Mark Houlahan
Brand Manager, Mustang Monthly
April 22, 2011

We introduced you to our ’70 Mustang coupe project last month with an overview of some of the Mustang’s short comings and immediate issues. We also laid out a rough plan of what we want to do to the 40-year-old car to make it a fun and capable street car that can hold its own at the dragstrip, without going overboard and making it a dedicated track car that requires support equipment, a trailer, and so forth; all things way out of our budget. So the first thing on our agenda, before we move forward with power upgrades, suspension, and other goodies, is to get the car to simply run right and be reliable. Right now, the ignition system has a draw (constant voltage to the coil even with the key off), which prevents the car from shutting off. Nothing like having to open the hood and choke the carb or yank the coil wire to get your Mustang to shut off! We also have an electric fuel pump that needs to be rewired, a cracked fan shroud, and a leaking radiator to tackle.

First up is the cooling system. As embarrassing as it is to raise the hood and yank the coil wire, it’s more embarrassing to be overheating and blowing steam everywhere, not to mention the car won’t get very far overheating. So, we’ll be yanking the radiator of unknown origin and replacing it with a direct-fit aluminum radiator from the specialists at Champion Cooling Systems. We’ll also add a nice aluminum shroud and electric fan. This will ensure we’re always moving air across the core when needed, shave a few pounds off the nose of the car, save some horsepower, and get rid of the sketchy flex fan.

Next on the list is fixing the ignition system. The distributor is original, with a non-working vacuum advance, and still carrying antiquated points triggering under the cap. The coil is an MSD Blaster, which isn’t a bad piece, but again, we have no idea of its age or its current output. So, Pertronix came to the rescue with one of its drop-in, billet Igniter III-based distributors. This is like cramming one of those ignition boxes into a shrinking machine and putting it under the distributor cap. You get multi-strike ignition, full digital control, and a rev limiter, all in one sweet-looking piece of hardware. We’ll add a matching coil and new plug wires, too, to get our spark back up to snuff.

Finally, the Holley electric fuel pump will be rewired to power through a relay properly, and to be controlled by an ignition-switched circuit. As it stands right now, it is wired directly to the battery and you have to disconnect the battery or the pump’s wiring to shut it off. In the end, our ’70 coupe will start and run better, hopefully make a little more power, and from now on, the only time we’ll have to raise the hood is if someone wants to see the engine.

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