K.J. Jones
April 19, 2007
Shown in this photo are all the pieces that make up a complete, bolt-on ignition upgrade, led by ACCEL's 300+ Street/Strip Digital Multi-Strike Capacitive Discharge Ignition Controller and harness (PN 49326; $442.83). It includes a Super Coil (PN 140012; $41.88), a BilleTech billet distributor (PN 60201A; $399.97), and 300+ 8.8mm wires (PN 7054; $135.69).

Horse Sense: A little more than a decade ago, long before the age of hitting the chassis dyno to evaluate bolt-on 'Stang parts, Brian Schapiro of B&D Racing installed this same ignition kit (all-new/state-of-the-art at the time) on his brother's '93 LX hatchback Mustang. The OG faithful of this magazine and more so its predecessor, Super Ford, may remember Isaac Martin's report on the procedure ("Digital Discharge," Jan. '96, p. 18). We're sure Editor Turner remembers. He's a walking, talking library of this stuff.

Introducing newbie 'Stangbangers to simple, bolt-on upgrades and refreshing veterans' fading memories is the primary intent of 5.0 Basics. It's important to remember where it began, even when it comes to modifying 5.0 Mustangs.

This project is upgrading a stock 'Stang's ignition system with ACCEL's 300+ Street/Strip Digital Multi-Strike Capacitive Discharge Ignition Controller (PN 49326; $442.83). It isn't anything new to Mustang performance or to Brian Schapiro of B&D Racing in Canoga Park, California. But we think it's appropriate to revisit the procedure and throw some performance data in the mix because before-and-after dyno testing has become standard for this type of evaluation in the 10 years that have passed since Brian did it the first time.

B&D Racing's Brian Schapiro inspects ACCEL's 300+ Street/Strip Digital Multi-Strike Capacitive Discharge Ignition Controller. Brian was among the first 'Stang techs to install this system on a 5.0 in 1996 when it was brand-new.

Keeping the fire lit and hot is critical for daily driven stockers and high-performance, street/strip 'Stangs. The ACCEL 300+ uses 500 volts and 125 millijoules of energy output, which improves starting, especially in cold weather or for higher-compression engines. The energy output also wards off detonation by making the combustion process more efficient. Improved spark also steps up the car's acceleration rate and improves throttle response.

In addition to increased fuel pressure and volume requirements, enhanced spark is a mandatory prerequisite for engines equipped with any of today's Big-Three power adders.

We decided to check Brian's memory on installing ACCEL's 300+ ignition box and EEC IV Super Coil (PN 140012; $41.88). This time we're taking the upgrade a step further by including ACCEL's BilleTech billet distributor (PN 60201A; $399.97) and a set of ACCEL 300+ 8.8mm, Ferro-Spiral ignition wires (PN 7054;$135.69).

Brian's mom drives a Mustang that most hardcore Fox freaks would love to own. It's a clean, 157,000-mile, automatic '91 GT with a modest collection of bolt-ons-underdrive crank pulley, K&N air filter, 3.55 gears, and a 2 1/4-inch H-pipe. With a son who owns one of Southern California's most popular Mustang shops, you'd think Mom's ride would be loaded with every go-fast gizmo known to 'Stangbanging. The car is a perfect platform for making a stealth, street sleeper, but that isn't the case here.

Here's something for the hardcore fans to drool over. This virgin 5.0 had 157,000 miles, and timing was set at the factory-spec 8 degrees when we started the project. Check out the OEM exhaust "header" that's visible on the driver side. When you find one that runs like this and the body panels are straight and clean, buy it!

Mom's '91 GT is not the most muscular 'Stang on the block, but we think it's still a great subject for this exercise in performing an entry-level 5.0 upgrade. The swap is safe and simple to do, as each component we installed is 100 percent plug-and-play. There's no funky wiring to worry about and no need for custom design and fabrication for fitment. This is one of those easy and fun installation projects that any 'Stangbanger with a little DIY gumption should be able to handle.

For you newcomers to the hobby: Don't expect your 'Stang's horsepower to peg the dyno once your ignition system is upgraded. This mod does not promote instant warp speed. On a fairly stock and high-mileage 5.0, however, stepping up to ACCEL's 300+ digital ignition system (box, coil, wires) and BilleTech distributor is a great idea. The upgrade is a good move from a 'Stang-care perspective, as we learned when we inspected the OEM distributor on Mom's car, and it's a major stepping stone toward using power adders and eventually making big-time horsepower. Read on to see how it's done.