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Old 05-05-2013, 01:42 PM   #1 (permalink)
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What am I looking for? (engine, rear end, wheel size)

Hope I am posting in the acceptable place for this question.

I plan to start my retirement and my FFR Roadster build next year. I am still considering just what it is I want in the way of a basic engine and drivetrain setup. Hoping forum members can steer me in the right direction.

So this car is going to be my toy. I am not planning to race it on track or strip. But I do want it to go when I put my foot down. I will be driving it through the Texas Hill Country (on nice days only). It will be standard transmission of course.

I am thinking to go with a carbureted stoker, just because I like the idea of having tons of low end torque. I could probably make do with a 347 but bigger is better thinking is leading me to consider a 408. However I need this thing to be driveable, reliable and above all else fun to drive!. Would I be making a mistake to go with a 408? Some posts seem to indicate that too much torque can make the car hard to handle.

What rear end ratio would you suggest to go with either of these engines.

Thinking to go with standard 3 link rear end. Not sure I can justify the IRS for my kind of driving.

My first car was a 65 mustang with unpowered steering and brakes (horrible drum brakes back then!). I am thinking to stay unpowered with both steering and brakes on this car as well. I just don't see why power is necessary for a car this light. I actually miss the feel of unpowered steering.

Lastly, wheels. I want to go with bullet type wheels. I just like the look. But I am open on size. Sounds like 17" would provide more room for brakes and has biggest selection of both wheels and tires. I kind of like the look of 15", but don't know if it is worth the trouble to fit and possible reduced options for tires and wheels.

Thanks in advance for your advice.
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Old 05-05-2013, 02:14 PM   #2 (permalink)
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You are going to get all kinds of opinions, so here's mine. I have a 302 and you can see my motor set up at the bottom of my post. Ninty nine percent of my driving is either around town or mountain roads. In town you can't use much of the HP you have. In the mountains I have plenty of power to accelerate out of tight turns and up hills without worry that the rear is going to break loose. Most of the time my wife is with me so I have to consider her need to enjoy the ride.
I got racing out of my system a long time ago and people are impressed with these cars no matter what size engine is in it. I guess you should build what will make you happy, I hope my comments help.
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Old 05-05-2013, 04:06 PM   #3 (permalink)
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"I need this thing to be driveable, reliable and above all else fun to drive!."

They are all fun to drive, regardless of the engine used. Just some are going to make you pucker up a little more than others will.
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Old 05-05-2013, 04:18 PM   #4 (permalink)
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You will get lots of answers and opinions. My first build was a pretty highly modified 306. I'm only doing street driving, like what you describe. It's very strong and can be almost instantly illegal at any time. It's a blast to drive. Fast but not scary. I enjoyed the build so much, got a chance to do another. So I'm working on a Mk4. I am taking the engine up a bit a stroker 347. Roughly another 75-100 HP. Mainly just to be different than the first build. For what you describe, I don't think you would be disappointed with anything in this power level. These cars don't take a lot.

Lots of discussion about the rear suspension. IRS is highly favored for its comfortable ride. But it does come at a cost, for sure. 3-link is the most popular, and by all accounts an excellent setup. My Mk3 is a 4-link with all aftermarket parts, and I'm actually fine with it. But most would tell you to avoid 4-link and go right to the 3-link with a solid axle. My Mk4 is a Levy Racing 5-link, because that's how the original owner of the car started it. Supposed to be really good (I'll let you know in a year or two) but not a standard FFR setup. Rear end ratio depends on a lot of things, including the engine, transmission, how you drive the car, etc. I think 3.55 is the most popular.

The best advice I can think of is find some other owners, look at as many builds as you can, get as many rides as you can, etc. Nothing beats first hand experience. It's pretty unlikely anyone would let you drive theirs (no one else drives mine) but you could learn a lot.
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Old 05-05-2013, 04:28 PM   #5 (permalink)
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You will love this. Since you will have alot of "retirement" time, why not start with the 347, WC T5, 355, and 3-link. 17" is a good choice, if only for availability of tires/brakes (I am a 15" wheel guy and am severely limited to just hockey puck tires like the BFG TA's).

If for some reason - after awhile - you feel you need more, then you'll have another project to look forward to.

I built a MK II w/302, 355, T5 in 2004 and loved it for 9 years; sold it and now building a MK IV with Coyote, 355, TKO 500, 3-link, 15". My driving scenario is the same as yours.

Cheers, and welcome; you can look forward to plenty of help here.
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Old 05-05-2013, 04:29 PM   #6 (permalink)
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As CobraDawg stated above, you are going to get lots of opinions on this. What is good for someone like Gordon Levy is going to be different for someone new to these cars. But, since you asked.....

My recommendation would be a strong 302, 3:55's, 4-wheel disks and an IRS suspension. That would give plenty of power and a much better ride than a solid axle (even with the 3-link.) I've driven an IRS car and then our car over the same roads and if I can ever afford it will be switching over to the IRS set-up. Anything north of 300-hp isn't really practical for the street. Yeah, its fun to have on tap but you'll spend more for fuel, more for parts etc.

Also, think of this....the fastest car on the Las Vegas track when FFR took their vehicles for the comparison with the Lambo was the Challenge racer and, if I've read the HP/TQ table correctly, they can only have a max of 332HP but the car has to weigh 2567lbs to be able to have that much HP.


I'd reach out to some of the local guys and see if they would give you a ride (or let you drive maybe?) That way you can see what they have and what you actually like.

Good luck, welcome to the Forum.

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Old 05-05-2013, 04:47 PM   #7 (permalink)
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I'd reach out to some of the local guys and see if they would give you a ride (or let you drive maybe?) That way you can see what they have and what you actually like.

Good answer - the more you get to look at / quiz the builder / owner - the better informed you will be.

Especially helpful for knowing what to expect on engine / transmission/ rearend / gear ratios / brakes / steering.

Try not to order / build yourself into a corner.


Mike
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Old 05-05-2013, 05:11 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Greetings ! what they said! + nothing shakes the ground like a big motor. I used the solid axle so if I wanted to drag race I could pass NHRA tech. I used a 408 because I had some parts and was impressed with the 351 in my 1993 Lightning. If you want seat of the pants low rpm punch bigger is better or small with a roots type blower. Best advice I can give is drive some! I have manual everything , works well but I'm thinking of adding power steering after hearing the raves. I too was an old Mustang guy had ps and those lovely brakes. This is only my personal opinion so please don't bash me : I think the 351 ,fe or 460 engines fill the engine bay better than the 302. I've never had a 4.6 but they look big , stone reliable and power out of the box to about 450 + you can get stack injection , carb conversions or mas flo efi. 8.8 rears basically indestructible , the lack of traction will keep it alive .I think wildwood has decent brakes for 15" wheels. Do a 5 lug wheel .transmission any of the tremecs , or a super t5 or old school toploader. other than that just toss the budget out the window and wait for fed ex or ups. As stated don't put yourself in a corner . Some upgrades can be done later and that will give you something to do in the winter Bob
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Old 05-05-2013, 06:54 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Regarding the 408, it can be set up to be just as driveable as a 302. Torque can actually make a car easier to drive because you don't have to shift as much, just match the components appropriately for your intended purpose. I suspect that those that have trouble managing their 408 are running a big cam, etc.. The only reason I say that is my car is extremely well mannered and I make more power than most 408 engines. Good tires, mild cam, proper gearing can make all the difference no matter what size the engine. Cheers.
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Old 05-05-2013, 07:23 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by cobradawg View Post
You are going to get all kinds of opinions, so here's mine. I have a 302 and you can see my motor set up at the bottom of my post. Ninty nine percent of my driving is either around town or mountain roads. In town you can't use much of the HP you have. In the mountains I have plenty of power to accelerate out of tight turns and up hills without worry that the rear is going to break loose. Most of the time my wife is with me so I have to consider her need to enjoy the ride.
I got racing out of my system a long time ago and people are impressed with these cars no matter what size engine is in it. I guess you should build what will make you happy, I hope my comments help.
X2. There is a lot of good information here but the bottom line is, do your research and build it for your taste. I LOVE my IRS, 306, 15" pin drive wheels, 3.73 rear end, manual everything but I'm sure I would like PS, PB, a 408, or a 351 etc. For my driving and style and the peace in the car while driving with my wife, I have the perfect setup. If your interested, a really nice complete setup just came up for sale in the Vancouver area. You could save some real money buying one like this. see For sale a Factory Five Mk4 Cobra Kit.

Whatever you decide, Mike, You're going to have a great time building it and even more fun driving it. The friends you make along the way is a really great bonus program as well.

Good luck.
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Old 05-05-2013, 10:11 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Re; engine. If you start w/ a 302-347, you are stuck at 347. The taller block of the 351 requires different intake and exhaust. So start w/ a 351 and go as big as you want or just stick some heads,pistons and a mild cam in the 351 and have 400 easy to drive HP. I agree w/ your 408 thought. One of those can be built w/ anything from 450 easy to drive HP to crazy HP. Heck, if you end up w/ too much,just back down on the carb to a smaller vac secondary unit.
Trans: if you go w/ something in the 351 or above go w/ a TKO 500 or maybe a TKO 600 which gets you some options on ratios but may be a stiffer shifter. Read up on that.
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Old 05-05-2013, 10:27 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Thanks for the feedback

Thanks to everyone for you considerate thoughts/advice.

Agree with all you who said go visit with owners, see their cars and ride in them. At present I am working overseas (West Africa) and only get home a few weeks out of the year. But there are several cobra clubs active in the hill country, just have to time my visits right to catch one of their gatherings.

So based on what I have heard today, I am not ready to give up on the 408 yet. As suggested maybe I can make a manageable setup with a reasonable cam.

Still leaning to 17" wheels for selection, break room etc., but I did grow up in the 15" wheel era and I do think they look better.

Interesting to hear the recommendation to consider IRS. I was probably wrongly thinking this was a performance option for handling on the track, but can see why it would also provide for a better ride up and down the road as well. Looks like this is a $2200 option plus a different center section. Will have to see if I can ride in both types and feel the difference.

Anyway, still got some time to consider before I start spending money and making irreversible decisions. Will try and spend a good bit of time reading the posts on this forum. Lots of good information

Thanks,
Mike
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Old 05-05-2013, 11:34 PM   #13 (permalink)
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You don't need to give up on the 408. I build a lot of them and I like them alot. Chassis set up is going to be very important. I would be happy to talk over your options. Please feel free to call me 520-494-2745.
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