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Vorshlag 2015 Mustang GT Road Race Build #TRIGGER

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  • Vorshlag 2015 Mustang GT Road Race Build #TRIGGER

    Project Introduction - March 9th, 2020: Since our black 2015 Mustang GT (the #LS550 swap we call #Trigger) road race build is going so far beyond what we did on our red 2018 Mustang GT, or any other S550 we have worked on in the past 6 years, we figured it was time to move this car to its own build thread.

    This build started as a salvage titled chassis purchased in August 2019 that was hit in the front and stripped of the drivetrain, wiring, brakes and pretty much anything of value. We bought it cheap and have been working to turn this into a race car to use to test parts and theories. We have already used this car to create our LS V8 swap using a T56 Magnum XL trans, repaired the bent frame rail and replaced the other bent bits, swapped in suspension/brake/wheel/tire/seats, and more. Since we have been working on this car more lately, we wanted to go back and summarize what we started with, show how we got to this point, and then continue the build updates for this car in this thread.

    This build thread is also posted on these forums:We have had an S550 Development Thread going since October of 2014, and we will keep the generic S550 work, all S550 parts development, and business related content posted there - even these LS550 specific tasks done to this 2015 GT will be cross-posted there. In that thread we have shown our initial S550 development work using tester's 2015 Mustang GT PP1 (camber plates, MCS coilovers, wheels, etc), then work on our red 2018 GT (below) starting in Feb 2018, some customer S550 cars, etc. Anything having to do with our 2015 #LS550 build will go in this new build thread, to keep it more focused.

    Our red 2018 GT (above) went through a number of phases, and there was already some confusion between that car and our black 2015 build, as well as some S550 customer work shown in the main "development" thread. This new thread it would keep us from "crossing the streams". Also, in the Mustang specific forums where we are sponsors, we felt that moving the #LS550 thread out of our "vendor specific" sub-forums would make more sense. You don't tend to go diving into Vendor forums unless you are looking for something, and we would rather keep this build in the road racing / corner carver specific sections of those places.

    The work we did in 2014-15 with Aaron's 2015 GT (above) and then later on our red 2018 GT would be considered our initial phase of our S550 development. In that time period we tackled a lot of basic issues, came up with a lot of fixes, and tested a lot of vendor's parts. We had 5 different damper sets on our 2018 GT alone, have made two S550 camber plate versions, fitted 18x11 and 19x11 wheels from Forgestar and MOMO. We have tested on track with 200TW and Hoosier tires up to 315mm, power mods that took the Gen III Coyote to 485 whp, base brakes / PP1 brakes/ Powerstop brakes, and brake cooling that ranged from 4" ducted backing plates to our more effective brake cooling deflector designs.

    Safety gear upgrades we have developed included 4-point roll bar that we built, our new style of seat mounting brackets, and various racing seats and 6-point harnesses. We have always had a heavy S550 that ranged from 3550-3650 pounds. The high weight complicated the already high differential and engine fluid temps, so we worked with Mishimoto to develop an oil cooler for the 2018+ GT, installed their radiator, a vented carbon hood from Anderson, then started development on our own diff cooler. We also made tow hooks for the 2018+ GTs which proved to be popular.

    One thing always held us back - the restriction of not cutting the car. Why? To keep resale value at it's highest. This limited our 2018 GT to "little" 305 and 315mm tires and a relatively high total mass. The Coyote V8 is a great engine, but it has pretty hard upper limits for Naturally Aspirated horsepower. 500 whp is pretty much the bleeding edge limit, and resorting to higher revs or boost only leads to rapid engine destruction. That's not opinion - that's physics.


    With this #LS550 project we WILL BE cutting on the car. That allows some "Next Level" of development to happen. The most basic set of solutions to "going faster" in a road course setting with the S550 (or anything, really) includes: more tire, more power, more aero, less weight. It all really boils down to MORE.

    To get to that Next Level would have required sacrificing the resale value we had in our low mileage 2018 GT, which we pulled from road course duties at less than 2500 total miles on the odometer. We cut up our "purchased new" 2011 GT (upper left) to add flares, wing, splitter, and ducted hood - which did make it significantly faster, but also made much harder to sell as a "semi-race car". We eventually found the right buyer, and the car brought good money, but it took nearly 18 months to sell that 2011 GT. We sold the 2018 GT for asking price in only 2 months of trying - since it wasn't "cut up" or radically modified.

    The "financial lesson" about cutting on a relatively new car, which we learned with the 2011 GT above (and many other street cars we have modded), was what kept us from cutting on our 2018 GT. And also that led us to buy the cheap salvage 2015 Mustang rolling chassis....


    After I got tired of making excuses about driving a 3800 pound street car (2018 GT) against "real race cars" in NASA TT and Optima series events, it was time to do something about it. We had considerable "internal debate" here at the shop about our "next big shop build". After looking at global sales numbers for the S550 Mustang relative to a number of other potential chassis. it was decided that a lightweight, caged, aero equipped, flared and ridiculous S550 build made the most sense. I put a call out online for a 2015-up S550 Mustang rolling chassis, but after looking locally and trolling salvage auctions for months it was a bust.

    Then Steve Poe of Poe Motorsports put me in touch with The Parts Farm in Lyons, Georgia. This salvage yard buys wrecked V8 pony cars at salvage auctions to then strip and resell the drive trains, body parts, and other valuable bits. It took a bit of leg work, but once we found them, they put together a rolling chassis 2015 GT for us. Then it was just a matter of driving 1,000 miles from home to go get the car. We paid $2500 for this cream puff, which was thousands less than the much more wrecked cars we found on Copart auctions in Texas.

    After I told them what I needed, they sent me a dozens of pics of the 2015 Mustang GT above, which they had already stripped of the 5.0L engine/trans/wiring and a number of other parts. This car was otherwise very rebuildable for a race car. The $2500 price was the best deal I had seen in months of looking at even less suitable candidates (some people wanted $10-15K for wrecked V6 Mustangs)

    A long time friend of mine, Paul M, volunteered to co-drive with me for the 2000 mile round trip from Dallas to east Georgia and back. We left in the F350 and enclosed trailer at 5:30 am one Friday morning, drove all night and arrived at the farm-turned-salvage yard at 9:45 am Saturday morning. The folks there were helpful and already had the car ready to load. We pushed it near the trailer ramp, winched it inside, paid for the car, and we were back on the road 45 minutes later for the 1000 mile trip back to Dallas. It was a grueling 34 hour round trip, but we got back early enough to have the full day Sunday to catch up before going in to work on Monday.

    Starting with this very low cost chassis allows us to cut anything we want - to fit wider tires, lower weight, add radical aero, and swap in a different engine - without ruining the value of a $35-40K+ new vehicle. Yes, this was a "wrecked car," but after selling off some bits we don't need, it's now a $1400 complete chassis that is 100% paid for. The main portions of the chassis, frame rails, and upper horns were straight, the doors close perfectly, and it has zero rust or other issues. We started with an initial weight at 2349 pounds (no engine, trans, or front brakes) and then began removing parts.

    We took the weight of our 2018 GT (above left) in its final NASA TT2 trim at 3626 pounds with half a tank of fuel, which was as low of a fuel level we could run on track with the stock saddle tank. Then we got into the 2015 chassis. Removing the OEM front and rear seats, busted hood and bent bumper beam, and a few other items got it down to 2089 lbs. Even at that weight there was still carpet, a full dash, center console and both 84.2 pound doors in place. We speculated at the time that a sub 3000 pound fully caged S550 race car was possible.

    At this point it was August 2019 and we had seen some weight drop and made a lot of plans. In September we pulled our 2018 GT from our event schedule and started removing many of the suspension, brakes, wheels, seats, safety gear, and hood from it. Much of this was to be moved over to this #LS550 chassis.

    continued below
    Last edited by Fair!; 06-11-2020, 07:56 AM.
    Terry Fair -
    2018 GT / S550 Dev + 2013 FR-S / 86 Dev + 2011 GT / S197 Dev + C4 Corvette Dev
    EVO X Dev + 2007 Z06 / C6 Dev + BMW E46 Dev + C5 Corvette Dev

  • #2
    continued from above


    This Dec 2019 blog post talks about our first BMW LS swap and how that build (and ten other unique chassis we have LS swapped since) has helped our company grow. We raced this "Alpha" BMW from 2006-09 (below left) with big success. It was really light (2500 pounds) and pretty fast on track with a 490 whp 427" LS engine. Our red 2011 Mustang GT was run for 5 seasons where it set 16 track records (TT3) and racked up 75+ wins. Our red 2018 GT was run for 2 seasons (in TT3 and TT2), but in NASA was always stuck between classes. It did "well enough" and won some events with SCCA and sub-events in Optima, but mostly we used it to develop and test a lot of new products. Both of those Mustangs suffered from artificial limitations I put on them - namely keeping them full weight street cars with minimal powertrain changes. I'm ending that handicap on the #LS550 project.

    Many of you have asked why we are putting a General Motors LS V8 into an S550, but it makes sense when you realize what we are trying to do. Take a popular chassis that is relatively new / current model, make it much lighter, add a lot of power, and don't hold back. That's what made our first BMW E36 LS swap work so well - it was relatively new (the E36 was only 2 years out of production when I started that build in my garage), it ended up very light, had easy power with the aluminum LS V8, giant tires, and was very easy to drive. At 2508 pounds with a cage, 315mm Hoosiers, and 490 whp LS it was pretty easy to go fast. We didn't just win events, we set top times of the weekend, and ironically didn't spend a ton of money doing that. That's what we want to do on the #LS550, if we can.

    We now have the current Mustang chassis that effectively cost me only $1400, and we have taken a lot of weight out it. We will continue to show weights as we go along, even though the car is not yet complete. We also didn't "take out a Coyote V8" as many like to keep stating - we bought a rolling hulk with no drivetrain and saved it from the crusher. We are installing the latest model S550 bodywork, getting a bunch of weight out, and will put in a LS V8 + big tires, big aero, big brakes, big everything. It isn't rocket science, it's just simple math. With less mass to slow down/turn/speed up, we can do more with less. Or do even more with excessive horsepower.

    And as I stated in that blog about LS swaps, we can simply make more power, more reliably, for less money with the LS engine family. That's just a reality, plus it "packages" very well when compared to any DOHC V8.


    This 2015 Mustang GT we are calling #Trigger is being built in two distinct phases. The first phase is going to be LS swapped with a relatively small stroker engine, stock width bodywork, little to no aero, and TT/HPDE track ready. This is meant to be something that just about anyone with a reasonable budget should be able to replicate - nothing too custom, everything pretty much bolt-on. This first phase of the build will not be a "world killer" nor will it be an expensive build. Simple, reliable, light, and cost effective are the goals on Phase 1.

    We are making everything for this car "reproducible", especially the LS swap kit, suspension, wheels, drivetrain, etc. The Phase 1 engine is going to be very modest, using 383" / 6.3L aluminum LS we are actually building for our endurance BMW E46. We will control it with a cost effective but powerful EFI system and it will be shifted manually with a very strong yet very simple T56 Magnum XL transmission.

    Everything else is coming from the best, proven, leftover parts we used on our red 2018 GT. Things like the differential/housing/gearing/cooler, the MCS RR2 coilovers, the wheels/tires, the brakes, the control arms, Sparco seats, and 4-point roll bar. I want Phase 1 on track SOON and then we can get onto Phase 2 shortly thereafter, which will have upgrades in bodywork, power, grip, and aero.

    Like the early days of our BMW E36 LS "Alpha" project (above left), Phase 1 version of this #LS550 won't exactly be pretty - just light, simple, and quick. When we have a break long enough to have the chassis go to "paint jail" we will have this car sprayed in one color, likely the same "Race Red" our 2018 GT wore. What's more important is getting it on track so we don't miss the entire 2020 season.

    I'm not going into the Phase 2 plans just yet, but many of those things are already underway, and some parts are already standing by. Now let's jump into the reconstruction of this chassis and the Phase 1 upgrades starting in the section below.


    As we "deconstructed" the 2018 GT to make it more sellable in September/October of 2019, many of the parts that came off went onto the 2015 GT: the 18x11 Momo and 19x11 Forgestar wheels, the 305 RE-71R and 315mm Hoosier R7 tires, the MCS/SPL/Vorshlag suspension, Sparco seats, our roll bar, and the Powerbrake 380mm 6 piston front setup. At the same time we removed some additional weight from the 2015 GT - interior bits.

    The plan for "phase 1" of this 2015 GT would be to LS swap it, try to make roughly the same power as the Gen III Coyote (approx 485 whp), and use the same basic underpinnings as the red car had (suspension, brakes, tires, etc). This would let us continue to test the same upgrades we had on the red '18 on a similar car with less weight.

    We also began accumulating a lot of "missing" parts that we needed to complete this 2015 GT. Lots of things were stripped from the salvage car that we didn't notice when I drove to Georgia and back in a day and a half of non-stop driving. This 2015 chassis had virtually no wiring, many of the brake lines were gone, all of the brake system components were gone (calipers, master, booster, ABS computer), and more.

    We weighed things as they came out, of course. The full weight door was a staggering 84.2 pounds, but we found some weight savings here later which we will show before we install the carbon doors. The stock, power actuated, base interior cloth seats were only 50 pounds each, which is lighter than the 75-80 pound power seats we have weighed in other cars.

    The dash, carpet, door panels and center console are still in this chassis for all car weights early on. Later I realized that running this car with carpet and interior panels made no sense and they came out. I still wanted a little bit more of a complete looking interior so I found some of the missing dash panel inserts and gauge binnacle, which will go in to the final Phase 1 build (above right). The Sparco race seats, 4-point roll bar, and 6-point Schroth belts will be going in, sure, but the half-stripped dash was looking too unfinished for me.

    Been leaning heavily on eBay for the thing that site is best for - finding used car parts at good prices. I rarely buy anything new on eBay, but the complete pedal box (above left) and EPAS steering rack (above right) replaced missing parts or items we stole from this car to repair a customer's wrecked S550.

    We pulled the aluminum 2-point strut tower brace that we had added to our 2018 GT (it wasn't an option on the base model) and have since added several more factory pieces to that make this tie into the firewall and cowl. I will show all of those pieces and weights in a later post, when we install them. We put the 2-point brace in place to show the room down to the LS3 intake manifold during some LS engine mock-ups. The LS engine is just so tiny!

    Those that question the reasons behind an LS swap should look hard at the image above - click it, blow it up to full rez. I shot both pics myself, from the same height/angle, and cropped the images to show the same width of each chassis. Both S197 and S550 engine bays have the same distance between the strut towers (roughly 36"). The Coyote in the S197 (left) is a pretty snug fit, but the LS (right) in the S550 has room for days around, above, and in front of it.

    We set the fore-aft placement of the engines + trans to get the shifter to line up and have the best clearance under hood. The T56 Magnum XL shifter sits right inside the stock shifter hole and 85% of the engine sits behind the front axle centerline. With a one off "cut and slash" drift missile type of install, sure, we could have cut the firewall and tunnel to shove it all back further. But that would defeat the purpose of this build: to make an LS swap kit that was really 100% bolt in. We want to sell LS swap parts that people might actually buy (we have had a massive response to this swap).

    The "Phase 1" engine is a mild 383" aluminum LS that can use a wet sump oil pan and an Accusump, so we tested the engine location with a variety of LS wet sump oil pans: the 4th gen Camaro LS pan fits easily, as does this steel, baffled pickup, 7 qt Summit oil pan. I will show more of this pan later.

    The transmission crossmember began in the images above - we had to pause briefly to fix some driveline angles. We will test fit a 4L80E automatic as well, and possibly make a transmission crossmember that fits that automatic (for drag racers and street cars).

    Exhaust header room looked good but the height of the motor mounts and placement of the steering shaft made us think that a custom long tube header would have to be built. We had 5 different production LS header designs we tested and found a setup that that worked.

    During driveline angle tests I noticed something odd, and it turns out the rear subframe wasn't even fully bolted in, and one hole was cross threaded. Yea they threw this car together quickly with a bunch of leftover parts. The subframe came out to be able to re-tap that hole, which went cleanly. Normally I am not a big fan subframe & diff bushings, as their value vs time to install is dubious. I never felt like the rear subframe was flopping around on our 2018 GT. But this car is "going to eleven", plus it had some really worn, aged, cracked bushings back there.

    With the subframe out, the diff mount and subframe bushings (8 in total) needed an upgrade. We ordered the Whiteline bushings to swap in. The extraction of these 8 mounts is a REAL CHORE. If you short cut this and break out a SawsAll, it can easily cause damage to the somewhat thin metal on the steel subframe assembly. We made some custom tools and tried a number of tricks getting the old bushings out - which I will show in more detail in another post.

    After the many hours of work removing the old ones, the new bushings went into the subframe in less than 20 minutes. An all new SPL Parts lower adjustable toe link went in, replacing the stock bits here (see above right). This toe link is a brand new design from SPL and was not installed on our 2018 GT.

    SPL Parts were also swapped into this spherical/adjustable vertical link shown above, which replaced the stock rubber bushed piece. We transferred this part right over from the 2018 GT.

    The 4.09 geared, Auburn Pro diff equipped, aluminum super 8.8" was swapped into the subframe while it was down. We will make another diff cooler / fan / pump for this car as well (we were going to swap the one from the red 2018 but that car's buyer wanted it badly). The adjustable Whiteline rear swaybar was transferred over from our 2018 GT, and some GT350 axles were ordered (cheaper from Ford Racing than the dealership) as well as new rear hubs with ARP studs, which we left on the 2018 GT. More details on that another time.

    Jason and I searched the online used parts interchange and found one shop in the Dallas area which was organized enough to list fenders, hoods, headlights and bumper covers for many cars at reasonable prices. We bought this white 2018 front nose for 1/6th the cost of the stock pieces, and it came with some structural and grill bits that were going to cost extra from Ford. I want to re-use the 2018 style Anderson carbon hood - and the '18 front end is supposed to have less drag - which is why we picked up a 2018 nose. I found some lightly used 2018 GT upper and lower grills but struck out on 2018 headlights (horrendously expensive for any S550, new) and park lights to wrap up the front. We had none of these parts on the 2015 to start with, so going to 2018 look front bits was no extra cost other than the fenders.

    We had already sold one of the 2015 front fenders to a customer that needed it for a quick repair before Nationals, so it wasn't a stretch to get two new 2018 style front fenders. One is really perfect and the other is OK, but its the best we could get at the same yard we got the nose from. Paid even a smaller fraction of the cost of new, and both used fenders came with some small bits that aren't included with new OEM fenders.

    I asked Evan to use our strut tower cutting fixture and open up the tiny tower holes to a 3.0" opening. We used a 2-3/4" hole saw on the 2018 GT but this 3" is as far as you can go and still keep the entire vertical "wall" and the curved portion of the factory tower. Some of our customers have already tested this hole size without issue.

    Time for the good stuff! The MCS Remote Double "RR2" model coilovers went from our 2018 GT straight to the 2015 chassis, as did the Powerbrake six piston front brake kit.

    On November 22nd, this round of installation wrapped up. Brad slapped on the 19x11" Forgestar / RE-71R set of wheels and tires, which really made the car look more complete. It was set on the ground and it made me smile. All of the work above happened in October and November, when we had an hour or two to spare between tasks on customer cars. Hoped we would be at this point back in September, but we were slammed.

    I came in on a Saturday and scaled the car with the parts shown above. Engine is missing 70 pounds of crank/rods/pistons, the radiator, battery, front bumper beam (we will make a tubular one) and bumper cover, left side door, and two seats. We also don't have a fuel tank, driveshaft, clutch, or rear axles in the car. But the rest is pretty much there. The LS is no lighter than the Coyote, as they are nearly identical in weight. But with only 2327 pounds showing I was more than happy.

    This is less than the 2349 pounds the car weighed when it rolled in - when it had no motor or trans, no front brakes, and skinny 8" wheels. Jason and I added up about 500 pounds of parts that needs to go back into this to be a running/driving track car. So our bench racing puts us less than 3000 pound goal, for now.

    continued below
    Terry Fair -
    2018 GT / S550 Dev + 2013 FR-S / 86 Dev + 2011 GT / S197 Dev + C4 Corvette Dev
    EVO X Dev + 2007 Z06 / C6 Dev + BMW E46 Dev + C5 Corvette Dev


    • #3
      continued from above


      My reasons for using the 2018-2020 GT front end are multiple - it is more aerodynamic than the 2015-17 nose, it makes the car look newer / more relevant, and I have a beautiful Anderson Composites carbon hood from our 2018 GT to use. The folks at Parker Performance saw my previous post about looking for grills and they sold me some immaculate 2018 GT upper and lower grills at the great price.

      Once those arrived, using 2 sets of hands, Brad and I we were able to get these grills popped into the floppy plastic bumper cover. This gave the front cover a lot more "structure", which then allowed us to mock it up on the front of the car. I also ordered a front frame horn stub that was cut from a 2015+ Mustang's left front frame stub (shown in blue) from eBay.

      Brad and I added a lot of wooden boards to act as a lower support just to see where this bumper cover lined up on the 2018 fenders, which themselves were added in the last segment. It all lined up perfectly and nothing else major needs to change to use the later fenders and nose on the early car. Of course we aren't using many of the OEM front end structural pieces, as we plan to make lighter versions of these.

      Seeing this nose installed without the upper radiator support normally use was a bit of an eye opener - there is enough room to allow both of our engineers Jason and Myles to stand in front of the engine!

      We had fun sticking things in front of the engine - like this giant trash can (vaguely turbo shaped). "So much room for activities". With 24" of distance between the front of the LS engine to the bumper cover we should have plenty of room for a rolled radiator.


      As you know from my previous posts, this 2015 GT chassis was a salvage car put together by The Parts Farm with a bunch of leftover parts, and it had a busted up front end. The damage was isolated to the left front frame stub, the bumper beam, hood and subframe. The upper radiator support was completely hammered (which is a plastic/composite piece we did not plan to re-use) and the leading edge of the front lower subframe (the left lower radiator mount) was pretty bent up. We initially just cut both lower radiator mount structures off the subframe, but have since replaced the whole front subframe.

      When the car arrived in late August 2019, Brad removed the mangled front bumper beam. That deformation had tweaked the mounting plate of the right front frame stub (which itself looked straight). We had taken the car to our friends at Heritage and they measured everything with tram gauges - the frame rails were both straight behind the bent up section on the left front, and they even checked the tweaked subframe and all of the critical sections were in spec.

      We didn't plan to just replace the OEM bumper beam but it would have been handy to have one to line up the new frame stub. We plan to build a tubular bumper beam like we did on this S197, shown above right. This will let us push the bumper beam farther forward, and we can make the crash beam wider, for more protection of expensive bits like headlights and such. These S550 front headlights cost $1100/each new, and bring $450-600/each used! It is worth protecting those from a light impact with a wider bumper beam.

      After two months of seeing this bent left front frame stub, I finally found a good "front horn" cut from a S550 Mustang, and it was time to replace this front section of our car's frame. There are accordion sections designed into the steel front frame stubs that are made to deform in a crash. This helps isolate the damage in some impacts to just the front few inches of the frame, and it is relatively easy to cut off that and weld something back on. Ford wants you to replace the whole frame in a crash, but insurance / repair jobs typically just replace the front stub with a horn - there were lots of these for sale on eBay. I marked where I wanted the cut with blue tape, just behind the damage, so only about 6" of the frame needed to be replaced. The $120/shipped cut frame horn I bought was about 12" long, so we had lots of room to work with if I "missed the cut" on the first try.

      I came into the shop early one morning and started to carefully cut the frame horn with a SawsAll and a sharp, new bi-metal blade. I went slow but this cut did not go straight - the SawsAll was not the right tool for the job, and the cut was not square with my tape marks. When the crew showed up I talked with Evan and we marked a new cut, about an inch further back, and he got to work. There's a reason I employ real fabricators...

      He marked both the horn on the car and lined up the same spot on the replacement frame stub, then cut them both with this long die grinder with a 90 deg head and a 3" cut off wheel. He cut the new stub a bit short, then "snuck up on the cut" using the 12" round disc on the sanding table. You have to slow down and use the right technique to do the job right.

      This pic above shows the alignment of the car's frame and the replacement frame horn after Evan had cut both pieces and setup these sheet-metal clamps to hold it in place. These are handy when butt welding two thin pieces of sheet metal together. The placement of the cut was behind the last dimple in the frame, with a round hole in the frame as the guide.

      Evan then used the MIG welder loaded with .023" ER70S wire and stitched along the cut. After the weld was completed, he sanded it smooth using a tiny air powered belt sander - I missed that step in the pictures. All of this was done in about 90 minutes, so it went quickly.

      After he was done sanding he hit the bare steel with self-etching primer - afterwards I will be damned if I could see the weld. It was completely gone. I was going to have him "plate" the seam but when he hung himself off the end of the frame and jumped up and down, it was solid.

      I know this might seem like a lot of pictures for what some would consider a simple repair, but this bent frame stub really bugged me. I had to walk by this car every day and see that janky bent piece - and now its perfect. Evan's repair work here really impressed me, and I was impressed how quickly he got this done. Amazing work!

      What's crazy is he didn't have a stock bumper beam to line up the frame stub, yet he took some measurements from another car and it lined up perfectly. When we finally did get our hands on a stock bumper beam, Evan was able to use that to reshape and flatten the right front frame stub's mounting plate, with some gentle persuasion.

      Above is the stock 2015 bumper beam lined up and bolted to the two frame stubs of our car. Couldn't be happier with how well this turned out - a professional body shop couldn't have done it better.

      We have since replaced the entire front subframe - which we got from the same guy as the bumper beam. I will cover that in detail in another post.

      WHAT'S NEXT?

      Well that is the first round of work that happened on our 2015 chassis, showing tasks completed from August to mid December 2019.

      We have a good deal more work done than this first series of posts shows. Next time we will show more of the LS V8 swap, body panel fitting, interior work, carbon panels added, and more.

      Thanks for reading,
      Terry Fair -
      2018 GT / S550 Dev + 2013 FR-S / 86 Dev + 2011 GT / S197 Dev + C4 Corvette Dev
      EVO X Dev + 2007 Z06 / C6 Dev + BMW E46 Dev + C5 Corvette Dev


      • #4
        Project Update for June 10th, 2020: The last post covered most work on this #LS550 project through November 2019, but we have done a good bit since. Late last year I had hoped to be on track with this Mustang by now, but the global pandemic and subsequent economic slow down kicked those plans in the teeth. We also got really busy at the shop and brought in 2 brand new customer car builds during this period, which shoved the shop builds to the back. Now that the world is re-opening, we are restarting work on 3 different shop owned builds and have some tech to share.

        As you can see, the 2015 GT is looking a lot more complete of late. The "Phase I" 6.3" LS engine build is complete and that plus the T56 Magnum XL, our production engine + trans mounts, our production 1-7/8" long tubes, and production driveshaft will be in the car "for the last time" before start-up in a matter of days. We have the seats, suspension, roll bar, brakes, and wheels & tires from the 2018 GT on this car, and filled in a lot of missing factory pieces along the way. Carbon hood and trunk have arrived and been installed, and even lightweight carbon doors are here.

        This update has a LOT of S550 components weighed, and I mean a LOT. Some always ask why - weight is CRUCIAL and one of the main goals of this build is a sub-3000 pound weight for Phase I. More importantly, I've bet a steak dinner with some friends that we can meet this number! That's a 600 pound drop from stock, and a great challenge. I'm not going to cut safety corners and throw on carbon doors or run without at least a 4-point roll bar, so that's making this more difficult.


        These weight goals mean we need to look for big chunks to remove, and the interior is an obvious one. This 2015 GT came with "some" of the interior. It had most of the dash but not the gauge cluster or trim. It had carpet, center console, and door panels, even the back seat, interior plastics and a headliner.

        We yanked the one good stock power seat (50 pounds), the back seats, and the headliner - it was trashed due to curtain airbags that deployed. I have been stewing over what to do with the rest ever since. We have since pulled the carpet, but it might go back in for select events.

        I have been sorely tempted to build this car to run in the Optima GT class and ballast it up to minimum weight (3200), since I've run that class in 3600+ pound cars and done pretty well. But SO MUCH about the Optima series rules goes against my main goals for this car: to run it VERY LIGHT with GIANT HOOISERS and BIG AERO. No compromises. Optima is all about compromises and the show car judging BUGS. Everyone else here at Vorshlag keeps yelling NO! but my inner jackass wants to go run Optima with this car. A decision I will have to make later.

        The dash was stripped by The Parts Farm of anything of value, like the gauges, trim pieces, and vent panels. I have already purchased these missing pieces and ironically I got it all from the Parts Farm via eBay. Possibly from this same car! Why? I just cannot stand a dash that has lots of big holes in it, and these trim bits weigh next to nothing. But still, I'm going in the wrong direction - adding weight.


        We have weighed a number of OEM dash assemblies and knew there would be some pounds worth chasing in this big beast. Again, I don't want to run "no dash" in this car, as I feel it looks trashy and incomplete. Initially I also want the dash cross bar structure, until we cage the car, to add some lateral crash worthiness and to give structure for the steering column - both for track use as well as in a crash. So we're keeping the dash, for now. Down the road, it might get "skinned" and attached to a cage crash bar to chase more weight.

        The nearly 51 pound dash assembly that came in this car had one intact airbag (passenger side, all of the steel structure, the glove box, and most of the plastics. The center console weighs 9 pounds and we will likely keep it as-is, to cover up the E-brake and shifter. Gotta hold my drink somewhere, right!?

        Behind the dash is even more weight to chase, namely the HVAC box that houses the heater core, blower motor, and air conditioning evaporator core.

        The dash pad is pretty thick and heavier than I expected at 5.4 pounds. This steel bracket at the base of the dash attaches the steel dash structure to the transmission tunnel was heavy for as small as it is - we will replace that with a simple aluminum bracket that should weigh 1/3rd as much.

        This was a big chunk we won't be replacing - the HVAC box. It weighed in at 22.5 pounds without any coolant, so that's a nice chunk removed. If we do install a heater core for defroster use (handy in some winter months, even in a race car) we will put back a 7 pound heater core + blower box we have used on many other race cars. For now, nothing goes back in.

        There were TWO intact airbags still in the dash that we attacked, including this main passenger side unit at 5.8 pounds. The plastic vent tubing was light at 2.5 pounds and is also staying out.

        The glove box door had some heft, with 4.6 pounds in the main part due to a knee airbag being part of the door. Then this secondary "hidden" glove box compartment was 2 pounds and held several factory owners manuals and some sort of dash controller. Wen we have time I will "skin" the glove box door and extract the knee airbag. It is buried inside some plastics that are fused together, and I would like to keep the skin of the door there to cover a giant gaping hole. For now, it's all staying out.

        There was a lot of hardware that was removed that held in the airbag, controllers, and HVAC bits - almost half a pound. The glove box door "surround" and upper center panel of the dash will go back in, so that's 1.9 pounds NOT removed.

        There was a big, chunky, PINK plastic bucket molded into the upper dash plastics that held the main passenger side airbag. I wasn't sure how much it could weigh but I asked Evan to go ahead and cut it out. He used a 3" cut off wheel in a die grinder and mowed through the perimeter.

        It was 0.4 pounds, so we're starting to chase ever decreasing weight drops. It was time to stop and put the steel structure back together with the main dash plastics to we able to mount the assembly.

        We didn't modify the steel structure much, and that 20.4 pound chunk is the majority of what is left in the final plastic and steel dash assembly at 31.9 pounds. The various dash trim pieces I bought weigh "ones of pounds" and will cover up most of the remaining holes. Lets tally up the dash + HVAC weight losses below:
        • HVAC box = 22.5 pounds
        • Dash insulation pad = 5.4 pounds
        • Steel lower dash bracket = 1.6 pounds
        • Dash lightening = (50.7 - 31.9) 18.8 pounds
        In the end we lost 18.8 pounds from the dash assembly by removing both airbags, the glove box, and some smaller bits. Removing the 22.5 pound HVAC, dash pad, and the lower bracket totaled a 48.3 pound drop in all of the work shown above. This drop is good considering we are keeping the steel dash structure, all of the outer the dash plastics, and the center console.

        It is hardly pretty at this point but it is 48 pounds lighter in this area, and once we have the digital dash and the OEM dash trim plastics in place it will look a lot better. Stay tuned for that!


        We are planning to add the same safety gear we used in the 2018 GT on Phase I of #Trigger here. That includes removing the back seat, adding our 4-point roll bar (which is finally going into production soon), and the same seats and harnesses.

        We built this roll bar to work with dual-purpose S550s that still heave a headliner, and it can be used with the rear plastics if they are trimmed. Again, if we ever decide to run Optima in their "street car" classes (not "Outlaw") we will go back and add some of these interior panels. But for now, we're chasing weight - and we've pulled the back seat, door panels, headliner and even carpet.

        This step included bolting in the 4-point roll bar we made for the S550 chassis and installing our S550 seat bracket bases, the slider on the driver's side, and the two Sparco halo style seats. The Schroth harnesses are anchored to the seat bases and the roll bar.


        Again, this car was pieced together with leftovers from many others. The steering column had been removed, which was barely held in place. This had been out of the car, stripped of the airbag and controls, and shoved back into the car quickly.

        The steering column assembly was jammed into the steering shaft assembly (below right) under the dash. The threaded hole on the coupler had to be repaired / retapped before it would go back in place. We will keep this steering shaft for now (it easily clears our production LS swap headers), but if the "rag joint" at the junction to the steering column has any play we will replace that with a proper splined U-joint. This shaft assembly has a nice OEM firewall flange and it is just less work to keep it than replace.

        I also want to keep the factory tilt / telescoping column assembly, as it is relatively lightweight (12.7 pounds), has a rigid cast aluminum structure, and the ergonomics of this column + wheel fit me very well.

        Not enough weight there to chase at the moment, especially for a race-only part that will lose adjustments and likely even some rigidity. We will replace the OEM steering wheel with something better and add a quick release soon.


        As the story goes, "The Parts Farm stripped anything of value" from this car. That included the factory pedal assemblies. So off to eBay I went and bought this manual transmission S550 "clutch + brake pedal" assembly, and it came with the drive-by-wire throttle pedal, too. Evan mounted all of that and we looked at the spacing from the Ford throttle pedal and brake pedal, to match with our LS3 pedal.

        Since we are using an LS engine I bought an LS3 pedal from a 5th gen Camaro / C6 Corvette and got to mounting it.

        Myles did some mockup work and we debated distancing of the throttle to gas pedal. Too close and people mash both pedals at once, and too far and you cannot to the "heel / toe" brake and do the gas pedal dance needed for seamless downshifts...

        Once we came up with a distance we all liked he made the LS3 pedal mount bracket to work with existing S550 firewall studs and nuts. So this bolts in place of the OEM pedal and has nearly the same distance to the brake pedal as the Ford.

        The height of the LS3 pedal also matches the height of the Ford pedal, so it should feel the same driving as any S550. This pedal will plug into the aftermarket EFI system we are using, too.


        While the dash was out and the pedals were being mounted we made note of the big gaping holes in the firewall. Fire, fumes, and fluids will always try to find a way into the cabin so we needed to cover the openings left behind by the heater box and OEM wiring harnesses we have removed.

        Evan made some templates for firewall openings we need to cover, and Myles cut them out on the CNC plasma table.

        Evan lined up the first one, marked and drilled a pair of holes, then added some Clecos to hold the panel in place. Then he drilled the rest of the holes and installed 1/8" pop rivets around the perimeter of each opening.

        The image above shows all four of these installed on the firewall of our 2015, and I will feel safer going on track with these openings properly covered with metal. We have since made this 4-piece block off plate a production S550 product and have sold a number of these kits. I'm not hiding the fact that this is a big reason why we bought this salvage car - to develop more parts to help others turn more S550 chassis into proper race cars.


        This salvage 2015 GT came with two perfectly good doors and even front fenders. We always look at dropping weight in the doors of any car we work on, but we have to balance that weight savings with safety and streetability. "Street cars" need roll up windows and side impact crash structure in the doors. Dedicated race cars with cages can have the doors "skinned", the window glass/regulators removed, and the crash beams cut out. We're in between those two extremes on Phase 1 of this build.

        The stock doors are HEAVY on the S550. We can take a stock S550 door and start cutting until we get it into the 25-30 pound range, as we have done on many other cars in the past. Remember though, Phase 1 is only using a 4-point roll bar (behind the driver), so we need to keep the door's crash structure in place. Window glass, however, is fair game and is being removed. Phase 2 of this build includes a full cage and carbon doors (see them below), so we need an interim solution.

        Matt's white 2015 GT got tagged at track event by another car, and we had to steal the driver's side front fender and door from #Trigger. That saved him some time and money on the repair (all of this car's repair work is covered in the main S550 development thread). What do we do for the missing driver's door on our black 2015?

        "One man's trash is another man's treasure." Matt's 2015 white driver side door already had the door glass shattered, so it was a perfect candidate for a temporary door for #Trigger. Brad got to work gutting the regulator, vacuumed out the broken glass, and Evan hammered out the bent leading edge.

        continued below
        Last edited by Fair!; 06-11-2020, 08:25 AM.
        Terry Fair -
        2018 GT / S550 Dev + 2013 FR-S / 86 Dev + 2011 GT / S197 Dev + C4 Corvette Dev
        EVO X Dev + 2007 Z06 / C6 Dev + BMW E46 Dev + C5 Corvette Dev


        • #5
          continued from above

          We always keep the inner door latch even on gutted doors, to make "rapid egress" possible in case of fire. After realizing the inner door panels are worth almost nothing on the used parts market, I asked Brad to just "extract" the stock inner door latch and surround.

          He sliced and extracted this handle and the surrounding mounting plastics, which was bolted right to the inner door structure. We did ZERO cutting on this door and left a lot of "meat on the bone" but I wanted to see how much weight drop we could get just by removing the glass, regulator, inner door panel, mirror and window motor.

          The final weight of the door (84.2 - 49.0) made for a 35.2 pound drop for one door, with no cutting. With a cage we could cut away a lot more, but we've got carbon doors for Phase 2 waiting. I might replace the chunky 2.5 pound side mirrors with something sleeker, but they might just go back on for Phase 1.

          A new pair of hinges from Ford were purchased to use with this door, as the original hinges from my black '15 went on Matt's white '15 GT, along with the driver's door. The guys had to remove the front fender to mount the white door and alignment was... tricky, but with some hammering and a little 2x4 love, it lined up.

          This banged up drivers door isn't pretty, but it opens/closes smoothly, has all of the crash structure, and it is only temporary. We will do the same "lightening" work to the passenger side door soon, which will give us a 70 pound drop over the super heavy stock doors, which isn't too shabby.


          Like almost everything else of value on this chassis, the whole damn wiring harness and fuse box were gone. This creates some extra work for us, as we need to chase down some harness ends to wire into things like the EPAS and ABS, but it is also a great excuse to rewire the whole car to remove COMPLEXITY, FAILURE POINTS, and WEIGHT. There was only a little wiring left, like the ABS sensors at the hubs. All of the dash, engine bay, lighting, and chassis wiring is gone. The X-Y axis yaw sensor was still on the transmission tunnel, so I guess they forgot to grab that.

          As we delve into the wiring on our 2015 Mustang GT I wanted to show typical chassis wiring harness weights and our "race car" harness solutions. The 49.4 pound weight shown above is a typical OEM chassis harness from a BMW E46, which is not too different from other cars we work on. Nearly 50 pounds of CAN integrated madness, and that's not anything in the engine bay either - just the chassis harness. Sometimes a bunch of this copper is hidden under the carpet, behind the dash, but it is everywhere - like a plague.

          Old OEM wiring can really let you down as it ages. Breaks in the plastic insulator casing can cause shorts, the wire itself can get brittle and break, the retaining clips at connectors break off, etc. I'm not saying we have never built race cars with OEM wiring - we have, and it usually gobbled up repair time during the build, and the end result always looked like a hack. Instead of spending dozens of hours cutting circuits out of an old OEM harness and repairing broken or damaged wiring for a LS swapped dedicated race car, we would rather replace it with a new harness

          We usually start with a complete chassis harness from Painless Performance Products, like the one above for #Trigger. Making a harness from scratch takes a LOT of time and can gobble up a lot of money. This 21 circuit harness is brand new, uses GM color coding, and weighs in at 7.6 pounds... and we will cut some of this away. This one cost $249 and was made nearby in Ft Worth, Texas.

          Of course some racers can be "wiring snobs" and will brag about a $20K custom chassis harness they had built, elaborate Power Distribution Modules. Will any of that make their car one bit faster or slower? Not really, but it comes down to functionality, reliability and of course cost. Where else could that $20K on a fancy chassis harness be spent to make the car faster? Lots of places. We have used these Painless chassis harnesses on a number of race car builds and the clocks don't care that they didn't get Raychem heat traced / custom labeled / IP67 sealed / custom chassis harnesses with PDM boxes and all of that. We aren't building F1 cars.

          We do go the extra mile and use better Deutsch DT series connectors and their gold plated solid pins on any junctions we have to add. We will also use some of the OEM connectors and a length of wiring from the stock bits we are trying to connect to (if they are in good condition). It is not uncommon to spend more on the Deutsch connectors than on the entire Painless chassis harness. Things like the headlights, tail lights, windshield wipers, and a select few things will either get a "pigtail" cut from the OEM harness and spliced into our Painless harness, or new OEM style plugs with pins crimped onto the Painless harness. Non-stock things like the motorsports heater box fan motor will get a Deutsch connector.

          These are some wiring pictures from other builds using DT series connectors. We are not unaccustomed to a "total rewire" of a car, and in fact it generally solves a lot of problems on chassis more than ten years old. The E46 M3 (above left) has the Painless fuse box mounted to a panel under the false floor on the passenger side. The LS3 powered, tube framed 69 Camaro (above right) has the Painless fuse box mounted to the transmission tunnel, per the customer's request (easy access, like modern Trans Am race cars). We will likely add the fuse box to our #LS550 under the hood, where there are acres of room, or where the glove box used to be.

          For the high amperage power distribution we will use another 3-pole Bussman block with 100 to 150 amp fuses, like we used on this Gen II Coyote swapped 2010 Mustang above. This helps take the feed from the battery (and the solid state Cartek battery isolator we will install) and feeds it to the fuse box, starter, EPAS rack and other high amp circuits

          Lastly the battery will be another Group 75/25 Optima yellow top AGM battery mounted with one of our production 2-piece battery trays. We have used this battery setup on 3 cars recently and each time it "fixed problems".

          Sure, this is a 20 pound jump over the golf kart sized Odyssey PC680 AGM we used to put in a lot of cars in the past. But as we've seen, modern cars have enough drain that they tend to kill a little PC680 in a matter of only a few days. ANY build with an EPAS (electric power assist) steering should have a BIG battery, not the little ones. I cannot count how many times we have had to push a car with a dead PC680, but that hasn't happened with anything sporting the larger Optima units. The Group 75/25 is the lightest Optima they make, a solid 10 pounds lighter than some other group sizes. Dead batteries have cost me too many hours of frustration, lost track sessions, and I have had enough of that nonsense. We will find that 20 pounds elsewhere.


          This car came with a hodgepodge of OEM brake parts, many of which were from different sub-models that didn't work together. And lots of parts were just missing. Again, the Parts Farm took everything of value from this rolling chassis and we had to add a lot of OEM pieces back.


          We ordered a new PP1 brake booster and PP1/PP2 style master cylinder from Ford, which we sell on our website. The master cylinder is indeed designed with a very different hydraulic ratio than the base GT/V6/Ecoboost brake master, which we found out the hard way when we upgraded our 2018 GT to the PP1 brakes.

          I was never convinced that the "Performance Pack" brake booster we bought for our 2018 GT (above left) was in any way different than the base GT unit, but it did have a different part number. The 2015-17 GT used the same booster for PP1 and base brakes, so we bought that model and installed it (above right).

          I am not going to re-hash what was already posted in the main S550 development thread earlier, but long story short: there is a reason why we include the PP1 master cylinder with the 6 piston Brembo 15" brake upgrade kit (above right) that we sell. It will NOT work properly on track without the correct hydraulic ratio master, and the difference is easy to measure and see. We are using aftermarket Motorsport front brakes on #Trigger, however.

          The salvage yard removed the ABS controller and bracket, so I bought a PP1 ABS unit online for $64 and then bought a new bracket from Ford for a whopping $18. Sure we could have made a bracket, but why? This is a nicely made, fully isolated bracket for this chassis and this ABS brick, and installation took minutes.

          Sometimes the real trick is learning when it makes since to build something custom vs buy something new that is made for the job. That made this a quick bolt-in job of the ABS brick.

          Next up were the two main feed lines from the brake master to the ABS brick, which you can actually buy from Motorcraft from most parts suppliers (ie: not the dealership) for about $25. These are pre-bent hard lines with stainless braided flex sections in the middle. They lined up perfectly and we have managed to salvage most of the other brake hard lines on this chassis.

          The rest of the front brakes are just the 380x34mm rotor / 6 piston caliper Powerbrake kit we had on the red 2018 GT. We already covered the big weight drop and better pad and rotor wear on the existing S550 development thread. We have the front flex lines on the Powerbrake kit already plumbed in, and we will add some of the same brake deflectors to a custom undertray / tunnel feed system like the other car had.


          With so much of this car's wear items being questionable we decided it would be smart to upgrade both the front and rear hubs with the ford Racing versions we sell. These come with longer and stronger ARP wheel studs, which can be very handy, and the new hubs will give us fresh Ford bearings to start with.

          These hubs are relatively easy to install in the rear - and since we had the rear subframe and axles being swapped anyway, this wasn't a lot of extra work.

          The work up front is also pretty straightforward. With the front brakes out of the way the main center nut was removed, the new hubs swapped on, and the nut torqued to 250 ft-lbs. The ARP studs are much longer at both front and rear, which will show the tech inspectors what they want to see - fully engaged open lug nuts at each hole.

          The Parts Farm cobbled a rolling chassis together for us out of several cars, and the rear subframe and brakes obviously came from an Ecoboost or V6 car. We could tell because the rear disc brakes were the very bottom base model versions, as they were the solid disc brake rotors. It also had an aluminum super 8.8" housing, which was a bonus (the GT 6-speed and GT350s got an iron unit, which is 16 pounds heavier). We will use this aluminum housing in another build, so that was a win. I did get some weights on the old sliding single piston rear caliper and and bracket - shown above - but I forgot to weigh the solid or vented rotors. It's all cast iron stuff so it is a bit on the heavy side.

          To get #Trigger up to at least GT standard rear brakes we put together our S550 "Rear brake upgrade kit" using Stoptech 13" rotors and the associated calipers + brackets needed. This rear kit makes it easier for owners of these base model V6/Ecoboost cars to upgrade to PP1/GT level brakes out back, and with our front Brembo 6-piston brake kit they can have matching PP1/GT front brakes and master cylinder as well.

          This kit consists of new 13" vented GT rear rotors and new calipers and mounting brackets made for the thicker vented rotor. These are actual pictures of the parts that come in our rear GT brake upgrade kit - and could also be used to refresh your GT rear brakes if they are looking pretty haggard from track abuse. Some might think it strange to use the inverted hat GT rear rotors on this car, but you know what? They worked pretty dang well on the back of our 2018 GT for 2 seasons of track and autocross use. Did they get hot? Oh yes, we logged 800°F rear rotor surface temps. But we still only used one set of rotors and G-LOC pads on the back of that car for 2 full seasons, and they still have life left.

          We logged 1.5g stops on Hoosiers and 1.4g stops on "street" tires, so these bits weren't holding us back. Of course we would like to be able to have rear rotors that can be actively cooled, so we will work on making a "normal" 2-piece rear rotor for the S550 at a later date. For now, this should be fine for Phase 1 of our #LS550 build.


          The front subframe was bent in several places on the car we bought, as I have outlined before. But the critical points measured out OK, so this was initially going to be ignored to save time and money for other parts of the build. Then a free OEM S550 front subframe and bumper beam popped up on a local S550 Mustang FB group - I could not ignore that price.

          I picked up these parts and they were all in perfect shape - just like he said. Big thanks to James Mowdy for the hookup on these parts! Major peace of mind knowing this bent unit will be out of our car.

          continued below
          Terry Fair -
          2018 GT / S550 Dev + 2013 FR-S / 86 Dev + 2011 GT / S197 Dev + C4 Corvette Dev
          EVO X Dev + 2007 Z06 / C6 Dev + BMW E46 Dev + C5 Corvette Dev


          • #6
            continued from above

            After we unloaded the subframe, Brad soaked it in WD40, which loosened up the grease and grime. After an hour of soaking the muck was wiped off, and it looked good as new. Not a ding or scratch on it, which is amazing since this is the lowest part of the chassis.

            We then took weights of the subframe and the replacement EPAS steering rack as well. This car came with a good rack but we had to steal it last Fall to fix Matt's crashed white 2015 GT, so this was another 2015+ replacement EPAS that I bought second hand.

            James also gave me his stock bumper beam, which we weighed then used to align the front frame horns after Evan cut out and replaced the bent one. We won't use this beam for the build, but it sure came in handy for frame alignment.

            Now I included this weigh from BMR for their drag race front subframe, and it is 30 pounds lighter than stock. But we usually ignore the drag race subframes, as they are not known for taking lateral loads from giant Hoosiers. We'll stick with the stock subframe for the time being, unless we need to start chasing weight more seriously down the road.

            Replacing a subframe is usually a time consuming job, and of course we did it with the LS drivetrain and T56 magnum and long tube headers in place. But with an engine hanger securing the engine from above, it wasn't too bad.

            Brad had pre-assembled the new subframe with the replacement EPAS steering rack, the chassis was lowered down to that, and it was bolted into place.

            Having this un-bent front subframe gives me some peace of mind and also allows us to develop more parts based on the unadulterated OEM unit. We also might use the stock lower radiator mounts/grommets that are in the forward "stubs". The stock bumper beam and alignment also means our tubular bumper beam will be reproducible for others with unbent S550 chassis, too.


            When doing an LS swap we check our engine placement, which we try to get as far back and low as possible. The stock front crossmember and oil pan spacing dictates the height, and the transmission / shifter placement set the fore-aft placement on this chassis. We knew we would be using an T56 Magnum XL, as it was designed for the S197 chassis - which shares an engine bay size and a transmission tunnel shape with the S550 chassis here. The engine was hung from a engine bay brace and we tweaked it for level, lateral and vertical placement, and kept our drivetrain angles in check.

            On this car I wanted to keep the NVH from the engine mounts to a minimum so we left the OEM engine mounts in the front subframe. This will work great for street cars, and there are already poly and all metal engine mounts that work with the stock Coyote V8 that can be swapped in place. We have used some of the aftermarket choices for the stock mounts and were a bit underwhelmed - so this will give us an excuse to make a Vorshlag poly and Nylon engine mount kit that works with the S197 andS550 Coyote V8s, as well as our LS swap kits for both chassis.

            The uniquely high placement of the stock engine mount isolator makes for a nearly horizontal piece that needs to go from the block to the chassis. Space gets a little tight around the front header tubes but nothing we cannot design around.

            Our tubular LS motor mounts are one of our most time consuming items to make and our engineering team (me, Jason, Myles) have been talking about a CNC cut and bent plate steel design for some time. We made some test units for another chassis but this horizontal design might lend itself to this style more easily. After we talked about the design Myles drew up something in CAD, then cut one in cardboard to test the fit.

            That part looks good so he tweaked the CAD design, cut one out on the CNC table, bent it to shape then tack welded it together. The production mounts will be fully welded, of course. We still had a few iterations of revisions to make yet.

            This looked good in the car mocked up to the engine-side plate, but then we needed to install these with headers and check for clearance to the front primary tubes.

            A little more welding and these would be good to go - Myles made a final version after this and when we have the drivetrain back in the car (soon) we can lock down the production fixtures for this engine swap kit and make a production run.

            We tested a number of long tube headers and tweaked an existing LS swap header to fit this chassis, as seen above. I will cover that below.


            With the engine placed it was time to set the transmission angle and design the transmission mount crossmember for this drivetrain swap. Whenever we begin an LS swap we want to test the "down angle" of the T56 Magnum XL trans to match the "up angle" of the rear axle, it was all kinds of wrong. The pinion had nearly a 9 degree up angle.

            That is when we paused the trans mount development until we could figure out the deal with the rear subframe (see this section in the main S550 development thread), which turns out wasn't bolted fully into the chassis. With the subframe mounted correctly and sitting on new Whiteline bushings - and using this slick little flange tool that Myles made on the CNC table - we could see a pinion up-angle of 3.3 degrees, which was what right in the range I expected to see (a 2-3 deg pinion angle is normal).

            With the transmission down angle set the opposite of the pinion up angle (so the U-joints on the driveshaft don't get into a harmonic battle), Myles got to work on the T56 Magnum swap transmission crossmember design. He has designed and built a number of these lately for our LS swaps using CNC plasma cut parts, for these LS swaps: Z4, E36 RHD, E36 LHD, E46 and FRS/86/BRZ chassis. This S550 design just follows that new style of trans crossmember we adopted in 2019.

            We made this design change to gain some room so we could utilize this proven polyurethane transmission mount bushing from Energy Suspension - which uses a captured, fully isolated design. We have moved to this mount for all of our LS swap transmission crossmember designs as of May 2020.

            This is the production ready crossmember for our LS / T56 Magnum XL swap for the S550 chassis. The slotted and tabbed design self-aligns and will be fully TIG welded on production jigs when we make our first batch. Even with just a few tack welds it can hold up the weight of the 125 pound Magnum XL. The exhaust and ground clearance are both exceptional. And the shifter lines up perfectly with the opening in the tunnel.

            We measured for and drew up a design for the driveshaft, which is made for us with a massive 3.5" x .120" wall aluminum tubing and strong 1530 U-joints at both ends. This 15.8 pound one-piece driveshaft is rated at 900 hp and works with both bolt circles that Ford used on the Super 8.8" axle drive flange, and comes with an adapter ring to keep it centered.


            The LS engine is so little compared to the Coyote this engine bay was designed for that we could take some liberties with engine placement to potentially shorten header development time.

            When headers typically take 9-12 months to go from prototype to production, I was looking to save time on this step!

            And that we did. Sending several measurements to our production header manufacturer, they were able to make something for us that fit on just the 2nd try. Huge time savings, and this is a 1-7/8" primary, proper full length header with 321 stainless bends.

            These pictures show our header design that fits this LS550 swap and uses the same design parameters (maximum ground clearance, 1-7/8" primaries, 3" collectors). Packaging is one of the many benefits of the LS V8 engine design over any DOHC V8 design.

            This level is placed at the lowest part of the car (the bottom of the front subframe), and that line is inches below the bottom of the headers. So unlike most long tube headers that hit the ground first, these are tucked up nicely into these two massive tunnels that Ford left us.

            So this long tube header setup is now production ready, just needs final welding. We will order a batch for inventory very soon. We can also make these with 2" primaries with little to no changes - there is just so much room in this engine bay, it is unreal. These bigger primaries will come in handy for our Phase 2 engine for sure.

            GT350 AXLE INSTALL

            As part of the rear subframe bushing work referred to above, we removed the Ecoboost axles (halfshafts) and replaced them with this Ford Performance GT350 axle shaft kit. This is a lower cost replacement for the GT axles that comes with stronger CV joints.

            This rear subframe was from a V6 or Ecoboost car, and the axles looked pretty crusty and small. While it was out Brad pulled the old axles out.

            These are the part numbers and images of the axles we removed - didn't measure these but they "looked small". I wrote a LOT more things in this section about the GT350 axles, with about a dozen more pictures of weights of S550 GT vs the GT350 axles, but the post ran so long I spun that section off into this tech post about GT350 axles.

            We also installed the 4.09:1 geared, Auburn Pro diff equipped aluminum differential housing we built for my 2018 GT into the back of the '15 GT at the same time as the GT350 axle upgrade. That wrapped up the back end of our #LS550 for now.

            THE CARBONING!

            On March 3rd, 2020, I was working late at the shop and a freight truck arrived at 7 pm, in the dark, while pouring rain. I had to scramble a bit to make room, then get the fork lift hooked up, and unloaded this big pallet of carbon fiber parts from the box truck. Big batch of carbon parts for 2 cars arrived, so I dubbed it "The Carboning!" - I was as excited as a kid on Christmas!

            We broke down the pallet and unboxed all of he Anderson Composites and Seibon parts. These are two sides of the same company, with Anderson being their domestic car arm and Seibon being the import car arm. For our S550 Mustang I received a carbon trunk and carbon doors, shown above.

            For our LS powered endurance BMW E46 project we got a carbon hood and a carbon trunk. The quality and finish on all of these was great. These Seibon pieces are not "dry carbon" motorsports parts (which they also make) but their more affordable carbon-over-fiberglass / shiny gel coat versions. Still lighter than stock, but not as light as you could see.

            My favorite parts that arrived were these Anderson carbon fiber doors, which weighed in at 15.9 pounds - versus the 84.2 pound stock doors. As badly as I wanted to stick these on the 2015 GT, the sensible part of my brain (which is very small) reminded my lizard brain that these have essentially no crash protection. These make for a 67% weight savings over the bare steel doors - not including the glass, window motors, or regulators. We have to wait until the car is caged in Phase 2 to drop these pounds - so we will stick with the "lightened" 49 pound steel doors for now.

            The carbon trunk was 10.7 pounds vs the stock 24 pound steel trunk, for a 13.3 pound drop, or a 55% weight savings.

            Brad removed the steel trunk and installed the carbon unit with zero drama, no fitting, just bolted on. That is RARE in the composites world but typical of Anderson parts. We recommend disconnecting one of the lift struts, as the carbon unit is less than half the weight of the steel trunk. Body lines are perfect.

            The 2018+ GT carbon hood installed beautifully on my 2018 GT, and we ran it on that car for most of a year. But on this 2015 GT with a "2018 front end conversion" we had some issues. Next time I will explain further on what we had to do to REALLY convert this "early" S550 to the 2018-20+ GT front end.

            WHAT'S NEXT?

            We have a lot more to share, but this post is running super long. We've already measured for and ordered a much larger radiator, which will be installed with a steep roll. The budget aluminum 6.3L LS engine (Phase 1 use) is complete at HorsePower Research and the oil pickup tube is being modified to fit the wet sump pan we're using. Goal for this Phase 1 engine is to make the same "485 whp" number that the Gen III Coyote made with headers, CAI, and a tune - using the less costly Gen III LS6 GM cylinder heads and LS6 block from 2003.

            We have "adjusted" the 2018+ fenders to properly fit the 2018+ hood (installed above), then added the factory "upper tie bar" structure - which greatly sped up mounting of the 2018 headlights and nose. Then we built a rather unusual tubular bumper beam, which will be used to protect the steeply rolled radiator.

            We have the super light flywheel, twin disc clutch, bellhousing, Accusump, and T56 Magnum XL for this install on deck. We will show all of this work and more next time.

            Thanks for reading!
            Terry Fair -
            2018 GT / S550 Dev + 2013 FR-S / 86 Dev + 2011 GT / S197 Dev + C4 Corvette Dev
            EVO X Dev + 2007 Z06 / C6 Dev + BMW E46 Dev + C5 Corvette Dev


            • #7
              Project Update for July 29th, 2020: The last post in this thread didn't "catch up to real time". I'm getting excited about the #LS550 project as this car is one that I will drive primarily over any of our other shop cars, and it might see use in: Time Trial, autocross, and some W2W racing (after we cage it).

              The whole shop is pushing to finish the "Phase 1" aspect of this build. Let's start out this update with the biggest news of all - the first production batch of Vorshlag #LS550 swap parts that enable are ready to ship!

              PRODUCTION #LS550 SWAP PARTS

              We've seen a couple of "one off" LS swaps on the S550 but not any comprehensive "kit" that has engine mounts, trans crossmember, long tube headers, driveshaft, and transmission solutions. We have all of that and more, and we are adding new content to this section of our catalog as we progress through this build.

              Getting the prototype parts into production took more time than I'd have liked, with manpower in short supply. I have also been buying more fabrication equipment to speed up our production times, to improve quality, and to add new capabilities.

              These engine mounts are made from flat plate, CNC plasma cut, bent to shape, and TIG welded on our production fixtures. (for business reasons I don't show these) The final welding is done on this new fixture table, which makes for a more stable platform and removes the chances of warping.

              We began a production run of these mounts in early July 2020 and are now shipping these to customers wishing to put an LS into their 2015 and up Mustangs.

              We also have many other LS550 parts. This is our transmission crossmember for the T56 Magnum XL - we will add some other transmission options at a later date, just know that this is THE best manual option for a road course car. We sell that transmission, too, of course.

              We have a clutch hydraulics kit that connects to the Mustang clutch master cylinder and to a hydraulic slave Throw Out Bearing for a T56. This has a remote bleeder hose as well. And we have a 1-piece 3.5" diameter aluminum driveshaft to connect the T56 Magnum XL to the Super 8.8" - including both flange diameters and bolt patterns.

              We have had the long tube LS550 swap headers available for some time, and made them "live" on our website in July. So maybe 2020 isn't ALL bad??

              BUILDING THE 6.3L LS V8 AT HPR

              Earlier in this build thread the LS engine underhood was a mock up block and heads we have. That was mated with a real T56 Magnum XL and we built the mounts off of that. We always joked that this mock up block had a "blue tooth crank" - missing the crank, rods, and pistons. It was time to get the real engine built and in the car for proper weights and real progress.

              The budget aluminum 6.3L LS engine that we are using for Phase 1 of our #LS550 build was completed at HorsePower Research back in June 2020. I will cover some highlights of that here. The goal for this Phase 1 engine is to make about the same "485 whp" dyno number that the Gen III Coyote made with headers, CAI, and a tune, but using the less costly Gen III LS6 GM cylinder heads and LS6 block from 2003.

              The Gen III and Gen IV series of LS engines comes in many bore sizes and strokes, but the blocks are all the same deck height. For road course use we only want to look at the aluminum blocks, which are 85-100 pounds lighter than the iron blocks. Even the smaller 4.8L and 5.3L truck LS engines come in aluminum block versions, however. My "385" stroker was to be the first engine of a series of "small bore", wet sump, lower cost, cathedral port, aluminum LS engines that HPR plans to build for road racers. The 3.78" bore aluminum LS truck blocks can work with the same 3.90" pistons - they have a thick enough of an iron liner to be bored out to that size. They are more abundant than even the LS1 and LS6 engines that were 5.7L. I happened to have a good, used LS6 block.

              Why build something "this small", when all I preach is "bigger is better"?? Well not everyone is looking for a 650-700+ whp 468" LS7 stroker LS engine, and this 3.900" bore x 4.000" stroke setup can be built in any 4.8, 5.3, or 5.7L LS block. These smaller bore blocks are more abundant (used) and less costly, too. Erik Koenig over at HPR spec'd out a pretty crazy piston, with extra lightening CNC operations (370 grams each). This made for a much lighter but somewhat costly piston that will not be a part of this "series" of road race engines. Still, it will let us show the power of this "small bore stroker" series of engines with my 2015 GT - using a T56 Magnum XL, S550 Super 8.8" diff, and road race appropriate wires & wheels.

              This 4.0" stroke crank (above right, being balanced at HPR) was also used in this build. Why not a 4.125" or 4.25" stroke crank, like HPR uses on the 454 and 468" "big bore" engines? Well the stock cylinder length of the LS1/6 block becomes an issue, and the 4.0" stroke is the safest length we can get by with. HPR can use a longer stroke in aftermarket blocks or Darton sleeved blocks, but that adds a serious chunk to the costs over what this "small bore stroker" costs. What does it cost? Call Anthony at HPR to find out more. While I am one of the partners there, I don't get involved with pricing of engines.

              For the heads I rounded up some used "243" casting OEM heads from an LS6, which is considered to be the "best OEM head" for cathedral ports. The valve spacing on these fits inside the small 3.900" bore, unlike the LS3 and LS7 spacing. HPR sent these to TEA (TFS) for CNC porting and while it was there larger valves were installed. The head assembly and setup was done back at HPR, as shown above.

              Erik spec'd a cam, valve springs, and retainers/locks with the help of Billy Godbolt at Comp Cams. The hydraulic roller cam is a bit spicy with .634" lift, 246?/254? duration on a 110? lobe separation. Not what he'd spec for an endurance engine, but should work fine for Time Trial or sprint racing. Johnson roller lifters and new LS6 rockers round out the valvetrain.

              Again, this is NOT meant to be some world beater engine, but instead a reliable ~500 whp long block with the right components and clearances for wet sump road course use. The pros at HPR did the final install on the long block as well as the oil pan install, which I will show below.


              We tested numerous oil pans before we locked down the final engine location for our #LS550 swap, and a popular Holley pan fits as well. We also found an enlarged sump, trap door fitted, steel oil pan for LS engines from Summit Racing in 2019. I bought one, we used it for test fitting on our LS550 build.

              On paper this 7 quart pan solved a lot of problems - added a quart of extra oil capacity, trap doors around the pickup will help keep that submerged in oil, easily adapts for a remote oil filter mount, and it fit the S550 crossmember by a wide margin. Buying a new stock or Holley oil pan + a drop-in oil pan baffle kit would cost double and NOT have the added capacity of this unit.

              When fitting this pan to two of our engines at HPR, the engine builders there noted a few issues with the oil pump pickup and elsewhere. We took both Summit pans back to Vorshlag to "adjust" them. We documented these changes in this forum thread. We are using this wet sump Summit pan on our Phase 1 stroker 365" LS6 engine in the #LS550 project.

              Once we had the pickup height and clearance issues modified, HPR was able to set the final pickup depth of .250-.300" off the bottom of the pan. Summit Racing has seen our post and has said they will be looking at this closely, possibly altering the design. Ignoring these warnings could lead to catastrophic outcomes - like oil starvation in corners. But with these few tweaks this unit still makes for a more cost effective wet sump road race LS oil pan than some costing 3-4 times as much.


              We have an employee that loves turbos and he happened to buy a number of LS intake manifolds, so we test fit a few of those items to our #LS550 project to share with the rest of you animals.

              This Holley low ram intake is actually a well made high quality unit - but a pretty bad design with regards to runner length and associated RPM tuning. This is an intake that will "peak" above 11,000 rpm, but it packages short so people will buy it. So we slapped it on the car - it fit by a mile, of course.

              The modularity of this Holley design is unique, and flexible, allowing for an opening into the plenum as well as a bell-mouth front section that is removable. Again, the runner length works poorly for both Naturally Aspirated as well as boosted designs that will operate below 10,000 rpm.

              Next up are some forward facing turbo headers for the boost boys. Of course I would NEVER recommend a boosted road course build, but for the budget drag racer these Chinese built Flowtech 11537FLT headers at $200 might be a way to get a turbo setup going. 409 stainless with V-band flanges for direct mounting the turbo, but the build quality matches the very low price.

              And as we have shown, this LS swap leaves a LOT of room for activities underhood. These cheap headers have their drawbacks - the routing will absolutely COOK the ignition coils if you mount them to the valve covers. I'm not going to get into all of the downsides of cheap headers, just showing some parts we mocked up.

              Last up for mock-ups is this Holley Hi-Ram intake. We had this in the shop for some modifications and future testing so we slapped it on. This is technically an LS7 version sitting on our cathedral port LS6 headed engine, and the back of the intake was contacting the firewall - but it's still worth looking at if you are looking to build an engine that peaks in the 7000-7400 rpm range. This is where the Holley High-Ram's runner lengths work best. Sadly these only fit a 105mm throttle body, which is a choke point on the bigger 468" engines that places like HPR build.

              You can see the slight interference at the firewall above left, and with a little bump of the hammer this intake would slide back another 1/2". The side shot above right shows how much of the upper plenum would stick above the hood. Not great, not terrible. #Chernobyl


              If you are familiar with the S550 Mustang at all you will know that there are a few visible differences between models and years. The 2015-17 Mustang GT/V6/Ecoboost has a unique set of front fenders, headlights, hood, front bumper cover, and lower lip. The 2018-20+ models are pretty different after a "mid model update" from the front fenders forward. The 2016-19 GT350 has it's own front fenders and nose, too.

              Above is the 2015-17 GT front end at left (the 2015 GT PP1 I custom ordered, but ultimately "let go") and the 2018+ GT is above right (our base model 2018 GT with the PP1 lip and PP2 splitter extension). The later 18+ version has a lower hoodline and "less drag", and I got used to the new nose, plus I had the carbon fiber 2018+ hood from Anderson Composites. So when I bought a 2015 GT with a front hit it was a good time to convert. I could have changed to GT350 style but meh, that's almost a poseur move and I didn't want to go there.

              The list of parts is shown above with the fake Tasca prices (their shipping costs are outrageous). But even when you are buying from Ford you have to pay a "core charge" or bring in an old front nose - this keeps the counterfeit parts down, somehow.

              I could have just plopped down several thousand bucks for new fenders, bumper cover, headlights, but Jason and I went junk yarding and came up with what we needed. Those were shown in an earlier installment.

              Since that earlier post we have ordered some more 2018-up brackets parts and "adjusted" the 2018+ fenders to properly fit the 2018+ hood (installed below), then added the factory "upper tie bar" structure - which greatly sped up mounting the 2018 headlights and nose.

              We needed the 2018+ hood on to realize that the fenders weren't right. There was then a bit of a lateral "mis-match" on the fender mounting flanges that are part of the "upper shotgun" mounts on the chassis. Brad made some small adapter extensions using a big fat washer to get these to line up after the hood was in place.

              Next up the used 2018 bumper cover I got (cheap!) was missing one of these molded-in 90 deg "brackets". These break off if you look at the car funny, so he made a template out of cardboard then an aluminum version that he bent into shape.

              This allowed the bumper cover to mount to the 2018 front fender, and it should be much stronger than the "Break-away" plastic bit normally holding the cover in place there. It is a "race car" and not a show car, and the wide-body kit we have on deck covers all of that up - stay tuned for that in Phase 2.

              After trying to mount the headlights without this part, I finally bit the bullet and bought this 2018+ "upper tie bar" or upper radiator support. I held back initially because it was a somewhat expensive part. I looked at Tasca (which has low prices that they make up for in shipping) but it ended up being less costly through RockAuto, of all places. Search for "Upper Tie Bar" or "Radiator Support". The GT/V6/Ecoboost version is plastic cast over metal (the GT350 is "carbon fiber" but made for that unique front end).

              continued below
              Last edited by modernbeat; 09-01-2021, 02:55 PM.
              Terry Fair -
              2018 GT / S550 Dev + 2013 FR-S / 86 Dev + 2011 GT / S197 Dev + C4 Corvette Dev
              EVO X Dev + 2007 Z06 / C6 Dev + BMW E46 Dev + C5 Corvette Dev


              • #8
                continued from above

                To wrap up the 2018 front end swap we needed to get the upper tire bar, shown below. I was worried about overall weight on this complex part, which ties into the bumper cover, upper shotgun horns, headlights, and holds the hood prop. It only weighed in at 10.1 pounds.

                We would have been hard pressed to replicate this complex bracket in 5-6 hours at the same weight. This was a good part to "buy new" and utilize, and is broken on almost every wrecked Mustang.

                That upper tie bar structure, the grill inserts I bought from a used 2018 GT, and the base GT lower lip left over from my red 2018 make the floppy plastic front bumper cover line up and support itself. Glad I finally spent the money on the right part here and it also allows us to verify our tubular bumper cover for a production 2018+ car.


                HPR got this 385" stroker assembled in record time - it was a weird lull during the lockdown where many engines were "stuck" awaiting some part that was on national backorder, and the custom parts for this one (pistons) were ordered ahead of that.

                We didn't waste any time and I loaded up the longblock in the GMT800 shop truck (also HPR LS powered), hauled it the ~4 miles to the Vorshlag shop, unloaded, and Evan got to work installing things like the balancer, pilot bearing, and flywheel. The ICT top cover was ordered and installed.

                There are a LOT of choices for balancers, but Erik at HPR likes the ATI and he recommends getting the largest one you can live with. Too light and it doesn't have enough mass to damp vibrations from the crank. I chose the ATI 917289 balancer, which has the C5/C6 Corvette "pulley depth" and the optional cog drive on the hub. This will allow us to convert this engine to an external dry sump if things get out of hand. We will be monitoring oil pressure on the Holley Dominator EFI system, of course, and using an Accusump.

                Evan used a "long snout" LS7 bolt and our ATI bearing equipped balancer installer to get the balancer installed. The final "short snout" crank bolt was then used to pull it snugly into place, using an ARP 12 point "re-usable" LS crank bolt. ARP fasteners were also ordered for the flywheel and pressure plate. I will cover more of the engine "completion" in sections below.


                The fab work on this tubular bumper beam took place mostly in May but the final welding happened around the same time as this final engine assembly went down, in June 2020. Now you may be wondering WHY we added a tubular bumper beam. Surprisingly it isn't for weight reasons. The OEM bumper beam is relatively light at a hair under 12 pounds, as shown below.

                The problem is width, and a lack of protection laterally. The stock crash beam stops at the frame rails, whereas our tubular bumper beam spans the full width of the front end. We also wanted more room and freedom to mount the radiator at a crazy roll. But I also had a crazy idea about running the beam through the turn signal openings in the front bumper cover... those could be bent to mimic the look of the stock turns, but the exposed DOM tubing would instead be used to mount the splitter struts we're going to hang off the front of this car.

                Myles got to work and cut a piece of 1.75" x .095" wall DOM steel roll cage tubing a bit longer than normal. This was rolled in our powered tubing roller to match the curve of the S550 front bumper cover. I wanted the tubing pushed as far forward as possible and to also pass through the openings in the cover for the turn signal lights... looks like a crazy catfish in the early stages.

                Myles worked with me and showed that if we trimmed the bumper cover slightly he could push the bar further forward, which was exactly what I wanted. A little work with a die grinder and that turn signal opening was enlarged slightly.

                Lastly he took a lot of measurements and added the "bends" at the end of the tubing to mimic the turn signal shape. Then the tubing was fitted and trimmed to not run into the tires.

                The tubing is pushed forward and almost touching the bumper cover from behind, wraps around the full width of the front end, and it matches the turn signal look. Myles made several templates then CNC cut plates to mount to the frame horns and then from there to the tubing.

                I was extremely pleased with how well this turned out - you wouldn't know that we have a semi-exposed bumper beam unless I pointed it out, especially after these are painted orange to look like the turn signals.

                With the assembly tack welded and removed Brandon did the final TIG welding and "boxed" the mounts at the frame horns. We will leave this raw steel until we add the front splitter, then the threaded stand-offs can be added and then the whole thing powder coated.


                Dropping weight is a big goal on this build - as is lowering rotational inertia is as well. Lighter wheels, lighter brakes, and a lighter flywheel and clutch assembly all fall into that category.

                This is a clutch we supplied to a customer years ago with a T56 - and he hated it. After driving it for 3 days he demanded his money back. Another clutch sale a month later turned into the same thing. So yea, I don't provide or sell clutches anymore, too many unhappy customers. But I had this sitting on the shelf for a little while and figured, well, I already paid for this...

                DO NOT take this as an endorsement to use this brand or model of clutch on your car! I've driven some really sketchy clutches and am used to that, and my 2015 GT won't be a "daily driver" kind of car. Race cars can use race car clutches, like this. There are probably better brands and options, but I drove this car and it will work fine, at least initially. This kit came with a hydraulic TOB for the slave, which we made lines for.

                The flywheel was used, so Brad scuffed the steel surface and cleaned it with brake cleaner. Evan used his new LS specific "flywheel holder" tool to help install the ARP M11 flywheel bolts and torque to spec with Loctite.

                The pilot bearing can get a little confusing - there are two sizes. I like the needle bearing version vs a bronze bushing, which is old school. We picked the appropriate "Camaro" style small diameter unit that presses into the crank rather than the larger diameter "Corvette" style which presses into the flywheel. That was driven in place and greased.

                The multi-disc, small diameter clutch and friction plates were cleaned and assembled, then installed onto the flywheel with ARP bolts.

                Again, this clutch uses a bespoke clutch slave cylinder / TOB. It is not the same depth or throw or even mounting style to the normal "T56" slave we use in most builds. Multi-plate clutches often come with a slave like this, and it has to be measured and shimmed to work.

                With the T56 bellhousing installed it was time to spec out the hoses. We built a set of these using braided BrakeQuip parts, with a dry break quick connect for the pressure hose and a remote bleeder hose to help with bleeding the system. The end that connects to the clutch master uses the same Ford specific end to make install a breeze.

                With the T56 bellhousing installed the hoses were installed and routed out the side as shown. One to the clutch master, the other as a remote bleeder.


                The front drive accessories on Gen III and IV LS engines comes in a variety of layouts. Many of our early swaps used the most compact (laterally) setup from the 1998-02 Camaro, shown below left. These were always easier to fit than the C5/C6 Corvettes, which had an alternator WAAAAY off to the left and high.

                The 4th gen Camaro brackets are getting hard to find (GM quit making the power steering bracket), plus these have a more forward offset than the CTS-V/Corvette balancer pulley.

                The truck stuff is also a mess, but the CTS-V/G8 drives are pretty good and use the more "tight to the block" Corvette crank pulley. That's why I ordered a C6 Corvette style ATI balancer. We're using some of these G8/CTS-V parts as well, like the alternator, tensioner, and if we use AC on an LS550 we will used those parts as well.

                The 86 chassis LS swap we made in 2013-15 utilized a modified version of this G8/CTS-V, without the power steering pump. Like the S550, it also has EPAS electric assist steering. We have to modify the pulley arrangement to delete the power steering pump, but it has been operational for 5+ years and we have this well documented. But not the picture above right - the looooong upper radiator hose. That was for using the 86 (Mishi) radiator. We have a better solution now.

                The C6 Corvette Z07 LS7 engine had two distinct water pumps which we currently use on these CTSV/G8 accessories. The "late" (2008-13) version has the upper hose pipe on the left side of the engine (see above left) and the "early" (2006-07) LS7 pump is on the right side. We juggle these two depending on where the radiator necks are, to make the upper hose run shorter.

                For this LS550 swap we chose a custom radiator with a "dual pass" design - this means the inlet and outlet are both on the same (right) side of the engine bay. The "early" LS7 pump works best for this hose routing, and I showed the "hot and cold" routing we have planned for the radiator hoses, above right. I will show more of the rolled radiator and explain why we're doing that in a future installment. We have the CTS-V alternator and bracket installed in this final picture, and I will show more details of the idler and tensioner pulleys + belt routing next time as well.


                When it comes to transmissions used on LS V8 swaps, we often see two extremes - people who use the cheapest, weakest, junkyard dawg options and then people who go all the way to motorsport sequentials. The cheap stuff ALWAYS has huge compromises, they often require some kludge adapters, require specific flywheels and clutches, and usually break if you look at them funny. The motorsport sequentials that are becoming popular on the Optima circuit and GTA are uber expensive, also a bit kludgey, and have VIOLENT shifts - and some are very weak. Big torquey V8s also don't need a super tight gear spacing to maximize road course potential, so it is a big expense with very little performance payoff. Many do it "for the 'gram."

                In between these two extremes is the "Goldilocks" solution (not too expensive, not too weak, but just right), and what we feel is the best option for almost any LS swap - Tremec Magnum 6 speed manual transmissions. These come in 3 lengths and both Ford and Chevy style input shafts. Each Magnum also has 3 ratio options. These 3 lengths, regular Magnum, F, and XL are listed in the various LS swap sections of our web catalog. For the 86 chassis, S197 and S550 Mustangs, the T56 Magnum XL is the longest and correct length. The DIRECT MOUNT shifter lines up with the stock shifter opening on these 3 chassis. No remote shifter can EVER feel this connected - because they aren't.

                The Magnum XL currently only comes from Tremec with the Ford input shaft, but our supplier modifies these to use a GM style input shaft so that they mate to the LS sized pilot bearing and GM style spline on the clutch. This extra step involves more labor and parts, so the "GM" converted Magnum XL costs hundreds more than the normal Ford version. Tremec says they will eventually make these GM versions in production, just haven't seen the demand yet. We ordered one of these for our LS550 swap and have another in house for my wife's 86 LS swap.

                Once my "GM converted" T56 Magnum XL was mated to the LS6.3 engine, we took a weight. It is a bit of work, since we have to get our car scales out and do a bunch of monkeying around with the engine hoist. And while we share more weights of car parts than ANY shop in the existence of the world, we don't "make money" doing this, so we get what we can and capture it on camera. We didn't have all of the accessories on hand for this engine yet, and the FAST LSXR 102 intake manifold was not here either.

                This drivetrain weight caused a bit of a controversy when I posted it on social media and then compared it to a Gen II Coyote + T56 Magnum XL we had in the shop for another project - 494 pounds vs 653 for the Coyote. They both had the same T56 Magnum XL (128 pounds), but the Coyote had a few more bits on it like headers, intake, coils and alternator. The Coyote actually had a lighter flywheel and clutch (22 pounds) than our twin disc.

                On that same thread on social media we went ahead and weighed the "missing parts" on our LS drivetrain. The 494 pound weight above includes the complete LS longblock, 7 qt oil pan, LS7 water pump, ATI balancer, starter (sitting on top), complete T56 Magnum XL, and the lighter twin disc clutch and flywheel. To make more of an "apples to apples" weight comparison with the Coyote we then weighed a number of items we didn't have on the drivetrain weight above.

                Even with all of these "extras" added up (14.9 intake, 8.1 coils/brackets, 22.3 headers, 14.8 alternator) the 494 pound drivetrain weight only went up by 60.1 pounds to to 554 pounds - still nearly 100 pounds lighter than the same Coyote setup. Why is it this much lighter?

                continued below
                Terry Fair -
                2018 GT / S550 Dev + 2013 FR-S / 86 Dev + 2011 GT / S197 Dev + C4 Corvette Dev
                EVO X Dev + 2007 Z06 / C6 Dev + BMW E46 Dev + C5 Corvette Dev


                • #9
                  continued from above

                  Well the LS shouldn't be that much lighter, in theory. That is a built LS vs a crate Gen II Coyote. The lighter pistons HPR used is part of that, but it has forged rods and a forged 4.0" stroke crank which are heavier.

                  The cast bellhousing for the LS is lighter than the SFI steel unit (above) on the Coyote - but we have not found a cast aluminum bellhousing for a T56 Magnum XL on the Ford engine, and we're using an aluminum unit on our car with the LS. The McLeod clutch/flywheel was 5 pounds lighter on the Coyote. So this is as "apples to apples" as it gets for these two road race builds, which will have similar power outputs.

                  That same day as we took the 494 pound weight (July 7th, 2020) the guys got the drivetrain into the car. This time we used a set of our mounts made on the production jigs, slightly tweaked from our prototype units.

                  These mounts had a bit more adjustability in them, and we were able to slide the engine back a little further for the best front-to-rear bias. The headers were installed and the mock-up LS3 intake / TB / fuel rail were placed on top.

                  Brad installed the upper tire bar and started hanging the headlights, then put on the tubular bumper beam and front cover.

                  On July 8th we took another "work in progress" chassis weight - the most complete to date. At 2870 pounds with "almost everything" installed, it was nearly 750 pounds lighter than a stock 3650 pound S550 GT. We have not cut anything on this car yet, just replaced some metal with carbon and left a few things off. At this point we still had a full 84 pound weight passenger door, and we haven't started replacing glass with Lexan...

                  LEXAN: LIGHTER THAN GLASS

                  We are chasing pounds on this build as well as repairing crash damage and missing parts from a salvage car that we feel are necessary on the final race car. Double pane safety glass windshields have many advantages - they are harder to scratch, easier to source, often cheaper than Lexan front glass, and the plastic film between the 2 layers provides some level of safety when some rock or part comes shooting at the front of the passenger cabin.

                  We had our Windshield glass supplier (Titan Autoglass) in the shop to work on a number of cars in March 2020 and they removed the badly cracked OEM glass and replaced it with their cheapest, thinnest version. I was busy and not only didn't weigh the old front glass I neglected to weigh the replacement, and they took the old cracked glass with them. Doh!

                  We had Titan back in the shop again in June and I felt that the rear glass was too much to ignore. Jason had found a new source for Lexan (they are supplying side or rear plexiglass for 5 cars in the shop) and we plan to use this lighter material on the rear side quarter glass and the back glass on this car. I asked Titan to remove the stock rear glass, which weighed 19 pounds. We will weigh the Lexan replacement when it arrives.


                  This is another tech tip I shared on social media...

                  New from Ford the 2018+ headlights are $800+ each. There was only one "knock off" I could find and they were $700 a pair, and "sketchy" looking. Used headlights were selling for $450-600/each without any damage, but damaged ones were all over eBay for $150-250. I paid $378 for two that had similar damage - broken upper tabs that left a hole in the plastic housing (hole shown below left).

                  Being a road race build the headlights might become "consumables" so I figured I'd go cheap. For a street car I'd buy nicer used units or the $699 knock offs, which someone has since told me fit and work great. Brad made some aluminum plates to cover the busted upper tabs then riveted those in place.

                  Before these were riveted down he slathered the perimeter with clear RTV sealant. He made matching patch panels for both headlight assemblies, then bolted them in place to the new upper tie bar at the intact mounting brackets.

                  He then used a template (above left) and made some aluminum brackets that attached to the tie bar, then riveted those to the patch panels and bolted it all down. This secured the headlights for good and saved us many hundreds of dollars.


                  The cathedral port LS engines have a number of intake manifold options, and the best "OEM style" is the FAST LSXR 102, shown here. We're not a dealer for this brand or part, but I took a few studio pictures anyway. This is SO much nicer than the OEM style Dorman intakes we've used on a few other builds lately.

                  The upper can be removed to "port" this intake but the casting is so well made we don't need to. The 102mm throttle body opening allows us to use an aftermarket 102mm unit that flows more than the 90mm, the smaller of which becomes a choke point around 450 whp. Erik at HPR recommended we go to this FAST if we want the dyno to get closer to 500 whp with this "baby stroker" LS.

                  For the throttle body I am taking a gamble that might not work - but I want to see. We've used $1000+ Nick Williams 102mm DBW throttle bodies before and they work great. I have a feeling that these are made overseas, and the knockoffs that are out there might be the same factory. Just a theory, and I'm going to test this first hand. The $100 eBay special might be a piece of junk, and if so it will become a paperweight and I'll buy the 10X more costly brand.

                  I had some cast aluminum LS valve covers that I took to have blasted and powder coated red, just to remind people what was underhood, hehe. Bunch of gaskets, thermostat, and bolts were ordered to do the final install on water pump, alternator, intake, and the rest.

                  This picture is not deceptive - the engine REALLY DOES sit that far back, approaching a "front mid-engine" placement. We work on this engine by standing in front of it with the radiator support in place. The Ford Performance 3-point strut tower brace is installed here, which we removed form my 2018 GT. I've got the weights for those bits and pieces in the "S550 Development" build thread.

                  SOURCE OEM FUEL TANK

                  Being a salvage car this one came with no gas tank. We went back and forth on fuel cell vs stock tank, and for what we want to do the stock tank + a Radium Engineering surge tank will be what we use for road course use.

                  A fuel cell would be great if it didn't need to be the funky saddle tank shape. As it is, the OEM plastic saddle tank fits in the perfect spot, under the back seat nested low and near the center of the car. We recently had a steel S197 saddle tank converted to a FIA bladder / internal surge / foamed fuel cell, but it took 6 months and cost quite a bit. The Radium 5 / 10 / 15 gal modular fuel cells are super slick, but they are a "box" and mounting that in the trunk takes a good bit of work + moves the mass of the tank and fuel further back.

                  Club Racing W2W groups and classes required FIA fuel cells "back in the day" but with modern saddle tanks showing to be as good or better in crashes - due to improved designs and their central mounting locations, many OEM tanks are deemed legal for use in Road Racing now.

                  Ideally if the S550 had a steel saddle tank that could be "converted" to a cell, like the 2010 Mustang above made for us by Pyrotect it would be an option. Just a better placement. The "box" style tanks never fit in the same space and end up being a "cut out the trunk" deal, and that makes exhaust routing harder and center of mass less than ideal. So we chose to go with an OEM S550 tank, which is rated at 15.5 or 16 gallons. The Ecoboost, V6, and V8 tanks all show to have the same part number.

                  I was trying to find a stock tank and new they are pricey - and that's with the fake Tasca price. Someone on social media said to check junk yards - yep, that was the ticket. Found one for $150 less than 3 miles up the road the next day.

                  The unit weighed 23.3 pounds without the level sender and internal pump assembly, which I have coming from a friend at another salvage yard. We will pair the tank and stock pump assembly (with a bigger pump acting as a lift pump) with this Radium external surge tank which has an internal 450 lph Walbro pump. The stock 15.5/16 gal capacity + the added bit from the surge should work fine for Time Trial, Optima, autocross, W2W sprint races, whatever.

                  NEW FRONT FENDER

                  As I have documented here, we bought a car that was hit in the front, sold off the left front fender and left side door, then I decided to do the 2018 front conversion. The LF fender we found was in excellent shape and blue, the mangled left side door came from the crashed customer car that we banged out. The carbon hood came from my 2018 GT, as did the "base GT" black plastic lower lip, the grills were second hand, and the 2018 nose was junkyard.

                  The RF 2018+ fender we found came as a package deal for almost free - because it was pelted with hail damage. These factory aluminum fenders get beat up pretty bad by hail and I wanted a smoother / newer version before we went to the track for our first test, then off to paint.

                  Last time I head the dealer price these they were over $350 each, but their prices change weekly. We've noted some HUGE price increases from Ford, so much so that we dropped a lot of our Ford based Brembo brake upgrade packages. But I lucked out of a new fender, which was $205 this time when we checked in July, so I ordered it. The fender is very light at 4.5 pounds - a carbon fender wouldn't be much if any lighter.

                  The beat up (almost looks shot up!) fender was removed and the new one was put in it's place.

                  Still debating when we paint this car, after our first track test. There is a widebody kit we have in mind that will cover up much of the front and rear fenders, and I kind of want to wait to paint it when all of that is in place, well into the next phase of the build. So it might just stay this ugly multi-color while we test with the little 305mm streets and baby 315mm Hoosiers.

                  LIGHTEN SECOND DOOR

                  While the RF fender was being replaced I asked Brad to also lighten the right side door and finish up the dash bar install.

                  The door has to come off to install these two LONG bolts that hold the dash bar in place - which we had out last time to lighten the dash. Also, with the door off he gutted the side glass, window regulator and motor, inner door panel, and mounted the latch.

                  Pro tip: the glass is easiest to get out with the window in the full "up" position. With that out, Brad took the door off to work on a body stand.

                  He removed the glass, tracks, motor, speaker, wiring, and inner door panel. The weights for the components removed are shown above.

                  The trick we used before was done again - cut out the door latch from the inner door panel and use the mounting hole on the backside (see above left) to attach to an existing threaded hole in the door. This way the inner latch still works to open the door from the inside.

                  The two main side impact crash beams and and all of the rest of the door structure at intact, so they still aren't super lighter - just about 20.6 pounds lighter than before. Hey that offsets most of the weight of the missing fuel tank. Every little bit helps. When we have a real cage in the car (Phase 2) we will go to the 14 pound carbon doors and lose a lot more weight. Until then, with just a 4-point roll bar, we need the protection.

                  WHAT'S NEXT?

                  There is a bit more progress I could add this time but I'm almost caught up to real time, and at a giant 3 parter it is time to wrap it up.

                  Little things like the 4-port steam vent system, fuel rails, Holley Dominator EFI is here. Lifeline fire system is ordered, as is the Lexan. We still didn't get to the rolled radiator, but will next time. Lots of plumbing and wiring to tackle but we are getting closer to the first track test every day.

                  Thanks for reading!
                  Terry Fair -
                  2018 GT / S550 Dev + 2013 FR-S / 86 Dev + 2011 GT / S197 Dev + C4 Corvette Dev
                  EVO X Dev + 2007 Z06 / C6 Dev + BMW E46 Dev + C5 Corvette Dev


                  • #10
                    Project Update for September 3rd, 2021: Yikes, 13 months passed without an update on this build thread! There were a million reasons why we haven't updated this thread, and why we had an 8 month hiatus from work on it. Mostly we got SUPER busy with parts sales during the pandemic, and then 6 customer owned car builds that had priority over my personal car. We completed a decent chunk of work after my July 2020 post before this car got "put on ice" for 8 months, which we will cover now.

                    In the Spring of 2021 we had a 800 sf metal barn built (below right), and this S550 Mustang, my all carbon C6 Z06 chassis, my tractor, and my 1/2 ton truck all got moved into there - which opened up a lot more working room in the main shop (below left). Since then several customer cars in the shop have gotten to finish points (and one went to "paint jail"), so the LS550 Mustang is back in here again and work has resumed (August 2021).

                    We are once gain working to finish the "Phase 1" aspect of this Mustang LS swapped build. Let's start out this update with July to December 2020 work, then we can jump ahead to August 2021 tasks.


                    In this 8 month hiatus of LS550 work we did buy this 2006 Corvette (below) for my wife Amy in May 2021, and worked on that a bit. That car was purchased to use for C6 product development and testing, plus as an excuse to get to the track more often in a "pretty good car" in stock form. I have performed 4 track tests in this plastic turd to try to get a good "baseline lap" to build upon, but it has not gone smoothly. Long story, which you can read about in that C6 development thread (Project New Balance).

                    Also during the past couple of months we got our 1st Holley EFI converted LS customer car started up and it works great. This Cadillac CTS-V endurance race car (build thread here) has a virtual clone of the engine in my LS550 - its also a stroker 383" LS1 cathedral port engine built by HorsePower Research, also has a Fast 102 intake, similar cam, and a Holley Terminator X-Max (vs the Holley Dominator EFI on my Mustang). It sounds rowdy and we should have dyno numbers on that car soon. Seeing that car get to this final stage really fired me up to finish mine!

                    After working with it first hand now I can say that the Holley software is very pretty to work with, and we learned a lot on this first Holley EFI install. We have 3 other Holley EFI equipped builds in process (our E46 LS swapped endurance race car, a customer's 1967 LS7 swapped Mustang track car, and my 2015 LS swapped Mustang), so seeing this first one fire up was a huge boost.

                    This CTS-V also got a PowerTune 7" LCD digital dash, which is their first one with a Holley CAN interface (and we might use this dash on our LS550 build). Also of note is the stand-alone Mk60 ABS we swapped onto this car (not our first), which replaced a "Cadillac Racing" ABS unit that didn't work (funny enough - it was a factory C6 Corvette unit!)


                    We've seen a couple of "one off" LS swaps on the S550 but not any comprehensive "kit" that has engine mounts, trans crossmember, long tube headers, driveshaft, and transmission solutions. We made a decision early on to attack the Road Race customer first, and they don't want a Powerglide or other automatic, they want a manual transmission. The T56 Magnum XL is THE best option for road course use under $20K, and the bellhousing-to-shifter length is perfect for the S197 and S550 chassis Mustangs, so that is what we built our "Stage 0" kit around.

                    This makes for a much shorter driveshaft than the long 2-piece OEM unit that came on any S550 - because the direct shift T56 Magnum transmission is much longer than the remote shifted Getrag MT-82 6 speed in the 5.0L Mustangs or the Tremec TR-3160 6 speed from the Shelby GT350. Since this Tremec T56 is so different from any OEM transmission in this chassis, there is no way of adapting the stock prop shaft - we needed an all new design.

                    The T56 front slip yoke is unique to that transmission and has a standard U-joint. Out back also uses a U-joint, but as we have learned the hard way (see our 2018 Mustang build thread) there are TWO different sized rear differential flanges in the S550. Our driveshaft supplier makes a universal rear flange that works on both diameters, using a second set of holes and a spacer shim that goes inside the flange.

                    Once all of the OEM bolts and binary washers arrived we were ready to install our production driveshaft in late July 2020. The stock binary washers (which we sourced from Ford) needed to be shaved down a hair when we used the radial shim to adapt for the smaller S550 flange inside the rear axle flange cup. You won't need to do this slight modification if you have a rear axle flange cup that has the smaller diameter - as you won't need the adapter ring.

                    Other than that slight tweak (we will have these modified binary washers laser cut and offer those + the OEM bolts for our driveshaft kit) the driveshaft install was a breeze, and the large diameter unit looks plenty beefy. Shouldn't be an issue with our 550 hp engine, but the more powerful "Phase 2 engine" might get a carbon shaft. We will run the numbers and see.

                    4 PORT STEAM VENT KIT

                    Most LS engines that come in cars have a 2-port steam vent, like the LS7 crate engine shown below at left. This merges one steam port on each cylinder head across the front, then this tube is plumbed to the coolant reservoir. We would rather use a 4 port steam vent system on LS engines, for more even cooling & steam venting.

                    The 4 port is used on the trucks and on our E46 LS endurance car we modified a truck unit to fit with the LS2 Dorman intake, or that we re-used on my truck's built 5.7L LS (above right). When we want a 4-port and the steel OEM truck LS unit won't fit, we look at the aftermarket. Normally we will spend around $200 to buy the TFS branded 2- or 4-port steam vent kit for an LS. These come with billet fittings that bolt to the heads at both ends, plus the braided lines to attach them to a single port. This is then tied into the top of the radiator or into the remote coolant reservoir.

                    We bought the TFS 4-port kit for use with this FAST LSXR 102 intake, but the FAST intake is pretty bulky and the TFS steam port adapters were hitting the body of the manifold. Instead of grinding on the $1000 intake manifold, we went with the only 4-port kit that was known to fit the FAST LSXR 102 - a unit from Nitrous Outlet. It is 4 billet adapters for the ports with one that has a "tree". The tree has inlets from 3 other ports and one outlet to go to the radiator or reservoir.

                    This kit is built specifically for this FAST LSXR 102 on a cathedral headed LS engine manifold and installation went pretty smoothly. The head gaskets utilized by HPR were setup for 2 port front vents only, but the rear ports in the heads are there - you just have to drill out a rivet that covers that hole up - which we did. Evan used his 90 deg / right angle drill to take the head off the rivets, with the intake ports on the heads taped up to avoid any debris (if we had told this to HPR they would have pre-drilled the head gaskets before they were installed). Once the rivet head was drilled off, Evan used a pick to dig out the lower portion of the rivet, opening up the head gaskets' rear ports. On the CTS-V (above right) we used the exact same kit and tied the line into the remote reservoir - which we will do on the LS550 as well.

                    CUSTOM RADIATOR, ROLL MOUNT, & MODS

                    We have plans for much more power than this 385" stroker will make, as well as significant aero mods down the road. To "future proof" this build, and give us more cooling than we need with the Phase 1 engine, I wanted a much larger radiator than the stock S550 mounting position would allow for.

                    Rolling the radiator is something we do on virtually every road course build that goes through our shop. This forward tilt allows for a larger radiator core frontal area to fit within the same space, so the radiator is larger than the grill opening. It can also allow for room ABOVE the radiator to cleanly route a cold air tube, to feed the radiator from the lower grill only, or for hood venting.

                    Rolling the radiator forward a radical amount (normally involving a custom tube front bumper pushed forward to the bumper cover skin, like we have done on the LS550) also opens up a LOT of room in front of the engine. The two cars above (86 LS swap above left, E46 LS swap above right) have gained this room, which makes working on them easier

                    A steep radiator roll also lines up the "exhaust" from the radiator to more easily point upwards to some waiting hood vents. If you get really creative (69 Camaro tube frame car, above) you can duct the heat exchangers to a sweeping set of hood vents, and this makes for a lot of good airflow, which aids both downforce and cooling with a splitter. That's what they call a win-win.

                    Now we're not getting as crazy on the LS550 as we did on the 69 Camaro - which again, was a tube frame build with the engine (and driver) shoved back two feet - but we're rolling this radiator more than we typically do. Yes, we pushed the bumper beam way forward to gain some additional fore-aft room for this heat exchanger.

                    We ordered this custom built Howe (circle track) radiator in March of 2020 and started mocking it up in the Mustang as we installed the plastic and steel upper radiator support - which is now really just a front bumper cover bracket. The roll we were able to get was 34 degrees down from vertical and the top of this massive 28.75" x 20" x 3" radiator almost touches the front factory grill plastics.

                    I ordered this one as a dual pass design, with the radiator inlet and outlet on the same (right) side, which lines up nicely with our engine's LS7 water pump - which I talked about in a previous forum update.

                    With the massive radiator in place you can stand in front of the LS engine and work on it, and have plenty of room to move around. This is because we maximized engine setback (without cutting the firewall) and moved the radiator out of the way. Think of the radiator duct box we could squeeze in there! Well.... maybe down the road in Phase 2.

                    To make modified "pin" mounts Brad machined some aluminum bar on the lathe, made lower corner brackets, and Myles TIG welded the tubes onto those and then welded those onto the bottom end tanks. The radiator cap "neck" was cut off, to later be patched with a welded plate (the cap will be in the high mounted remote coolant reservoir).

                    With the pins in place at the matching 34 degree angle the lower radiator was mounted into the stock bushings set into the lower subframe.

                    The upper radiator mount is a simple, temporary bracket that was slipped in on top and bolted to the factory hood latch holes (we have added Aerocatch latch pins and latches already). I will show more of the radiator ducting and hoses in the next update.

                    BRAKE LINES

                    This salvage car was pretty stripped when I bought it in Georgia so we had to hit the salvage yards to buy an ABS hydraulic unit, but for a new master cylinder and booster from Motorcraft (which I showed previously).

                    For the main engine bay hard brake lines it is fairly inexpensive to buy brand new ones from Ford. We got Motorcraft rear flex lines as well, until we make some braided lines for the back of an S550 (the front lines are braided lines we had built for the Powerbrake 6 piston kit).

                    Double checking the metric thread pitch on the master and lines, all good. The mangled stock lines were removed and the all new engine bay hard lines went in, no sweat.

                    The rear flex lines are well made and have multiple brackets to hold them out of the way of the wheel and tire. Again, these worked great on our 2018 GT for 2 seasons of track abuse, and we will look towards making a stainless braided version of these in the future. But for now - we have a complete brake hydraulic system!


                    When installing an aftermarket Electronic Fuel Injection (EFI) system you will want to follow their directions when it comes to sensor use. Holley likes to use higher end 0-100 psi sensors for pressure (fuel and oil), and they want to sell them to you at a pretty high price. Luckily the DIY crowd has tested a much more cost effective version that is $20 vs $149, and we bought these for our LS550 build (and have verified they work properly on another Holley EFI install with secondary gauges). The other one will go on the fuel pressure regulator, which has a spare 1/8" NPT port.

                    These pressure sensors are all 1/8" NPT male, so we had to get an adapter for the back of the block, where an OEM oil pressure sensor for an LS resides. What you need as a 16mm Male to 1/8-27 NPT Female Thread Adapter, with an O-Ring (ORB). We got a brass adapter on this car but found a proper Fragola aluminum adapter on the Cadillac build.

                    With that sensor & adapter in place, and the 4-port NOS Outlet steam vent kit installed, we could finally install the FAST intake, FAST fuel rail, and injectors.

                    We went with a set of Fuel Injector Clinic 50lb/hr (@ 3 Bar) / 525cc/min Injectors, with an EV6 Connector, LS2 Height (53mm), part number IS302-0525H - which I bought from my tuner Jon Simpson. My advice is TRUST your tuner on injectors and just use what he likes, so that the flow characteristics are correct for his tuning methods. For the throttle body, since we were limited to a 102 mm opening on the intake we went with eBay's finest 102 DBW throttle body. They make all of the high end electronic TBs in China, too, except they charge like $1000-1500. We'll see how that gamble worked (it has worked on the Caddy).

                    continued below
                    Terry Fair -
                    2018 GT / S550 Dev + 2013 FR-S / 86 Dev + 2011 GT / S197 Dev + C4 Corvette Dev
                    EVO X Dev + 2007 Z06 / C6 Dev + BMW E46 Dev + C5 Corvette Dev


                    • #11
                      continued from above

                      Before the intake went on "for good" Brad found this vacuum hose with a built in 90 deg bend, with the Dorman part number shown in the image above. The second picture above shows how much room we have with the standard deck height LS engine installed into the S550 with our mounts, up to the flat Anderson Composites carbon hood. For reasons we might utilize later.

                      When all of that was buttoned up, the FAST intake had the injectors and fuel rails installed, then the throttle body, then it went onto the engine for the last time - no more mockup! We will make the fuel rail crossover hose when we plumb the fuel system.

                      MORE SALVAGE YARD HELP!

                      Many things on this salvaged S550 chassis were missing, and when we bought the used fuel tank all of the internal bits were long gone. So I reached out to my buddy Paul @ Tri-State Auto Parts, just outside of Memphis. He has helped us track down a lot of long lost items for this build and others!

                      Paul likes my memes so he sent the box marked as such! He helped us source some fuel pump parts/sump, used ABS units, various wiring pigtails, and more.

                      Having nothing of the stock harness makes for a lot of extra work, but I was in a rush when I picked the car up in a made 38 hour straight road trip, and missed this very obvious issue (missing harness). Again, starting with an utterly stripped car likely cost us 6 months of time and many thousands of dollars in extra parts / chasing. Live and learn.

                      IGNITION COIL BRANDS (DON'T MATTER!)

                      One thing I did not have laying around was a set of ignition coils, and an LS engine needs eight of them. GM coils come in 3 basic shapes and types, but they all function virtually the same way. You just have to make sure the coil harness has the right style plugs to drive the coils.

                      Since all LS engines have one coil per cylinder, these are not heavily taxed - even up to around 1500 hp. One thing I've learned in 2 decades of LS swaps - the ignition coil brand and cost does not matter. Not one bit. They want you to buy the $80-125/each units, and will flash them up with different colors or features, but the simple fact is, it is just a dumb transformer. It converts 12 volts to tens of thousands of volts, to drive the spark. That's it.

                      To prove that coils don't matter on an engine with 8 of them I bought 8 of the cheapest coils I could find on Rock Auto for a C6 Corvette LS7. If there is a tuning issue of course we will change them out, to rule them out. But I suspect they will work fine (hint: I've used cheap coils in the past and NEVER had a failure!)

                      IN PROCESS WEIGHT CHECK - 9/29/20

                      We do these periodic weight checks during all of our builds, just to see where we are and to hopefully get an idea of where the project will end up on weight, with a little extrapolation. We did this one in late September 2020....

                      This weight worries me a bit, as I have bet a steak dinner with a buddy that this will be "under 3000 pounds" in our first track outing, sans driver. With a weight of 2920 lbs here - and no fluids, exhaust, or oil coolers - I might come up short. If I have to cheat I will toss the carbon doors on, which are another 80 pounds lighter than these gutted steel doors. I want that free steak dinner, and I REALLY want this pig to be 600 pounds lighter than my 2018 GT!

                      HOLLEY EFI & CHASSIS WIRING WORK

                      When we stopped working on this project in December 2020, we were buried with customer car work. I had forgotten how far we had gotten on the wiring and EFI upgrade on this build until I started researching the photo gallery for this build to write this update. We're pretty close!

                      We are using the Holley Dominator for this build, unlike the 3 Holley Terminator X-Max swaps we are doing elsewhere in the shop. The Dominator is very similar to the Terminator, except it has a lot more inputs, outputs, and potentially a better traction control functionality. We might not use all of this I/O on the Phase 1 build, but we are trying to future proof this work for additional power (and needs) down the road.

                      The Dominator doesn't come with a complete engine harness like the Terminator does, and it costs about 3x as much. So Brad had to piece together wiring harness modules and sub-harnesses. A bit more work, and we bought a 2015 Mustang wiring diagram book from Ford to help with some of the limited integration we will be doing with chassis-side items (some light circuits, some switches, etc).

                      We sourced a 21 circuit "hot rod" wiring harness from Painless Wiring (10102) - which is made across town, right here in the USA. We have used this harness on a dozen cars and it is more than enough for a race car, with plenty of circuits. "But why not a PDM!" Well why not a $25K re-wire of a car? Because the time clocks don't care how much you spent on wiring. This doesn't make your car faster, and we haven't seen failures, so why waste the time/money?

                      We weighed this harness at 7.6 pounds, which matches the manufacturer's 7.54 pound claim. Again, we have used this exact same harness and part number on numerous cars with success, and it didn't cost twenty grand. If we were building an F1 car of course we would do something much more elaborate, but for a ratty salvage titled and wrecked 2015 Mustang, this fits the build.

                      Brad started looking at the routing and layout of this chassis harness, and we tested a number of places to mount the main fuse / relay block. We narrowed it down to two places - surface mounted in a panel under the radio or hidden inside the glove box.

                      Ultimately I decided to mount the fuse box inside the glove box area, along with the Holley Dominator ECU. Brad made this cardboard template then built this 2 piece bracket assembly, above.

                      This bracket holds the Holley engine computer and the fuse box portion of the Painless Wiring chassis harness. This can always be accessed quickly when needed, but out of sight when it is working fine. If we ever do an Optima OUSCI event in this car, it would at least be worth some D&E points, ha!

                      I am happy with this install, and gives this build a bit of "is this OEM?" look while hiding the real bits out of sight. This is not made to be a show car, and not made to show off flashy bits, with some of these hidden things.

                      Brad worked on both the Painless chassis harness as well as building the Holley EFI harness. The ECM harness has to be built, pinned, etc. A lot more work than the Holley Terminator work we have done, that's for sure.

                      Brad was working on this until the first week of December, when we ran out of time and put the project on hold. But we are a lot closer than I remember, with most of the harness built, the firewall grommets added, lighting bits wired in, and even the timing pointer added to the engine. More on this soon!

                      FRONT TOW HOOK ADDED

                      I have fallen in love with our weld-on tow hooks on a couple of customer builds. We are adding 4 of these to all of our shop cars that get tube bumpers, as it makes loading and strapping down a race car a BREEZE inside an enclosed trailer. No more fishing straps under splitters or diffuser, or snaking them through wheels.

                      We have had to winch this car into the shop already, so before we did I asked Myles to plasma cut a tow hook - which he then TIG welded in place.

                      I cannot emphasize how handy these are to have for hauling, strapping down to dynos, and for straps inside a trailer! We will add 3 more to this car very soon.

                      PP1 UNDERTRAY INSTALL

                      When we got this car it had no front bumper cover and a smooshed hood... so it was a good time to update the front end to the 2018-21 GT front cover, which we've already covered.

                      I found the 2018 bumper cover at a local salvage yard, but it was a floppy noodle. With some wheelin and dealin I got the correct 2018 GT upper and lower grills, which really firmed up the nose. Then we bought the correct radiator support to mount it along the top. The 2018 fenders tied into the nose and we had the base 2018 GT lower lip leftover from my 2018 to firm up the bottom. But there was still some wobbliness in the bumper cover due to the lack of a lower undertray...

                      For a variety of reasons I did not want to do the first track test with a custom front splitter - I want this to be as close to the final spec of my red 2018 Mustang as possible. We'll have the same wheels, tires, brakes, suspension, seats, and approx the same power as the red car on the LS550 - just less weight (which will be a good data point - how much does weight effect lap times?). So instead of jumping ahead to aero, we needed a factory PP1 undertray...

                      This car came without any of these plastics, and so I bought the full PP1 kit above. Which we talk about in detail here (it is the basis of the "PP2 conversion kit", just without the $400 extended PP2 lip). Why not run without any of these lower plastics? Well two reasons. 1) the brake cooling deflectors we have installed won't work for crap without the ducted tunnels built into the PP1 undertray. 2) Running with no undertray at all is akin to driving with the hood off - it will absolutely WRECK the airflow under the car, through the coolers, and add tremendous drag. The PP1 bits are fairly inexpensive, and I'm sure we can sell these when we go to make a REAL splitter for this car later....

                      The images above are a tease - that's a custom dual-layer, bonded aluminum splitter with tunnels we built for another customer's race car (S197), but what is shown there is similar to what we will likely do in Phase 2 of this LS550 build. But like I said, we're trying not to get too far ahead on prep of where my red 2018 GT was on the LS550's first track test, so we will be going with stock aero and the basic PP1 undertray.

                      Technically my red 2018 GT (above) had the PP1 undertray and the PP2 "splitter" (see above), which was just a $400 lower lip extension + the PP1 bits. We have done an extensive write-up of the part numbers and costs associated with the PP1 + PP2 bits, located here. Since this will be a temporary setup on the LS550, we left the PP2 splitter extension off and just ran the PP1.

                      This PP1 undertray + bracket + center cover will give the LS550 the same thing as any 2018-up PP1 came without without the pricey $400 extended PP2 lip. This is needed to feed the front brake deflectors properly for the first few (??) track tests we will perform before we start to throw some aero bits at the car.

                      The install was a bit tricky, but we're getting better at this now that we have have done a few of these. Brad did the hardware the same way as he did this on my 2018 GT upgrade over the base model undertray it came with.


                      So I am a bit of a nut when it comes to exhaust systems. Having built a lot of lighter, higher flow exhaust systems on a lot of cars over the past 35 years I have outgrown the LOUD AF systems. When I was in high school and college I had the Flowmaster stuff with dumps on a variety of 1st gen Mustangs to Fox Mustangs, but I can't deal with that noise anymore.

                      Honestly, a lot of event sites are tired of that nonsense as well, and more and more have put into place noise restrictions. Many have a 103 db limit, which we have been able to hit with some of our customized exhausts. The off-the-shelf Magnaflow install on my 2018 GT was SUPER loud (above left), but the upgraded version (above right) would regularly measure between 90-97 dB - which is a LOT quieter than needed to squeak under 103 dB tracks like NCM.

                      The thing that we have found that reduces NOISE while keeping the same or increasing FLOW is to go with a larger diameter tubing on the exhaust and a MASSIVE increase in the muffler case VOLUME. We have done this on a lot of cars and it usually INCREASES horsepower while DECREASING noise levels (measured with proper sound metering devices and SAE procedures).

                      Big mufflers are always harder to package... so the exhaust companies don't even make "kits" like this. Which is a shame, because this really WORKS. Unlike the S197 above (which has a custom 4 muffler 3" mandrel bent system) the routing on the S550 does not leave as much room out back for a large muffler case - and with the power level we are going for in Phase 2 we need the biggest mufflers money can buy.


                      The solution we have used many times to counter noisy exhaust notes on rowdy engines is to use a larger case muffler. The biggest muffler we have ever used on a car is this Magnaflow stainless 5 x 11 x 22" case beast, shown below.

                      We have installed one of these onto #TruckNorriSS, my 2000 Silverado with long tube headers and an HPR built engine. This truck used to have two smaller volume, chambered Magnaflow mufflers and it was pretty damned loud. The change in sound levels after we installed this SINGLE muffler was immense. This was a dual 3" into single 3" merge into this Magnaflow 12589 muffler. It did not lose any power, just got a LOT quieter.

                      Right after this truck exhaust change I new what the LS550 needed - two of these! Sure, they are eighteen whopping pounds apiece, but the peace and quiet of having a quiet Mustang would be worth it.

                      continued below
                      Terry Fair -
                      2018 GT / S550 Dev + 2013 FR-S / 86 Dev + 2011 GT / S197 Dev + C4 Corvette Dev
                      EVO X Dev + 2007 Z06 / C6 Dev + BMW E46 Dev + C5 Corvette Dev


                      • #12
                        continued from above

                        I laid out a scaled drawing of the mufflers onto a picture of the S550 trunk very early in this build, sent this to Magnaflow in an email, and asked them to sponsor a pair of these for our LS550 build in late 2019 - and they agreed. Later in 2020 when I checked up on the sponsored mufflers, they had to stop their sponsor program due to Covid, which was totally understandable. That's when I just bought two of the 12909 mufflers in the 3.5" inlet/outlet sizes I wanted to use (the 14900 versions shown are just polished vs raw stainless).

                        In a strange twist of fate the pair of sponsored mufflers eventually showed up in 2021, so Amy's LS swapped FRS and our LS swapped E46 BMW will get the extra mufflers (one each) that I had hurriedly paid for. Thanks, Magnaflow!

                        TRUNK CUT OUT

                        To make room for these two absolutely massive mufflers we cut the trunk floor out of the Mustang, which we do on a lot of race cars that will be getting a diffuser anyway (this one will get a diffuser, eventually). In December of 2020 we mapped out and marked out the "line of death" and Brad got to cutting...

                        We planned to take the cuts up to the edge of the main structural frame members and main lateral structure member in the back of the car, with a 1/2" flange left to attach to later. We would lose the ability to carry a full sized spare, which was a non-issue.

                        After some careful cutting the spare tire section was cut out, which totaled 8.9 pounds. More importantly it gave us room for these big mufflers.

                        "So much room for activities!"

                        RETURN TO THE SHOP - AUGUST 2021!

                        After many months of barn storage the Mustang came back into the shop. I had to wash the filth off of it first, as it was stuck under a tree for a few days back when the barn got foam insulation sprayed.

                        This car was NASTY but cleaned up quite well, since Brad had waxed it before it went out to storage. Washing this car was very cathartic.

                        Seeing it cleaned up and getting it back into the shop was a huge boost for me, mentally. I've been away from Time Trial competition for TWO YEARS now and it has made me grumpy AF. This car is what I will drive next on track in that format, so getting this going again is a way to shorten that gap in my track addiction.


                        The production LS550 swap headers had been in the car for some time, but to fit the 3.5" exhaust we'd have to steer the collectors around some items, for a better aim at some open spaces in the floor pan, aft of the headers.

                        Our newest fabricator Zach stepped up and mapped out the curves with 3" mandrel bends, cut them to fit, tack welded them together, then added 3" V-band flange to the ends.

                        These collector bends were finish TIG welded, the welds inside were sanded smooth, and these were then welded to the ends of the collectors.

                        With the headers reinstalled one last time to check fit they were removed, and I took them to be ceramic coated along with the re-used headers from the CTS-V.

                        The difference was amazing! The old Caddy headers look brand new, and even the new "raw stainless" LS550 prototypes look like a million bucks. The entire exhaust is getting coated when it is complete. We might still DEI heat wrap some areas of the exhaust that are close to things we don't want to get hot, but for the most part this coating will drop lower underhood temps all on their own - while looking very sharp. This coating is very durable (we've used this place / this coating on exhausts before) and if it gets covered in oil it can be shined up again with a Scotch-Brite pad or steel wool.

                        FITTING THE MUFFLERS

                        This step shows how Zach fitted these mufflers to the rear of the car, starting in August 2021. Sadly the two types of muffler mount bushings were SUPER delayed in getting here and this pair of mufflers isn't 100% mounted yet - just held in place by straps. Which is holding up the rest of the exhaust, but within days of me writing this these delayed parts will arrive...

                        Zach understood where and how I wanted these mufflers mounted and he pushed through the obstructions to make it happen. The initial opening in the rear trunk wall (above left) was done with a 4" hole saw, leaving an air gap around the 3.5" tubing diameter. The second hole (above right) was on a weird slope and angle, but was cut the same way - just with a lot more effort.

                        These two cuts allowed the back of the muffler to tuck up close to the back wall of the trunk, and then the tips can make it all the way through...

                        EXHAUST TIP SURROUND

                        Now I will admit this part is seems a little "showy", but it was necessary to make the exhaust tips exit high in the chassis, next to the license plate frame. There is also a practical reason for this.

                        We have done unusual muffler tip placements before, in order to squeeze the biggest mufflers under a car - like on this C5 above. We ditched the normal double 90 deg bends the C5 uses and added Magnaflow mufflers 2x as large as the OEM units by taking this unusual path (and removed two 90 deg bends and added one 45 deg on each side). This routing necessitated side exit tips, and these stainless steel heat shields (which are brushed finished, and easily cleaned when they get a coating of exhaust soot). One of the best sounding C5s I have ever heard, and quiet. Picked up 25 whp with this exhaust change, too!

                        On the LS550, to get the even larger 5 x 11 x 22" case Magnaflows to fit between the rear axle the bumper cover AND be above the future rear diffuser top plane, they need to start low and angle upwards (we will cut the back of the bumper cover at the trim line below the license plate frame).

                        Again, the fitting of these mufflers was something I dictated over 18 months ago, and it has taken a good bit of work to make them fit. The trunk floor cut out, the back of the trunk wall cut, and now these exhaust tip heat shields. Myles designed these and cut them out of aluminum on the CNC plasma table but when the design is finalized we will replace them with CNC laser cut stainless steel versions. I will show more of this work when it is completed, hopefully very soon.


                        This was more August 2021 work that moved the project forward rapidly. Zach attacked this and started by making an adapter to go from the 3" header collectors to the larger 3.5" exhaust system (again, being built for more power use down the road). Once the transitions were made they were tack welded to the V-band flange and bolted up to the headers...

                        We had laid out the design months earlier and bought Vibrant stainless 3.5" diameter mandrel bends for the whole system (everything in the lower left pic plus a few more), with a mix of 45, 30 and 90 degree bends. The first step was to get around the transmission crossmember with some 45s and head towards the driveshaft tunnel.

                        Then it was time to lay out the X-merge, which we had to make from scratch. We always start with two 90s and cut out an oval shaped sliver in between, then TIG weld them together. This gets you the bank-to-bank cross flow you want without adding much if any restriction to overall flow.

                        With the X-merge built it was joined to the front section that heads to the header collectors. Lots of cutting, measuring, tape-up happens before the first tack weld is placed.

                        This goes on for hours of careful fabrication until you are past the X-merge and on your way to the rear section.

                        ACCUSUMP INSTALL

                        As I have mentioned before, this Phase 1 HPR built 383" LS6 engine is using a WET SUMP oiling system. Some like to think that only DRY SUMP oiling systems should ever be used on a road course, but of course that is not true. It is usually based on some legit engine failures heard about second hand without all of the facts. We've built too many wet sump LS engines to believe this. The key to keeping a wet sump LS engine alive at very high lateral and braking loads (road course use with R-comps or better) is good oil pan baffling and some sort of oil pressure accumulator. I also like to run LS engines +1 quart over "full", which burns oil at a faster rate and adds some windage, but I've never lost a wet sump LS engine when run this way.

                        I have also experienced one LS engine failure on track - the LS E36 above at ECR in 2008 on 315mm Hoosiers, BEFORE we added a 3 quart Accusump and baffled/trap door oil pan. It had a junkyard LS6 with unknown number of miles and I somehow let the engine get THREE quarts low on oil (long story - I was driving 3 cars that day and helping out 2 other drivers, so I was a bit distracted). This super low oil level caused a loss of oil pressure while cornering and the rod bearings began making racket, so I pulled in and it was the end of that day (but it wasn't catastrophe failure - that engine was rebuilt later for use on another build).

                        We replaced that with a more powerful LS2 based 7.0L and added the Accusump and Improved Racing pan baffle kit (plus an oil coolers) and never had an issue with it again. and we beat on that thing, making 500 whp. We have already covered the trap door oil pan on this build (and the work we needed to do to make it fit correctly) so the only missing link now is an accumulator.

                        So we found the right Accusump, and this monster is 24" long, which limits the number of places you can mount it - severely! I am all about the electronic triggering, so it doesn't need to be sitting next to me like in the E36 LS build, above. Having a hot volume of engine oil in the cabin is always a bit sketchy, in any case. Jason, Brad and I looked and there was SO much room in front of the engine that we snuck it in at the base of the radiator, ahead of the meaty Whiteline swaybar. Brad start making bracket templates...

                        The left side (driver's side) bracket was relatively straightforward to make. Brad was able to find an existing threaded hole in the frame rail and then tied into both mounting holes for the swaybar, with a place to mount the included Canton clamp bracket.

                        The right side was a bit trickier, and required one Rivnut be added to the lower subframe, as shown.

                        That bracket had a different orientation than the other side, but the cylindrical Accusump doesn't care. That bracket bolted to the swaybar and the subframe, as shown above.

                        This setup is much more rigid than I thought it could be, just showing how mounting on two planes for each bracket could stiffen up the assembly. Nice low mounting moves the CG lower, but its more forward than we had hoped - but again, not many places to mount something 24" wide like this.

                        We have a new pressure accumulator we are using on a couple of other builds in the shop (Masterlube) that is more compact and easier to mount (back corner of the BMW E46 engine bay above), but we didn't find that option for many months after this Accusump was purchased and mounted.

                        REMOTE OIL FILTER MOUNT + BYPASS + ADAPTER

                        There are a couple of pieces of the puzzle needed before we can begin plumbing the oil system for this car. The "Summit Racing" oil pan comes with an oil filter mount, but this Canton adapter allows for remote oil filter mount - which we want to do for two reasons.

                        We later realized we could order this oil pan without the oil filter adapter for a chunk less money, since we weren't using it anyway.

                        Once that was swapped on we started mocking up oil lines so we could order plumbing - these AN adapters screw right in and will make lines to the remote oil filter easy to run. The remote oil filter allows us to ditch the TINY oil filter made for an LS engine and replacing them with a much larger filter, that has more media and surface area.

                        We like to use these remote oil filters from Improved Racing and we have installed these on at least a half dozen cars over the years. We try to always use this version that has a thermostatic bypass, with ports that can go to an oil cooler -or- route right back to the engine after passing through the oil filter if the oil is too cold (you can pick from a number of thermostatic opening temps). These are modular and you can choose between a variety of metric or SAE thread sizes to match up to the filter of your choice. We build around this MASSIVELY large 51087 Wix filter, so we can keep the same one in stock for a bunch of different cars.

                        continued below
                        Terry Fair -
                        2018 GT / S550 Dev + 2013 FR-S / 86 Dev + 2011 GT / S197 Dev + C4 Corvette Dev
                        EVO X Dev + 2007 Z06 / C6 Dev + BMW E46 Dev + C5 Corvette Dev


                        • #13
                          continued from above

                          We have used these Improved Racing remote filter mounts on numerous builds, and even done one recently (endurance Cadillac) without the internal thermostatic bypass, which is considerably cheaper. It is rare that the included bracket fits the confines of the engine bay where we need to mount one, so we often make custom brackets to mount these.

                          Since there will be four beefy braided lines hanging off of this, in addition to the oil unit itself plus the massive Wix filter full of oil, Brad went a little overboard when making this bracket. And I love it.

                          Brad added these window cut-outs so we could see the brand, part number, and flow arrows - to keep from hooking up the lines incorrectly. He mounted it using two existing threaded bosses in the engine bay (from the stock airbox) plus a couple of holes he drilled for the lower portion of the bracket. Very rigid and lightweight, all aluminum - with some dimple dies for good measure!

                          This is now in the car, along with the Accusump, so we can finally plumb the oil system. Well, we need to add an oil cooler, but we're working on that next.

                          WHAT'S NEXT?

                          That's a lot for this time, so we will end it there. Zach is working furiously on the last of the 3.5" diameter exhaust system now (the tricky bit near the swaybar and diff), then Brad can get the fuel system plumbed. We have to finish the exhaust and heat shield above the mufflers so we can pick a good spot to mount the Radium Engineering remote surge tank as well as our custom bracket for the Odyssey battery. The remote coils need to be mounted, plug wires built, the coolant reservoir fabricated, and a ventilated oil catch can installed.

                          A bit of wiring needs to be knocked out, like the high amp circuit breakers for the battery, remote kill, and alternator. The diff fluid cooler needs to be mounted in the trunk, or underneath the mufflers (with a mind towards the diffuser we will add after our first track test.) A large Derale oil cooler needs to be mounted, then the oil system can be fully plumbed. I have to choose a digital dash, and I'm struggling with which brand and model number to pick. That will need to be added and wired into the Holley. Then it is time for fluids, a start-up tune, and we can fire off the engine.

                          Thanks for reading!
                          Terry Fair -
                          2018 GT / S550 Dev + 2013 FR-S / 86 Dev + 2011 GT / S197 Dev + C4 Corvette Dev
                          EVO X Dev + 2007 Z06 / C6 Dev + BMW E46 Dev + C5 Corvette Dev


                          • #14
                            Project Update for April 18th, 2022: Another long break between forum thread posts (Sept '21 to April '22) comes from more of the same reasons - overwhelming parts sales and a very busy shop. Some customer cars have wrapped up and left and a few more are about to go, so we're working on our LS550 project more often of late. If we didn't have 6 paying customer builds going on and a record shattering volume of orders, then this Mustang could have been built in about 4-6 months. But "everyone good is busy", and we have been so very busy.

                            Since my last post (September '21) we have completed the exhaust system (and ceramic coated that), built the cold air inlet and filter box, added a massive oil cooler, added the Radium surge tank, plumbed the oil system underhood, plumbed the fuel system underhood and to the back, plumbed the fuel system and vent in the trunk, added a massive differential oil cooler & plumbed that, added an electric fan to the radiator, remote mounted the coils and wired those, plumbed the radiator, mounted the strut reservoirs, added the pressure sensor and solenoid for the Accusump, modified the front grills, improved the upper radiator mount, added a second front tow hook, cut out the rear speaker deck, built a firewall for the trunk, installed a remoter latch release for the carbon trunk, installed an Optima battery and box into the trunk, then added a remote coolant reservoir, added a heater core under the dash and plumbed the heater hoses to all of that.

                            As usual there is a good bit of detail on each task below - but I am still going to cover the last 7 months of work below. We are very close to starting the engine and driving this car as I write this - by the next update we should have fired it up and hopefully be on track. Lots to cover so we better get started!

                            EXHAUST SYSTEM COMPLETED

                            From August to September of '21 our engineer / fabricator Zach (below right) built this crazy exhaust system, and it is a thing of beauty. Stuffing two GIANT mufflers in the trunk and routing two 3.5" diameter tubes around all manner of things, having good ground clearance, and getting it to look good took a lot of math, patience, and talent.

                            I made the requirements for this very custom exhaust even more complicated by insisting that Zach route these massive mandrel bends to an improbably challenging exhaust outlet location - the rear bumper cover.

                            I also wanted the mufflers to be symmetrical and "look pretty" when you open the trunk. And I wanted V-band clamps at various points along the way to make maintenance easy while removing any exhaust leaks. Oh, and mount everything with high temp silicone bushings with 100% stainless steel brackets.

                            Many have wondered at my sanity for this system - why spend 50+ hours to hang a pair of mufflers and exhaust through the rear bumper cover? Well maybe the pictures below will explain what I have in mind for the future...

                            The future plans for this car include a large rear diffuser - maybe now you can see why I had Zach go to so much trouble? The LARGE mufflers are also done to cancel out NOISE while allowing enough exhaust flow for a 1200 hp engine. Tucking them up at an angle allows these massive things to fit while making room for the diffuser down the road.

                            Some pretty terrible atrocities had to be done to the rear trunk to pass the giant 3.5" diameter tubing through here, and there's a curved bend there as well. Lots of fiddling to get the tips angled the same, making mounts, etc.

                            Zach left us in September of '21 for a fabulous job at Rivian, so our engineer / CNC operator Myles (above left) did the final TIG welding on this. Again, lots of patience and skill was needed, as well as a temporary structure to keep the two pipes from twisting. This went in and out of the car several times to check fit while Myles fully seam welded the exhaust tubes - which is made up of a lot of mandrel stainless bends.

                            By November of '21 the exhaust system was fully ceramic coated and polished, but Myles had left us for a fantastic DoD job (he still stops by for consulting help from time to time). So Doug (our new fabricator / tech) and Brad installed the finished exhaust on the Mustang.

                            I have dozens more pictures of this exhaust, and it is by far the nicest, largest, and wildest one we have built in 17 years of building cars here. I really cannot wait to hear what it sounds like when we fire it up! I have the same muffler on my built LS powered '00 Silverado and it sounds really good, but with 500+ whp and screaming around track at 7000 rpm, it should sound pretty amazing. With 1200 hp at 8500 would be something unworldly...


                            This is a minor task but one we recommend - covering the lower front opening of the bellhousing with this Canton plate.

                            Of course the Canton part didn't fit and needed some cutting, but that could be due to our non-OEM oil pan we're using. Regardless, we wanted to keep this area covered up so dirt, water, and debris cannot get into the bellhousing.

                            Just a minor thing but it is often overlooked, and getting this aluminum cover plate is very low cost. I have included the part number (21-870) so that others can buy this.

                            FUEL HARD LINES

                            We started on the fuel system already with the fuel rails, and we will tackle the trunk / fuel tank / surge tank lines in another task. For now we needed to run the big lines from the front to back.

                            For various reasons I prefer to do the long runs of fuel lines with aluminum hard lines. I like running them UNDER the car but ABOVE the bottom of the lowest parts of the car (frame rails) so they cannot get snagged and ripped away in an off track incident. It isn't the ONLY way to run fuel lines, it is just the safest way that we have adopted on many cars. The OEMs also tend to run hard lines for long fuel runs - either metal or plastic. Of course plastic has so many downsides...

                            This aluminum tubing is bought in a roll, then straightened, then bent to fit the long runs, and finally flared at the ends for the fittings. We always build these to terminate and transition to flexible lines at bulkhead panels at both ends. Above are the two bulkhead panels built for the rear (top left) and at the front engine bay (top right).

                            The rear bulkhead on our LS550 is placed at a convenient spot near the fuel tank/trunk area, above left. For this build we chose larger than normal hard line sizes: the feed line is a -10 or 5/8" diameter, and the return is a -8 or 1/2" line. Normally on a ~500 whp engine like we have in Phase 1 we'd use a -8 and -6 lines, so we're up TWO sizes. This is to build for a Phase 2 engine, and this fuel system could support about 1200 hp.

                            In the engine bay we have a bulkhead connect panel in the back left corner of the engine bay (above left), right under the brake booster. I missed getting that picture after Doug installed it from the inside, and it is really hard to see now (above right) because there's a lot going on back here. We have three fuel lines (the main feed, the return, and a regulated line to the fuel rail), the Aeromotive fuel pressure regulator, and giant -12 oil lines snake around all of this as well. As big as this engine bay is, I really had trouble laying out a "clean" placement of everything on this side. But for now, this will do.

                            COLD AIR & FILTER BOX

                            At this point we had all of the major components mounted under the hood. The engine was in place, the Accusump, the remote oil filter, radiator and fuel filter. Now it was time to lay out the air inlet tubing and air filter to feed this little 6.3L LS engine.

                            With the help of Erik at HPR and some tuner friends we had determined early on to use a 102mm Drive By Wire throttle body (DBW). A smaller TB only chokes down the engine, and the 102mm unit I bought cost $95. This unit is easily tuned with the Holley Dominator EFI we have. 102mm = 4.015". The problem is the Outer Diameter of a 102mm throttle body is 4.25"...

                            4.25" ID intake hoses are VERY rare, and what we ended up doing was up-sizing the entire cold air intake tract to 4.5" dia hoses, aluminum tubing and air filter, which is much more common size. As you can see (above right) we have a "transition" hose that goes from 4.25" to 4.5" right at the throttle body, then a 90 deg silicone bend that is 4.5" dia, and an air filter that is 4.5" ID as well.

                            Brad spent a little time getting this cold air built, and worked with me to get it laid out just so. Where the filter ended up is exactly where I wanted it. Jason and I spent a good bit of time chasing down the right parts - the bend, transition, tubing and air filter. This filter is an oil-less K&N that barely fits the area we have for it. The parts to build this came from 5 different places, and took many weeks to arrive - like everything during this supply chain mess. Now it was time to build the filter box.

                            Brad builds some beautiful brackets and sheet metal assemblies and he always starts with cardboard templates. This airbox was going to be tricky...

                            The template came together in a few stages, and had to be built around a number of items - like the remote oil cooler, and a protrusion in the engine bay. The inboard side wall (with the "U" in it) is built to keep hot air from the radiator exhaust. Then a layer of cardboard was fitted to the top to mate up to the inner surface of the carbon hood we are using on this car, which will be sealed with some weatherstrip rubber along the top edge.

                            Brad transferred the final templates to aluminum sheet, which he cut on the shear and band saw, making 3 main pieces. As he was cleaning the edges of the aluminum, some contaminated sandpaper (which had been used on steel) was used. This all was being done in January of '22.

                            This made the aluminum nearly impossible to weld, due to the steel contamination. Both Doug and Austin both tried to weld the seams here and it wasn't pretty, but they cleaned up the worst of it and the two aluminum pieces were saved.

                            Brad then made a series of small "L" brackets and was able to rivet the third and final piece to this airbox assembly, which fit perfectly to the corner of the engine bay, allowed the 4.5" tube to slip through, and lined up to the underside of the hood. There is a "U" shaped opening that will allow some warm engine bay air into the airbox, so we will monitor Intake Air Temp sensor in our first track test - and likely we'll make a block off panel for this upper opening, to completely seal off the filter from warm air.


                            By February of this year we had ordered some more bits and pieces to wrap up the Cold Air Inlet system. Brad started off by covering the airbox with DEI gold foil. And yes, this should normally only be on the "outside" of the air box, but some of this was done to cover up the contaminated welds on the box.

                            With the airbox completely wrapped in GOLD it was time for Doug to located, drill, and TIG weld the threaded bung for the IAT sensor.

                            After that was welded up the aluminum tube was also wrapped in DEI gold foil. Then Brad added the upper welting to the "U" and the thicker weatherstrip seal along the top edge, which seals the box to the underside of the hood.

                            Last up was the grill openings that "feed" the airbox cold air from outside, as well as the radiator and oil cooler. The factory 2018 GT upper and lower grills have a lot of areas blocked off. The OEMs do this to reduce drag and eek out a fraction of one more MPG, after wind tunnel time spent with engineers, thermal testing, etc. Since we're adding more power than the regular 5.0L would have, so we need to open up things...

                            We have used this trick in the past to "uncover" grill openings when it is a cast plastic part with these decorative hexagon shapes on the front. A 36 grit sandpaper disc is used to remove the inner layer of plastic and the hexagons remain - so it still looks factory, but allows much more airflow.

                            This was done on the front left corner that feeds the air filter box, as shown above. This mod added 5x as much surface area for air to get to our uniquely positioned filter inlet & airbox, and will have a small "ram air" effect at speed once we seal off the inner wall of the airbox.

                            Since we have a rolled radiator and a low mounted oil cooler, the upper grill isn't feeding much (and we might block it off on the back side. To feed the lower opening Brad also opened up the lower grill area as well, which was about half closed off as well. This should help with cooling airflow to these two low mounted heat exchangers.

                            OIL COOLER ADDED AND PLUMBED

                            Almost every track car we have ever built needed a supplemental oil cooler or oil cooler upgrade. Our 2018 Mustang GT (below left) made 485 whp with the Gen 3 Coyote and headers, and the Mishimoto oil cooler we modified and added made the oil temps cooler. This car recently came back to us from the new owner, who complained of high oil temps (possibly a differing driving style, shift points, geographic location, etc) and we just installed a larger, thicker, and more efficient Derale stacked plate oil cooler (below right) on that car.

                            continued below
                            Terry Fair -
                            2018 GT / S550 Dev + 2013 FR-S / 86 Dev + 2011 GT / S197 Dev + C4 Corvette Dev
                            EVO X Dev + 2007 Z06 / C6 Dev + BMW E46 Dev + C5 Corvette Dev


                            • #15
                              continued from above

                              Our LS550 is going to make a little more power than that in Phase 1, so we're installing one of the largest Derale 10000 series "stacked plate" coolers - with room for one more right next to it for the future Phase 2 engine.

                              We actually bought this Derale cooler for my wife's LS swapped 86, but that has been stuck in our lobby for a while awaiting its turn in the shop for completion, so we "acquired" it from her parts shelf and got to work mounting it on the LS550. We also ordered up a Derale part number 50022 mounting rail kit for Derale stacked plate coolers (above right), which we have used on a few in-house track car builds.

                              Brad made some simple brackets to attach these Derale rails to the car's main frame horns at the top and to the lower subframe / radiator support at the bottom (see above right). Our goal was to keep the cooler mounted low to get the airflow from the lower grill, and place it close to but not touching the aluminum radiator - so air cannot bypass around the Derale oil cooler (it sits 3/4" away from the radiator).

                              The same day this cooler was mounted, Brad began plumbing the rest of the engine oil system - from the pan to the remote Improved Racing oil cooler with thermostatic bypass and on to the Derale oil cooler. Again, when the oil is below 185F it will bypass the oil cooler. When it warms above that, then oil will go from the filter to the cooler then return to the engine.

                              We ran all of the oil lines in -12 AN sized Fragola braided lines. We have seen shops use smaller lines on engines like this but then they also tend to chase low oil pressure problems. On the 2018 GT we used -10 lines because that is what the Mishi oil cooler kit utilized, but on a higher RPM race engine you pretty much always use -12 AN lines or larger (-16 AN is also common).

                              The lower brackets looked a little "springy" to me so in February of '22 I asked Doug go back and reinforce these parts. Now the cooler is less likely to bounce on the lower mounts.

                              This sized cooler has worked on similar power levels for us in the past, and as you can see above that adding another identical cooler right next to this one will be pretty easy and take little effort. That would effectively double the oil cooling, which would be perfect if we double the power.

                              DIFF COOLER, PUMP, & PLUMBING

                              My love of Derale cooling products is no secret - we keep using their heat exchangers on virtually every project in the shop over the last 2-3 years. We utilized this massive differential oil cooler with integral shroud and twin fans on a customer's 680 whp track car and it worked well, so we ordered another for my Mustang track project here.

                              We purchased this cooler / fan setup in late November of '21 but the installation task didn't happen until December of '21, when Doug jumped in and started cutting out the floor for the hot "exhaust" side for this, then tackled mounting it in February '22.

                              Jason and I debated ducting cool air to this from several spots on the fender, then building a ducted exhaust out the bottom. We moved it this way and that, but the frame rail, mufflers, shock towers or something else was always in the way. In the end we decided to keep it simple, then use the giant "muffler hole" in the trunk and to give us some "cooling" air for the diff cooler. The hot air coming out of the back of this cooler will then exhaust out the rectangular hole in the floor outboard of the frame rail, shown above right.

                              The mounting brackets were fairly simple - a bent piece of aluminum at the bottom and another aluminum bracket at the top. The unit was "clocked and cocked" in a way to make for the easiest exhaust flow path, and we might still make a duct on the exhaust side if we don't see the temperature drop across this cooler that we want.

                              In late February of this year the same noisy but effective gerotor oil pump we used on the 2018 Mustang GT was added to the trunk floor of this 2015 with the same isolator mounts. Then in March '22 Doug plumbed the diff cooler system going from the rear cover, to the cooler, then to the pump and back to the diff housing. There is also an elevated "filler neck" on the rear most corner of this cooler, which has a AN "Tee" and cap to fill at. A long funnel will be used to fill this system with a measured amount of fluid. The pump will act as sort of a check valve so that when the system is turned off it won't drain all the oil from the cooler back into the diff housing, which could over-fill that. This car will only be driven with the diff pump going.

                              ELECTRIC FAN & UPPER RADIATOR MOUNT

                              In the last installment we had the large Howe dual pass radiator mounted on a steep rolled mount. We still need an electric fan to pull air through this unit between autocross or track runs, and at speeds below ~40 mph. Yes, you still need a fan on a race car - don't let someone tell you otherwise. I've seen the folks who preach the "race cars don't need fans" theory, but they have also melted down engines numerous times, just sitting still.

                              After mocking up the 16" dia Mishimoto slim line fan in the last update (above left) it was time in February of '22 to get the protective cardboard off the radiator for the first time and build some fan mounting brackets.

                              Brad started with some cardboard templates and transferred them to some .100" thick aluminum sheet, which he cut and bent to shape for the two main vertical brackets. This thickness is plenty strong and yet still easy to bend on our box brake. A somewhat simple bracket but it works and does what we need - attaches to the four mounting tabs of the fan assembly.

                              These vertical brackets mount at the bottom to a simple aluminum angle cross brace, which bolts to the lower radiator mounts on the subframe. At the top are two simple bent brackets that bolt into two factory installed rivnuts on the upper radiator support. The fan sits 1/2" behind the radiator - close enough to be effective in this suction side mounting while far enough away not to touch the fins or damage the radiator in any way.

                              I'm so glad we bought this OEM replacement upper radiator support, as it has made mounting things on the front end SO much easier - the radiator, the fan, the front strut reservoirs (we've since moved them), and the Aerocatch hood pins (see above) all mount to this, as well as the bumper cover! We would have added many many hours of work trying to save 3 pounds and building this structural part "bespoke".

                              REMOTE COIL MOUNTING

                              So I never liked the look of the 8 individual coils mounted to the factory LS valve covers. While it is an elegant and simple solution, and makes for easy spark plug wire runs, it is ugly. I'm vain and for this build needed something flashier. Moving the coils away from the heat of the headers was another secondary reason for "remote mounting" the coils. I also had a pair of these showy "CHEVROLET" valve covers, which I had custom powder coated in red with exposed lettering, that I really didn't want to cover up.

                              I spent way too much time mulling over the ignition coil locations, looking at show car and race car remote coil solutions. In the end these simple ICT billet mounts were "the most right" answer. And the big strut tower cross brace we had on the car was quite a bit further away from header heat, and looked like a nice mounting structure. I honestly wanted the coils further back and/or hidden completely, but the engine bay was starting to get tighter as we added more bits and pieces.

                              Doug tackled this installation and it went quickly - we mocked up the locations with measurements and symmetry, then he removed the hollow aluminum Ford Racing cross brace from the car. Doug marked and drilled the holes for M6 rivnuts, which made for a clean mounting arrangement.

                              This coil location exposes the valve covers and somewhat hides the coils, while keeping them a bit further from the heat of the exhaust headers. The Holley Dominator wiring has since been plugged in for the coils and tucked out of the way, with custom spark plug wires being built later this week.

                              TOW HOOK ADDED AND BUMPER BEAM PAINTED

                              The front tube bumper for this Mustang was built some time back, and it had a single tow hook on the left front. We use these tow hooks to pull cars into and out of a trailer, and for track side extraction. When we make them welded to a rigid bumper like this, we can also anchor tie down straps for us in towing in a trailer. When you have a massive splitter or diffuser this is a REAL bonus.

                              The guys who built the tube bumper for this S550 have since left Vorshlag, and with them also went the knowledge of how to run our CNC plasma. In December, while I was learning how to use our plasma table (lots of YouTube videos and text messages with our two former engineers), the PC that runs the servos on the CNC took a complete dump. Long story, but this ended up being a major hassle to replace and reprogram this PC. I spent weeks getting this plasma table back up and running.

                              The LS550 project also spent 8 months in purgatory in late '20 and early '21 - sitting in my barn, awaiting room in the shop to open up. While stored out there the raw steel bumper beam had gotten a light coating of surface rust. The lone tow hook also needed a matching unit. Once I had the PC replaced and the plasma table cutting again, the matching 1/4" thick steel tow hook was one of the first parts I successfully cut with the new setup.

                              Doug took some measurements for placement and angle and tack welded the second tow hook on to match the original, but mirrored on the other side.

                              With that verified (the front bumper cover went on and off to check fit) the tow hook was seam welded onto the bumper, then it was removed, cleaned, scuffed and painted silver. Yes, we have some other things that will mount to this bumper later (front splitter mounts), but I was tired of seeing a rusty tube bumper in so many pics - at least now its not an eyesore.

                              It will be so much nicer when we haul this car in the trailer - hooking up the front tie-down straps takes SECONDS with this type of setup, and if we do need a tow from a wrecker on track they have multiple places to hook up to.

                              FRONT SHOCK RESERVOIRS

                              This is pretty basic - finding a good place to mount the front shock reservoirs - but again, was a bit more challenging trying to satisfy my OCD inside this ever crowded engine bay.

                              It is no secret that we took all of the last versions of the suspension from my 2018 Mustang (above left) off that car before it was sold - even the shock reservoir brackets. We tried and failed to re-use those when we swapped the MCS RR2 coilovers over to the LS550 (above right) and for the longest time the canisters were wrapped in foam sheet and zip tied to the upper "dog bone" fender structures (above right).

                              How and where you mount the canisters for remote reservoir dampers is important. You want them in an easily accessible spot - so you actually use the knobs (in this case, low speed compression). Dampers turn motion into heat, and remotes can get hot - so keeping them away from the heat of a radiator or a turbo is important. And WHERE you clamp on them matters - they are made to be clamped on the ends, at grooves machined into the outside of in the canisters, far away from the travel of the working and floating pistons inside (see above).

                              Our guys made up a pair of these reservoirs - just some flat aluminum sheet, passed through our set of rollers to match the same radius of these cans, with a "spacer" block of flat aluminum welded to the back side. This spacer allows for a pair of counter sunk bolts to be hidden flush under the reservoirs when mounted, and the offset from the back with the spacer allows hose clamps to pass between brackets and whatever they are bolted to.

                              Brad knows my OCD and visual symmetry needs well - and shares it - so when we discussed the mounting of the reservoirs he found a common body panel angle and matching locations on both sides of the engine bay to mount to. The angle of the front panel was marked in blue tape and the reservoirs mount right to the strut towers. Holes were drilled, rivnuts added, and the brackets mounted symmetrically.

                              The reservoirs are mounted at the same angle and hose clamps attach in the designated "safe zones" on each canister. To class it up the stainless hose clamps, the exposed portions are wrapped in heat shrink tubing and heated to fit - this keeps the "teeth" on the clamps from scratching the finish on the MCS canisters.

                              RADIATOR CAPPED, NEW UPPER MOUNT, & HOSES BUILT

                              The upper radiator bracket was originally built a while back, and was done rather hastily. We had the radiator out in late February '22 to "cap" the original filler neck that was cut off, since we will be using a remote mounted coolant reservoir and cap, which will be mounted higher than the radiator. Doug got that hole welded up, and while the radiator was out, Brad got to work making a better upper mounting bracket.

                              Brad's bracket work once again classed it up a lot. I missed the cardboard template steps but caught a few pictures as he made this new, full width, dimple-died, aluminum upper bracket.

                              More .100" thick aluminum was cut to fit and holes drilled, then it was dimpled with the press and our set of dies. These "lightening holes" help remove weight as well as adding stiffness. And it looks cool, too. There's a rubber isolator added to keep the aluminum radiator from touching the bracket (see the black bit in the above right pic.)

                              Once it was all fitted and tested, it was removed and brush finished, like Brad does to most aluminum brackets. This finish allows the part to look good in raw aluminum or it can take a nice anodize plating or powder coated finish later. Really happy with the upper mount worked out.

                              continued below
                              Terry Fair -
                              2018 GT / S550 Dev + 2013 FR-S / 86 Dev + 2011 GT / S197 Dev + C4 Corvette Dev
                              EVO X Dev + 2007 Z06 / C6 Dev + BMW E46 Dev + C5 Corvette Dev