Dale Amy
October 1, 2008
The Fox 500 now merits the "500" portion of its name with Ford Racing's 500hp GT500 crate motor nestled between its strut towers. Thanks to the efforts of Paul's High Performance, the imposing bulk of the Shelby mill rests low and rearward, lessening the load on the front suspension and making hood clearance less of an issue. Of course, at this point, it's only bolted in place and lacks all the plumbing, wiring, and other umbilicals necessary to bring the beast to life.

STRONG>Horse Sense: It's not even mine and I'm already amped up at the thought of driving Editor Turner's Fox 500. The fact that I'll get to do so even before he does is just a big, fat, juicy bonus.

Its enormous GT500 front brakes were the main focus of our last visit to Editor Turner's '88 T-top project known as the Fox 500-and yes, we admit that it has been a while ("Braking News," June '08, p. 106). By then, we had already witnessed the crew at Paul's High Performance begin the wholesale transformation of the solid-but-tired LX hatchback, beginning with a rigid foundation of Maximum Motorsports' rollcage and suspension systems, a Strange 8.8-inch axle assembly, and the aforementioned Shelby-spec brakes from Ford Racing. Oh, and we can't forget Maximum's light-but-sturdy K-member, engineered specifically for the task of fitting modular power into a Fox chassis and surviving the rigors of regular street use.

Which brings us to the point of this whole project: surgically implanting Ford Racing's hulking 5.4-liter, supercharged GT500 crate motor (PN M-6007-C54) into the freshened engine bay of the humble LX. That job had already been accomplished by the time we got back to PHP's Jackson, Michigan, headquarters.

FRPP's Shelby crate motor weighs in at around 800 pounds, so nestling it as far back in the chassis as possible was a priority. Luckily, Maximum Motorsports' K-member is designed to do just that. PHP's Karl Roekle used Maximum's included spacers to drop it about 3/4 inch. This is how the big chunk looked upon our arrival, with stock fuel rails and no radiator, clutch, or tranny.

For reasons of center-of-gravity and hood clearance, the big iron-block modular had been positioned as low and far back as possible. PHP tech and all-round philosopher Karl Roekle reports that using the factory exhaust manifolds, the fit was tight but doable. Minor clearancing on the passenger-side subframe was one of the few concessions to making the broad-shouldered modular feel at home, that and using a compact hydraulic brake booster from Hydratech Braking systems to provide head room on the driver side.

As installed, the supercharged Shelby mill doesn't look as though it will demand much in the way of increased hood height to clear the Eaton blower and its attendant hardware-but that's a worry for another day.

Naturally, we can't park ourselves full-time at PHP and document every step of this challenging project. What we're able to show are small windows of time, in between which the PHP team spent untold hours making the whole affair look deceptively simple. This time around, we look at the engine itself and some of the supporting hardware that will, we hope, permit the 500hp GT500 assembly to thrive in a platform for which it was never designed nor considered. This includes some of the fuel system, the clutch and tranny, a crank dampener, the engine and blower coolant systems, a quick look at our custom front and rear rims in "beta" form, and whatever else we find to point the camera at.

Next time out, we hope to have the Fox 500 back on its own four feet and maybe, just maybe, running under its own power. Time will tell.

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