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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I've never been a gearhead, but I'm getting my hands on a 1996 T-bird LX with the V8 and I want to make it a project car (and a daily driver - trouble ahead? ;) ), something to tweak and learn. The car's in really nice condition and the price is VERY right. I'm going to have $750-1000 left over in my car budget.

Now, any and all work needed on this car throughout it's life (repairs, maintenance, upgrades) will be done primarily by me (with a little help from friends more knowledgeable than me).

That being said, what could I spend this extra cash on to tweak the performance of the engine, while still maintaining practicality as a daily driver? I want the most bang for my buck...top acceleration and top speed I can afford...without sacrificing reliability.

And as a side note - what exactly do spoilers or ground effects do for a car? I'm not a big fan of either, but I'm curious to know what the benefits are.
 

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I'd say 80mm MAF, FordChip/Apten/Dennis chip, Mark VIII TC, J-Mod, and better flowing exhaust.

As for the spoiler and GFX, all they add is looks and weight, not much weight, but weight none the less.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thanks! Like I said before, I'm not much of a gearhead (but trying to be) - so could you help a morbidly under-educated T-bird fan out and explain what those are and what they do? Fear not - I'll figure anything out with time, and I'm not scared to experiment. You gotta take stuff apart to figure it out, methinks.
 

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If you are in the Cedar Rapids area than I know some people who would be more than willing to give you advice and maybe even some help if you need it. PM me and I will give you their info.

MOSES
 

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80mm MAF: A new mass air flow sensor, a Lightning model was referred to by Aaron.

Chip: Three different companies that make a chip for your car's computer to enhance performance

Mark VIII TC: A different torque convertor that is a smaller diameter and higher stall speed.

J-Mod: Equivalent to a shift kit basically, also enhances life of transmission. Refer to TCCoA tech articles, Jerry's Thesis or Ford Trans. 101

Exhaust: Self-explanatory
 

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Ok I definatly agree with most other posts on here but I must say, spend the $50 for a tranny cooler too. Will help your tranny out for a long time. May not add any performance, but your tranny will like you better! :D

But yes, get a MAF, chip and a Mark VIII TC. You may need to kick in a few extra dollars to at leats get a cat-back exhaust though. Although with a MAF, I think most people on here would say a 02 GT MAF rather than a LMAF. They are better design, plus you get a cool airbox too with a conical filter.
 

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Zero said:
Ok I definatly agree with most other posts on here but I must say, spend the $50 for a tranny cooler too. Will help your tranny out for a long time. May not add any performance, but your tranny will like you better! ....
Exactly. Along with the trans cooler do the J-mod. If you don't want to do the J-mod for a while, at least change the tranny fluid with fresh Merc V. Throw some cash for a tuneup (wires, plugs, filters, etc.) Then I'd go with the 80mm MAF and K&N, Mustang intake tube, and a chip. If you have some money left over, pick up some MAC underdrive pulleys. Skip the Torque convertor for now and save towards an exhaust system.
 

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Shotgun_prophet said:
Thanks! Like I said before, I'm not much of a gearhead (but trying to be) - so could you help a morbidly under-educated T-bird fan out and explain what those are and what they do? Fear not - I'll figure anything out with time, and I'm not scared to experiment. You gotta take stuff apart to figure it out, methinks.
Where at in Iowa are you? There's a SC meet in Marshalltown on Saturday (Nov 15th) Even though it's an SC meet, Mike Albee invites any MN12's to come.

I'm in eastern Nebraska if you happen to be in Western Iowa.

-Andy "Melon"
 

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What others have said is good. I would see to read the forums for a week or two. You will eventually figure things out. Also there are helpfull tech articles. There is a general one somewhere that lists mods for under $500. Also look at the posts and look at other people's signatures and see what they have done. You can then search for it in the forums by using the search button or just ask. It's hard for someone to just say "do this, do this, and do this". Everyone is different and everyone's car is different. People want and do different things. So I suggest looking around and figuring out what you want. Do a couple mods here and there to get started. Do the simple things and do them yourself (not a shop) so you learn about working on the car. If you do have questions about different mods please feel free to ask.

Welcome to TCCoA.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Thanks Shawn - I find myself making similiar statements in other hobby/interest - related forums. I can change my oil and my brake pads - beyond that, I've never done a thing! I'm just looking for ideas and options - stuff I can research and learn about for myself, then decide if it's something I can and want to do myself. In the end, my car is my car. But this seems like a good place to start figuring things out.

Thanks for the advice guys - keep it coming!
 

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Aaron K. said:
As for the spoiler and GFX, all they add is looks and weight, not much weight, but weight none the less.
when i had my tbird, and when i get another tbird, weight wasnt something i worried about. i wasnt about to sacrifice the ride quality (as far as audible noises and vibrations and such) for weight reduction, unless i build an all out road course or drag that wont be street driven. these things weigh a ton (actually almost a couple), so if youre worried about weight, there are several things that can be done for free or very little cost to reduce the weight on these cars. body kits do add weight, but id still put on a wings west or xenon kit on a 96/97 bird/cat in an instant, as its appealing to me. but if you dont want one, aaron is right, they are just for looks, no real function otherwise. to many, every pound is precious on these land yachts. but i hope you enjoy that car, and welcome, i am one of the few who just cant stop bugging everyone here even though i do not have an mn12 anymore. -greg
 

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Discussion Starter #12
As far as the GFX, I had an inkling of a hypothesis that perhaps it kept air from flowing under the vehicle, stablizing it at high speeds. I had a Caprice Classic that was a retired police cruiser, so it had a 5.7L V8. When I'd get up to around 100mph, it felt like it was going to fly off the road at any second. My crude physics skills led me to believe that maybe GFX would counter this.
 

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Shotgun_prophet said:
As far as the GFX, I had an inkling of a hypothesis that perhaps it kept air from flowing under the vehicle, stablizing it at high speeds. I had a Caprice Classic that was a retired police cruiser, so it had a 5.7L V8. When I'd get up to around 100mph, it felt like it was going to fly off the road at any second. My crude physics skills led me to believe that maybe GFX would counter this.
in most cases, gfx kits do not provide much function. many, in fact (including wings/spoilers) just add drag and weight to the vehicle slightly hurting performance and efficency. it is possible to design a kit aerodynamics. the caprice classic would feel more seated at 100mph most likely with a stiffer/lower suspension and some nice grippy (maybe wider as well) tires. also, how everything arranged underneath has an effect how much a car will lift or feel "floaty" at highway speeds. i dont remember how the caprice underbody looks, but i know the mn12s were designed to keep most everything kinda hidden or tucked underneath the car, so as to let air flow more smoothly underneath and prevent lift and other wierd things. however, the only real good way to prevent this is to pretty much weld up a flat sheetmetal (or possibly make one out of some other material) underbody sheild.

a properly designed front air dam and spoiler will provide downforce at higher speeds to help keep the car planted, but you probably wont need so much of that unless you plan on going 160mph+, from what i hear around the boards, these cars (especially sc's) hold the road at high speeds (like over 130). ive been over the 100 mark several times in mn12s and they feel really stable (in base suspension and tire trim). the irs probably helps quite a bit too.. -greg
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Thanks!

I had a 1986 Turbo Couple 5-speed that could do over 100mph before I even realized I was speeding, but that was a different design. It's nice to know the more recent 'Birds are designed just as well.

I will sleep well knowing I don't have to ugly up my 'Bird to make it faster/more stable! ;)
 

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Shotgun-

If your from the Iowa area you should check out Upper Midwest Thundercats. A link is in my sig. Stop by and post, we have a few members from your area.

-AEDM8
 
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