 rpm (our intended shift point) on the tach was actually 5,400 rpm, which meant we were giving up precious time at the track. For a mere $178.60, we consider it a cheap investment.