About the 2000 GT

Back in 2000, I was working for a company, I swear, called “Internet.com”. I had a 1997 Mustang GT, black on black, and I wanted a Cobra. One of my friends (looking at you Jim Stinson) worked at a local Ford dealership, and said he got used cobras in from time to time, and he’d call me next time one showed up. So, one day I went down to look at a 97 or 98 (can’t remember, it’s been a while) black on black Cobra.

It looked a lot like my GT, but was a faster car and I was excited to check it out. Jim pulled out of the dealership, got into the Cobra a bit and a horrible scraping noise began emanating from the rear of the car. My excitement for buying a used cobra pretty much went up in smoke at that point.

When I got back to the dealership, my wife and son were sitting in the car you see here. It was an amazing car — it was the first year for Zinc yellow, and I didn’t know it at that moment, but it was a rare car. One of 930 or so made — it was a spring feature GT — basically a slug of left-over parts from the 35th anniversary edition GTs made in 1999. It’s number 864 on the yellow mustang registry.

Although rare in 2000, in 2001, Ford made a ton of 2001 Mustangs that were Zinc yellow — most of the cars you see that look like mine are not 2000s. Some of the rare elements, the stripes on the hood, the wheels (sold, last year — I’ll never use them) and the scoops, which became standard items for all GTs made after 2000. In other words, most of the features that made the car stand out in 2000 became rather common afterward.

Over the years I’ve really enjoyed (mostly anyway) modifying this car. It’s mainly rare these days, because it’s my car. It’s been all over the continental US. My wife and I have taken it to most of the wineries in Ohio — in 2000, we hit every one in the Ohio Winery association, except for one that was on the border of Kentucky. That’s on the bucket list…

My nieces have always enjoyed this car — many loud moments are embedded in my memory banks of them screaming at the top of their lungs as we drove it various places, usually to get ice cream or sometimes just to cruise. Note: You don’t need to scream at the top of your lungs when you’re in a yellow Mustang GT, with the top down and the radio blaring — but every little bit of attention-grabbing strategy is at play when you’re a kid — when you’re older, it’s more my inner kid grinning at the core when I drive this car. Even if there’s no one but me to enjoy it, it still makes me grin from ear to ear. A couple years back I thought seriously of selling it, and immediately heard from two nieces — they still love this car.

I decided after trading my 2004 Mach I that I would not sell it, and instead keep it, and see what I could do to make it a bit more civilized and dependable. Last October it got a host of upgrades — new springs, exhaust and an improved cold air intake. It helped a great deal — but I still miss the sound of the Mach I. Put a Bassani X-pipe and magnaflows on a 4-valve modular motor, it’s Music.

When the 5.0 Coyote Aluminator was announced, I decided to do some research. There were some early pioneers (and I’ll link to them here on the forum) — some of the swaps were very well thought out. A lot of them had me scratching my head. After a lot of research, I realized that hardly anyone had done a swap into a new-edge. The only new-edge I could find was a 2002 Bullet that, while clean, had some really obvious short-cuts.

What would it cost to do this swap? It’s not cheap — but as previously mentioned, it has real bonuses. Just about every upgrade needed for the Coyote to live in the engine bay is a step in the right direction. Some careful math and consideration, I finally decided to pull the trigger this past April. I had a lot of choices to make along the way, and hopefully I’ve made the right choices — because I’ll be living with them for quite some time.

Strap in, it’s going to be an interesting ride.


Day 1: Coyote Prep Begins

First … Still waiting on the fuel system …

Supposedly the parts will be in or are in or maybe not — I hope to report soon that the fuel system I ordered something like a month ago is in.

Anyway, I’m going on with the prep without the fuel system because I have faith that one way or another I’m going to get rid of the single-line fuel system that’s been in the car for 12 years and 170k or so miles.

I have stuff to do in the mean time — plenty to do. For starters, the car has some grime on it — 12 years and 170k worth of grime. Believe it or not, I’ve only cleaned the engine bay once, back in 2009. Two bottles of grease remover were used and a gasoline-powered pressure washer, and a jack and jack-stand of course. It’s bad enough having to break loose bolts that were tightened in 2000 (I’m sure I’ll bust a few during the course of this change-over), but to do it while covered in grease and road grime — ugh.

To reduce the grime, I decided to shoot as much of that crud off the bottom and from the engine bay as possible.

I’m taking my time and doing this right. Sorry it’s taking a while to get rolling.


Stuff I learned from Ray

I didn’t get much time to work on the car this week — I was back in Ohio much longer than I had anticipated. It’s a busy week anyway as this is the week of the “Back to the Fifties” auto show in St. Paul Minnesota. Dad and I go to this show every year and pretty much hit overload on old cars. Typically there are over 10,000 cars made from 1964 back to the beginning of time. The Minnesota Street Rod Association puts on the event and it’s awesome.

There are no Mustangs here.

It’s by design too — MSRA even has text to that respect on their web site. Obviously anti-Mustang sentiment (probably because there are so many Mustang clubs they simply don’t want their event “polluted” by a bunch of loud cars that would distract from the already loud cars in the club ;)

Anyway, Ford and Chevy have booths at the show. Ford Racing, that is… Which is where I got to speak face to face with Ray… Who’s Ray? He does have a last name, but I forgot to write it down — he’s “the guy” — and I know he’s the guy because when I’ve called into the FFRP support line for the Coyote, I had questions. Lot’s of questions. Eventually, I hit a point where the tech on the line was somewhat baffled and said “Call in and ask for Ray.”

It was great to meet him. Our conversation lasted quite some time (Ray is a terrific guy — even loaned me a pen and paper so I could take these notes). I had a ton of questions and Ray knew the answers to every one of them. The information was flowing from the fire hose and I was drinking as fast as I could.

Let’s break down the pointers here, because I’m sure if you’re reading this far you want to know some of this stuff — it’s not really evident from the other forums and research I’ve done.

Pointers and Suggestions:

  1. Use the factory air-box “as is”. Do not attempt to modify it to do the usual cold-air insanity, or you will need to re-tune the motor. Note: Ray wasn’t discouraging the modification of the airbox — I was intending to use the airbox for a host of reasons. I may someday do something cold-air oriented — but will re-tune the motor at that time. In the mean time, for the shorter haul, I am shooting for stability. It doesn’t make sense to step off the recommended Ford path during the initial build — stick with the system as designed as much as possible, because any trouble-shooting effort during the build and install is going to be hampered by any non-stock choices you’ve made.
  2. I don’t need hoses for my New Edge build — the hoses under the engine already will work — and the quick-connect to the Coyote on the top radiator hose is included in the control-pak kit. This was a relief because I couldn’t find anyone on the net that seemed to have anything much to say about this.
  3. The wiring layout for my new PCM will have to be connected through the old PCM since I’m re-using it for gauge duty (see prior rants posts about gauges).
  4. For the water-pump sensor pick-up, I need to purchase an in-line hose-mount for the sensors, on the bottom hose. That way I can wire in the factory pickup (for the idiot-light gauge) and the new Auto-Meter pick-up, which will tell me the awful truth about the water temperature.
  5. While we’re on the subject — the fan on the engine, like the old PCM, is controlled by the Coyote PCM. Ray told me not to get concerned about the temperature that the new PCM decides is hot enough to kick in the fan — it’s not using a water sensor, it’s using the engine head temperature to decide when this should happen.
  6. The tap for oil pressure gauges (the idiot light and the real oil pressure gauge) is under the oil filter in a similar location for where it is on my 4.6.
  7. Don’t miss the fact that the engine has 3 (maybe two, not clear due to my notes) vacuum hook-ups on the top of the motor — one of which must be hooked to the fuel regulator. Leave one open — you guessed it — and your Coyote is not going to run right.
  8. To tune the fuel pressure, make sure it’s 55 PSI, and checked without vacuum. It will drop when the engine is running and hooked up right, but that’s how you set the pressure.

Ray was a great guy to talk to and very supportive of my project — with people like this, I can fully understand why FFRP parts are so prevalent. I learned so much in such a short time. Nothing happens by accident — the timing here is very interesting to me.

I’m still waiting on my fuel system, darn it. I’ll keep you posted — after the car show ends. In the mean time, I’m going to be overdosing on hot-rods.


Time to find out what my car weighs..

Update: My 2000 GT convertible weighs in at 3460 lbs!

Front axle: 1980 lbs.

Back axle: 1480 lbs.
The 2000 GT on the scales

The bad news is the weight distribution of this car is (as expected) pretty horrible at 57% front / 43% rear. The good news is that the swap should vastly affect this distribution — I’m hoping to reduce the front end weight by as much as 300 lbs (and add about 50 to the rear), which would change this to somewhere around 52/48 (much better weight distribution) — I’ll weigh it again and we’ll see how close I was.

Now for the sad news: I thought I could easily build a cantilever scale.

Purchased a tension scale that can handle 450 lbs off of amazon, and then attempted to use some ramps and some ingenuity to build a cantilever scale in the hopes of getting some usable numbers like the ones above.

Except that my first attempts at this have all been pretty sorry on the accuracy front — plus, (and this is kind of important), I had no reference data to determine if my numbers (even if I thought they were good) were even in the ballpark of what the car weighs.

A ways back, one of my friends (Dustin, you’re the man) suggested I simply take the car to a truck scale and get it weighed. I really tossed this idea (and I shouldn’t have) because I wanted something I could use, repeatably, to track the progress of each modification. But it’s sound, anyway, because as it turns out, I need to know if my scale is accurate anyway — and if I don’t have reference data, I can’t know this.

I think I may finally be onto a good mechanism for the scale (and will of course, publish this data as soon as I can), but in the mean time, I’m taking Dustin’s advice, and taking the car to a truck scale before I start the project. I’ll simply have to experiment a bit along the way with the toy mechanism — and hopefully before I’m done with the project, have something to share.

I’m still waiting on the fuel system for the car — not that it’s holding me up.

Steady as she goes!


Inventory day 1

This is prep for the conversion — most of the parts needed for the conversion are here, sans the motor and control-pak.   This was done so I could get the car ready before the install and not have the money tied up for the motor while I did the work.

Here’s a run-down of the first run of inventory and prep:

Here’s a link to the inventory.

Comments welcome!

Also note that I’m taking copious notes on the build and will be publishing a list when I’m done.

Makein’ a list, checkin’ it twice…

Nope, I’m not Santa, but it’s (almost) Christmas time — or at least it feels kinda like it.

I’m about 90% through the list of parts that are non-coyote oriented for the build — ordering them that is.   So, the larger categories: Fuel system, suspension, exhaust, gauges, electrical (battery relocation) and anything related to tools that I might need but don’t have yet.

It’s over 4k of stuff — approaching 5k.   This are “non-aluminator” items — any given item I could install without actually doing the swap — you can think of this as car prep in a way.   Seriously, though, I’m not going to install the majority of the items before the swap, the exceptions are simple, though.

First, I’m going to relocate the battery.   A battery-relocation isn’t mandatory for the swap — you can get away with having the battery in the stock location, like these guys did:


I’ve looked at that swap closely.  This is one of the earliest Coyote swaps out there into a Fox-like chassis.  It’s interesting for a few reasons — they didn’t swap the K-member — electing to make their own oil pan mods instead to fit the existing stock member.   They made their own custom long-tube headers for the swap and — this is where I question their thinking the most — the engine drinks air from right behind the radiator.   Look closely, and you see that the air cleaner is a K&N style unit, poking downward right where you would want it least to grab air — behind the spot where the radiator is dumping the majority of the warm air from cooling the motor.

Why they didn’t go for the stock air breather and do a battery relocation is beyond me, but I wasn’t there (Soon I will be right there, so I’m sure to make my own dumb mistakes as well).

The reason they did this is obvious to me — they ran out of space in the engine bay.   The Coyote is bigger than the previous motor, and there isn’t space where the breathing tube enters the motor for the stock radiator reservoir.   You need the reservoir mounted *somewhere*, so it’s where the stock air-breather goes, and the battery is taking up the space where it normally sits — so they were out of options and made something of a compromise.

I’ve looked at a bunch of these builds — my plan is to relocate the battery and put the breather where it belongs for this motor — in the spot where the battery sits today.  I’m planning on mounting my reservoir to the left where the air breather for the old motor sat, and to put the electronics either in the space under that reservoir (gives me the willies, but it’s a compromise) or to find some other spot for it in the engine bay.

In any case, I’m learning from the folks that went before me — my plan is to document the hell out of everything so anyone wanting to follow along and improve upon my work can do it without guessing and to make a place where they can easily share the results (here).

My list is slowly getting fleshed out — the parts are mostly on order and I’m anticipating quite a few ‘interesting moments’ of my own.

And I’m anxiously awaiting arrival of all the ‘presents’ :-)

Let’s take a long, hard, happy look at those gauges…

Back in 2006, I bought a 2004 Mach 1 (a “New Edge” hybrid between a cobra and a GT). The prior owner had apparently (unbeknownst to me at the time) used the car for track or drag strip purposes, pushed it a bit too far, then put everything back to stock as much as possible, and traded the car on a truck. When I got the car, everything seemed fine.

In the summer of 2008, though, strange things started happening — I would be driving the car down the road, and “suddenly” the poor thing was overheating. I ended up replacing the radiator and a couple of years later — the entire motor (due to one of the heads leaking coolant into the #8 cylinder). The odd thing though, was the way that the overheat situation would happen.

I’d be driving down the road and notice a lack of power. I’d check the gauges — and everything would appear fine. A couple of miles down the road — suddenly the temp gauge is pegged. No warning other than my gut telling me something was wrong.

Only later did I find out why. Your gauges in your new edge (and from what I’m told, even the new Mustangs) are really idiot lights with needles. The PCM reads data, decides for you whether or not something is important, and otherwise keeps you happy, showing you needles in places where they’re going to give you that nice “feel good” readout that will keep you happy.

Finding this out didn’t make me happy.

I’m about to put a brand new Ford factory crate motor in my car. The motor — it’s worth more than the car. The last thing I want is to feel good about things that I shouldn’t be feeling good about. The gauge cluster in my 2000 GT is the same as the one in my Mach 1 — it’s there to make me feel good, not necessarily tell me the ugly truth. Something’s gotta give here.

I’ve been all over this and there are no reasonable solutions. You can buy a few different after-market gauge cluster replacements — DON’T — that’s my advice. All of the after-market gauge setups, save expensive ones that completely replace the entire setup, are wired to the factory PCM and don’t add any value as far as I’m concerned.

My choices are:

  1. Keep the stock gauge cluster and live in blissful, stupid ignorance of what’s going on under the hood.
  2. Replace the entire gauge cluster with a panel and real gauges.   This is the best solution — but it’s also mad expensive and it means I have to disable the PCM checking the gauge cluster (not sure what happens to the mileage readout as well here).   I’ve toyed with this idea the most, since the car is getting another PCM anyway, it makes sense to simply wipe the entire PCM out of the equation entirely and get a different key setup (say a proximity key system).
  3. Simply augment the existing gauges with real ones that are reading the right values.

I have been toying with option 2 for months.  The best gauge setup I can find on-line is from Speedhut — they make a really nice setup that you can buy on-line, which allows you to choose the color for the backing and night modes.  It’s the sh-t for that matter.   It’s also almost 800 bucks — when you add in the gauge for fuel pressure from auto-meter, the price comes in over a grand for gauges.  And to make it all work I have to bank on being able to disable my stock Mustang PCM and make everything work — during the addition of a new PCM.

Factor in everything — the most sensible thing to do is to go with option 3.

Yeah, I end up with a bunch of gauges in the cockpit — the stock gauges will be there in all their glory (and it’s possible to make them work with the new motor).  The new gauges I’ll add using a gauge pillar pod holder — the oil pressure and fuel pressure will go there.   The engine temp will join the diff temp and transmission temp gauges in the center console.

This is a compromise — and it will leave my new-edge cockpit with a “chock full of gauges” look that I’m not to happy with — but I will know the oil pressure and real temperature of everything important — for around $350-$400, which is way less than the total replacement solution (especially when you factor in a system to do security duty, like a proximity key setup).

At the end of the day, this really matters.  The build is already approaching $14k in parts alone.   It’s going to be complex enough, getting the Coyote working with the old “new edge” harness — complicating matters with a gauge cluster replacement at this juncture is not something I look forward to.

Later I’ll possibly do this change-over when I redo the seats and interior of the car — maybe — if the multiple gauge setup isn’t something I’m happy with by that time.

In the mean time — I’ll be happy — because I’ll know the ugly truth about my car…