1980 Coupe - Turbo AWD v8 Swap

Apr 4, 2018
Some of yall might have seen hoopty5.0 share an album I posted on reddit. I was encouraged to post a build thread here. I'm going to be a little brief on some details and try and hit the high points. Here we go!

This was my first car. I got it with a 4 speed 2.3. I drove this for a couple years till the timing belt snapped. At this point I wanted to do a v8 swap. A couple years, a cheap truck v8, a used t-5, and a remarkably ok paint job later and it was running. Just not DD worthy which sucked because I was in school at the time. My dad actually drove it for a bit until the t-5 crapped out. As soon as I had graduated from school and got a job we towed it to my house and this is where the madness begins.

Some specs:
96 explorer GT40 5.0 w/ head studs, late 90's mustang gt cam
~67mm turbo aiming for 400+ hp
M5od-R2 transmission (outputshaft is from an 80's bronco but everything else uses upgraded bits from an '04 upgraded version)
Borg Warner 4404 full time awd transfercase
Dana 35 front diff regeared for 3.55
03 cobra irs with poly body bushings (also 3.55 gears)
13" 96 cobra front brakes
11.65" 03 cobra rear brakes



A couple pics I could find before full disassembly. This monster truck stance is the car without the transmission only, never again!

I started scheming, figuring out what I wanted to do with the car. It was about a year or two before this when I started watching more and more car related channels on youtube, mighty car mods, project binky, B is for Build etc. Seeing their work, gymkhana 7 and a 1982 awd cutlass swap I got some pretty good ideas of what I wanted and felt I could do.

I gutted the car. Pulled everything out of it and began to prep it. I knew I'd need to stiffen the chassis so I welded in thru floor sub-frame connectors. For a rear end I found an 03 cobra IRS on craigslist for 800 bucks (that is a steal) and a 96 Explorer XLT. I would have the complete awd system to gut and a source to copy mounting points from.

I made a jig using the mounting points in the explorer. lower control arms, differential, steering rack, sway bar, upper control arms. I got em. And then I pulled the jig and built around it. And it looked like crap. No biggie.


This is still a WIP shot but it shows that a good bit of the design changed. And that a bunch of work was done that got poorly documented. Eh it happens. But with the k-member mostly together I could start bolting things together and setting it in the car. The car was back on four wheels for the first time in a while.
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Apr 4, 2018
Here we got a shot of the pushrod suspension being worked on as well as the transmission tunnel gore to allow a transfer-case to snuggle up next to the driver


This next photo is technically out of order and not currently relevant. I'm cleaning up the transmission tunnel a bit so some of the sheet metal seen isn't even there anymore. But hey, I've got a seat and a truck shifter plopped on.
Apr 4, 2018
I wanted to bring cobra brakes to all corners of the car but I would have to adapt them to the explorer spindle. Time to do some CAD and 3d printing!


I had a flat braket cut out of (I believe 3/8") steel then over to a machinist for the holes to get drilled and tapped as well as getting some spacers lathed to get the offset correct. I had to make up a distance of 17mm


I didn't really have an issue with the stink...
SN Certified Technician
Mar 2, 2015
That car is going to be sick. An AWD mustang is a bunch of folks dream.


Well-Known Member
Feb 1, 2016
New York
Wow awesome. Definitely following this!
Apr 4, 2018
Since my last update I've worked on draining my wallet, redoing the transmission tunnel and building a shifter.

The tunnel was functional but ugly as seen here.

A little cutting and more metal later and we have this:

Is the worn off (temp) paint from where the seat interferes? Yeah, but the seat will get moved a bit as well as swapped with a narrower seat.

A keen eye will see a new shifter. I lobbed the top of the old shifter for a stub to weld to and built this contraption. There is a slight but of side to side play in the shifter I need to work out but it does shift. More pics of shifter:

I have most of the steering shaft sorted out:

Turns out the new mustangs use the same style connections as the explorer, and the whole assembly cheaper than a single flaming river joint. I had to shorten the first bit of shaft a good bit, the longer shaft is collapsible although i need to shorten the inner and outer a bit as installed only has a couple inches it'll shorten. The collapsible shaft got the old steering column end welded on (beveled shaft ends, welded, collar slid over joint, welded). I've got a support bearing arriving tomorrow. Steering should be functional by the weekend.
Apr 4, 2018
And last but not least, I got some go fast bits.


CXRacing 67mm turbo.


You may be thinking to yourself, "Those look like some ebay special headers". You would be incorrect. They are Amazon special headers. The hardware was all wrong, the paint has runs and they are not "Stainless steel". Which is perfectly ok. I was planning on buying flanges with stubs (120ish on ebay) when i came across these and read a negative comment "blah blah blah not stainless, magnet stuck good". At 20 bucks shipped i figured it'd be worth a shot. The guy was correct, these are not stainless. Score. It'll be much easier for me to make hot side piping in mild steel than stainless, I really just dont have the setup for stainless. Hot side piping will be 16ga mild steel, 3" into the turbo joining with a 2" crossover with vbands. Headers and hot side will get coated and wrapped so as long as it works I'm content.
Feb 18, 2001
Are they really not stainless because there are some some grades of SS that are magnetic. A lot of exhaust components are made from 409 stainless which is magnetic
Apr 4, 2018
The listing states they are "Made From High Quality T304 Stainless Steel For Strength & Durability"
Apr 4, 2018
It seemed to weld just fine.


I still have to do the crossover but I got the turbo in place.
I chopped then end of the manifold off and ran some 3" straight forward and then 90 degrees up into the flange. I was able to aim the back pretty well and get some distance between the coil-over and the hotside or the turbo.
I'll snag some more pics tonight or the manifold and the clearance I've got behind the turbo.


BTW, I like dudes.
Mod Dude
Nov 29, 1999
This sir was well worth the time to read it all. I hope you see this through. You may start a trend.


Active Member
Jan 3, 2017
Man, Ive kicked this around for a few years. I've had a few awd explorers. I seem to lack the ambition/skill to follow through. Can't wait! Keep it up.