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  1. #1
    FEP Super Member IDMooseMan's Avatar
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    Default 2.3L Horsepower Potential

    What mods would I have to do to reach 150 HP? Is this motor capable of handling that HP level? Stock is 88 HP, right? Can I reach higher HP levels? Is 150 HP too much to expect from a N/A 2.3L engine? I have no plans on adding a turbo. Is there a supercharger available for this engine? Ooooh, that would be cool.

    My little 4-banger has potential, but I want to keep it streetable, too. This car is my DD.

    Just trying to gather info for now and want to start dialog for a future project.
    Craig "IDMooseMan" Peters
    1979 Mustang Ghia Notchback, 2.3L, Holley 5200, 4-spd, 3.08:1 7.5" diff, A/C, PS, PB, AM/FM/8-Track, Sunroof, Rear Defroster
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  2. #2
    FEP Super Member 80Notch's Avatar
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    my notch had an oval track cam(wayyyyy too big) offenhauser intake manifold holley 2 barrel carb and the ranger header w/ exhaust bolted to a 4 speed it flew lol ive got no idea what the power ratings were but the carb choked it at 500 cfm.....fuel milage didnt suffer too much but just look into it and build it from the ground up....that was my mistake....i blew it up
    <Dayne>
    1985 Monte Carlo SS 5.7
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  3. #3
    FEP Super Member IDMooseMan's Avatar
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    Yeah, you mentioned the oval track cam, but I'm not sure I know what that is.

    I know I need to freshen up the carb. Let's not forget my oil leak situation.

    I'm not sure if I can use the stock bottom-end parts with a cam swap and Ranger exhaust to achieve that HP level.

    I have a basic idea of what I need to do, but if someone has already done it, I'd be interested in hearing what was done and the resulting HP/Torque numbers, too.

    Just looking for general ideas at the moment.
    Craig "IDMooseMan" Peters
    1979 Mustang Ghia Notchback, 2.3L, Holley 5200, 4-spd, 3.08:1 7.5" diff, A/C, PS, PB, AM/FM/8-Track, Sunroof, Rear Defroster
    USAF SSgt 63170 1983 - 1992; Co-Founder, Vice President, Omega Delta Sigma, ID-A 2/2015
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  4. #4
    Moderator wraithracing's Avatar
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    The head is where the majority of your power potential is. To make big power you will have to invest in a great aftermarket head. The stock head IMHO will not get you into the power range you are hoping for.

    Obviously you will need a bottom end that is up to the power level also, so you don't want to skimp there either, but if you are going to spend the money you will want to make sure you invest in an excellent flowing head.

    Good Luck!

    Trey
    ​Trey

    "I Don't build it hoping for your approval! I built it because it meets mine!"

    "I've spent most of my money on Mustangs, racing, and women... the rest I just wasted."

    Mustangs Past: Too many to remember!
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  5. #5
    Moderator wraithracing's Avatar
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    Here is an interesting site that has a ton of information. Most of it looks pretty good, but I can't guarantee any of it personally.

    http://www.hotrodhigh.ca/2300.html

    Trey
    ​Trey

    "I Don't build it hoping for your approval! I built it because it meets mine!"

    "I've spent most of my money on Mustangs, racing, and women... the rest I just wasted."

    Mustangs Past: Too many to remember!
    Current Mustangs:
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    1979 Pace Car now 5.0/5 speed
    1982 GT Awaiting Restoration
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  6. #6

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    Beware of trendy websites that a) never tell you exactly what goal they're working towards and b) never actually give you the results of the modifications they suggest.
    That website makes a bunch of suggestions, but there's nothing there to show that any of it is accurate, or effective.

    If you want 150hp, it'd be easy enough to do, but it means trading something you have now for more power. The OEM way to do it, is with EFI and a turbocharger, or a V8. Not that a carbed 2.3 can't do it, but would you really want to try to drive a dirt track 2.3 every day? A V8 swap, or a 2.3T swap would do it and still be very street friendly with decent economy.
    1986 Mustang Notch, 2.3L Turbo Project

  7. #7

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    WOULD YOU BELIEVE 240 HORSES.
    Last edited by CRAZYHORSE R1; 07-07-2012 at 01:04 AM.

  8. #8
    Moderator wraithracing's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jimmy2.3Mustang View Post
    Beware of trendy websites that a) never tell you exactly what goal they're working towards and b) never actually give you the results of the modifications they suggest.
    That website makes a bunch of suggestions, but there's nothing there to show that any of it is accurate, or effective.

    If you want 150hp, it'd be easy enough to do, but it means trading something you have now for more power. The OEM way to do it, is with EFI and a turbocharger, or a V8. Not that a carbed 2.3 can't do it, but would you really want to try to drive a dirt track 2.3 every day? A V8 swap, or a 2.3T swap would do it and still be very street friendly with decent economy.
    Completely agree with you, there does appear to be alot of information and much of it appears to be decent enough.

    There appears to be some information that can benefit all 2.3 Mustangs especially for the daily driver street cars.

    Trey
    ​Trey

    "I Don't build it hoping for your approval! I built it because it meets mine!"

    "I've spent most of my money on Mustangs, racing, and women... the rest I just wasted."

    Mustangs Past: Too many to remember!
    Current Mustangs:
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    1979 Pace Car now 5.0/5 speed
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  9. #9
    Moderator wraithracing's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CRAZYHORSE R1 View Post
    WOULD YOU BELIEVE 240 HORSES. THE ONE I RUN IN MY MINISTOCK CRANKED OUT 240 AT STEVES HEADSHED. 2500 CRANK HAS BEEN KNIFEDGED AND LIGHTEND.
    Quite impressive to say the least. Unfortunately I would bet it's not the most streetable combination for a daily driver Mustang.

    I am quite impressed with the power that Ministock racers have been able to pull out of the 2.3 Ford. It really is quite amazing!

    Trey
    ​Trey

    "I Don't build it hoping for your approval! I built it because it meets mine!"

    "I've spent most of my money on Mustangs, racing, and women... the rest I just wasted."

    Mustangs Past: Too many to remember!
    Current Mustangs:
    1969 Mach 1
    1979 Pace Car now 5.0/5 speed
    1982 GT Awaiting Restoration
    1984 SVO Restoration in Progress
    1986 GT Wrecked by PO, but still want to save!

    Current Capris:
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  10. #10

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    Hard to run my race combo on the street- having to run 114 racing fuel will break the wallet quick- I think a good street combo would be crower 5/7 rods-wiseco 40 over pistons-90's ford ranger roller cam setup-efi intake with a adapter to allow a motorcraft 131 carb-shave the head 50 thousandths-use a esslinger adjustable cam gear and advance it 4 degrees to help lower rpm torque-ranger header-

  11. #11
    FEP Super Member gr79's Avatar
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    Went for a drive to get parts today...
    Passed by a lake hosting 'S' class hydroplane racing.
    The S class uses the n/a Lima 2.3. Red they get around 140 hp.
    The OMC Cobra 2.3 was a n/a marine version, 128 hp.

    All turbo systems do is pump more air in, like temp. raising compression ratio.
    The old trick was playing with headers, carbs, then cams, heads, higher compression.
    Carb change is not really an option for dd unless you find a Holley 2305 or something.
    Most power mods usually drop fuel mileage of course.

    Someone is prob running one at 12:1 on E85. All it takes is money and time.

  12. #12
    Moderator wraithracing's Avatar
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    IMHO 150 HP is possible with a N/A 2.3, but you will have to be very specific and focused on your build up.

    Most likely you will have to make compromises in several areas to reach that HP level. That is not to say that you still can't have a fun DD that gets reasonable fuel economy, but you will still most likely have to adjust your wish list on some items to get there.

    IMHO, some type of TBI is probably the way to go to get rid of the restrictions and issues with a carburetor. I have not looked into it myself, but I would think the Holley Pro-Jection 2 BBL system or others might work really well and be cost effective.

    A well flowing head (aluminum too for increased compression and weight loss) as well as a roller cam will be the way to go.

    Again a well flowing exhaust and intake are the other items that will make or break this engine combination.

    Good Luck!

    Trey
    ​Trey

    "I Don't build it hoping for your approval! I built it because it meets mine!"

    "I've spent most of my money on Mustangs, racing, and women... the rest I just wasted."

    Mustangs Past: Too many to remember!
    Current Mustangs:
    1969 Mach 1
    1979 Pace Car now 5.0/5 speed
    1982 GT Awaiting Restoration
    1984 SVO Restoration in Progress
    1986 GT Wrecked by PO, but still want to save!

    Current Capris:
    1982 Capri Roller
    1984 Capri Returned to Bubble Back Glory
    1983-84 Gloy Racing Trans Am/IMSA Body Parts
    1982 Capri RS 5.0 4spd T-tops

  13. #13

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    You are going to hafta bore and stroke it. Racer Walsh told me for I think 200hp t's hafta be b&s to a 2.7l. I'd need to check my old emails to make sure.

  14. #14
    FEP Super Member IDMooseMan's Avatar
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    Okay, this is what I'm talking about. 150 HP sounds doable, just not practical for me at this time.

    The Holley Pro-Jection 2 BBL system sounds interesting. I may hafta look into that system.

    So, it sounds like 150 HP is not financially doable at this time and will definitely be a future upgrade.

    Sounds like I'm gonna need:
    1. Aluminum head
    2. Cam kit
    3. Holley Pro-Jection 2 BBL system or similar
    4. Bore and stroke to something greater than 2.3L, possibly in the 2.7L range
    5. Upgrade the bottom end

    If I did 1 - 3 above, does anyone have a guess as to what the HP level might be?
    Craig "IDMooseMan" Peters
    1979 Mustang Ghia Notchback, 2.3L, Holley 5200, 4-spd, 3.08:1 7.5" diff, A/C, PS, PB, AM/FM/8-Track, Sunroof, Rear Defroster
    USAF SSgt 63170 1983 - 1992; Co-Founder, Vice President, Omega Delta Sigma, ID-A 2/2015
    To those that serve and have served, "Thank You", to those that haven't, "You're Welcome"
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  15. #15
    FEP Supporter webestang's Avatar
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    Don't know about these guys...........but the engines look great!
    http://www.esslingeracing.com/

    Scotty
    1985 Fox Notch 4-banger Ranger tube header Eastwood Royal Blue
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  16. #16
    FEP Super Member IDMooseMan's Avatar
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    According to the Holley website, the Holley Pro-Jection 2-BBL system is good for up to 275HP maximum, although I don't expect to reach that level with 1 - 3 from Post #14. Not sure I could build a normally aspirated engine to that level and still be streetable with decent MPG.

    If 150 HP is a bit much for this street-use engine, based on your experiences with this engine, what is a reasonable HP level I could expect to achieve and still maintain decent (20+) MPG?
    Craig "IDMooseMan" Peters
    1979 Mustang Ghia Notchback, 2.3L, Holley 5200, 4-spd, 3.08:1 7.5" diff, A/C, PS, PB, AM/FM/8-Track, Sunroof, Rear Defroster
    USAF SSgt 63170 1983 - 1992; Co-Founder, Vice President, Omega Delta Sigma, ID-A 2/2015
    To those that serve and have served, "Thank You", to those that haven't, "You're Welcome"
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  17. #17
    FEP User vern2.3's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by IDMooseMan View Post
    ... "Sounds like I'm gonna need:
    1. Aluminum head
    2. Cam kit
    3. Holley Pro-Jection 2 BBL system or similar
    4. Bore and stroke to something greater than 2.3L, possibly in the 2.7L range
    5. Upgrade the bottom end

    If I did 1 - 3 above, does anyone have a guess as to what the HP level might be?" ...
    1. You don't need an aluminum head. You just need to find someone who can properly port your factory head. Particularly the exhaust side.

    Over on TurboFord.com there was a great thread detailing how to do that with a Bridgeport mill and raising the port roofs at the same time. Real power is found in getting the 2.3 to breathe, and that means opening the exhaust side.

    If you are brave and don't mind paying for high-octane gas have the head milled .030. If you're going racing and don't care about street use get it milled .080 and buy race gas.

    2. Cams: Racer Walsh and Esslinger both sell good street cams that are not too rowdy for street driving.

    3. Holley Pro-Jection, a worked-over stock EFI or a carb, make sure you match it to the cam and head or it's a waste of money.

    4. Bore & stroke is something best left for racing only. Unless you find a Ranger 2.5 sitting in a junkyard, it's money better used elsewhere..

    5. Bottom end: Why? Stock 2.3 bottom ends are turning out well over 400hp in turbo form. Unless you're going racing it's money better used elsewhere, too.

    What would be places to better use your money?

    Your first move for a street car should be to get a header and new free-flow exhaust system. That always the first step you should take. Then start saving for step 2 and deciding which cam you'll need for your application..

    Second: Buy you cam kit, get the head ported/reworked and the cam installed. Now you can make better use of the header and exhaust.

    Third: Buy and install your new injection or carb system, including whatever cold air intake system it requires.

    I built my '79 autocross car that way and ultimately ended up getting about 135hp out of my 2.3L. I stayed mild on the cam and did not get the head milled more than .010 since the car was my daily driver and SCCA's autocross rules limited my modifications.

    I ended up with a Hooker header with 2.5" tubing to a turbo muffler and then 2" pipe. The cam is an early Ford Motorsports hydraulic non-roller. The head had minimal porting, but did get bowl work to keep it legal for SCCA rules.

    I run an Offenhauser intake that I cut the flow dividers out of and a 390cfm Holley 4-bbl that has been reworked to face forward instead of "sideways" the way the intake was set up.

    I did build a 2.3 for a friend's Mustang where we did get the head milled .050 and opened the exhaust ports to the maximum possible. With a Crane cam and the same Holley/Offenhauser combination we ended up with a car that would carry the front tires the first 60ft and run 1/4miles in low 13s on 13-inch Michelin street tires.

    He even drove it on the street although the high-octane gas really killed the car as a daily driver.

    For a quick and dirty upgrade however, look into an old Ranger or Explorer 4.0L non-overhead cam V-6. Stock form they put out 200hp and they use motor mounts for the old 2.8L V-6, since that is the "parent" of the 4.0L.

    You'd need to find a engine wiring harness and computer for a late-model Fox with the V-6 and have a little effort to make it work, but it would definitely put out the power you're looking for, be very mild and get decent mileage as a daily driver.
    Last edited by vern2.3; 06-12-2012 at 08:28 PM.

  18. #18

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    The head on my mini is shaved 170 and run 114 octane.

  19. #19
    FEP User vern2.3's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CRAZYHORSE R1 View Post
    The head on my mini is shaved 170 and run 114 octane.
    Are you using the 4M.net suggested method of install intake studs and mill the head until the threads show? If I was staying with a carbed engine I would go that route.

    But I'm heading into turboworld with my '79 to go road racing. Need to get into the high 400hp range to be competitive and a turbo 2.3 is a cheap way to get there, because it can be done with junkyard parts.

  20. #20
    Moderator wraithracing's Avatar
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    Years ago IIRC Camden Superchargers used to make a supercharger for almost any vehicle. I doubt you will find one today, but you never know.

    I understand the desire to keep the engine N/A, but IMHO the best solution to get your power level and mileage requirements would be a T/C transplant.

    Nice power level with decent fuel economy and if you shop around, you can probably score an entire engine, harness, and computer for the same of less money as you are going to spend to get the same or less power from a N/A 2.3.

    I understand the turbo will change the under hood look, but then again so would a supercharger.

    Good Luck!

    Trey
    ​Trey

    "I Don't build it hoping for your approval! I built it because it meets mine!"

    "I've spent most of my money on Mustangs, racing, and women... the rest I just wasted."

    Mustangs Past: Too many to remember!
    Current Mustangs:
    1969 Mach 1
    1979 Pace Car now 5.0/5 speed
    1982 GT Awaiting Restoration
    1984 SVO Restoration in Progress
    1986 GT Wrecked by PO, but still want to save!

    Current Capris:
    1982 Capri Roller
    1984 Capri Returned to Bubble Back Glory
    1983-84 Gloy Racing Trans Am/IMSA Body Parts
    1982 Capri RS 5.0 4spd T-tops

  21. #21

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    check out this bobcat with a turbo 4 in it.
    Attached Images Attached Images   

  22. #22
    FEP Super Member IDMooseMan's Avatar
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    Where are you guys finding replacement exhaust systems? Every exhaust shop I've spoken with won't do an install (even the "custom" shops) without keeping the catalytic converter. They're all wanting ~$400 to replace the system.

    I want to use a Ranger header and match the rest of the system to that header. No shop will do it without keeping/putting in a new cat con.

    There's plenty of aftermarket exhaust systems for the 5.0 crowd, but I'm not finding any aftermarket systems for the 2.3 crowd. If I could find a replacement exhaust, I could install it myself. I don't have access to a tubing bender or a welder, so I kinda need a bolt-in aftermarket system.

    If you guys have websites to check or part numbers (header, exhaust, and muffler) to look for, I'd appreciate the info. AutoZone has a nice looking muffler I want to check out, but I'd also like to hear how the different mufflers sound before I spend the time and money installing them on my car.

    Cherry Bombs and Thrush Turbo mufflers sounded great on my previous V-8 cars, but I have no idea how they'd sound on 4-banger. The "angry bumblebee" type descriptions don't help me, either. Anyone know of some YouTube links to check out?

    vern2.3 - that is some VERY helpful info, thank you. Reps sent.

    Trey - fantastic info, as always. I really don't want to do an engine swap. I want to keep the powertrain I have and just do some upgrades. The more I drive this car, the more I like the way she feels and looks. Not planning on a full-on restoration, but would like to keep her as close to factory as I can, visually.

    The engine just hits a "flat" spot during WOT acceleration...usually around 3K, so it may need more carb tweaking (i.e. rebuild) and timing adjustment.
    Last edited by IDMooseMan; 06-13-2012 at 02:52 PM.
    Craig "IDMooseMan" Peters
    1979 Mustang Ghia Notchback, 2.3L, Holley 5200, 4-spd, 3.08:1 7.5" diff, A/C, PS, PB, AM/FM/8-Track, Sunroof, Rear Defroster
    USAF SSgt 63170 1983 - 1992; Co-Founder, Vice President, Omega Delta Sigma, ID-A 2/2015
    To those that serve and have served, "Thank You", to those that haven't, "You're Welcome"
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  23. #23
    FEP Super Member IDMooseMan's Avatar
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    ^^^ The engine just hits a "flat" spot during WOT acceleration...usually around 3K, so it may need more carb tweaking (i.e. rebuild) and timing adjustment.

    On second thought, could this be a fueling (or lack of fuel) issue? I've been adjusting the fuel/air mixture screw. Maybe I went too far the wrong way. Thoughts?
    Craig "IDMooseMan" Peters
    1979 Mustang Ghia Notchback, 2.3L, Holley 5200, 4-spd, 3.08:1 7.5" diff, A/C, PS, PB, AM/FM/8-Track, Sunroof, Rear Defroster
    USAF SSgt 63170 1983 - 1992; Co-Founder, Vice President, Omega Delta Sigma, ID-A 2/2015
    To those that serve and have served, "Thank You", to those that haven't, "You're Welcome"
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  24. #24
    Moderator wraithracing's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by IDMooseMan View Post
    Trey - fantastic info, as always. I really don't want to do an engine swap. I want to keep the powertrain I have and just do some upgrades. The more I drive this car, the more I like the way she feels and looks. Not planning on a full-on restoration, but would like to keep her as close to factory as I can, visually.

    The engine just hits a "flat" spot during WOT acceleration...usually around 3K, so it may need more carb tweaking (i.e. rebuild) and timing adjustment.
    I completely understand the desire not to do an engine swap. You could install your own turbo setup on the current engine if you want. It will take some parts gathering, planning, and a bit of elbow grease, but it can be done. It can also be done relatively inexpensively if you just want a reasonable power level with decent fuel economy. I will be doing exactly this on my daughter's 86 coupe once we get going on it. I will post a build up thread too, but we are still several months from starting on this as she is only 14 and can't get her learner's permit until October.

    The only reason I mention the turbo is that it is most likely the least expensive and easiest way to get the power level you want, the driveability, and the mileage. A supercharger would do the same, but may be more difficult to work since there weren't any OEM supercharged 2.3's that I am aware of.

    Staying N/A will require some work on your behalf to juggle all your wishes and desires. I am not saying it's not a workable option, but IMHO you will have to lean on the engine(and wallet) a bit to squeeze the 150 HP out of it and keep the driveability.

    I will admit that the 2.3 that was originally in my PC was N/A thanks to a PO, but it was a fun car to drive. Got decent mileage of about 19 MPG average, but it was gutless! It was fun to row up through the gears, but you weren't passing anyone!

    My guess would be your "flat spot" is most likely a timing or fueling issue and with some testing and tuning you can probably clear that up.

    Good luck!

    Trey
    ​Trey

    "I Don't build it hoping for your approval! I built it because it meets mine!"

    "I've spent most of my money on Mustangs, racing, and women... the rest I just wasted."

    Mustangs Past: Too many to remember!
    Current Mustangs:
    1969 Mach 1
    1979 Pace Car now 5.0/5 speed
    1982 GT Awaiting Restoration
    1984 SVO Restoration in Progress
    1986 GT Wrecked by PO, but still want to save!

    Current Capris:
    1982 Capri Roller
    1984 Capri Returned to Bubble Back Glory
    1983-84 Gloy Racing Trans Am/IMSA Body Parts
    1982 Capri RS 5.0 4spd T-tops

  25. #25
    FEP Super Member IDMooseMan's Avatar
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    The "flat" spot was fueling. With the engine off, I screwed in the fuel mixture screw, then opened it up two full turns. That's about where it was when I bought the car and it was running rich. Went for a drive and found a long straight-away that went from 35 MPH to 50 MPH posted. No "flat" spot anymore. I pulled over, closed the mixture screw 1/4 turn (total of 1.75 turns open) and ran the straight-away again. Still no evidence of a "flat" spot. I'm gonna keep it set where it is for now to see how she does.

    I've considered doing a turbo conversion. I received a turbo/intake setup when I bought the car but have sold the heat shield and one of the check valves. I have the setup listed in the "For Sale" section. I can't afford to have the car down for more than a weekend. Converting to a turbo system is not beyond my capabilities, but it is beyond what I wanted to do with my car. Maybe I'll feel different about the next one.

    For now, I'll tone down my HP expectations and just do the basics...exhaust header, exhaust system, muffler (Thrush Turbo / Cherry Bomb / AutoZone), rebuild carb, and timing adjustments.

    I'm averaging 22 - 24 MPG combined city/highway driving, so I really can't complain. But, you're right, Trey. I would like to be able to pass others when I want to, not just going downhill.

    This DD isn't a 5.0L H.O. 4-bbl, it's a 2.3L 2-bbl, and that's how I'm gonna hafta treat her.

    If I can squeeze 100 - 110 HP out of her, that'll be fine. If I can't reach that level at this time, I'll just hafta live with it until I find a "weekend" project car. My wife liked my hatchback better, so I might be able to convince her "we" should look for one.
    Last edited by IDMooseMan; 06-15-2012 at 12:59 AM.
    Craig "IDMooseMan" Peters
    1979 Mustang Ghia Notchback, 2.3L, Holley 5200, 4-spd, 3.08:1 7.5" diff, A/C, PS, PB, AM/FM/8-Track, Sunroof, Rear Defroster
    USAF SSgt 63170 1983 - 1992; Co-Founder, Vice President, Omega Delta Sigma, ID-A 2/2015
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