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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Hey y'all new guy in town little bit about me, I currently am attending UTI to become a better mechanic etc and I have a 97 3.8 v6 tbird. Now I know a fair bit of basic engine and car mechanics but never really messed with performance upgrades. I was really really wanting to slap a supercharger in my bad boy Wiley (what i named my tbird) but after lots of research I've been dissuaded and crushed dreams lol. So what are some ways i can go about bringing some extra hp into my engine and pushing it to max output while still being reliable? My goal is to basically just have a fun car to drive and take to the strip to have fun. I've looked at chips, in the plans of upgrading the filter, taking off the air silencer, and rn the engine is taken apart for gasket replacement. In the future i plan on wanting a 5.0 or if I'm really up for the task an even bigger engine I know that'll be a big task and a lot of work but i enjoy the process. A list would be a great place to start as i build up the engine I know many will say its not worth the work and money but frankly I do not care. I love turning my wrench and doing stuff like this wilk just give me more knowledge. Sorry for the long read and thank you for reading.
 

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I hate to say it, but if you want performance, an engine swap is in your future.
The non-SC 3.8's are bad about blowing head gaskets, and the supercoupe engine while 3.8, is different.
If you change the intake tube, make sure it pulls air from the fenderwell, and not under the hood.
 

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The 96-97s arent as bad as the early ones, since they use MLS gaskets. But yes youd have to swap a lot of parts to make it an SCd engine and youd still only gain 60hp.

If its your only car, focus on suspension and brakes. I know from experience that taking your only car apart while youre still new to modifying is a mistake. And youre in school so its a double whammy.

Dont 5.0 swap it unless you keep it OBD2 from an explorer, it wont pass inspection otherwise.

Besides that...
Engine wise, given your situation, Id swap a cam into it and bolt a GTX35 onto a the stock engine. Make 300whp and itll be ok with a good tune.
 

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1997 Thunderbird 4.6, 1998 Mark VIII LSC
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Dont 5.0 swap it unless you keep it OBD2 from an explorer, it wont pass inspection otherwise.
Not all states require inspections and/or emissions testing. Depending on his location this may not be a concern.

3.8-4.6 swaps are also fairly well documented. They're not as performance-potential-packed as some other engine swaps but they are quite reliable and have the benefit of being an option (2v and 4v) that has plenty of factory parts from MN12s and FN10s that will make the swap much more "bolt in" than some other swaps.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 · (Edited by Moderator)
I hate to say it, but if you want performance, an engine swap is in your future.
The non-SC 3.8's are bad about blowing head gaskets, and the supercoupe engine while 3.8, is different.
If you change the intake tube, make sure it pulls air from the fenderwell, and not under the hood.
I am well aware of that as I said in my post about my research into superchargers and performance. I am looking for more fine tuning, things i can do to the engine/under the hood to get more power to make it more fun to drive. Rockers, cams, etc. I have weekends free to take the engine apart in the bay for the most part but I am not well versed in the performance aspect of engines yet.

The 96-97s arent as bad as the early ones, since they use MLS gaskets. But yes youd have to swap a lot of parts to make it an SCd engine and youd still only gain 60hp.

If its your only car, focus on suspension and brakes. I know from experience that taking your only car apart while youre still new to modifying is a mistake. And youre in school so its a double whammy.

Dont 5.0 swap it unless you keep it OBD2 from an explorer, it wont pass inspection otherwise.

Besides that...
Engine wise, given your situation, Id swap a cam into it and bolt a GTX35 onto a the stock engine. Make 300whp and itll be ok with a good tune.
The turbo wouldn't be to much for the engine to handle? I assume its a turbo right lol? Also yeah its my only car at the moment sometime future wise I wanna get a car i can use for more track stuff and higher performance but for now im content on what I got and willing to use my free time on weekends to take apart and modify internals in ways that I physically can without pulling the whole engine out.
 

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Yeah a GTX35 is a turbo.
So long as you dont moon boost it yeah itll be fine. 10lbs will be safe on it with a good tune and intercooler. Pair it with a cam, and obviously upgrade the springs. Dave Dalke at SCU has a good valve train kit and its a great deal. And he does tuning.

I have a 3.8 SC engine I built a little while ago, and Ill be running a similar set up. Only Ill be pushing a lot more boost.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Yeah a GTX35 is a turbo.
So long as you dont moon boost it yeah itll be fine. 10lbs will be safe on it with a good tune and intercooler. Pair it with a cam, and obviously upgrade the springs. Dave Dalke at SCU has a good valve train kit and its a great deal. And he does tuning.

I have a 3.8 SC engine I built a little while ago, and Ill be running a similar set up. Only Ill be pushing a lot more boost.
Alright thank you for the help i will definitely look into it i definitely wasn't expecting to pull more than 250hp at most honestly from the research I was finding but 300hp definitely sounds like a fun time to me on the street and strip. Competitive but not to much to handle for a first time dragger lol.
 

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You in the Chicago area? (I assume since you’re going to UTI) if so the state only checks for error codes and if the rear 02s and EGR is enabled, they don’t care if the PCM is stock or if it has an aftermarket tune.

For a performance 3.8 I’d consider split-port swapping it in the near term for a good performance bump. If turbo is in your future that top end is a better starting point anyway. 96s have good bones too compared to older NA 3.8s, the blocks are said to be as strong as the SC blocks, even the cast crank is pretty strong.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
You in the Chicago area? (I assume since you’re going to UTI) if so the state only checks for error codes and if the rear 02s and EGR is enabled, they don’t care if the PCM is stock or if it has an aftermarket tune.

For a performance 3.8 I’d consider split-port swapping it in the near term for a good performance bump. If turbo is in your future that top end is a better starting point anyway. 96s have good bones too compared to older NA 3.8s, the blocks are said to be as strong as the SC blocks, even the cast crank is pretty strong.
That is some good info and yeah im in the chicago area lol could've been in AZ or other state but chose to go here. What does a split-port swap do?
 

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That is some good info and yeah im in the chicago area lol could've been in AZ or other state but chose to go here. What does a split-port swap do?
Split port is the revised heads and intake the 99-04 Mustang uses so you can find them at junkyards pretty easy. The name is as implies, the heads and intake have two runners each going to the intake valve for increased airflow and retaining low end torque, it’s good for about 40 horsepower over stock, not far off horsepower wise from a 4.6 bird. With a cam and headers they can make pretty good power for what they are.

I forgot there was an AZ campus, I went to UTI when it was still in Glendale Heights.
 

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You could look into swapping the new mustangs 3.7 it’s legit. Makes 300+hp with a 6speed auto. I’ve seen em go as cheap as 1000$ engine trans and computer. Boosting em would be cool too.
 
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