Last month, we introduced you to our newest plaything: a Chevy-powered 1990 Mustang. As predicted, many of you had plenty to say. No, our mothers did not wean us on lead-based paints, and yes, we will continue to carry on with our normal workdays as you pummel bricks through our corporate office's windows. Now that we've successfully left the sour taste of a Chevy-powered Ford in your mouth, let's go ahead and get our LS1 (from a 2001 Camaro SS) fully situated in its new surroundings. Since a Bow Tie mill doesn't usually sit between the strut towers of a Fox-chassied Ford, it's obvious that there would be issues complicating the swap. With the engine physically in the car, the next few obstacles would require more detail-oriented, backyard engineering and fabrication skills.
The primary hurdle in placing a Camaro's T56 gearbox into a Fox Mustang, is converting the Ford's clutch-cable design to a system operated by hydraulics. An LS1 Camaro clutch pedal assembly places a stroke of 15/16-inch upon the master cylinder, which has a bore diameter of 7/8 inch. So, the goal was to find a way to adapt a Camaro's clutch master cylinder into our Mustang, make it look as factory as possible, and have it work properly without excessive fabrication.
After doing some research on LS1Tech.com, we discovered that 1987-1988 Ford Thunderbird Turbo Coupes were the only Fox-chassied car which ever came with a factory hydraulic clutch setup. Since these cars share the same pedal box dimensions as a Mustang, we have the foundation we need to make everything work. Coincidentally, we also found out that the Turbo Coupe pedal assembly produces 15/16 inch of master cylinder stroke-talk about a perfect match! Although you might think you can simply use the Turbo Coupe's master cylinder and hook up a hydraulic line, you can't. This is because the Turbo Coupe's master cylinder sticks about 8 inches into the engine compartment alongside the steering shaft, and when you've got a V-8 in there, the driver-side cylinder head is in your way.
Because the firewall grommet from a Mustang only serves to seal the engine compartment from the interior cabin, it doesn't have a steel backing for mounting the master cylinder (like a Turbo Coupe). The Thunderbird's firewall grommet is actually a rubber-encapsulated steel plate, to which you fabricate and weld a custom bracket to mount the Camaro master cylinder. We used a section of 1.25-inch pipe cut at 45 degrees, and some plate steel to make two mounting ears. Just go slow with your welder-otherwise everything made of rubber will be set ablaze. With the pedal assembly in place and the Turbo Coupe's actuator rod welded to the Camaro master, we were rewarded with incredibly smooth pedal action after a few minutes of heavy bleeding (some of it blood, most of it hydraulic fluid).
Our next issue was the shifter. As we mentioned in Part 1 (May '07), we mounted our LS1 powertrain as far rearward as possible, for better weight distribution and oil pan clearance. As a result, the shifter was now popping up approximately 6 inches too far back, in relation to the original shifter location. With the transmission tunnel cut, it was apparent we needed to get creative to make the shift knob sit in its original location, while peering through the interior's center console. Our best solution was to take our brand-new Hurst Short-Throw Shifter and cut the lever as low as possible by the base. Then we welded an extension to position the handle's attachment pad forward to where we wanted it.
As you can see, we've fabricated...
As you can see, we've fabricated and welded a bracket to mount the master cylinder from a Camaro to an '87-88 Thunderbird Turbo Coupe's firewall grommet, which doubles as a rubber-encapsulated steel mounting bracket. In the process, we upgraded to this McLeod steel master cylinder. Note that a Fox Mustang uses a cable to actuate the clutch, and the firewall grommet shown is only a thin rubber seal.
From under the dash, you can...
From under the dash, you can see how the master cylinder's pushrod is part Camaro, part Thunderbird Turbo Coupe. Together, they work the hydraulic clutch in our T56 perfectly.
From inside the engine compartment,...
From inside the engine compartment, we now connect the factory braided-steel line that has a 90-degree fitting (it's provided with the McLeod kit to give us better clearance away from the heaers, which will eventually occupy the engine compartment).
A custom driveshaft utilizing...
A custom driveshaft utilizing a Camaro's front yoke and a Mustang's rear axle flange was required to make everything work. This was the only part we couldn't make ourselves. But for $275, it was worth every penny to know that there's no need to question a part spinning at 6,000 rpm.
Last, we mounted a Camaro...
Last, we mounted a Camaro clutch fluid reservoir and snaked the hose through the original clutch cable grommet into the interior, to properly fill the hydraulic system.
After some cutting and welding,...
After some cutting and welding, we were rewarded with an offset shift-handle base to clear the Mustang's center console. Because the T56's shifter pops out about 6 inches more to the rear, we also had to cut the floorpan, as shown. But no worries, we've covered the open areas with new sheetmetal, and even installed both the lower and upper shift boots for a factory appearance.
The Camaro power steering...
The Camaro power steering pump will meet any need the Mustang steering rack may have. On the high-pressure side (arrow 1), you can either have a custom tube made, or connect the two with an inverted flare union. The return line (arrow 2), which works under much lower pressure, goes straight to the nipple on the pump's reservoir.
Incredibly, the Mustang 5.0's...
Incredibly, the Mustang 5.0's throttle cable can be used for an LS1. By slightly grinding the cruise control lever's mounting tab, you can clip the Mustang's cable right into place. With some minor tweaking to the bracket, you've got yourself instant throttle control.
The upper half of the shifter's lever was now clear of the console, so we filled the T56 with 4 quarts of Mobil Synchromesh fluid, made a filler panel for the gaping hole where the factory shifter used to reside, and moved on to the handle. To get a handle on things (sorry, we couldn't resist), we took the desirable rubber-isolated base of the Camaro's handle and welded the threaded upper portion of a Mustang handle, to retain our Mustang's shift boot and knob. With everything buttoned, it looks as factory as can be.
The Missing Links
A custom driveshaft was required to get our T56 mated to the Ford's rear axle. Because both ends use commonly available flanges and universal joints, we were able to have a local driveshaft shop fabricate a complete driveshaft without any trick adapters or big-buck components. We simply combined a Camaro front slip-yoke and a Mustang rear axle flange to a 3-inch steel shaft, cut to the exact measurement we provided. Because every car will vary, measure yours carefully, taking into consideration that the rear axle should be loaded as if the car was on the ground, and that there is about an inch of available movement fore-aft. Because this local shop normally deals with driveshafts for dump trucks, we felt very comfortable dishing out the $275 asking price. Once back home, it slipped right in as if it was factory.
Since the LS1 has simplified accessories and few vacuum hose connections, it was easy to adapt the ancillary mechanical items. The power brake booster connection from the rear of the intake manifold is direct and simple. The charcoal-canister purge solenoid just connects to the Mustang's charcoal canister on the passenger-side front framerail with a 5/16-inch hose.
The power steering pump uses 3/8-inch tubing for the feed and return. You can get custom lines made, or you can use the Camaro's high-pressure hose, cut off its GM/Saginaw fitting and mate it to the high-pressure hard line coming from the Ford steering rack. Because of the incredibly high pressure in this line, we recommend using a double-flare tool and a brass-inverted flare union for the connection. The original return line from the Mustang goes straight into the Camaro reservoir.
Getting the engine into place and hooking up all the mechanicals took us a little over two weeks. Now we're moving into the more time-consuming territory of electrical wiring and fuel systems. We're still winging the swap, but are on track to get this thing up and running into a solid 10-second piece.