Mustang Ii Vs. Newer Mustangs

Discussion in '1974 - 1978 Mustang II Talk & Tech' started by CobraIIboy, Aug 20, 2013.

  1. Can the Mustang II be modified to run and handle as well as the newer Mustangs? Please keep in mind that I am new to this forum, as well as new to Mustangs.
  2. Wow, nobody???:shrug:
  3. Realistically, no, if you're talking about a reasonable, average budget and simple, standard modifications. You can dramatically improve the car from how it left the factory (though parts are a challenge to find) and you can (relatively) easily modernize the drivetrain. But to begin to compare it to a modern car (with the conveniences, electronics, materials, and strong / lightweight engineering advances of the past 40 years) is to do the classics an injustice. If that is your goal, financially speaking you are far, far better off starting with something newer (SN95 is a great advancement available for limited budgets). If your pockets are super-deep, you can do anything (which means practically crafting your own new car with Mustang II body features). This isn't beating on the II, the exact same thing can be said for Classics and Fox Mustangs as well.
  4. Don't get me wrong, I don't have deep pockets. In fact, I'm just coming off of a divorce, so my pockets are quite shallow. I was just thinking of maybe adding a good dual plane intake and 4-barrel carb, some true dual exhaust, and maybe some work on the engine to raise the compression (and of course, a better cam). A shift kit in the tranny is also in the future. The suspension has me curious, as I would love to make it handle well. I still don't know very much about it, other than it has a 302 and automatic tranny. I really don't know what the factory installed as far as differential gearing, options, etc.
  5. Fellow man with shallow pockets, and also a divorce survivor. Best wishes to you, I find my old car a great source of healing. :) You can do a lot if you're looking for some extra horses and some improvements to handling, etc. My response took your question very literally -- to really make it like a modern car, probably a huge investment. To make it much better than factory, definitely possible.

    Depending on what year 302 is in there, imho the most inexpensive way to get huge power gains is to get an H.O. motor from a later Mustang and bolt on all of the II's accessories. You'll have much better compression, breathing, and a nice roller cam, and better low-end components. Running used 302 H.O.'s are probably cheaper than building up an older 302.

    For everything else, once you dig in, ask away and I'm sure you'll find someone to help. Seems the II section is a little sleepy here it seems, so it may take a while for someone to notice your question. But someone will.
  6. Thanks much. So, H.O. motors are fairly common? How about a good set of dual exhaust? Can that be installed? Can the cats and the air pump be deleted? Sorry, got a lot of questions.
  7. Yes, very common, they were used on Mustang from 82-95. You can also get a motor from a later-model Explorer which has even better flowing heads. You can probably find many near you, some with very low mileage, by searching (junkyard inventory website). Most of your existing accessories (intake mainfold, carb, distributor) will just bolt on, you'd just need to change the firing order by rerouting your plug wires and add an electric fuel pump.

    True duals are a bit of a challenge if you want rear-exit (the gas-tank is off to one side so both pipes have to exit on the passenger rear so one has to cross-over at some point) but can definitely be done. If you want side-exit or exhaust that dumps before the axle then it's very simple. Probably the biggest thing is ensuring you have a double-hump crossmember under the transmission. I'm not aware of anyone that still makes or stocks II pipes so any exhaust work is going to be custom-fabrication.

    The cats and air pump can usually be deleted with no issues. It's doubtful the old cats would still be functional honestly, so even if you live in an emissions-checking area, you could replace with some generic high-flow cats from Jegs (or similar) for little cash, and which don't require an air-pump. In my area, the II's are now considered 'historical vehicles' and no longer subject to emissions. The belt adjustment is usually in the alternator and not at the air-pump so you just need a shorter belt typically.
  8. Mine runs 12s in the quarter if that means anything.

    Anything you can do to any other 302-powered Ford can be done to the II's 302.

    The things to be careful of are that the II used a specific flywheel (manual) or flexplate (automatic), as well as unique bellhousings (both transmissions), torque converter (automatic), clutch set (manual), and motor mounts (both).

    Any modification that requires changing those items will require fabrication, but other than that, it's not a particularly hard car to build up.

    The front suspension can be upgraded a lot by using stuff from the hot rod industry (they used to love using Mustang II suspensions, now that they're scarce, they use custom, Mustang II-based suspensions) as well as the aftermarket for dirt-track Mustang IIs and Pintos (Jegs has a surprisingly good selection of brake upgrades in their circle-track section that includes DOT-approved parts, for instance.) Even the front pieces for five-lug conversions can be had this way, and you can have a machine shop re-drill your stock rear axles and then run Ranger drums (I forget which year) on the rear if you wanted to do a five-lug swap.

    The rear suspension is where you'll have to fabricate to do a lot of upgrading, as there's just not much market there other than traction bars from Stumpy's Fab works, and lowering blocks from Racer Walsh. You could do like the previous owner of my '75 and remove two springs from each side and add air shocks if you're wanting a better launch for drag racing, but I wouldn't recommend it, I've had to remove the spring isolators since, and the ride is slightly unpredictable with the shocks below 100psi (which leaves the car ass-high, which would be fine if I wasn't running 205/55/16 rubber on the street, making it look ridiculous, but it actually looks great with my drag radials on it at the track.) If handling is what you're after, then there are a few options, but they will all require fabrication, but there's even a guy on running a Jaguar-style independent rear suspension with inboard brake rotors.

    As far as exhaust goes, as mentioned, the stupid fuel tank on these cars limits you somewhat from an aesthetic standpoint, as you can't put a driver's side tailpipe out the back. A lot of guys (including myself on both my IIs) run duals off their headers or manifolds to mufflers under the rear seat area, and dump the exhaust under the car, right there before the rear axle. This isn't legal in many states (including mine), and is loud as hell both in and out of the car if using any kind of chambered muffler or glasspack. (I have Flowmaster 40 series on the '75 and Flowmaster Super 44s on the '76). On my '76 I removed the stock gas tank and ran a fuel cell in the trunk and was going to have over-the-axle tailpipes fabricated, but never got around to it. Others have had systems fabricated that exited in front of the rear wheels, at a downward angle just past the rear wheels (similar to the setup on late 70s Firebirds, after a fashion), or even dual tailpipes over the axle on the right side. The easiest to deal with for an exhaust shop would probably be a 2-into-1 system with a single tailpipe. There are several good mufflers out there with dual inlets and a single out, or you could use a Y-pipe with a single in/out muffler.
  9. Not to sound callous....but with what you plan on doing and the money it sounds like you have to work with, you won't even hand with a new V6 Mustang.

    Anything can be modified to run fast in a straight line and go around corners, but you're going to have to spend some heavy dough on your car if you expect to keep pace with a newer S197. If you're on a budget, I'd set my sights a little lower if I were you. Shoot for keeping up with bolt on Fox bodies and be satisfied with what you have.
  10. Fixt.
  11. I appreciate all the replies, even the ones that are "callous". I don't have the funds as you say, but I just really like the look of that particular year of Mustang, especially the Cobra II. I can go a little bit at a time, as I have been doing with my 1970 Plymouth Duster. As for the handling, I was considering a stiffer set of sway bars, or maybe those in conjunction with urethane bushings, stiffer shocks, etc. I know it ain't no hi-performance high priced sports car. I just want to make it fun to drive, and be able from time to time to school a few of those tuners.

    So, 74stang2togo, are you saying that the H.O. 302 would take fabrication to install?
  12. With an H.O. v8 and the lightweight II body, you might just school a few more folks than you'd expect. But I do see and agree with Gearbanger's point -- the happiest II owner is content with style and making the most of what they have. You don't have to be the quickest thing on the road to be the coolest, and the II's so ugly it's beautiful.

    I'm sure 74stang2togo can respond to your inquiry, everything he points out is excellent information. I can chime in too and see if our thoughts mesh up.

    The engine itself is 99.9% bolt-in, but there's a little work to be done related to the special bellhousing 74stang mentions that was unique to the II. To address that, you have two basic options.

    1 - For a manual, bring over the donor T5 (along with bellhousing and clutch components). For an auto, bring over the donor C4 or AOD (not AODE) along with the bellhousing and tq converter. You'll end up needing to clearance the transmission tunnel, probably modify the driveshaft, and enlarge the shifter opening, and can possibly suffer from some exhaust clearance issues. Quite a bit of fabrication if you go this route, but you end up with a sturdy modern transmission (with overdrive on the T5 / AOD).

    2 - Keep your existing flywheel, clutch, bellhousing, and transmission (or flexplate, tq converter, bellhousing, and transmission in the case of an automatic) and bolt those to your new engine. The only thing you'll need to do is have your flywheel / flexplate re-balanced to a 50 oz. imbalance as the modern engines require. You won't be able to find a II-sized flywheel with a 50 oz. imbalance I'm afraid (and your stock one would have a 28 oz. imbalance). This shouldn't cost very much and a competent machine-shop should be able to handle it for you. That's it, pretty much a drop-in operation with your existing carbureted accessories like distributor, intake manifold, carb (except for the fuel-pump but it's an insignificant effort to add an electric one).
  13. If you have an automatic, the only thing you'd need is the Art Carr flexplate for the 50oz. imbalance.

    If you have a manual, you have several options, none of them nearly that simple.

    First would be to swap to a T5 using a fox bell, flywheel, clutch assy, etc. You'll have to figure out any fitment issues with headers and/or exhaust pipes, and have to shorten the driveshaft.

    Second would be to get your stock flywheel re-balanced by a machine shop. This makes it a bolt-in-and-go swap, and the only reason I didn't put it first is because the factory RAD4 transmissions aren't all that durable with much more than stock power in front of them. (Also see the last sentence of reason #3.)

    Third would be to combine the two ideas, using a T5 with the Rad4 bell and having your stock flywheel rebalanced. I list this one third because replacement clutch parts for the II are getting harder to find, where as fox clutch parts (including performance parts) are dime-a-dozen.

    These are slight generalizations. There are build threads of all three scenarios both here and on that would give you more in-depth information; written by those who have actually done it, instead of read about it when doing research and gone a different direction like myself.

    To be honest though, unless you have your heart set on a roller cam, there's no real reason to swap to a 5.0HO. For the same kind of money, you can build this: or something very similar. (The engine in my dad's Capri is based loosely off this build, and the one in my '75 is suprisingly similar considering the previous owner of my car built the engine in it during the 1990s, before the internet was popular/prevalent.)
    #13 74stang2togo, Aug 26, 2013
    Last edited: Aug 26, 2013
  14. Sounds like can have a fun to drive vehicle without any major bucks being spent. As for the wheels, are they 13" wheels? I have tried to research that size tire, and nowadays there just ain't much in the way of 13" tires to be found.

  15. Call your local Firestone store (or Expert Tire, or Wheels Plus, they're all owned by Bridgestone). They should all stock or be able to order 13" PrimeWell PS830s or PS850 or Valera Tourings. (We keep them in stock at the store I work at, put some on a Datsun 810 the other day, was cool as hell.)

    Also, check out this thread about wheel/tire combinations known to fit:

    The cool thing is, you'll notice several different fox-body Mustang wheels (both OE and aftermarket) that fit, and THOSE are usually a dime-a-dozen on Craigslist (There's a full set of silver pony wheels down here for $150 right now, can't beat a deal like that.)

    My personal favorite is "pony" style fox-body wheels with 205/55/16s on the front and either the same or 225/50/16s on the rear. I've run that combo on all three of the IIs I've built. (Have 16x7 chrome "Pony" wheels with Firestone Firehawk WideOval AS tires in 205/55/16 all around on mine right now. I almost wish I'd gone for the larger size in the rear again like I had in the past, but not having to carry two spares is a lot more convenient for me, as the rear end has a locker in it, and the larger size won't clear on the front.)
  16. The new 5.0 monster? Maybe not if your budget is low. The 4.6's? Yes. Obviously, it depends on your final goal. You can build a II to handle and it won't necessarily break the bank. Our very own alcino did it with his Cobra, pulled almost 1g on a skidpad. Here is a link to a thread congratulating him on his car being featured in PHR a few years back.

    As already stated, about anything you can do to any other small block Ford is applicable to the II. Different transmission options may require a bit of modification, but if you have the skills and access to the equipment, it is not a horribly big deal. Tire sizes can be limited with the stock body, but you are certainly not limited to 13" tires. The aforementioned thread on tire sizes is a pretty good resource.

    Good luck with your project, and as always-post pics!! I'm sure everyone wants to see what you're working on!!
  17. I appreciate the support. I have been trying to come up with a way to add dual exhaust, but have been told that the fuel tank is offset, so I guess the standard duals are out of the question. I don't plan on any really radical upgrades, just a 4 barrel manifold and carb, a cam replacement, maybe a shift kit for the tranny, and a tire and wheel upgrade. Is the stock 302 a low compression engine? Would I have to replace the pistons, or would a camshaft upgrade be good enough?
  18. Those are good starting points and will certainly help out in the power department, but don't count on coming anywhere close to a new 5.0 performance wise. If you're really lucky, you'll make about 200hp at the flywheel with those mods. That's about on par with a pre-'87 EFI Mustang and less than half the power of a new one.

    Unless you plan on equalizing things with nitrous, there's really not going to be any way around spending money to reach your goal. H/C/I upgrades will be minimum. IMO, skip modifying your current mill and just find yourself a wrecked '96-'01 Explorer and pirate the engine. Add a decent intake manifold and set of headers, upgrade the cam and valve springs and find a way to run that dual exhaust. That'll at least get you a solid 13-second car if you can managed to get the power to the pavement. Still not Coyote crushing power, but you'll be much further ahead with that that you will trying to modify your original mill.
  19. Thanks for the advice, Gearbanger. You're not the only one to say that a newer 302 would be the way to go. In fact, one even advised to use an H.O 302. Are either of these easy to locate? Why did you advise of the Explorer? Will the C-4 be able to handle the additional power?
  20. I recommended the Explorer engine for a couple of reasons. One, because the one piece rear main seal in the later blocks is far less prone to leakage than the rope style seal found in the pre-'83 engines and the later roller block utilizes a roller camshaft design that has proven much more smoothly and efficient than their earlier flat tappet camshaft design....not to mention the roller engine will run forever.

    Another reason I recommended the Explorer was because the Explorer engines came with GT40 and GT40P head castings. These were probably the best factory iron head offered on any small block built after the muscle car era. They're light years better than the small, restrictive emissions choked units your Mustang II's original engine would have come with and still even far better than the E7TE castings the later HO engines were saddled with.

    Explorer engines can also often be picked up fairly cheaply compared to an HO found in any Mustang, Lincoln or Thunderbird. The only thing you really need to do to the Explorer long block is swap out the camshaft and valve springs and you're golden. Not to mention....if you buy one complete, you should have no trouble selling the Explorers upper and lower EFI intake to finance a decent 4-barrel intake for your carburetor.