Mark Houlahan
Tech Editor, Mustang Monthly
December 8, 2006
Photos By: Steve Turner
The Paxton-supercharged D.S.S. 306 is ready to give life to our project Real Street so it can breathe Florida's 100-percent humidity for the first time. Can you see the hairs raised on the back of our necks?

Our Project Real Street has moved along more quickly than many other project cars around our offices (my own '66 Mustang restoration is going on 3 1/2 years). The '89 notch debuted in the July '01 issue ("Getting Real," p. 39), and it has been under construction for about 17 months, not including the five months it sat in "paint jail," as Editor Turner calls it. Sometimes I think he hired me just so I could build this car, which, if true, means I'm almost out of a job!

By now many of you have seen Project Real Street in person. Its last outing in 2002 was at the NMRA World Finals in Bowling Green, Kentucky. We brought the 3g GT (amazingly, Associate Editor Johnson didn't hit anything this time) without realizing we had room for only one vehicle at our subscription tent, but we were graciously offered room at the Bassani display to present the car. Darryl Bassani and his crew even ran to the local mega-mart and bought a set of ramps and a full-length mirror to put under the car while on display to show off the Bassani exhaust system.

This installment of Project Real Street's buildup sees us rounding third base and heading for home with the drivetrain installation. After the plethora of wiring we installed recently ("All Tied Up," Jan. '03, p. 167), we can finally nestle the D.S.S.-built 306 onto the AJE Y2K-member, bolt up the Tremec five-speed, and hang the Bassani exhaust. We ran into a few minor snags but nothing worth jumping off a bridge for. The problems that snuck up were usually associated with missing or incorrect parts that necessitated a delay while we ordered the right stuff.

Before the engine can be lowered into the engine bay, Energy Suspension urethane engine mounts are attached to the block. We've been happy with these mounts on other project cars and gladly use them on our Real Street project.

Except for tuning, testing, and an audio system, we're just about "finished." You'll be able to see the completed project at the NMRA '03 season opener in Bradenton, Florida. Who knows-maybe Joffre Lafontaine or Uncle Robin Lawrence will get one of those exhibition runs they've been bugging us about.

Horse Sense: We installed a few Auto Meter gauges with datalogging capabilities in our Real Street exhibition car, but you can't do that for competition. This is what the '03 NMRA rule book has to say: "External data recorders & data loggers are prohibited. Exhaust gas temperature sensors and air-fuel ratio sensors prohibited. Wide band oxygen sensors for the purpose of data recording prohibited. EFI systems if standard equipped may be permitted to record engine functions only of the vehicle. Playback tachometers permitted including those that record driveshaft RPM. Any wiring monitoring engine or drive train functions other than those specifically permitted are prohibited. Laptops prohibited in vehicle during competition."

With the engine compartment carefully masked off like a surgical operation, Editor Turner mans the engine lift, while we get some help holding the hood back to drop the engine into place.

Since there isn't a transmission in place yet, the engine will tend to lean back toward the firewall. While temporarily propping up the engine with a section of 2x4, the Energy Suspension mounts are tightened to the K-member to secure the engine.

Not only are we dressing up the engine compartment with SPA Technique silicone hoses, but we're also giving our cooling system an extra measure of safety. These super-strong hoses come in kit form with nonmarking clamps, and they're available in several colors.

The MSD 5.0 distributor features a CNC billet housing and a 1/2-inch distributor shaft. With the 306 still on top dead center, we line up the number-one cylinder mark on the cap and slide the distributor into place.

Here we lift the Tremec TKO-II into place to mate with the McLeod bellhousing and clutch that was previously installed. If you don't want to kill yourself, two people will be needed to install the transmission. Have patience when lining up the input shaft, and don't draw the transmission to the bellhousing with the mounting bolts or you'll break some-thing. A Steeda Tri-Ax shifter is in place already, but the handle is not installed in order to allow enough tunnel clearance during the installation.

Instead of trying to relocate mounting points and modifying stock crossmembers, we decided to step up to the HP Motorsport crossmember designed specifically for Tremec transmissions. This allowed our transmission to be a bolt-in, and we needed the proper V-8 double-hump crossmember anyway. We're using an Energy Suspension transmission mount to secure the transmission to the crossmember.

Since our Mark Williams-built 8.8 utilizes one of the company's billet steel companion flanges, we have to measure for proper driveshaft length between the new flange and the new Tremec transmission. A simple tape measure is all we need to give Precision Shaft Technologies the measurements to make a driveshaft for our project.

While waiting the few days for PST to make our driveshaft and ship it to us, we went on to complete the wiring and other connections to our new transmission. We had to route two wires from the dash harness at the left-front kick panel to the neutral sensing switch mounted on the transmission for the engine controls.

We ordered a speed sensor-along with the proper speedometer-driven gear and retaining clip-from our local Ford dealer. As the speedometer cable was already in when we installed the interior, we just had to mount the speed sensor and plug in the speedometer cable and speed-sensor wiring connector.

The PST driveshaft arrives a few days later and is a perfect fit. The shaft we ordered is aluminum with 1350 joints and the proper yoke for the TKO. You can also run a steel driveshaft in Real Street if you need to, but carbon fiber and other high-tech trickery is not allowed (although PST can build a driveshaft for any of your projects in short order).

We ordered a new Bassani X-pipe for Project Real Street. The multipiece assembly really helps during the installation process. The two forward sections are installed individually to the headers and to the X-pipe hanger.

Fit the rear half of the X-pipe-which includes the stamped X assembly-to the two forward sections of the X-pipe. Align the sections of the X-pipe and secure them with the included 360-degree clamps.

A Bassani after-cat system, equipped with Quiet Thunder mufflers, is fitted to the Real Street to complete our exhaust system. To avoid interference with the HP Motorsport antisway bar, we ordered turndown tips instead of full tailpipes.

For starting duties, we tapped the resources of Rick Harmon at PA-Performance for a permanent-magnet-gear-reduction starter assembly. We've installed these starters in just about every project car we've done, and they work great. They have high cranking speeds, low current draw, and they fit in all sorts of tight places. Just look at the room we have on the Real Street project with our little 8.5-pound PMGR beauty in place.

PA-Performance also sent us a 130-amp 3G alternator to handle the Real Street's charging and elec-trical systems. The 3G alternator fits into the relocated Paxton blower bracketry with nothing more than a longer bolt and a spacer (steel tube or washers). Shown here on the back of the alternator are the two feed wires with fusible links for our electric fans.

To wire the Flex-a-lite fans into the harness, we used two relays-mounting them in the front bumper cover-to power the fans (one for each fan). The fan kit comes with a controller for street use that is temperature controlled and has inputs for A/C. But we wired our relays to trigger off the fuel pump relay so that whenever the pump is running, the fans are running-race car stuff.

With the major installation buttoned up, all that's left of the drivetrain project is the inlet ducting and upper intake. Bolt down the Trick Flow street intake upper. Then connect the throttle cable, the PCV, and vacuum solenoids.

We originally wanted to use Vortech's High Flow Discharge kit that's part of the company's Real Street blower kit, but the silicone and rubber sleeves to connect the tubing didn't arrive in time. So, we assembled the inlet tract with the stock plastic elbow, the Anderson Ford Motorsport Power Pipe, and the Paxton bypass we had used in earlier mock-ups. We've seen the Vortech parts in use and we know they fit-even with Thermactor emissions parts in the way-but we didn't have time to chase down the remaining installation parts. We'll have the Vortech gear in place for Bradenton.

Installed in the A-pillar is an Auto Meter intake-temperature gauge with two selectable channels and a memory feature. We placed the inlet temp sensor in the Power Pipe rubber elbow, and the outlet temp was installed near the bypass after drilling and tapping the outlet tube. These sensors will help us determine blower efficiency and allow us to record the temperatures for each run we make. Just don't try this on your Real Street car-datalogging is frowned upon during R/S competition.

The final inlet section to be assembled is the inlet side of the Power Pipe, where a new 75mm Pro-M Univer mass air meter and a 12-inch clamp-on Power Stack filter from Anderson Ford Motorsport were tucked neatly into the fenderwell. The installation is much easier without fenderwell liners, and the filter sticks out from under the front fascia just enough to probably catch some ram air.

With the drivetrain installation complete, all that's left is to fill the monster with some fluids. For the rearend and transmission, we top off Project Real Street with Royal Purple Max-Gear gear oil and Synchromax transmission fluid, respectively, while the engine receives standard engine oil for break-in, though we'll use Royal Purple in the engine later.

We use Evans NPG+ nonaqueous coolant, which allows for higher boiling points and lower system pressures. It works extremely well in harsh environments such as racing. With the Fluidyne radiator topped off, we're ready to light the fire.