5.0 Mustang & Super FordsProject Vehicles
1988 Mustang LX Hatchback - Fox 500 Project - It's Alive!
Paul's High Perfomrance And Littelfuse Wire And Fire The Fox 500
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 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.
Like most cars of its age, our two-decades-old T-top's original wiring harness was in rather pitiful condition. It had suffered shorts and other circuit damage, had been spliced, patched up, and otherwise mutated over the decades, and was, of course, also rendered partly useless because of the new powertrain. In other words, it was an electrician's nightmare of potential unreliability. That's where the new ISIS Intelligent Multiplex System from Littelfuse proved invaluable.
Without getting bogged down in techno-babble, multiplexing basically allows multiple electronic signals or messages to travel back and forth over a single datalink cable, much as your TV, telephone, and Internet signals might travel to and fro over a single broadband connection. Compare this to older automotive electrical systems like those on our Fox, which used a separate, dedicated length of wire for every single aspect of a circuit, resulting in hundreds of feet of plastic-covered copper snaking all over the car, from battery, to and from fuse and power-distribution boxes, to and from switches or input controls, maybe through flasher modules, to and from the accessory being controlled, and to ground. This is not only complicated to figure out, but also weighs a lot, and provides plenty of opportunity for circuit faults that are miserable to try and trace.
The ISIS system, in comparison, is simple. It eliminates pounds of wire, as well as all flasher modules; has automatic circuit-diagnostic capabilities; and utilizes a power scheme that eliminates routing high electrical loads through overworked factory switches and harness connectors. It can even remotely control many of the car's electrical functions using a handheld transmitter. Developed originally for build-it-from-scratch applications like hot rods or kit cars, ISIS lent itself perfectly to our mix-and-match Fox 500 project. Again, we'll let our photos and captions make more sense out of the general concepts and architecture of the ISIS gear.
Before we close out this installment, we'll also take a quick photographic look at some of the other tasks that the Paul's High Performance bunch have been wrapping up on the Fox 500 since our last visit, mostly underneath. We know it's been a long process, but it's getting closer. Hopefully on our next visit, we'll get the Michigan citizenry all riled up about that hoodless, roofless, multi-colored Mustang storming around the streets of Jackson.