Ok, after much procrastination im going to try and cover the build of my 79 Ghia. I found the car sitting behind the shop where I work. It was left there by its previous owner who decided it wasn’t worth an engine build. After much begging I was able to talk my boss into parting with it. I ended up trading a set of turbo headers for it. It’s a factory 302 C4 car that was bought in Sonoma California. I have an envelope full of documentation for the car including the window sticker and the original order form. Ok, I know no one wanted to know all the boring stuff but I thought it was interesting. On to the exciting details. I originally swapped in a 306 with a few bolt ons. It was fun for a short time. I had bought a used Lincoln navigator about a year earlier for my 93 coupe. Plans included twin turbos and lots of boost. After adding up all the supporting hardware involved to do the turbo I knew it would take forever to finish. That’s when I started thinking about a carbureted modular. I did a lot of research on modular swaps, suppliers, people who were running similar combinations etc. I only found a select few who were even running the 5.4 engines and even fewer running carburetors. Sullivan performance was the standout when it came to intakes. They were the only company making intakes for the four valve 5.4 at the time. So I made the decision to put the 93 on the back burner and swap the 5.4 into the 79. Even though I didn’t have everything I needed to do it I couldn’t wait to get started. I pulled the 306 and the original C4. While the engine bay was empty I moved the wiring to the inner fenders and cleaned up everything else. I painted everything black. During this time I had the 5.4 on the engine stand. I pulled the valve covers and blasted and painted them with Plasticote wheel paint. The color is graphite. I really liked the color so I ended up using a lot of it. I also cleaned and painted the rest of the engine block and front timing cover all black.
The k member I am using is a PA Performance tubular unit with 4.6 mounts. It came off a 96 up car but fit just fine. I used maximum motorsports caster camber plates, upr pro coil over kit and strange adjustable struts. The spindles are from a 95 cobra as were the 13 inch brakes. I ended up switching to 96 gt brakes in order to get the skinnies to fit without sticking out past the fender lip. I hope to upgrade the brakes soon with the strange street kit. With the engine still on the stand I bolted up a set of solid mounts for an 03 cobra and bolted the k member to them. I had the car on the rack and rolled the engine and k member under the it and lowered the car down onto the engine. I used a strange manual brake kit because the engine won’t fit with the power booster in place. I had the option of running hydroboost but I didn’t want the clutter of all the lines. I did however, put the power steering back on the car. I don’t like having to fight the steering wheel. The rack is a 93 power rack with a UPR bump steer kit on the ends. Once the engine was in the car I started working on all the little stuff. It took me a while to come up with the money to buy the Sullivan intake. So while I waited I found someone to build the headers.
After researching the headers I found out that no off the shelf header would fit a fox body with a DOHC 5.4. I almost gave in and used a set of 03 cobra manifolds but I felt that if I was going through all the trouble to put this engine in my car I shouldn’t cut any corners. The guy that builds all of our custom roll cages kept my car for almost 3 months. He built me a set of long tube step headers that start out 1 ¾” to 1 7/8” to 2” and go into 3 ½” collectors. I know you’re thinking that is way too big for a stock 330ci engine. And I think so too. But I plan to add compression and big cams to go with the nitrous so I planned ahead and went big. The rest of the exhaust consists of a custom 3” X-pipe and a Mac 3” cat back that is for a 98 gt. (cheap on ebay). The car is really quiet at idle and has no drone whatsoever.
By the time I got the car back from the fab shop I had the intake and lots of other parts ready for it. I painted the Sullivan intake the same graphite color as the valve covers and bolted it to the engine. I topped it with a ZEX perimeter nitrous plate and a holley 4150 650cfm carb. I found some pretty trick brackets on ebay for the throttle linkage that also mount the nitrous solenoids. I ended up using a PROFORM main body for the carb. I had to cut the bowl vents down to clear my 4” cowl hood. I never imagined that a cowl that big would be too small. I also upgraded the linkage from progressive to a 1-1, and jet extensions fixed a bog I had. This engine requires a very large amount of fuel when you first nail it, then it goes normal. That is proving to be a tuning challenge. I guess the learning curve comes with a new combination that hardly anyone knows about. Im running a stock 91 fuel tank with a pickup tube. -10 line to an aeromotive A1000 pump, -8 line to the aeromotive regulator and -6 return to the tank. To handle the spark and timing duties I bought an MSD Mod6 box. PN6011. This ignition box was designed for carbureted modulars and is one of the best investments I made on this car. This box does a lot. It plugs into the stock cam and crank sensors and plugs into the eight coil on plug coil packs. I have full control over the timing via my lap top. I can build and save as many custom timing curves as I want. It has a timing retard for nitrous, map sensor so it can pull timing if used in a boosted application and a built in two step launch control. I highly recommend this ignition for anyone running a modular. It also will hook to a fuel injected mod motor to give you all the timing options.
I ended up trading the 306 shortblock for a PA full manual C4 with transbrake and all the best parts. It came with a b&m shifter, aluminum drive shaft, precision converter and cooler with lines. Yes I know. I got a great deal from a friend.
For the rear suspension I went with a complete Baseline Suspensions Pro kit. Uppers, lowers with solid rod ends and fully adjustable. I also used their anti roll bar since they said it would clear 3” tail pipes. It does. And for now im running the stock rear springs with a coil cut out and Lakewood 50/50 shocks. I am totally satisfied with this kit and I know I haven’t even come close to its full potential. The rear end is an 8.8 from a fox body with 3.73 gears and a stock carrier. The axles are two driver side ranger axles. I bought a set of North Racecars rear brake brackets so I could use the 95 cobra rear disc brakes with the fox length axles. I plan to upgrade the entire rear soon with a spool, good axles, c-clip eliminators and strange brakes. The subframes are steeda full length and are fully welded. The cage comes with a funny story. I work at a performance shop. One day a guy comes in with a nice 92 coupe that he no longer road raced. He wanted the cage cut out. I took extra time and only cut the rear bars and the passenger door bar off. I had to turn the cage upside down to get it out but I did it. I put it in my car, welded everything up and painted it with, you guessed it, graphite wheel paint. It turned out really well and the tech guy at the track seems to be ok with it. Freebie!
Im running a set of weld pro stars that are powder coated black. The fronts are 3” and the rears are 10”. Rear tires are 275-50-15 Mickey Thompson et streets. I also have a set of deep dish 17” bullet wheels to run. They are black with the polished lip. 17X9 front with 275-40-17 and 17X10.5 for the rear wit 315-35-17. I will post pics soon of the car wearing the street shoes.
With the car together I spent an evening on the dyno trying to get the air fuel ratio right. Its pretty close but needs more fine tuning. I put the 150hp jets in the nitrous kit and made one pull to make sure it wasn’t going too lean out on the top end. It made 433hp and 420 tq. With very limited tuning the car went 10.81 at 123mph. That was with a bog off the line that I think I have fixed now. I hope to spend some time on the dyno soon to pick up some power in the timing. Maybe 10.50s on a stock engine are within reach. Oh, the car weighs 2950 at the moment.
This is getting pretty long and if any of you are like me you probably don’t have a very long attention span. I hope this answered some questions anyone might have had and I apologize if this seems like a magazine article. This is the first time I’ve written anything like this. If I left anything out please feel free to ask. Thanks for your time reading this. 4EYE4VALVE