Dale Amy
August 1, 2009
Wiring a major project like our Fox 500 may not be glamorous, but not even a GT500-powered T-top hatchback can run without electrons. Here Mike Weber and Jay Harris from Littelfuse begin the process of fitting the company's ISIS Intelligent Multiplex System--a long name for a product that can really shorten a wiring gig.

OK, OK. We know a lot of sand has dribbled through the hourglass since we last checked in on the Fox 500, Editor Turner's seemingly decade-spanning project of conjoining a tired but solid T-top Fox with a hulking GT500-based powerplant from Ford Racing Performance Parts. Trust us, there were good reasons for our time lapse. Part of it was just life getting in the way, but also we were waiting on a couple of product introductions that seemed ideal for this step in our project.

We're thrilled to report that our Ford Frankenstein is indeed alive. The Fox 500 runs--and has even rumbled around the Jackson, Michigan, shop of Paul's High Performance under its own power. It was fun to watch, actually, with PHP's ever-philosophical Karl Roekle driving while sitting on a milk crate in our gutted interior.

At the risk of gross oversimplification--and not counting the suspension, rollcage, and brake upgrades that have made for the Fox 500's solid, safe foundation--our project posed two distinct sets of challenges for the savvy, hands-on PHP crew (as well as our other project partners) to overcome in getting this thing both running and fully functional. The first, and most obvious, encompassed the mechanical or physical issues of trying to bring together a powertrain and platform that are quite literally from two different centuries. We showed you a lot of how that was accomplished in our last installment (5.0&SF, Oct. '08, p. 102.)

The Fox 500 now actually runs, a huge step that would have taken much longer were it not for the introduction of Ford Racing's M-6017-54SC Control Pack 5.4-liter Supercharged, which is engineered to allow quick, plug-and-play installation of FRPP's Condor-based crate engines into nearly any application. The PCM is calibrated specifically for the supplied cold-air kit; the kit's thermostat housing has an integral intercooler pump relay; and a power distribution box, mass-air sensor, oxygen sensors, and even an ETC-style accelerator pedal are all included. It was already installed by the time we arrived, and the process was apparently quite simple, as only seven wires needed connection. We see the control pack as a huge boon to anyone looking to harness one of FRPP's 5.4-liter crate monsters in his or her project. It sure did the job on ours.

The second hurdle was no less daunting, that being how to wire everything to communicate nicely in an electronic sense, 'cause we all know how dependent modern powertrains like the GT500's are on the absolute rule of electrons. Without a processor in command, this baby simply couldn't run. Besides, the editor will probably think it's kind of nice to have, oh, say, functioning headlights and wipers. Put simply, failure on the electrical aspects of our project would have left us with nothing more than an interesting full-scale static model.

As we mentioned, a couple recent products proved to be really timely and efficient. The first of these comes from Ford Racing in the form of its Control Pack, 5.4L 4-V Supercharged (PN M-6017-54SC.) As its name suggests, this is a PCM-centric kit specifically engineered and calibrated to get one of FRPP's 5.4-liter supercharged crate engines (PN M-6007-C54, like ours, or M-6007-TVS, with the TVS blower upgrade) quickly up and running in such diverse platforms as street rods, kit cars, old muscle cars--or maybe even a crazy editor's Fox Mustang. To do so, FRPP modifies a GT500 PCM's electrical harness to the point where it needs no more than just seven wire connections to fully integrate with the intended vehicle (six connections if you don't want to control an electric fan).

Also, the kit's GT500-based Silver Oak PCM calibration is simplified by removal of the anti-theft provisions that normally make it codependent on a Shelby's instrument cluster for engine operation. To prevent evildoers from potentially using such a PCM to circumvent security on a factory Shelby, the programming also specifically requires use of a return-style fuel system for the engine to operate. In other words, attempting to plug this FRPP PCM into a returnless-fuel GT500 would result in a no-start condition. But more than just a PCM and harness, the kit includes everything necessary to make a crate motor run with OEM driveability, right down to an electronic throttle-control accelerator pedal.

OK, so FRPP's kit quickly took care of all aspects of powertrain control, including driving the fuel pumps, but what about the rest of our car's wiring needs? You know. Those little things like lights, wipers, horn, power accessories, instrument cluster, and so on.