1970 xr7 turbo4

Hello all
I feel as if I know many of you even though we have never met.
I have followed many of your projects from beginning to the finished product.

So after 20 years of wishing and planing, I finally got started on my project.
I am no where near done but I did get one of the most difficult tasks completed.
I am done for the winter so I would like to share the project as it is at this time,

This is my 1970 cougar xr7 convertible project with a 5-speed turbo charged 2.3-liter Lima engine. (SVO)
I am expecting 27-31 mpg highway with this car. That is what I got with this engine in a 3600 LB Fully loaded 1988 thunderbird turbo coupe.

All that is left to do on the car is the pluming and wiring.
Then the body paint and interior. So I have along way to go.

Now that’s unique. Congratulations on having the courage to do something a little different.

I would like to stick one of these turbo 4’s in a '91 Ranger. Are you installing the 5 speed along with this?

yes, it has a 5 speed. i did not want an automatic because the a4ld that bolts to it is so weak that ford had to detune the automatic cars just so that the trans would last a little longer. 150 rwhp auto compared to 190 rwhp for the 5 speed. my projected rwhp will be just south of 250 rwhp.

an automatic would have been easy to install compared to the 5 speed.
i have one 1988 t-bird with and automatic (wifes car) and one with a 5 speed (my car). so i have had a good chance to compare them both.

thanks jeff this should be fun to drive with almost 2 times the gas mileage of the original 351 automatic.

putting a turbo 2.3 into a ranger is very common now, i just wish i could get ahold of some of the rust free t-bird bodies that go to the junk after the engine is removed.

Pretty neat upgrade to the drive train. I will be curious to see the outcome and how it preforms in a older cat.

Nice. Ford Australia is currently offering the Falcon with a turbo 4 as well as IL6 and coyote V8, The turbo 4 doesn’t loose any performance to the non-turbo IL6. The only issue is that the fuel saving isn’t all that great because of the weight of the vehicle. Sounds like you might be leading the pack for future mods.

Very cool indeed. I’ve owned a couple of 2.3 turbo 4 cylinder cars. I bought a 1986 Mustang SVO brand new and got to drive it out of the dealership showroom where it was on display. The SVO was a very fun car to drive with its 5 speed. I changed the 373 gears out for a set of 410’s. It moved very well compared to my 1983 Cougar XR7 Turbo that had an automatic transmission. I enjoyed the ride in both cars but the Cougar couldn’t pull a greased string out of a hogs tail! :laughing: Man was that car slow… turbo lag was terrible.
I look forward to seeing more of your build. :thumbup:

Thanks everyone.

This was not a straightforward install the way I would have liked.
The engine will not sit in the engine bay where it needed to be in order to keep the drive line angles of the original engine.

One solution was to cut out the shock towers and go IFS. But I do not have the resources to do that.
And I did not want to alter the car in any way so that I could put the v8 back in and make it all original if needed. No hacking of the car was the goal.

Another solution was to hang the engine a bit high in the engine bay and deal with the driveline angle later. That put the engine so high in the bay that I would have had to make new shock tower braces and maybe drop the power steering cylinder on a lowering bracket. and i would still have issues with other parts.

I had issues with the starter hitting the steering components. The front engine bay cross-member needed to run through the oil pan and the turbo manifold did not give but a 1/8-inch clearance to the shock tower.

I now have the engine crank center sitting at the exact same place as the v8 engine and I was able to get the proper drive line angle. I solved this problem by using a 2.3 to v8 bell adapter and a redrilled aluminum flywheel.
That allowed me to replace the tiny little 9-inch clutch with a bigger 10.5-inch clutch.
How fast would a 9-inch clutch burn behind a stock 302 or 351?
So imagine a 250-300 RWHP engine on a 9-inch clutch. I have smoked a few in the last 20 years on modified turbo 4’s.
The adapter was the main key to getting this to sit exactly like the v8.

I had to make a turbo manifold for the engine but it did not turn out very well so I will have to make another one.
It was the first time that I had ever welded stainless steel. So I will do version 2 next spring.

I had to make a new front cross member to clear the oil pan. I did not have to change it very much now that I have the v8 adapter in place.
I have used as many parts from the wrecked t-bird as I could.
I even found a way to mount the t-bird master and slave cylinders for the clutch
As well as modifying the t-bird clutch pedal to fit the cougar. You would have to know cougars and mustangs to tell the difference.

There is plenty of power in this engine and it used to take at least a 302 to keep up with it.
Engine tech has come a long way since the mid 80’s and most newer engines would have been a better choice. But I had the wrecked t-bird for parts. The t-bird sat in my garage for nearly 15 years.
High horsepower is not my goal as much as being able to drive this car all over the country at about twice the mpg as the v8 and not suffer for power.
The engine does have a bigger cam in it as well as a ported head with bigger valves and a balanced rotating assembly.

leonbray: you hit on one advantage of the 4 cyl engine. it is a couple hundred pounds lighter than the 351/fmx that i removed from the cougar.
I wish that I could have put them on the scales for comparison.

thanks for checking this project out. I can update this post as I get going again.
but if there are any questions I will be glad to answer them.
oh and i have to agree------my wifes automatic t-bird has the same problem pulling greased strings and it don’t even need to be attatched to anything. j/k



Most of the pictures are from the mockup of this project and I made no attempt to use nice parts for this.
The new and restored parts were spared the welding/grinding/sanding/scratching /drilling/dust.
The nice parts were installed after all the r/d was complete.

Biggest problem putting this engine in was steering linkage-starter and oil pan.
The starter was relocated from the 2300 to the v8 location with the use of an adapter plate.

for some reason the pictures did not come out in order. :think:

Oil pump pickup hits the front cross-member (Third picture) and for some reason the oil pan seems a bit wider than the v8 pans. (Second picture)

When I made the new cross-member it turned out a little wider and a little lower than I wanted but was not so bad that I could not use it.
NOTE: I bent a bunch of fence posts before I made the final part.
here is an unfinished test part with out the crushed ends to give an idea of what I was trying to do.
(first picture)

All of this was necessary to maintain the original driveline center, height and angle.
3new xmember vs old.jpg
2xmember oilpump pan2.jpg
1xmember oilpump.jpg

And this is what I ended up with. For extra clearance I moved the engine ½ inch or so forward. This will not hurt anything, but it does move the engine weight forward and might make up for some of the weight loss from the transplant.
6new xmember 3.jpg
4new xmember bolted.jpg

Today I would like to show how I used the t-bird master clutch cylinder on my 1970 cougar.

Funding is very limited or pretty much non-existent and I have to use what is lying around.

I also wanted to use as many factory parts as possible.
That way if I have a problem 5 states away from home, I would be able to walk into any parts store/salvage yard and get my parts with out having to special order the part from summit or some -,
(Here today gone tomorrow guys on e-bay).

I did look into different ways to add the hardware for a clutch system for this project and found the price way above what I could spend.

I already installed the t-bird clutch pedal into the cougar and that worked out well. (Zero $$$) much easier than I thought it would be.

The t-bird master cylinder on the other hand, has a weird type of mounting that requires a square keyed hole for it to lock into, by twisting the master cylinder ¼ turn to lock it into place.
Inconvenient for the DIY guys, but not impossible.

The t-bird master mounts at the base of the steering mount that seals against the firewall on the t-bird.
I took the seal plate and cut out the area for the master cylinder. I ended up with a thick 2 inch or so round part with a keyed square hole in it.

Next I cut a hole into the firewall where the factory cutout would be for a manual shift car.
This part was easy, there was already a dimple in the sheet metal for the pilot of the hole saw. I find that on ford cars all the time. Nice of them to leave that there for future use.

Next I made a mount for the master using a piece of exhaust pipe cut at an angle to match with the pedal.
I followed the same angle for the push rod like the one in my other 4-speed cougar.

After cutting the pipe to the proper angle, I welded the part with the keyed square hole onto the exhaust pipe after making sure that the key was in the right place.

I then welded 3 bolts to complete the mount.
This is the part where I drill 3 non-factory holes into the firewall and so far through out this whole project, that is the only alteration or holes to the body.

After bolting the mount into place and installing the master cylinder I had to cut the push rod to the proper length then secure it to the pedal.

And presto, master clutch cylinder (Zero $$$).
I already had the parts from the wreck and I was able to recycle them.

I know what it is like to be strapped for cash and I thought this might help some one that is in the same boat and would like to install a manual transmission on a salvage yard budget.

I also reused the clutch slave cylinder. That needed a new mount as well.
I hope you all find this as a useful and interesting way to use parts already at the local parts stores and salvage yards.

Thanks Mick.

this shows how the master clears the booster.

How I used the slave cylinder from the 1988 t-bird on my 1970 cougar.

For those not familiar with how this is mounted on the 2.3, it slides into a fork shape casting on the side of the bell house and is sort of held in place by a plastic cover, the plastic cover is held in place with one screw. The plastic cover is more of a dust cover and it does not really hold the slave in place.
The throw out bearing stays loaded against the slave to help hold it in place and is in constant contact with the pressure plate all the time. This type of mounting is not ridged and the slave floats on its mount, Not a real critical type of mount, but works.

I lost some of the pictures I took of the steps used to make the mount but here are some that survived during the mockup and should be enough to see what I did.

The plastic that I used is a piece of bathroom partition wall that was used to separate the closets.
It is about 1- inch thick and is a very sturdy and very nice to machine.

I first cut a piece about 4 inches by 4 inches.
Then using the slave to get a width measurement I drilled 2 holes for some bolts.
After drilling the holes I cut the plastic in half then bolted the two parts back together before making the hole for the slave to fit in.
The slave cylinder has a groove cast in the housing that is used for mounting the cylinder to the casting on the bell house of the 2.3.

Using mortising drill bits, drill out the bigger diameter hole first so that there is enough material left that is wide enough to fit into the groove of the slave cylinder.
Drill the smaller hole out the rest of the way.
This does not need to be a snug fit and because for some reason the factory did not make it ridged I did the same. I do think that it allows the slave to move with the angle of the push rod over the entire wear period of the clutch disk. I could be wrong.

Next I used a nice thick piece of 3-inch angle aluminum to mount the plastic to.
After some shaping of the aluminum to fit inside of some ribbing that is cast into the v8 bell house I could then line up the whole setup.
Mount the outside edge of the angle even with the edge of the bell house drill two mounting holes into the bell house to mount the aluminum.
Use big washers or some kind of backing to spread out the load from the bolts to prevent the bolts from tearing out the bell house.
The last thing I needed was a chance of the bolts coming undone so I used lock tight and I also drilled and pined the nuts just to make sure.

The plastic part of course was too big and that was planed so that I could have enough material to center the slave to the right place.
In the end all excess material was removed.

As for the push rod I ended up using threaded rod with a rounded nut at the end.
I had some nice half round rocker arm pivots some where that I think would have worked but they are still to be found. That way I can ditch the nut.
The v8 bell that I used was for a cable clutch setup and after trying to fit the cable and quadrant I decided that I did not like it and went with my original thought of a hydraulic system.

So I then mounted the plastic mount and slave in order to use the outside portion of the clutch fork where the cable mounted.
That did not yield much movement to the fork so I realigned every thing to use the inner hole on the fork that is used only to install the ball end of the cable system.

That worked and gave me the fork travel that I needed to disengage the clutch.
I must add a note here, I ‘m sure that I have full disengagement for the disk BUT this is not running yet.
slave with rod and boot-1.jpg
slave 5-1.jpg

In the case that I do not have enough travel on the fork to disengage the disk, I can get a master from a truck that is the same as the one I have but a bigger bore.
The reason I believe this is going to work is that after some searching on the Internet for the distance needed to unload the disk, I have plenty of fork travel for it to work.
I will find out next spring.

I also want to make a note here: beware that any flex at all from activating the clutch will have a bad negative effect on the amount of fork travel.
I found this out while playing with various mounting methods for this project.
I found that the firewall on the cougar would flex at the master cylinder so a backer ring for the mount eliminates all movement. A 1/8-inch flex can cause a ¼ inch loss of travel at the clutch fork.

This setup is very solid and that plastic is very tough with no bending or flexing. Will it melt?
Maybe if a header is way to close or the car catches on fire. If melting is a concern I would have the plastic replaced with a machined aluminum piece of the same dimensions and if I get some extra cash I will have that done. Also the factory dust cover would have to be remade. I don’t have that problem with this car because the exhaust is on the other side.
The clutch pedal feel is the same as on the t-bird and a lot lighter than the Toploader 4 speed cougar that I also own.
The pressure plate and disk are from a v8 mustang king cobra.

The hose from the t-bird was the right length and mounted to the firewall along with the brake lines.
on the fork dust cover, I was going to use a strap across the top of the plastic cover but I found that those two washers holds it on better than the single hole that you see at the front of the cover.
I also thought it would be nice to preserve the lable.

Just another way I found to reuse stock parts for my car from the original 2.3 all for (zero $$$).

This is just one of the many hurdles that I had to jump to make this work and I am having fun along the way.

Thanks for looking.

slave dust cover-1.jpg

This is how I was able to install the 1988 t-bird clutch pedal into the 1970 cougar

I have shown how to use the existing t-bird master and slave clutch hydraulic cylinders and I mentioned that the clutch pedal was easier than I had imagined.

The part that was a pleasant surprise was that the clutch pedal pivot rod and bushings from the t-bird are exactly the same size as the 1970 cougar.
It fits perfectly in the metal bushings in the cougar pedal bracket.

Step one is to remove the pedals from the t-bird; you will want the brake pedal for the pad on the end unless you are going to use a more period correct set pads.
In the picture you can see what I saved from the t-bird.
Save the clutch pedal and nut, the pivot rod and its plastic bushings and the brake pedal.

Do the brake pedal first. I used the existing cougar automatic brake pedal and using a big drill bit I removed the big wide pad from the cougars pedal and the smaller one from the t-bird.
Weld the smaller pad onto the cougar pedal. Mount the pedal back into the bracket. Brake pedal all done.

The pivot rod has A bell-crank on the right side end for the master cylinder push rod to snap onto.
Cut the bell-crank off and set it aside, I used it later on. It is needed for the funky attachment point on the t-bird master cylinder.

I then bolted the clutch pedal back onto the pivot rod with the bushings. Then put the rod into the bracket.
I used a thick washer as a spacer to move the pedal outboard from the bracket.
The washer goes between the clutch pedal and the cougar’s pedal bracket. It is the gold colored one in the pictures. I aligned the clutch pedal so that the pedal was in line with the clutch rod hole in the firewall of the cougar. I drilled this out with a hole-saw as mentioned above.

After some measuring I cut the rod to a length of about 5 ¼ inches. At this point you can make the rod longer if you would like to have the pedals farther apart then compensate with another spacer.
After setting the distances that I needed, I used a thrust washer on the right side of the pivot rod and drilled a hole at the end for a cotter key or pin.

At this point I had a set of swinging pedals mounted but I still had that master push rod to attach.
I did that by using the bell-crank that I had cut off from the end of the clutch pivot rod.
I drilled a hole high up on the clutch pedal up near the first bend from the pad.
Then I drilled a hole in the middle of the bell-crank to bolt to the pedal.

If the push rod is mounted to far down the pedal you will get to much throw on the rod and you will bottom out the cylinder and if it is mounted to high you will not have enough throw on the push rod to unload the clutch disk.

When I mounted the bell-crank this way, it allowed me some room to make adjustments because at the time I did not know where I was going to mount stuff like the master or push rod angle or even its length.
This allowed me to adjust for the angle to the push rod and also allowed me to play with pedal height by rotating the bell-crank.
The bell crank will be permanently attached to the pedal after I verify that it is where I need it to be.

The brake pedal will just touch the pivot rod at the top of the bracket and needed to be clearanced just to make sure that it would not rattle.

I may have made this sound pretty easy in the end, and it is. But at the start I had tried many different ways to mount A master cylinder to the firewall and then to the pedals. Now that I know what needs to be done, the next one should be a breeze. This has been a lot of fun.

This is how it all looks. Notice the notch in the brake pedal.
After I get this fired up and I make the final adjustments I will set the pedal height and fix that funky looking gas pedal.

I am not sure if this would work with a z-bar setup but I think it would. the only thing that I can think of that would be a problem is the original clutch for the cougar with the z-bar is that it is harder to push than the hydraulic system.
The problem that I see is that the thickness of the pedal bar might not be thick enough for it and it might flex, not sure.
Other than that I see no reason for it not to work. may be i will get to try that in the future.
5 clutch pedal-1.jpg
4 brake notch-1.jpg

Hi all winter has not slowed me down to much.

I thought it would be a good time to work on the EEC wiring from the turbo coupe and identify all the loose ends.

The t-bird harness is all linked together with the rest of the car so it was necessary to dissect the whole thing. A harness from a ranger truck or mustang might have been easier to do but there are circuits in the t-bird harness that I needed/wanted to keep.

My goal was to remove all circuits that pertain to the engine computer, circuits for the gauges. As well as power distribution for those circuits.
I also saved the electronic modules for the door/key chime, low fuel light. Over boost buzzer and my fuel (MPG) monitor.
I also ended up with some nice heavy gauge feed wires with relays for powering high current circuit loads.

The engine harness contains an integrated relay control module that has the relays for the fuel pump, cooling fans, a/c clutch, as well as the relay for the computer system.
It also has the alternator charge circuit (I need the higher amp alternator) with the amp meter shunt that I will use instead of the one from the cougar.

It took some time to strip it all out but armed with a good supply of wiring diagrams for the t-bird and the cougar I was able to generate a huge junk pile of left over wire.
The car was fully loaded and had a lot tied into the harness.

I took what I saved and hung it from my basement ceiling as it would be laid out in the car to work on.
As I identified circuits I put a water resistant tag on each one with it’s
Circuit name/circuit number that corresponds to the t-bird wiring diagrams. This part of the car will be serviced as a 1988 thunder bird turbo coupe.

Point of interest is that some of the circuit numbers/wire colors are the same between the two cars. I have found many things that did not change after 18 years between these two cars. Some day maybe just for fun I will write them all down. It would be interesting.

I now have a rough draft of a harness for the engine controls and I was able to re-pin the interconnecting plugs that runs up to the gauge cluster using the t-bird connectors and wiring that I had removed. I won’t be using the gauge wiring from the cougar (more on that next time).
Every wire and plug pin out or any changes have been documented for future reference and repair.

The harness is ready and waiting for a warmer garage for installation.
At that point I will find a spot for the computer and cut the wires to length and merge it with the cougars electrical system.

And at the same time keep from altering the car that would prevent it from being put back to it’s original condition if needed. I do not want to cut or splice into the original system.
I will try to use any available plug in the original cougar circuit in order to keep from hacking wires. so that might be a challenge to do but I have 45 days to think about it.

Next step is the gauge cluster. I have been working on the gauge cluster as well and it has turned out good so far.

This is first time post with photobucket so here goes.

just the under hood wiring.

hung up for inspection


Some of the wiring tags

I have to say I really like the whole idea of this project and swap. The wiring part is what would scare me out of my mind. I would probably need a whole lot of

to be able to figure out the load of wires you have pictured.


You do know that when you do a engine swap your not supposed to have all that extra room in there. :poke:

Grats on the build idea & execution and good luck with the wireing!

I have had a lot of time to plan and think about how I would build this car since I first thought of doing this many years ago and one of those thoughts included the instrument cluster.

The car is an XR7 and needs a tachometer for the four-cylinder engine.
I also wanted to do some thing different for gauge lighting.
I also have to do some thing with the speedometer.
The original is cable drive but the transmission has an electronic sender.

If I had the money, I would send off the original tachometer and have a modern movement installed. Then put in a cable drive for the speedometer and come up with a way to get an electronic signal to the computer so that it knows how fast the car is going.
The speed signal also is needed for the fuel mileage trip computer that gives miles traveled, fuel used and average/instant MPG.

My t-bird has the tachometer for the four-cylinder engine and also has a boost gauge in the same faceplate. The boost gauge is required for a boosted engine and there is limited space to put one on the cougar. I believe there are A-pillar pods but not for me.
The boost gauge needed to extend out the bottom of the cluster shell and I was worried that it would not fit. I ended up making what looks like a pair of barn doors on the bottom for room and I trimmed off any excess from the gauge itself to make room and it worked out great and it all fits in the car.

pic of boost gauge bottom after trimming off excess

pic of boost gauge bottom.before trimming off the bottom of the gauge.

Also from the t-bird is the rare and valuable SVO 140-mph speedometer.
Both meters are back illuminated from behind the faceplate.
After looking at the fuel, amp, temp, oil gauges they are illuminated the same way.
I took the t-bird speedometer and stuck the trip odometer reset button through the reset buttonhole in the cougar faceplate and I found that it fit in the right place. Cool!

I happen to have a water damaged XR7 cluster to hack so I can put the original off to the side. So let the hacking begin.

This is what it looked like to start. pic stock panel.

Not only are the t-bird gauges back lit, they have the same diameter cans for the movement, they are the same as the cougar is electrically inside, they also have the same mounting dimensions as the cougar. The only thing different is they are all clear plastic and the size shape of the faceplates. The cougar gauges are all metal.

I had my hand crushed last April and when it was time for therapy I was told I could do small stuff, so I started this fresh out of a cast. I was bored from sitting on my duff for weeks on end and needed to do some thing even if it was wrong.
I`ll have more to post on the gauge cluster later.
thanks every one for looking. and there is a bottle of excedrin extra an arms length away and the extra room is nice.I can get to everything easier than when it was in the tbird.sofar anyway.:smiley: Mick P