Muscle Mustangs & Fast Fords
1992 Ford Mustang SSP Coupe - Project Smog-Legal Killer
Our emissions-friendly, 11-second Fox-body gets an SCT chip tuned by a legendary tuner for serious power gains.
More In The Bag
While we were excited about our smog-legal LX, the sense of accomplishment soon wore off and 11.99 wasn't enough. With proper drivetrain parts and a few more motor mods, 10-second e.t.'s were within reach. With that said, welcome to the new ground zero. A lofty goal indeed, but worth a shot.
We decided a proper dyno tune was in order. A quick call to SCT unearthed a Switch Chip, which allowed us to custom tune the ol' EEC-IV much like you'd tune the modern Mustangs. In addition to features like an easy install and a built-in anti-theft mode, the SCT chip has the ability to flip between up to five maps with the optional Dial Selector. This means you can flip between race gas, pump gas, nitrous, and valet modes with the turn of a dial. But deadlines were upon us and there was only enough time for one custom map, a 91-octane pump-gas "kill mode" tune from Bob Kurgan of Kurgan Motorsports.
"Many people no longer like to tune the old Fox-bodies, but it's where I got my start. I have so many years of experience with them that I understand a lot of the tricks needed to get them running right," Kurgan said.
Bob Kurgan ggot his start in the late '80s and has literally tuned thousands of Mustangs in the 10 years he's been tuning at the professional level. Kurgan took his knowledge from his years as a racer and applied it to building and tuning badass Mustangs. So when we heard he was coming to the West Coast to visit BL Motorsports, it made sense to reserve some dyno time.
On the morning of the event, there was a last-minute venue change to the Dynojet at Advanced Engine Development (AED). After driving 110 miles, we hit the rollers for another baseline. We opened the day with a Hail-Mary run after the car had been sitting for over an hour—472 hp and 516 lb-ft. After a succession of pulls to bring everything up to temp, our new (and more accurate) baseline settled in at 451 hp and 510 lb-ft at the tires—not bad for just an old-school tune.
It only took but a few runs to dial the perfect AFR and ignition timing. Our baseline pull was pig rich at 9.0:1, so Kurgan leaned it back to 11.0:1. While that might still seem rich, Kurgan explained that he tunes forced-induction street cars on the conservative side. The extra fuel not only cools the combustion chambers, but it also leaves some wiggle room in the event the car leans out. On a race motor where max horsepower is everything, he explained they'll run 'em hard and run 'em lean just like an NA setup.
Speaking of lean, with Kurgan's new tune, our little boost coupe was making so much power that the Summit Racing 42-pound injectors were at 100-percent duty cycle near the upper end of the powerband. There was still enough capacity in reserve at 11.0:1, but larger injectors are in order.
Kurgan left the base timing at 10 degrees, but instead of using the MSD BTM, he used the SCT software to add 16 degrees of timing at peak torque and 19 degrees at peak horsepower. The results were spectacular as the coupe shot to 512 hp and 550 lb-ft at the rear wheels through shorty headers, a catted H-style mid-pipe, while spinning the smog pump and whirling the stock mechanical fan, all on 91-octane fuel.
"The heads and cam really helped the blower since those are good numbers considering the emissions-friendly restrictions, the 91-octane gas, and the 10-psi pulley," Kurgan said. "There's certainly more left in it by adding a Power Pipe, a larger exhaust system, and a smaller pulley, but the stroker setup is making substantial torque," he added.
There's over 500 lb-ft from 3,500 to 5,300 rpm and over 500 hp from 4,800 to 6,000 rpm. Kurgan's chip tune picked up power and torque from idle to redline, and the first drive proved the driveability was also improved. Kurgan utilizes the SCT chip's extreme versatility to add such things as an "anti-stall feature" that holds the idle up around 1,200 rpm until the car is under 4 mph.
"I use this on many of the highly tuned Fox-bodies since they want to die when you turn the wheel or have the A/C on. This way they'll keep running no matter what," Kurgan said.
How's that for cool? The car now has factory-like drivability and it pulls infinitely harder. A romp in Third Gear has the ET radials fighting for traction.
For now we'll enjoy 512 hp and 550 lb-ft of smog-legal power, but hang tight because now that we have a proper tune, we're going to beef up the drivetrain and suspension. Our eyes are set on a well-rounded Fox that's emissions-friendly and still stops, goes, and turns with the best of them. We're just getting started.