The Engine Goes Home
After more than a year without one, the Disgustang finally got an engine again on Sunday. But the engine that went back in wasn’t the one the came from the factory, or even the rebuilt one that replaced it, in fact this is the third different engine this car has had since new. As you may recall, the story I got was that the previous owners had blown the factory-installed motor at about 75,000 miles. They’d had a mass-market rebuilt motor installed, but after that, the car never really ran right. Not long after getting the car back it started regularly fouling one of the spark plugs, and once they got tired of frequently changing plugs, they parked the car off to the side of their driveway, where it sat for the next 25 years.
After tearing it down, when I discovered the replacement block had already been bored .030 over, finding another block seemed like the best thing to do. Rather than boring the existing block out to .040 over and then inviting durability issues, overheating, and basically taking the block to the limit, getting a standard-bore block seemed like a no-brainer. The engine that’s now in the car is somewhat of a Frankenstein motor; it has the heads and valve covers that were on the motor that came with the car, the crankshaft out of a motor I bought from Craigslist, the block was bought from another guy from Craigslist, and the connecting rods came from yet another Craigslist seller. JGM basically picked the best parts out of the boxes of parts I gave them and refinished, rebuilt, and restored them to better than new.
It took us the better part of the day to get the engine into the car. Given how difficult it is to align the hood (without taking paint off, that is), I wanted to leave the hood on. That made the job a little more complicated, but with two people it wasn’t terrible. The most time-consuming part of the installation was installing the driver’s side motor mount bolt. And thanks to the fact that we installed the headers after I mounted the bell-housing, I had the pleasure of doing it twice!
Based on Jim Grubbs’s recommendation, I’d bought Doug Thorley Tri-Y headers. They fit really nicely in the engine compartment with a lot more clearance than you usually see. And the quality is quickly clear the moment you look at them. They even hang down evenly underneath the car. Unlike practically every other header brand, Doug Thorley headers are designed to fit the car as it came from the factory without modifications, so I don’t need the power steering slave cylinder lowering bracket other brands would need. I couldn’t be more pleased with the purchase. The headers install from underneath once the block is in the car, and while the left header is a much tighter installation, we figured out that you could install the left one without needing to lift the engine…as long as the bell housing hasn’t been installed. So, of course, we installed the bell and then had to go back and lift the engine back up to get the driver’s side header installed. The passenger side header went in immediately. And boy are they beautiful! I can’t stop opening the hood to stare.