Custom Modifications: Roll Bar

Hey there guys and gals and welcome to a new FJD Perfomance article!

We hope you are all doing well through these times and want to give you some love, thoughts and prayers from us here at FJD Performance.

Today we are covering the building of our Roll Bar built by Sal Molinare of SpecFab Racing! We got the bar built over the course of a couple days, but we spent about a year game planning the design and mounting points in the car.

We will let the pictures and craftsmanship speak for themselves!

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After getting the car home we took to masking, priming and painting. Of course we only had one choice on paint and that choice was Bright Atlantic Blue!

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A HUGE Thank You goes out to Sal and Richard over at SpecFab Racing for building the bar for us and for letting us be there to help build the bar.

Custom Modifications: Oil Catch Can

Hey there Guys and Gals, and welcome to today’s edition of Custom Modifications! This past weekend we installed our Oil Catch Can kit on the Mare, and boy was it a pain figuring out placement, and trying not to bake in this near triple digit heat! We started off by ordering a 6oz Catch Can from Turner Motorsports. You may not be familiar with that name unless you’re somewhat of a BMW fan because this part is actually made for cars like Elise, a E46 3 series. However most of these kits are universal, so as long as you’re willing to make modifications you should be good to go. I mean… this article series IS called Custom Modifications

We got the OCC on Thursday, and immediately went to the engine bay of the Mare to try and figure out where to fit this behemoth of a can. We tried in multiple spots using the supplied brackets, but nothing really seemed to work efficiently, and were too far away. It wasn’t until we realized that we had some aluminum brackets in the garage that would help us place the OCC behind the intake manifold on the firewall.

You may be wondering…

“Why go with the Turner can?”

“Why didn’t you just get a JLT or other brand?” or other questions that we could list, but really don’t care enough to type.

We got this one for these reasons: it’s bigger than most quality cans (coming in 6oz, 8oz, and 10oz); it’s the same price for all the sizes, no increase between the three (189.99); it’s baffled unlike most cans. The JLT ones did not have any of these perks, and the JLT was only 40 bucks less than the Turner kit!

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One of the potential locations for the can was under the radiator cover on the frame above the fan, but that proved to be not only inaccessible, but the distance the air would have to travel would be too far. The next couple locations were on the passenger side coil pack mount (which also proved inaccessible) and under the STB on the driver side on a bracket. The location under the STB would of worked if we found a way to level out the can more, but that was when we remembered the brackets in the garage that we used.

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We had the right amount of clearance and placement with the Aluminium brackets sitting in the garage, so they got the green light. We had to measure and drill into the base of the bracket so it would sit under the bolts the connect the back of the STB to the firewall. How the can sits now, it is completely accessible and serviceable.

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The fit under the hood is now ever so tighter with all this stuff in the engine bay, but it looks great nonetheless.

Crunch Time: New Clutch, Flywheel and Supporting Mods

Welcome to today’s post Guys and Gals; we’re talking about the installation we did this past weekend of the Mare’s new clutch, flywheel, throwout bearing, pilot bearing and clutch fork. Since we don’t know for sure when the Mare last had a new clutch and flywheel go in, it was safe to assume that the ones we had been beating on over the last 70k miles needed to be changed. We picked up a stage 3 SPEC clutch, Billet Aluminium RAM flywheel and Ford Performance throw out bearing and clutch fork for a smooth install.

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We started Friday by getting the Mare in the garage and tearing her apart. We started at roughly 7PM and finished up for the night at 2AM with the new flywheel and pressure plate mounted to the engine, the pilot bearing installed and the new FRPP throwout bearing and clutch fork in. This is exactly where we wanted to be for the night. First thing in the morning we headed to Livermore Ford to FINALLY pick up that ebrake cable. Needless to say getting the old cable remnants out and the new one in was a HUGE pain. After getting back to the garage we got the clutch in and the flywheel and pressure plate torqued to spec. Next were hours of sweat, pain, obscene amounts of yelling and profanity due to trying to get the transmission in. We had the trans fall on us about 4 different times while under the car, but of course we finally got it in the car and bolted up. We also took this time see what it sounded like to start up the car with open headers. It was super loud…

Since we had installed the MM firewall adjuster and quadrant the last weekend, it made for getting the clutch pedal adjusted just right. Even though the puck style SPEC stage 3 clutch material is Ceramic, it is super easy to use. The effort to engage is maybe 10 or 15% greater than the, possibly 100K mile, stock one in the car.

Like every time we have the Mare in the garage for extended periods of time we always take off the front bumper so we can have more work room and access.

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Next was removing the mid pipe and draining the transmission so when we take off the driveline we don’t have trans fluid gushing everywhere.

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We also took off the front wheels so that we had more room to work in the front, less weight on the front of the car, and so we could flush the brakes when we were done with the install.

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Shortly after that with help from a younger sibling we got the trans off and got to work replacing the clutch fork and TOB.

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Next we used our torque wrench and an opposing breaker bar on the crank bolt to get off the clutch and flywheel.

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We left the Mare in this state and ready for more work in the AM.

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Quick trip to Ford and picked up the 2nd most annoying install part of the day. The first being getting the damn T45 back in.

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Roughly 25 miles on the new clutch and about 6 different firewall adjustments later the Mare is all set and ready for the journey to Mississippi for the new power plant, but before that of course a wash and photo shoot with a DSLR was necessary.

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Crunch Time: New Fuel Pump, Clutch Quadrant & Firewall Adjuster

Whatsup Guys and Gals, in this write up FJD Performance is covering part 1 of a 3 part write up covering the work we’re doing leading up to our big trip for the Mare’s new engine.

This weekend we got our shipments in for our Maximum Motorsports firewall adjuster and aluminum clutch quadrant and our 340LPH Quantum fuel pump and High flow Viton fuel pump check valve. We won’t mention how we ordered a e brake cable from our local Ford store, and that they claimed the cable would be at the store Saturday the 2nd at 3PM and actually arrived today the 4th… nope, not salty one bit…

Anywho! Back to the installs!

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Being that we had to drop the fuel tank about 2 years ago, this was no big deal. However getting that 20 bucks we just put in the car the other day meant we had to drive the car quite frequently so we could loose some weight with dropping, and reinstalling the tank. Needless to say, we still had a lot of fuel in the tank, but dropped it anyways.

We got the car in the garage, chocked the front wheels and got to getting the rear of the car off the ground. We used a skateboard, some wood and a brake rotor box to keep the gas tank level and get it down, and out of the car without damaging the lines or filler neck and gasket (whoop, done that twice now!). Getting the fuel pump housing out wasn’t that hard, but we soon remembered the little rubber grommet/cap that got damaged last time was completely toast, so getting a new one that would work was one of the longest portions of this install. The actual longest part of the install was getting the hose lengths for the check valve to fit properly without kinking or getting damaged. Once the check valve was all squared away it was time to get the housing back in the tank properly (kind of a pain) and then getting that heavy ol’ tank back in the car. Complete install was maybe 1.5/2 hours.

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If you’re unaware: when starting the project of dropping your tank you have to unbolt the 3 bolts inside your gas tank filler door. They should be 13 or 10 MM sockets. After you unbolt those you have to unbolt the 8MM bolt holding the filler neck brace to the tank, and make sure the brace is on when you put the car back together. Once those are done get to the three 13MM bolts holding your tank to the chassis, and make sure you have something under the tank, like a jack, to lower it slowly. When it’s down enough to unplug the wires get them off and slowly push the tank the opposite side of the filler neck as you want to make sure you don’t damage the gasket. Using some lube can make the job easier. Make sure you can safely get the tank on the ground, and get the fuel pump housing out of the tank without destroying the fuel lines. You can always undo the lines from the housing, but being the Mare is old, and from Illinois (Its pronounced Ill-eh-Noise, Andrew), we couldn’t really get them off easily. Once you have it all off and out it should be fairly simple and straight forward. At least that previous statement should be true if you’re dropping your own fuel tank.

Sunday we tackled the Firewall adjuster and clutch quadrant. By the time we finished with the fuel pump it was already too late to start with the MM parts since we still had an appearance to make at a family party; First thing in the morning we pulled the Mare in the garage once again and started with the Firewall adjuster. We gotta say… the OEM firewall clip was the HARDEST OEM part to remove yet… That thing was a Dick. Once we had the clutch cable off the factory quadrant and out of the factory firewall assembly it was on to fitting and installing the MM firewall adjuster which, in all honestly, takes like 20 seconds. But why should all part installs be difficult? I for one like when its as easy as taking a breath. Next was getting the factory clutch quadrant off, which was a bit tricky because we didn’t want to break the assembly in case it needed to be reused. Once the stock plastic part was off it was time to install the MM part and adjust the cable.

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The project didn’t take too long to complete; we spent most of the time getting the plastic firewall clip off and after that it came down to adjusting the cable.

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Custom Modifications: Headlight Duct

That’s right boys and girls, we’re back with another custom modification to the Mare!
A few months ago we picked up a PLX Devices Kiwi 3 so we could do some data logging and diagnostics on the Mare while driving on track, and on normal public roads. One thing we noticed that was of slight interest was the IAT (Intake Air Temperature). The IAT would be fairly high during night driving with the headlights on as well as occasionally during normal driving. We would see temperatures between 115* and 120* with the lights on and sometimes 110* without the lights on, but it was easy to think of a way to lower those temps… Begin the modifications!

The passenger side headlight had been suffering for quite some time due to loss of clear coat, and it was starting to get real annoying, so it made sense to just cut it up and make a duct that points straight to that massive Bright Atlantic Blue JLT intake. First we took off the small nut that holds in the corner marker, and made sure not to damage the turn signal light harness as it will still be used on the car. Next we took to taking out the headlight. With the entire passenger side headlight assembly out of the car we were able to see exactly what we had to work with.

We had bought a 9 3/4 X 5 X 5 1/2 NACA duct with a 3″ outlet in the back to help direct all that air from the front of the car, and headlight, to the intake and a set of headlight covers to help make sure air is either going directly to the intake or around the car. By itself the NACA duct fit fine, but we had to find means of the whole assembly mounting and staying fixed in place. The headlight covers have tabs that wrap around the main head light, so we later decided to utilize where the covers mount and keep the front piece of the headlight. Keeping the front of the headlight also allowed us to use the mounting points from the headlight, so that made install easier and gives a piece of mind that it wont fall off on track or on the street.

We started cutting up the headlight, duct and cover and eventually found ourselves with the current duct. It still needs some minor touching up, but the job gets done regardless. The entire project probably ran 2 hours from start to finish. The harder parts being that when you cut up the headlight a lot of dust follows and it can make for difficulty breathing if you cant vent out your work place. We wrapped up the cover in the same midnight metallic blue we use for our livery, and that part also took a decent amount of time…

We’re looking forward to the results we get from the duct in normal street driving and on the track. Fabulous Fords Forever and Buttonwillow Raceway Park here we come!

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We plan to adjust the opening on the cover a bit more and smooth it out. After that we will also wrap a red ring around the opening, paint the remaining headlight piece black, and fill in the duct to assure its all one piece and there isnt any place for air to flow other than directly to the JLT.

New Parts! (Modifications): Christmas Special

The possibilities of getting presents from family is a lot less in comparison to being sub 15 years old as it is now being in my mid 20’s, so you have to sometimes be your own Santa. FJD Performance got our hands on a Ford Racing Sparco steering wheel and NRG 3.0 quick release for the Mare and boy do we love this thing! Check this bad boy out!

Yes we are aware that we “disposed” of a rather rare OEM Ford item (another little write up on that later), but there was no better time than now to make this much needed, and eventual upgrade.

We picked up this Ford Performance Boss 302S/Cobra Jet wheel from LMR, and put it under the for about 2 weeks until the time was right (if you know what we mean).

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the new wheel is not only newer, but smaller, weights less, and has a better connection to the steering shaft as opposed to the 10th anniversary wheel.

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unfortunately we do have the “air bag” light on, but it’s not the end of the world, and once we get a new cluster it wont pose any further problems; for now just enjoy the remaining pictures, and get comfortable with experiencing a little bit of jealousy.

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Custom Modifications: Ford Racing C-Spring Coil Cut

Coil cutting! The cheap and easy way to lower your ride! NOT RECOMMENDED!!

We had the Mare sitting on Ford Racing C-springs for a long time both with and without the polyurethane isolaters, and even though the elimination of the isolaters lowered the car about an extra quarter or so of an inch, we wanted “more low”. How could we do this cheaply? Well we cut an entire coil from the rear springs which would lower us about an extra half inch . DO NOTE: if you cut your springs you are increasing the spring rate since it has less travel and other geometry reasons that can be described in a more politically correct way. For visual reading purposes this would equate to say a 250lb spring rate increasing to say 300lb spring rate. These numbers are fairly inaccurate, but for sake of this post that should give the readers an idea of what we’re talking about.

First you must raise the booty
Also make sure you block the front wheels from movement and use a set of jacks

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Pull out the springs and make sure you know where and how much you want to cut off. We don’t remember off the top of our head the actual difference in height per coil, but we will say for this post that one full coil is half an inch.

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We DO NOT recommend taking a picture of yourself cutting and using a dremel. But by all means if someone else is get up in there like reporters and camera men and women do. We totally back you up for invading personal privacy. #NoSuchThingAsAPersonalBubble

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You may have to come from different angles when cutting the spring itself, but the most important thing is to remember that you’re exposing metal. And what do you do after you expose metal? Paint it! That’s right class!

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Next, wait until the paint dries and stuff those springs back into the car. They should fit in even easier than before since they’re now shorter. Bolt everything back up, torque to spec, and enjoy a lowered car and an increased ride stiffness! Later on you can question yourself why you didn’t just go with coilovers.

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Modifications: Bullitt Rear End Swap

Back when FJD Performance was still based at our home location in Hayward, CA we got to installing our~120K mile Bullitt rear end with factory 3.27 gears. The swap was straight forward, and fairly quick, but is definitely a swap recommended doing with 2 people instead of one!

When we first picked up the rear end it was in rough visual appearance. Frant took to sanding and painting as well as fixing the dust shields as they had been dented and disfigured from the rear end being previously stored outside. Nothing a good hour or so didnt help!

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Obviously if you find yourself in a position where you’re taking out the rear end on your car you should probably replace and/or rebuild parts like your diff, sway bar, control arms, bushings, etc. The Bullitt rear being from a 99-04 style car does give you an extra 3/4″ on each side of the diff which gives you a very nice flush look with specific wheel combinations and some much needed track width.

Custom Modifications: Fog Light Ducts

Wanting to still have fog lights for daily driving purposes and yet still run ducting from the fog light was a interesting idea, but one that could be obtained somewhat easily. This idea was snatched from the Dodge Hellcat which uses a headlight as a duct for the intake. We started off looking for lights off ebay that would of still maintained a “corona ring”, if you will, and had an inner piece that could be removed. After some searching we found some lights off ebay that would fit the fog light openings on the Cobra bumper perfectly and the development was under way.

We sent the parts to our in house tech, Will, over at FJD Performance’s shop HQ, and he quickly got to making them work. The fog light ducts were a complete plug and play due to the utilization of the 893 bulb harness and the OEM bracket was slightly modified to help make them fit. The ducts had great use both on the streets and the track, but ultimately the light portion of them failed due most likely to being a cheap Chinese product. While they lasted they did look totally bitchin’!

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Custom Modifications: GT500 Hood Vent

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**First off: Yes this mod WILL help more heat escape from your engine bay. How much more and how efficiently we do not know since we do not have access to a wind tunnel or whatever other equipment is used to find these statistics. If you want to do this purely for aesthetics then go ahead. Hopefully we can help answer any questions you have.**

Going into a track day with a predicted high of 103* and a potential overheating issue, FJD Performance decided that we needed to do something about getting heat out of the engine. So along with the install of new rotors, pads, fresh Wilwood DOT 4 brake fluid, and a Mishimoto racing thermostat  we had come to the conclusion we needed some type of vent to help extract heat. So with a shortage of time and tight finances, FJD Performance picked up a GT500 hood vent and went about the cheap heat extractor modification that many others in the SN95 community have done. With some help from our friends over at 2khlis Motorsports, the first person to put the GT500 hood vent on the SN95 hood, we got to work with less than 12 hours to complete the project before “race day”. Luckily the high dropped down to 96*, but we did not want to take any chances with such high heat, and high mileage.

First we figured out where we wanted to have the vent placed on the hood so that one: it would get a sufficient amount of air out, and two: that it wouldn’t be in a critical spot for when it rains in California, lol, that water doesn’t get on important electrical components.

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If you’re not fond of measuring well then…that sucks because if you want it to look good there’s lots of measuring that needs to be taking place… Taking it to a shop isn’t out of the question though. The question is what kind of shop would do that for you.

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We started by drilling holes all the way through along the perimeter of where we planned to cut out for the vent. After that we used a dremel and cutting wheels to cut along the lines.

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After cutting along the lines you will come to notice that your hood does not have the same amount of rigidity in it. If you choose to actually spend money and get a Trackspec vent then you don’t have to worry about rigidity because their vents help put it back into the hood. That’s where the expanding foam comes into place. You need to tape along the perimeter of the giant hole you just cut and try your best to maintain the same distance as there was before you decided to cut an ENORMOUS HOLE IN YOUR HOOD… *ahem* once you’re all taped up you can start poking the foam end into the hood and spraying inside. You will need to let the expanding foam cure over night, but after about 2 hours you can start to take the tape off. Do note that you need to spray both in front and back of the hood. Also if you were thinking “Yay! Weight reductions, Yo!” well think again. The foam actually adds more weight to your hood. So again Trackspec.

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This was post hood vent install, but we decided to fabricate a type of shield/cowl addition to the bottom of the vent to help get more air out and to protect those 20+ year old electrical components. We used thin aluminium sheets to create the — for lack of a better, politically correct word — cowl. We used a 2 part expoxy to mount the aluminium to the plastic vent.

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Custom Modifications: Tow Straps

Most legitimate racing organizations such as SCCA and NASA require drivers to have tow points on their vehicles in the event that someone goes off track and gets stuck or in the worst case scenario when something really bad happens and you need to be town off. Cars like BMWs are already fitted with tow points from the factory in both the front and the rear, BUT WE DON’T HAVE A BMW!

SO MODIFICATIONS AWAY!!!

We had taken off the front and rear bumpers before so it was no uncharted territory for FJD Performance. All we needed was to get a hold of a good drill and some metal specific drill bits.

we got in our tow straps from Cipher Auto

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Since we didnt have a universal bracket we created our own

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A test fit before drilling into the frame

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We started with pilot holes and then proceeded to drill the correct size. We utilize 2 holes on the front and one underneath for the front bash bar and in the rear one and one. After drilling we used paint to cover the exposed metal, and since our vehicle is originally from Chicago, IL we do have some rust in spots.

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Since the bracket extends we had to cut into the bumpers. Don’t worry, we cried when we cut the OEM cobra bumper too.

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luckily the only real use the straps have gotten are when we park and are too far from something and dont want to turn on the car again to move forward or back.

Custom Modifications: MM A-Arms with stock K-Member

Since we decided to upgrade the A-Arms along with the front coilover setup we had to make some minor modifications to the OEM K member. Why not just upgrade to a tubular K member you may ask? Well, we aren’t rolling in money and can’t do such a big project in a weekend and expect the car to be running fine for the upcoming week. So modifications!

MM states that you have to measure about an inch and a quarter from the center of the inner A-Arm bolt hole. You can mark the distance with a sharpie or a paint pen. Just make sure you clean the area a bit since there is oil, dirt, and other types of road grime.

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You can use a saw or an angle grinder to complete this job, but we used a dremel and cutting wheels. This did take some time, yes, and we did use quite a few cutting wheels, but we still got the job done. Do be aware it’s a good idea to wear: eye protection, a mask or cover for your face so you don’t breathe in any metal, and a long sleeve of sorts. Also expect to be laying down if you’re doing this on the ground, driveway, or garage.

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After cutting the K member make sure you have some paint laying around since you do not want to leave the metal exposed. We sprayed it with some high temp black paint from autozone.

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Custom Modifications: Fitment issues under the hood

When we upgraded the old, worn out motor mounts on the Mare to brand new MM solid ones we stumbled upon a small issue; that issue being that the new mounts pushed the motor up more than what it had been previously, and that meant we couldn’t run the factory strut tower brace (STB).

The search for a new STB began and we looked at MM, Steeda, Kenny Brown and a couple other manufacturers. After a few weeks of research and late night google picture stalking we finally decided to go and buy the Steeda STB, and upon arrival we discovered that the STB and the JLT intake were hitting one another (like the OEM) and that the holes didn’t quite line up correctly either, so after a few days of a salty attitude and wanting to get rid of the STB we decided, screw it, lets make some modifications!

In order for us to make this whole thing”fit” we had to do the following:

  • Take off the firewall panel
  • Cut part of the firewall panel to fit the STB in more towards the firewall (recommended by instructions)
  • Take off the JLT intake for spacing and test fitting
  • Open up/widen the bolt holes on the STB
  • Cut 1.5″-2″ off the JLT intake to move it inwards

The most painful and heartbreaking part of making the modifications was cutting up the JLT intake.

During this process we didn’t document that much with pictures, but we still have some pictures to show.

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We had to widen the mounting holes on both sides on the top holes and the front holes (facing the front of the car).

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Here is the panel where we cut in as well as these 2 mounting holes ones we had to widen.

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Where the JLT meets the Throttle body is where we had to trim off the JLT. You can kind of see how the silicone over the JLT is pinching up  on the bottom.

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Here you can see where the biggest issue came with the STB and the JLT. Even now they still touch, but in a lot less aggressive manner (it’s a more comfortable, intimate touch as oppossed to being packed like a can of sardines).

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As you can see in this pic the STB is VERY close to touching the top of the JLT, but thankfully it doesn’t touch it here.

Custom Modifications: Side Exhaust

When the Mare first was bought in 2013 we went with some magnaflow 4×9 oval mufflers and went with 4″ tips: once of which is still on the car today. Over these 5 years of ownership the Mare has undergone 3 different exhaust setups outside of OEM.

  • OEM 6 cat H pipe with stock 2.5″ pipes
  • Magnaflow 4×9 oval mufflers and 4″ tips (w/ 6 cat H pipe & Magnaflow O/R X pipe)
  • Magnaflow 4×9 oval mufflers with dumps & O/R X pipe
  • Magnaflow 4×9 oval mufflers with custom side pipes & O/R X pipe (Ver 1 & 2)

Setup 1
While this setup was the first one we did on the car, and it sounded great, 4″ tips was WHEY (see what we did there?) too big for the car. We had 3.5″ tips on the Black Stallion, Frank’s old 98 PI GT, which also had the same Magnaflow mufflers and a Pypes Hi-Flow Catted X pipe. We have been going to Minute Muffler in Dublin since we got the Mare, so you could call this our home shop for exhaust work and other misc. welding jobs on the car.

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Setup 2
With the 2nd setup we wanted something different and louder, although in retrospect dumping the exhaust may not have been much louder, but this was definitely one of the more fun setups we’ve had. Dumps aren’t really that exciting so…just…here’s some pics

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Setup 3 (Ver 1)
We had come across a rare and unique Ford item off CL one day, and when we noticed it was still available a few months after we saw it, Frank knew he had to have it. That item is what you guys know as the carbon fiber SVO side skirt we run on the Mare. We had the skirts on the car for a little while before we got the actual piping done, and when we did finally get them done we had went with dual offset 3.5″ tips (we later realized that the tips were just… a bit too big).

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As you guys can kind of see the routing of the pipes utilize the offset from the oval mufflers unlike the typical SVO/Roush side skirts where the inlet and outlet are on the same side of the muffler. With this custom set up it allowed us to run full length sub-frame connectors on the Mare as well as add some more weight to the rear of the car since the pipes route back towards the SRA.

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Ver 2
In the 2nd itteration of our setup we swapped from the 3.5″ dual offset tips to dual, non-offset 3″ tips which fit the side skirt opening better, so hopefully no more destroying the inside of the skirts

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We will go back and polish up the pipes once we have the new project car hopefully in March.