Zach Bowman, editor at autoblog.com, is working on a special Fox Body Mustang project – Project Ugly Horse. It is one of those projects that you just can’t stop reading about and following. If you haven’t heard about this project, let me get you caught up on work so far. Zach is attempting a special build with his 1989 LX Hatchback. When he inherited it, this Fox Body Mustang was powered by the very undesirable 2.3L four-cylinder with an automatic transmission.
Zach is not doing the usual 5.0L V8 swap and 5 speed manual transmission conversion that most four-cylinder Mustangs undergo – Zach is going to swap out the current 2.3L engine for a turbo charged four-cylinder engine. Now I’m sure you are thinking, what’s the big deal – plenty of Fox Body guys have swapped in SVO motors. Well this is where the project gets interesting! Zach is going to use a new Ford Racing 2.0L Ecoboost Engine (M-6007-20T) to power this Stang!
As if the engine swap wasn’t crazy enough, Zach also decided solid axle was to “run of the mill” so he is going with an 8.8” IRS rear end! After trading a few emails with Zach, I quickly learned that he comes from a family of innovators that don’t follow the usual hotrod crowd. In Part VIII of Project Ugly Horse build, Zach went on to say:
I didn't grow up listening to tales of big-block prowess. My bedtime stories glittered with chronicles of synchronizing twin 35mm Webbers, of shaving a Ford Racing dual overhead cam head until the first whispers of the manifold thread chases shone through the bare aluminum and putting a knife edge on a balanced crank. Grumpy Jenkins was no hero of mine. I was raised knowing there is a replacement for displacement. It's called engineering.Zach Bowman autoblog.com
After comments like this and engine selection for this project Mustang, I don’t think there is anything that will surprise me on this build but then again Zach is a guy that thinks way outside the box. If you are like Zach and you are tired of waiting on confirmation of a 2015 Mustang with Ecoboost, head on over to autoblog.com and read more about Zach’s Project Ugly Horse: Ecoboost Fox Body Mustang.
Regrets. You know, it's best not to think about what else you could have spent the money on. At the end of the day, I like this car and this project because it's so unique. Yes, there are plenty of challenges, and yes, if I'd just decided to put a 302 in the car I'd be driving it instead of watching it consume space in the garage, but the build is almost always more fun than the completion, at least for me. It's problem solving on a very large, complex and expensive scale, and that's a blast.Zach Bowman autoblog.com
The biggest challenge is that this simply hasn't been done before. One of the great joys of putting together a Mustang is that nearly every conceivable drivetrain combination has been attempted and documented in the past, so there's a massive wealth of knowledge out there to use to your benefit. That's not the case with the Ecoboost swap. Fortunately, the guys at Maximum Motorsports have been hugely helpful in sharing what they know about the Fox Body and giving me solid leads on how to overcome the most obvious hurdles. The biggest of those right now is engine control. There's only one company out there right now who can build a reliable stand alone ECU for a direct-injection engine like the turbo 2.0, and they want more for their product than I have in the whole UH project. Fortunately, there may be other solutions on the horizon. Stay tuned.Zach Bowman autoblog.com
I can say that most of the major hurdles to installing the engine and getting it to function reliably have been solved. At this point, it's only a matter of coming up with the money, courage and time to fit everything together. There's still a wide possibility that I won't be able to get all the bits to play nice, but it's looking more and more like this will be a viable repower option for those who want more handling than power out of their Mustang. Stay tuned, it's going to be a hell of a lot of fun.