K.J. Jones
May 1, 2007
Trevor Kaplan (left) and Saul "The Surgeon" Gutierrez designed and set up the wire trail by which 12 volts of Optima battery travel around our project car.

Horse Sense: You may have read Hot Rod's cover story on Drag Week 2006 by now and are wondering why there's no mention of our project T-top coupe in the extensive report on the five-day, 1,500-mile, street/strip challenge. Unfortunately, we didn't complete the project with enough time to test the car before embarking on such a major journey, as getting to Drag Week from SoCal is an 1,800-mile trip. The painful decision was made to miss the event and set our sights on being a part of the Drag Week action in 2007.

In our last report on the project car ("Plumb Assignment," April '07, p.148), we gave you some insights on high-performance plumbing and hopefully provided ideas on how to facilitate proper flow for fuel, air, exhaust, cooling system, and so on, in a street/strip 'Stang. This month, we're taking a look at our T-top coupe's electrical system-more specifically, the creation of its electrical system.

Rear-mounting the battery is a standard for street/strip 'Stangs these days. We're using Moroso's sealed battery box (PN 74050), featuring a 10.5x13x9.5-inch polyethylene box, a vent tube, NHRA-approved 3/8-inch hold-down rods, and all the hardware necessary for a clean installation in our coupe's trunk.

Those of you who have been faithfully following the project already know we've been rebuilding our Mustang from the proverbial ground up, as we detailed the actual stripping of the coupe in one of the early installments of this build series. The reconstruction process included adding several different high-performance parts that operate on 12 volts, so it's time to establish a way to power all of these necessities and accessories to make the 'Stang operational.

Wiring any car, be it a stocker, a fairly radical street/stripper such as ours, or a full-on NMRA racer, requires a lot of thought and attention to detail. When talking about voltage, it's critical to focus on doing things right. Cutting corners with materials or the execution of putting an electrical system in the car can have catastrophic consequences, so make sure you have a good plan before you begin laying out the wire. Most of us are guilty of using the wrong gauge wire for a particular application or wiring a 12-volt component to power without adding a fuse or relay to the circuit at some point in our lives.

Our from-scratch, weekends-only wiring job took the better part of a month to complete, but we're pleased with the way it finished.

A Painless Performance Products switch panel and wiring kit is the foundation for our coupe's electrical system. We used Scosche Industries' 0-, 4-, and 8-gauge EFX Powerwire and terminal connectors to channel power to and fro. We installed all of the 'Stang's 12-volt-dependent paraphernalia, including the aforementioned ignition and engine-management stuff. By taking our time, we were able to achieve a factory-clean look and get everything running that requires power-including lights, horn, and wipers, among other things-without any problems.

Something that deserves mentioning with respect to wiring any vehicle is the importance of establishing good grounds. It's often overlooked by enthusiasts who delve into hooking up fuel pumps, nitrous units, and other things themselves; failure to pay attention to the need for proper grounding can bring on major frustration. The high resistance caused by improper grounding can lead to an accessory operating poorly or not at all. In some cases, a bad ground can lead to an electrical fire.

For power, Optima's Yellow Top deep-cycle battery (PN D35 YT) kicks out 650 cold-cranking amps and is perfect for Mustangs like ours, which include several critical components that require full and consistent voltage for optimum performance.

We took great care to make sure our coupe and its electrical components are grounded well and all the wire-to-wire and wire-to-terminal connections are secured with solder and protected with shrink tube.

Wiring a 'Stang is a daunting but doable project. The key is to have a good plan before you begin. If you think its best to have a professional wire your steed, companies such as Wires and Pliers (www.wiresandpliers.com) and Spaghetti Menders (www.spaghettimenders.com) are dialed-in when it comes to Mustangs-especially hard-core, drag-race 'Stangs. Either company can set you up with wiring harnesses tailored to your Pony's specific, electrical needs.

A complete breakdown of everything we had to do on the electrical side to get our '86 Mustang running could take all the pages in this magazine. Since we don't have that kind of space, here's an assortment of photos and a couple of sidebars that highlight how our project's electrical needs were handled, as well as offer a few tips and tricks on how to lay out the electrical plan for your ride.