Performance options



I have an 83 LTD with a 200 six with 153k on the clock. I plan to rebuild the engine soon and would like some advise on mild performance mods that would be the most bang for the buck as I am on a budget.
Howdy Bob:

What trans are you using? What rear end?

Mark P has some thin FoMoCo replacement head gaskets posted on the Classified page. Get one while you can cuz your rebuild gasket kit will have the thicker composite type. These gasket are very scares and will save on the amount of milling you will need to do to the head to compensate.

On the block, use 6.5 cast dished pistons, only as oversized as you need to clean up the bores, and deck the top of the block to achieve zero deck height. Be sure to measure with your new pistons as they will have slightly more deck height built in. You may want the added insurance of ARP rod bolts.

Choose a performance cam to match your trans, gear ratio and vehicle weight. AZMike recently posted a great summary of options and their applications.

Be sure to have the whole rotating mass balanced.

On the head, specify a performance, 3 angle valve job, back-cut the intakes with a 4th angle. Mill the head only enough to get a flat surface and to maintain your CR goal. Install an exhaust port divider whether you choose to use headers or not. I'm assuming you're planning to use the stock Holley #1946 one barrel carb?

Any Questions? That should get you started.

Adios, David
I have a C-5 tranny with a 2:73 rear I think. I may or may not stick with the stock carb or the head for that matter. I want a good driver with my AC still intact. Just would like a little more go when I'm in traffic. All help appreciated.

With a C5 and a 2.73 rear gear, I'd go with a Comp 252H cam. The C5 differs from a C4 in that it has a lock up torque converter and different valveing in the body. You'd do yourself a big favor if you could find a 3.00:1 rear gear. The slight amount you'd lose in mileage, you'd gain in grins.

You didn't give your location so I'm reluctant to mention header for your vehicle. Your '83 is covered by EPA laws. You would also have to fabricate a different AC bracket to gain clearance for headers. Several here have done it so it is do-able. At the very least add a cat back free flowing exhaust system. Your mileage may allow you to "Tamper" or "Modify" your stock exhaust system. The age in years may be close. If that's the case lose the cats for a "Test pipe" system. Some states are a great deal fussier than other about these thing.

I think the mods described above and in the other references will give you what you're looking for. In addition, bump your initial advance to 14 degrees BTDC- heck, do that now and enjoy the extra power and mileage 'til you rebuild. I think the stock setting for this engine in this vehicle calls for 10btdc.

Adios, David
Later when you want to bump up the performance a little more, you can search out a T-bird turbo coupe rear with 3.73 or 3.45 gears. It's a bolt in to that LTD.
Don't forget that tire diameter will affect your overall gearing. A tall tire with a tall gear will give you a really sluggish start. On my 66 Mustang Convertible, 200 CID and C-4, I went from the replacement 185/75-14 to a 185/70-14. It lowered the car and the gear ratio. My speedo is now about 5-6% high, but it was like putting in a lower gear. The engine is basically stock, but it lights up the tires nicely. :D