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Discussion Starter #1
I'm new here and happy I found this site. I'm racing a 1992 Super Coupe with the 3.8 super charger motor. The problem I've been having is blowing head gaskets. 3 times now. I've purchased a used 302 and plan on rebuilding it and racing it in my 1992 T-bird super coupe. It appears that the original 5 speed trans will bolt up. Any other advice will help me get this started.
Also I have the 3.8 complete motor with with the super charger that works good. The motor does need a new head gasket but other than that is a good and complete motor. I have 2 full 3.8 super coupe motors both with blown head gaskets and another 1992 super charger all in good condition. I also have other motor parts for this motor.

send me an email at [email protected]
 

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I ran an XR7 Cougar in Lemons with the same 5.0/M5R2 setup, and S4Gunn runs a Tbird with the same setup as well. The 302 will be much more reliable than the SC motor for endurance racing. I ran 5.0 Explorer motors in mine to take advantage of the GT40 heads and intake manifold, and I just got stock used motors and swapped them out when they were done, whereas Gunn actually went through and rebuilt his engine. Either way, the T-bird makes a fun lemons car when set up properly. A few points of advice for you.
-Switch to 17" wheels and 13" Cobra brakes, if you haven't already. Brakes, wheels, and tires are all considered safety equipment, and exempt from the $500 limit, so I did the Mustang hub swap, and ran 17x9 wheels, with 275/40/17 Nitto NT05 tires. Those tires, combined with the 13" Cobra brake setup, and I could brake later than almost anyone else on the track.
-Add bracing. Obvously good tires and good suspension components are a given, but welding in some bracing for the suspension made a significant improvement in handling as well. I used 1" square tubing, and welded across the bottom of the front subframe to connect where the front of the strut rod attaches to where the lower control arm attaches. I also welded from the back of the front subframe to the bottom of the frame rail where it goes into the floor. I also made a brace with 2 pieces of plate steel and some roll bar tubing to go under the rear diff to brace the rear lower control arms to each other. That one I made a bolt-in in case I had to drop the diff, which I did end up having to do at the track once.
-Change the rear gear. Without the torque of the SC engine, you will have to make up for it in gearing, and the 5-speed SCs came stock with a 2.73 rear gear. My advice is to run as much rear gear as you can get away with based on the top speeds you will be hitting on the track. My car ran the best with 3.27s, in the rear. After I cooked that diff, I had a set of 3.08s laying around that I threw in, but the car was noticably slower, so I stepped it up to 3.55s. Only problem with that was with the 3.55 gears, hitting 139mph on the straight, I hit the critical speed of the driveshaft and broke the tailshaft housing off the trans. Gunn actually runs 3.73s in his car, but the track he runs on is much tighter, so he is only getting up to around 120mph tops. The 3.73s are real nice though if you can get away with it because the M5R2 has a big drop from 2nd to 3rd, and with the 3.73s, you can pretty much stay in 3rd and 4th, whereas with the 3.27s there were often turns where 2nd was too steep, but 3rd wasn't steep enough, so it was either drop into 2nd and have to shift while still coming out of the turn, or ride out 3rd and bog a bit coming out of the turn. The 3.73s were much better for that, but will make your top speed only around 125mph.
 
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Why cant the 3.8 SC motor be built to be reliable for racing? Is it the small radiator? My SC still has original gaskets runs good.
 

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We are talking about endurance racing. The level of abuse the car gets put through is unlike anything you could ever come close to on the street. The SC motor is great on the street, and is great for drag racing, and would even be great for short stints of road racing, but it won’t take the abuse of endurance racing.
 

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A friend of mine ran the 3.8SC for a few years on the west coast. I recall once helping him do a HG job at the track b/c his engine was blown and ours wasn't.
My old thread will help you with the 5.0 conversion but since you are using an early model chassis you'll have less electrical do deal with. Pay attention to the electrical required for telling the alternator to charge the battery though.


Cooling wise, I remember having to beef up the cooling system going from a 3.8N/A to a 5.0. The 3.8L radiator wasn't keeping the engine cool enough.
I would just run the stock engine until it goes and at that point, tear the engine all apart and rebuilt it right. As long as the heads and valve covers are scuzzy looking, its a tbird. Noone will care.

Engine wise, besides the basic 5.0 tweaks (GT40 heads, new cam, new springs, bore out), I ended up needing SS valves because 5.0 engines can get hot with this much abuse and when they do, you will inevitably get a stuck valve in the iron heads. You'll finish the race but she'll feel down on power. While it sucks to put $400 labor+parts into heads that have/had a street value of $300/pair (not sure if this is true anymore since aftermarket CNC aluminum heads are so cheap now and can make way more HP), the guy who did my heads said that most of the guys running 302s on the west coast inevitably went down the same path at some point.

As an alternative idea, one thing I wish I had done was found a 4.2L V6 to race. A splitport 4.2L engine would probably have the right balance of power, weight, and fuel efficiency to do pretty well.
I never found a donor and the V8s were calling.
 

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I ran an XR7 Cougar in Lemons with the same 5.0/M5R2 setup, and S4Gunn runs a Tbird with the same setup as well. The 302 will be much more reliable than the SC motor for endurance racing. I ran 5.0 Explorer motors in mine to take advantage of the GT40 heads and intake manifold, and I just got stock used motors and swapped them out when they were done, whereas Gunn actually went through and rebuilt his engine. Either way, the T-bird makes a fun lemons car when set up properly. A few points of advice for you.
-Switch to 17" wheels and 13" Cobra brakes, if you haven't already. Brakes, wheels, and tires are all considered safety equipment, and exempt from the $500 limit, so I did the Mustang hub swap, and ran 17x9 wheels, with 275/40/17 Nitto NT05 tires. Those tires, combined with the 13" Cobra brake setup, and I could brake later than almost anyone else on the track.
-Add bracing. Obvously good tires and good suspension components are a given, but welding in some bracing for the suspension made a significant improvement in handling as well. I used 1" square tubing, and welded across the bottom of the front subframe to connect where the front of the strut rod attaches to where the lower control arm attaches. I also welded from the back of the front subframe to the bottom of the frame rail where it goes into the floor. I also made a brace with 2 pieces of plate steel and some roll bar tubing to go under the rear diff to brace the rear lower control arms to each other. That one I made a bolt-in in case I had to drop the diff, which I did end up having to do at the track once.
-Change the rear gear. Without the torque of the SC engine, you will have to make up for it in gearing, and the 5-speed SCs came stock with a 2.73 rear gear. My advice is to run as much rear gear as you can get away with based on the top speeds you will be hitting on the track. My car ran the best with 3.27s, in the rear. After I cooked that diff, I had a set of 3.08s laying around that I threw in, but the car was noticably slower, so I stepped it up to 3.55s. Only problem with that was with the 3.55 gears, hitting 139mph on the straight, I hit the critical speed of the driveshaft and broke the tailshaft housing off the trans. Gunn actually runs 3.73s in his car, but the track he runs on is much tighter, so he is only getting up to around 120mph tops. The 3.73s are real nice though if you can get away with it because the M5R2 has a big drop from 2nd to 3rd, and with the 3.73s, you can pretty much stay in 3rd and 4th, whereas with the 3.27s there were often turns where 2nd was too steep, but 3rd wasn't steep enough, so it was either drop into 2nd and have to shift while still coming out of the turn, or ride out 3rd and bog a bit coming out of the turn. The 3.73s were much better for that, but will make your top speed only around 125mph.
With 3.73s, our first gear was useless. 1st to rolling is what I'd tell the team. At one time, we were running 15" rims, tires for a spec miata, and the 3.73 gears (effective ratio with the smaller tires was something like 4.30). THAT was less than useless and with the V8, we clearly needed more tire.

I miss track racing but I suspect my next outing post-pandemic will be back in the desert.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Why cant the 3.8 SC motor be built to be reliable for racing? Is it the small radiator? My SC still has original gaskets runs good.
I've rebuilt this motor 2 times and every time it blows the head gaskets. So I I bought another motor and re-built it and it did the same thing. I love racing not rebuilding motors. I believe the problem is the aluminum heads that there is a heating and cooling problem here. So I'm going to try the 302 that has all steel heads and block.
 

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I just got an SC motor back that I had machined to run MLS gaskets. Block and heads need a 30RA finish to run them.
Also got ARP studs for a chevy 2.8. They actually fit in the ford essex v6s better than the ford specific studs.

The motor was going to be built for road racing. But the car that was gonna be used started to crack in half because of rust. So, its on the shelf. Probably going to get thrown into my 90SC for its V2 build. Currently has a 5.0 in it.
39924
 

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You blowing head gaskets every time is likely not due to aluminum heads, but rather due to detonation, which is due to heat buildup. The 5.0 is far more forgiving of heat soak than the SC.
 
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Discussion Starter #10
I ran an XR7 Cougar in Lemons with the same 5.0/M5R2 setup, and S4Gunn runs a Tbird with the same setup as well. The 302 will be much more reliable than the SC motor for endurance racing. I ran 5.0 Explorer motors in mine to take advantage of the GT40 heads and intake manifold, and I just got stock used motors and swapped them out when they were done, whereas Gunn actually went through and rebuilt his engine. Either way, the T-bird makes a fun lemons car when set up properly. A few points of advice for you.
-Switch to 17" wheels and 13" Cobra brakes, if you haven't already. Brakes, wheels, and tires are all considered safety equipment, and exempt from the $500 limit, so I did the Mustang hub swap, and ran 17x9 wheels, with 275/40/17 Nitto NT05 tires. Those tires, combined with the 13" Cobra brake setup, and I could brake later than almost anyone else on the track.
-Add bracing. Obvously good tires and good suspension components are a given, but welding in some bracing for the suspension made a significant improvement in handling as well. I used 1" square tubing, and welded across the bottom of the front subframe to connect where the front of the strut rod attaches to where the lower control arm attaches. I also welded from the back of the front subframe to the bottom of the frame rail where it goes into the floor. I also made a brace with 2 pieces of plate steel and some roll bar tubing to go under the rear diff to brace the rear lower control arms to each other. That one I made a bolt-in in case I had to drop the diff, which I did end up having to do at the track once.
-Change the rear gear. Without the torque of the SC engine, you will have to make up for it in gearing, and the 5-speed SCs came stock with a 2.73 rear gear. My advice is to run as much rear gear as you can get away with based on the top speeds you will be hitting on the track. My car ran the best with 3.27s, in the rear. After I cooked that diff, I had a set of 3.08s laying around that I threw in, but the car was noticably slower, so I stepped it up to 3.55s. Only problem with that was with the 3.55 gears, hitting 139mph on the straight, I hit the critical speed of the driveshaft and broke the tailshaft housing off the trans. Gunn actually runs 3.73s in his car, but the track he runs on is much tighter, so he is only getting up to around 120mph tops. The 3.73s are real nice though if you can get away with it because the M5R2 has a big drop from 2nd to 3rd, and with the 3.73s, you can pretty much stay in 3rd and 4th, whereas with the 3.27s there were often turns where 2nd was too steep, but 3rd wasn't steep enough, so it was either drop into 2nd and have to shift while still coming out of the turn, or ride out 3rd and bog a bit coming out of the turn. The 3.73s were much better for that, but will make your top speed only around 125mph.
This is all good info. Thanks, I will definitely will look into the rear gears. I did already change the front brakes to the cobras and use hawks pads. I haven't had any problems with brakes yet. I will look into installing the additional bracing. Thanks.
I'm also wondering id I decide to rebuild the motor what cam, pistons and carburation would be the best for endurance racing?

You blowing head gaskets every time is likely not due to aluminum heads, but rather due to detonation, which is due to heat buildup. The 5.0 is far more forgiving of heat soak than the SC.
hmmmm op thanks. I love the SC for the power but it failed way to often.

A friend of mine ran the 3.8SC for a few years on the west coast. I recall once helping him do a HG job at the track b/c his engine was blown and ours wasn't.
My old thread will help you with the 5.0 conversion but since you are using an early model chassis you'll have less electrical do deal with. Pay attention to the electrical required for telling the alternator to charge the battery though.


Cooling wise, I remember having to beef up the cooling system going from a 3.8N/A to a 5.0. The 3.8L radiator wasn't keeping the engine cool enough.
I would just run the stock engine until it goes and at that point, tear the engine all apart and rebuilt it right. As long as the heads and valve covers are scuzzy looking, its a tbird. Noone will care.

Engine wise, besides the basic 5.0 tweaks (GT40 heads, new cam, new springs, bore out), I ended up needing SS valves because 5.0 engines can get hot with this much abuse and when they do, you will inevitably get a stuck valve in the iron heads. You'll finish the race but she'll feel down on power. While it sucks to put $400 labor+parts into heads that have/had a street value of $300/pair (not sure if this is true anymore since aftermarket CNC aluminum heads are so cheap now and can make way more HP), the guy who did my heads said that most of the guys running 302s on the west coast inevitably went down the same path at some point.

As an alternative idea, one thing I wish I had done was found a 4.2L V6 to race. A splitport 4.2L engine would probably have the right balance of power, weight, and fuel efficiency to do pretty well.
I never found a donor and the V8s were calling.
Thanks, Was the guy on the west coast name chuck? If so I think I met you at Sears point. The car we are talking about is the Thunder Chicken see picture. I think I remember you there with the car your talking about. I really like your ideas, my car is perfect lemons car and the chassis works well when the motor is running good.

You blowing head gaskets every time is likely not due to aluminum heads, but rather due to detonation, which is due to heat buildup. The 5.0 is far more forgiving of heat soak than the SC.
Thanks Mike, I will keep you updated on my progress.
 

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This is all good info. Thanks, I will definitely will look into the rear gears. I did already change the front brakes to the cobras and use hawks pads. I haven't had any problems with brakes yet. I will look into installing the additional bracing. Thanks.
I'm also wondering id I decide to rebuild the motor what cam, pistons and carburation would be the best for endurance racing?
- Bracing is honestly extra weight. with a proper lemons grade cage the car is pretty stupidly stiff (can lift the entire side of a car with one jack).

- On pads I went with Raybestos ST43. I used to use Porterfield R4e. Those are endurance grade and last multiple races even on a twisty course like Sears Point. Both are a step above Hawk pads. Just read on the lemons forums and you'll see. SS lines help too.

If you rebuild the 302:
  • Don't even consider going carbed unless you like pouring money down the gas tank. Why would you do that? On the stock engine with a technical track, you can probably do 1.25 hrs before you start getting fuel starvation on right hand corners (car goes right, fuel goes left over the hump and away from the pickup, engine goes gurgle even if theres 1/8th of a tank left).
  • Any mild cam is probably ok: I use an e303 cam which was the same price as a stock replacement. Oh, I noticed that after 100K mi, my stock 302 engine had some pretty shiny lobes even though it was owned by an old man. Too long a duration cam (where the engine goes lub-lub, lub-lub at idle) is going to get the attention of the judges
  • Check your lifters, rocker arms, etc. and make sure they look good and are clean. I wouldn't go aftermarket on rockers because if your car runs like a raped ape, they might ask you to pull your valve covers. The only one of two engines that got claimed in lemons was a SBC built by pratt and whitney engineers from racecar parts they had around the shop. They packed up in a huff before the judged could get the engine but you don't want to be those guys.
  • Pistons: what heads are you going to use? If you stay stock E7 or GT40 (which look stock enough), you'll be airflow restricted so you won't make much power beyond 5K RPM anyway so I doubt you will need fancy connecting rods/pistons. Just buy something with quality fasteners (aka ARP bits).
  • I dunno what part of the country you are in but spend the money on quality machine work. You could dingle hone the bores and throw stuff together but you will very likely be in the bottom end again. It took me 3 races before I was able to start a lemons race with the same V8 I ended the race with. The first time I rebuilt the engine, I could have spent a few hundred extra line boring the mains but I didn't so I basically wasted $1200 worth of labor and an entire race weekend. I think this was the thread.


I have my stories documented here for all 8 of our races.
if you search "lemons s4gunn site:tccoa.com" on google, you'll find them.
 

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The best carburetor is fuel injection. Keep the EFI! I actually ran my car with a carb for the first 2 races because I thought it would be simpler, but it was more trouble than anything, and it got absolutely miserable fuel mileage, which when your 302” motor is getting 6mpg, that is actually a concern in an endurance race. Swapping to EFI got us up to around 10-11mpg, so basically doubled our range, plus the long runner EFI intakes make more midrange torque, which is what you need to pull out of the corners. On my car, I ran the complete 5.0 Explorer setup, which has the HO cam, and GT40 heads and intake, and we would shift at 5500-5800rpms, and had the rev limiter set to 6000. If you are going to rebuild the engine and actually change the cam and pistons, my recommendation would be some flat top hypereutectic pistons to bump the compression up a bit, and then a B-303 cam. The E303 and B303 have similar rpm ranges, but the E has a little more lift and less duration, and the B has more duration and less lift. Both will make power up to 6000rpms no problem, but the lower lift will have better piston to valve clearance with flat top pistons, and will rev out a little higher before floating the valves if needed.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
- Bracing is honestly extra weight. with a proper lemons grade cage the car is pretty stupidly stiff (can lift the entire side of a car with one jack).

- On pads I went with Raybestos ST43. I used to use Porterfield R4e. Those are endurance grade and last multiple races even on a twisty course like Sears Point. Both are a step above Hawk pads. Just read on the lemons forums and you'll see. SS lines help too.

If you rebuild the 302:
  • Don't even consider going carbed unless you like pouring money down the gas tank. Why would you do that? On the stock engine with a technical track, you can probably do 1.25 hrs before you start getting fuel starvation on right hand corners (car goes right, fuel goes left over the hump and away from the pickup, engine goes gurgle even if theres 1/8th of a tank left).
  • Any mild cam is probably ok: I use an e303 cam which was the same price as a stock replacement. Oh, I noticed that after 100K mi, my stock 302 engine had some pretty shiny lobes even though it was owned by an old man. Too long a duration cam (where the engine goes lub-lub, lub-lub at idle) is going to get the attention of the judges
  • Check your lifters, rocker arms, etc. and make sure they look good and are clean. I wouldn't go aftermarket on rockers because if your car runs like a raped ape, they might ask you to pull your valve covers. The only one of two engines that got claimed in lemons was a SBC built by pratt and whitney engineers from racecar parts they had around the shop. They packed up in a huff before the judged could get the engine but you don't want to be those guys.
  • Pistons: what heads are you going to use? If you stay stock E7 or GT40 (which look stock enough), you'll be airflow restricted so you won't make much power beyond 5K RPM anyway so I doubt you will need fancy connecting rods/pistons. Just buy something with quality fasteners (aka ARP bits).
  • I dunno what part of the country you are in but spend the money on quality machine work. You could dingle hone the bores and throw stuff together but you will very likely be in the bottom end again. It took me 3 races before I was able to start a lemons race with the same V8 I ended the race with. The first time I rebuilt the engine, I could have spent a few hundred extra line boring the mains but I didn't so I basically wasted $1200 worth of labor and an entire race weekend. I think this was the thread.


I have my stories documented here for all 8 of our races.
if you search "lemons s4gunn site:tccoa.com" on google, you'll find them.
Awesome, This is all good info. I need exhaust manifolds for my 302, does le
mons allow headers?
This is all good info. Thanks, I will definitely will look into the rear gears. I did already change the front brakes to the cobras and use hawks pads. I haven't had any problems with brakes yet. I will look into installing the additional bracing. Thanks.
I'm also wondering id I decide to rebuild the motor what cam, pistons and carburation would be the best for endurance racing?


hmmmm op thanks. I love the SC for the power but it failed way to often.


Thanks, Was the guy on the west coast name chuck? If so I think I met you at Sears point. The car we are talking about is the Thunder Chicken see picture. I think I remember you there with the car your talking about. I really like your ideas, my car is perfect lemons car and the chassis works well when the motor is running good.


Thanks Mike, I will keep you updated on my progress.
I was thinking of running a 4 barreled carb instead of the stock 2 barrel. Should I stay stock or can I up grade? And if not carbed then what would be better?
The best carburetor is fuel injection. Keep the EFI! I actually ran my car with a carb for the first 2 races because I thought it would be simpler, but it was more trouble than anything, and it got absolutely miserable fuel mileage, which when your 302” motor is getting 6mpg, that is actually a concern in an endurance race. Swapping to EFI got us up to around 10-11mpg, so basically doubled our range, plus the long runner EFI intakes make more midrange torque, which is what you need to pull out of the corners. On my car, I ran the complete 5.0 Explorer setup, which has the HO cam, and GT40 heads and intake, and we would shift at 5500-5800rpms, and had the rev limiter set to 6000. If you are going to rebuild the engine and actually change the cam and pistons, my recommendation would be some flat top hypereutectic pistons to bump the compression up a bit, and then a B-303 cam. The E303 and B303 have similar rpm ranges, but the E has a little more lift and less duration, and the B has more duration and less lift. Both will make power up to 6000rpms no problem, but the lower lift will have better piston to valve clearance with flat top pistons, and will rev out a little higher before floating the valves if needed.
the motor I just purchased is out of a 1974 bronco. I thought it would be good because there is not much wiring needed and will on its own. Can I get a fuel injection for this motor and what would be the best that lemons will
Allow? Thank you for so much info I appreciate it
 

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First of all, don’t waste your time with that motor. That is a smog era flat tappet cam motor with 8:1 compression and terrible cylinder heads. That motor will be lucky to make 150hp, and will be out of breath by 4K rpms. It will also be a 28oz imbalance motor, which will be a problem getting a flywheel in that weight offset that will work with the M5R2 transmission.

Your best bet is to get a complete 5.0 out of a 96 or early 97 Ford Explorer. Those have the GT40 heads and intake. Late 97-00 5.0 Explorers had the same intake, but GT40P heads, which have clearance issues with the exhaust headers, so while you can make them work, the 96 motor is a better choice. If you can’t find a complete Explorer motor, then look for any 87 or newer 5.0. That will have the roller cam, 50oz imbalance flywheel and harmonic balancer, and one piece rear main seal, and from there you could swap the heads and intake to the GT40 ones.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
First of all, don’t waste your time with that motor. That is a smog era flat tappet cam motor with 8:1 compression and terrible cylinder heads. That motor will be lucky to make 150hp, and will be out of breath by 4K rpms. It will also be a 28oz imbalance motor, which will be a problem getting a flywheel in that weight offset that will work with the M5R2 transmission.

Your best bet is to get a complete 5.0 out of a 96 or early 97 Ford Explorer. Those have the GT40 heads and intake. Late 97-00 5.0 Explorers had the same intake, but GT40P heads, which have clearance issues with the exhaust headers, so while you can make them work, the 96 motor is a better choice. If you can’t find a complete Explorer motor, then look for any 87 or newer 5.0. That will have the roller cam, 50oz imbalance flywheel and harmonic balancer, and one piece rear main seal, and from there you could swap the heads and intake to the GT40 ones.
 

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I ran the whole Explorer setup in mine. Engine, harness, and ECM. You could also run a harness and ECM from a Mustang, or a 5.0 Tbird or Cougar. You are going to have to wire it up regardless.
 

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Opps. I read up and you already said that. I will try to find a 96 sounds like it’s the best way to go. I’ll let you know if I’m successful. Now I will try to resale the one I just got. Thanks 👍
I just looked at your picture and realized you are running Chucks old SC. yeah, that car eats head gaskets. I'm pretty sure you have a "cheaty" detroit locker in your rear end though so don't toss it out (just swap gears). Most SC used a clutch based LSD called tracloc but I'm 99% sure (unless he or you sold it off) you have a proper mechanical lock that new cost more than several of my donor cars.

You won't have fuel starvation issues b/c of the giant fuel cell that car had, either.


Good luck.
-g
 
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