First Start – Part II – A Year Later

   Posted by: kdavis

This was an awesome weekend, and made some pretty monumental progress, all things considered. Not that I really accomplished that much, but the actual things that did get done were pretty huge in the life of the project.

The weekend was spent preparing for, and executing the first start of the engine…the second time around. I actually did a test fire in the frame about a year ago, with temporary wiring and setup, etc. This time around, though, the engine is in and should stay in now. I managed to get the whole drive train in, engine, transmission, drive shaft (with safety loop), and all of the wiring connected from the chassis to the engine.

First “Real” Start

Most of the weekend work went towards the first start of the engine from it’s permanently installed position. I managed to get the engine dropped in, by myself with the help of my engine hoist, lift, ratcheting tie downs, and a lot of patience.

The length of the engine with transmission on it, combined with the relatively small engine bay made dropping the engine in by myself a bit of a challenge, but after a few hours, I managed to get it in place and mounted down. I was also able to get the transmission mount secured. After it was in place, then came hooking up the miscellaneous wiring (tach, coil, alternator, starter, etc.), and then getting all of the various tubing and lines hooked up (heater hoses, vacuum lines, etc.)

I was so excited to get the headers installed again and then the newly coated side pipes mated up to them. I was amazed at how well the ceramic from NitroPlate matched up, it looks like they were coated at the same time, and they look awesome! I elected to not get all of the high temp rtv on the header to side pipes for now, just in case I need to take things back apart to get everything aligned.

A bit of a surprise to me actually, not only did the motor fire on the first try after the fuel got pulled in, but the tach works, gauges all work right, and it worked pretty nicely.

Still a bit of work to be done with the engine, including the throttle cable, cleaning up the wire and hose routing, and then getting the timing set and carb adjusted to maximize power and throttle response.


Dropping in the Engine – as you can see in the video, I had forgotten that you can’t get the engine in from the front, it’s better on the side. I also needed to take the right front tire off so I could get closer to the chassis. The one issue I had was that I never adjusted my engine hoist so that I could maximize the angle of insertion. I ended up needing to use some ratcheting tie downs to get things where they needed to be. It worked out just fine, a couple of paint nicks in the firewall aluminum, but nothing a little touch up paint can’t handle. This is about 45 minutes worth of video condensed to 3 minutes. As you can see, lots and lots of fine tuning. I love the parts where I’m standing on the lift and using my foot to lower it. ;->

First Start Video:

Throttle isn’t hooked up, so I’m doing that by hand, and the clutch safety switch as well.


Response code is 404

Forte’s Drive Shaft Safety Loop:

This doesn’t seem to be a hugely popular option for these cars, but given that you’re right arm is resting directly above the drive shaft, and having seen pictures of the drive shaft coming up through that area, probably not a bad idea.

I had planned on drilling and tapping the holes for mounting the loop, but as I was looking a bit at my hardware drawers, I remembered that I had some self-drilling metal screws. I figured with 8 of them, considering that the loop is fairly light, these should be great.

I ended up drilling out 1/8″ holes on both sides (4 holes each side), then used the screw gun to get the screws drilled and screwed all the way in. I was impressed with how secure it all feels, and the process took about a 10th of the time drilling, tapping, and bolting them down would have.

The screws are normally aluminum colored, as you see in the pics, but I shot them with some black spray paint so they are less obvious.

This is the type of screw I used, but I’m not sure where they came from, probably Lowes.


Response code is 404

Clutch Pedal and Cable:

The routing and securing of the clutch cable is a bit of a challenge on these cars. I still haven’t addressed all of the issues (the cable is rubbing the adjustable quadrant), but I did manage to get the cable installed and also fabbed up some brackets.

One of the issues with the cable is keeping it away from the headers, and making it work smoothly. There are lots of options on where to mount the bracket in the engine bay. Many people simply mount it to the driver’s side F panel, which seems to work. Because where I mounted my brake fluid reservoirs, this wasn’t an option. I decided to use one of the accessory mounting holes in the driver’s side head instead. This worked well, and allowed for a nice and straight cable, between the fuel pump and oil filter, then straight under the motor mounts to the clutch fork. A little massaging was necessary to get it all lined out and not rubbing, as well as keeping it off of the oil filter itself. I’m still not 100% satisfied with how it’s riding against the fuel line, so I’ll probably fabricate an additional bracket to use the 2nd accessory hole in that head.

Another issue with the clutch cable is getting the clutch pedal aligned correctly when the clutch cable is in it’s “rest” position. With most adjustable quadrants, the clutch pedal will sit 3-4″ in front of the brake pedal (towards the driver), which would not only look funny, but would be annoying and potentially dangerous as you switch between the pedals.

The solution for this issue is to fabricate a “stop” so that when the clutch cable is adjusted, the pedal won’t go all the way forward. On the fox body pedal box, there are 2 holes (at least in mine) that sit under part of the pedal assembly near where the quadrant goes. I took a fairly low-tech approach, and made a “stop” out of 1/2 of an L bracket I had. I drilled 2 holes to attach the bracket, positioned the pedal where I wanted it to stop, and measured and cut the bracket to length to hold it in that position. My clutch pedal cover and the brake pedal cover aren’t quite aligned, so need to still fix that angle, but that’s pretty easy.


Response code is 404

Next steps in getting the car moving under it’s own power is getting the transmission filled back with fluid. Unfortunately, the upper fill “bolt” is frozen, and rather than risk breaking it off, I found out you can fill the transmission through the shifter hole, so I’ll give that a shot.

Attaching the throttle cable from the pedal to the carb is a bit of a challenge on these cars as well, so I’ll need to come up with a solution for that. I’m trying to avoid dropping $100 on a Holley throttle cable bracket. It’s possible to turn the carb around backwards as well, but I’m also trying to avoid that.

I’d love to get the wiring all buttoned up, zip tied, and taped, but I need to shake the car down a little bit first, just in case something shows up with the wiring. That way I can access everything without having to cut zip ties.

Moving right along!

Donor Information

   Posted by: kdavis

Well, after spending a few days searching for suitable donors and trying to decipher all of the necessary information on what donor parts are actually required, what donor years give you the parts you need in the right configuration, etc., I came to the realization today that I still know very little.

What I do know is that it seems that I should no longer keep looking for a donor. Since I don’t need the engine and transmission, a donor won’t give me much in the way of value, and the extra parts won’t really have enough value to make it worth it.

Here’s some of the stuff that I learned about donors for FFR kits, I thought I’d put it here for archiving and if someone else is looking.

What years started disc brakes on the rear? – 1994

Can I use a V6? Yes, but it’ll have a weaker 7.5″ rear end, not advisable

Can I use a 4cyl? No.

Any reason not to use a 94+ donor?
Yes, the axle width is wider, which will mean more limited wheel options (backspace) or you will need to change the axles.

Will the stock rear end have the right gearing? For most applications, no, the stock 3.08’s and less gearing will want to be replaced to 3.55’s or 3.73’s at least. This will help the relatively mild stock motor get a little more punch and put more power to the road, so to speak. As horsepower increases through add-ons and upgrades, wheel spin could be come an issue with the 3.55’s, etc., and it will likely prove useful to go back to using 3.27’s or 3.08’s to ensure the rubber continues to meet the road effectively.

What Year is the best of all worlds? 87-93 5.0 Mustangs, they have the 8.8″ rear end

I’m going to start researching individual parts now, and see what I can come up with.

Some 302/5.0L Stock Engine Build Up Info I found (thanks to Oldtymeflyr):

Go with a 85 Mustang Duraspark distributor, rebuilt it might go $50.

Recently there was a discussion comparing intakes, the Edelbrock Performer worked better than the RPM manifold.

Cams, with a E303 cam, an early Performer type intake and with a set of stock GT40P heads, I am right at 300 RWT. Also, I run a vacuum Holley 600 and 4 into 4 exhaust.

My thoughts are do a little work on a cheap set of GT40P heads, pick your cam right and you should be a little over 300 RWHP.

Some More Donor Info:

From 66fstbk:

I wouldn’t do a “single” donor. Just get the parts you want from a couple different vehicles. You can do it very affordably if you shop at the right yards.
98′ T-Bird IRS Complete with posi and discs $250 (requires IRS FFR option)
95″ spindles and brakes in excellent condition $100
04′ fuel tank with plastic shiled and filler tube like new $100
95′ 5.0 engine and trans 74k mi. $1,000 (only needed shortblock and trans, did not need rebuild)

If I had purchased a 87-93 it would likely have needed an engine rebuild, would not have used front hubs or brakes, rear end (because I used IRS). So there was no point of a single donor for me.

True the kits were origionally designed for Fox single donors but a lot better parts from different year cars plus the age of these donors make this a less and less optimal solution every with passing year.

From Sergio:

I’ve used a 1991 donor to build a FFR MKI and a 2003 SVT Mustang Cobra to build a FFR MKIII .

I think I am qualified to say that the Best Donor for these cars is The Terminator (also Known as the 2003/2004 SVT Cobras.)

87-93 donors come with stock 225HP while the 03/04 cobras make 420HP stock.

While you couldn’t probably use a 03 Cobra as a donor for a MKI (unless you do tons of modifications), you can use any 87-2004 Mustang V8 to build your MKIII, except that (thanks to me), Factory Five modified their literature to read: You can use any V8 Mustang from 87 to 2004 (except 03/04 Cobras).

The 03/04 Cobras can be used as donors as I have proven, with some sensible modifications, a handful of others have done it too now.

Inspiration and Ideas

   Posted by: kdavis

As I’ve gotten started, I’ve been learning a lot, and having spent more than a year just researching the kit and the build process, I’ve gathered a ton of valuable information. I’ve also been researching colors, interiors, engine options, etc.

I thought it would make sense to put this information here on the build site to not only give others a chance to use the information, but to give me a place to archive it as well.


This may not be the best way to start off my build site, but hey, it’s MY build, so I can do whatever I want, right? All you die hard blue-oval fans might want to just skip this section all together, and move on to less controversial topics.

I’ve grown up on Chevy’s. I was really into Chevy heavy metal in my earlier years, and I’ve owned 2 different 1967 Chevelle Malibu’s. I loved the both, and have always really liked the Chevy power plants.

I’m really not one of those all Chevy’s are awesome and all Ford’s suck kind of guys. I pretty much love all well-made cars, from every manufacturer and every part of the globe.

That being said, since I know what I’m getting into with a Chevy engine, I’ve decide to drop one into my FFR kit. I feel fine about it since it’s a kit car and since it’s mine to choose what goes into it. In the old days of the kits, you’d have to do some frame modification and fabrication to make this work since the FFR Roadster is built around Ford options, but thanks to guys like Mike Forte, it’s become a little easier since he makes custom adapters for the motor mounts. I’ll still have to make my own headers to fit the 5.0L j-pipes, but there are lots of options and guides out there.

To discuss non-ford power in the FFR, visit this forum: Non-Ford Forum.

I’ve decide it still would be right for me to drop an Auto tranny in here, so I’m going 4-speed. If I can find a decent deal on a Muncie M21 or M22, I’ll be going that direction since they are bullet-proof. If not, I’ll probably be looking at the Saginaw 4-speed instead. I’m not dragging this car, and those are a pretty good proven tranny and should do the job to handle what will be a sub-400hp and torque car.

I’m hoping to find a nice SBC 327 I can drop in here, it’s a nice high rev motor that should make the Roadster an absolute joy to drive. Second option is a SBC 350. Either of these would get me into the 300-375hp and torque range without a ton of money and parts.

Suspension Options:

This was where I was pretty confused with ordering. There are several options when placing the order for the FFR base kit. It was a little unclear to me what you get with each kit, what you still need, and what it all means and costs.

Here’s a summary of what I found out:

1) IRS – Independent Rear Suspension is all the rage nowadays, and is supposed to offer the best balance of handling and ride comfort. Most modern sports cars come with IRS from the factory. This is an option for FFR kits, and not a cheap one at $2000+. I was excited to learn that you could find a full IRS rear end from an SC Ford Thunderbird (1989) that would fit into the FFR for under $500 usually. That excitement quickly faded, however when I realized that this only got you so far, and you still needed the IRS option added to the base kit to make it work. Still a cheaper option than others out there, but not important enough for me to go that way.
2) 3/4/5 Link Options – These are the other options out there. Talking to the FFR factory guys, the 3-link gives you the best bang for your buck and seems to be a good option to order from FFR. 4 Link is the standard solid axle choice for the Mustang and OEM applications. 5 Link is a new setup, and is supposed to be a great alternative to IRS. Gordon Levy has them for about $1600, and I’m still looking at it for an option.

Since I’m trying to keep my initial cash outlay down, I just went with the basic 4-link OEM setup, and I can use the rear end out of the 87-04 Mustangs to get it done. As I see it, I won’t be track racing this thing, and the ride quality isn’t all that big of an issue (they stink, their load, and bumpy anyway.) If that doesn’t work long-term, I can go looking at the 5-link instead.


I’m really into custom interior stuff, to the type of fabrics chosen to the Audio system and little features that make things cool and unique.

Some ideas I’m tossing around:

1) Using a double-din Nav-type stereo with the full screen display, hidden behind a panel of some sort to make it look nicer.
2) Integrating a rear-view/backup camera and feeding it into the display. I have this on my suburban and love it, and it should help to add some better rear visibility, which these cars suffer a little from.
3) Bass Shakers in the seats – the interior of the car is pretty limited, so fitting a 12″ sub will be impossible. I use the LFE’s in my home theater chairs, and they work great, so this will be a relatively simple way to handle the system’s bass.
4) Behind-the-Seat shelf – I saw this on and it looked great (J Persons), plus it gives a place to mount some speakers (in each rear corner firing across,) and possibly the system amplifiers.
5) Tan Interior – I really like the Orange on Tan look, and will likely be replacing the supplied black interior with a tan one, and hope to recover the black vinyl seats with some nice tan leather ones, and hoping I can pull off doing my own upholstery. We’ll see how that turns out.

Still lots of planning to do, and I’ll keep updating the blog. In the meantime, here are some inspirational pics.

FFR Car I really like the Orange Color of (House of Kolor Tangelo Pearl sprayed over white base coat):

This is Mike M’s Car.

Interior Pics: (This is a 67 Chevelle Vert, I really like the integrated center column and painted dash, plus the tan leather):