With the exhaust handled, Hahn dropped the Mustang back onto the ground and started on the topside mods by pulling the Autolite carb and original cast-iron four-barrel intake to get our air intake on par with the exit.
It’s called the “Performer 289,” so of course we chose it! Seriously though, Edelbrock’s #2121 low-rise, dual-plane intake is ideal for small engines operating in the idle to 5,500-rpm range like our 289, which had an original cam. And, of course, the aluminum casting takes significant weight off the top of the engine versus iron.
All the air and fuel in the world won’t do an engine any good if it can’t ignite it. To stay with our easy bolt-on theme, we left the stock distributor alone and installed one of PerTronix’s high-energy Ignitor III modules.
Speaking of ignition, the original coil was still lurking on the intake. These things can last forever, but their output is weak versus what's available in the aftermarket, and they don't fare well with multiple spark ignitions. We'll be swapping it for a canister-style Flame-Thrower III coil from PerTronix, which offers 45,000 V of power.
They may be known for their line of high-end race carbs, but Quick Fuel Technology also builds killer street carbs. Our choice for the little 289 is the smallest four-barrel in their affordable Hot Rod Series: the 580-cfm HR-580-VS. These carbs are designed for performance street use, but they still offer superior tuning with vacuum secondaries adjustable by simply turning a screw, four-corner idle, screw-in air bleeds with idle feed restrictions, dual-inlet fuel bowls with Quick Set sight windows for easy float level adjustment, and QFT’s four-door power valve with a strong diaphragm and blow-out protection.
Here’s our vintage “day-two” makeover on our 289. Atop the QFT carb is a reproduction 289 Hi-Po chrome air cleaner housing from Mustang Country with a reusable high-flow cotton element from Summit Racing. We paired that with a ’68-style chrome “Power By Ford” valve covers, also from Mustang Country. Note the stock-looking wires are actually PerTronix “stock look” performance wires that offer low resistance while keeping a vintage look. Our PerTronix canister coil is mounted with the original bracket on the stock A/C compressor bracket to keep it away from heat.
The QFT carb is shipped with a basic tune that should be very close for any mild V-8 like ours, and indeed it was. All that was needed was a little adjustment to the idle mixture by dyno maestro Joel Cady. Other than the slight adjustments to the carb, our only other changes were adjustments to the ignition timing. We ended up pulling out 4 degrees for a total of 28 degrees to get our final numbers.
After a leisurely weekend bolting on parts at Hahn Brothers Racing, we took the Mustang back to Swanson Performance to see what our parts were worth. The first thing we noticed was the throaty muscle car sound from the new Hooker and Flowmaster exhaust. The 289 sounded like so much more engine. It’ll definitely be a head turner at any cruise night.
The final SAE corrected peak numbers were 154.1 hp and 191.0 lb-ft of torque, and our engine’s rpm range was extended by 500 rpm. That’s very significant considering power being soaked up by the equally high-mileage C4 auto. It’s an educated guess, but we are pretty comfortable saying that the right choice of bolt-on power parts has our 226,000-mile 45-year-old 289 making more than its original advertised horsepower. But the real story is how much more fun it is to drive with the extra power and throaty sound!
We’d like to thank our friends at both Mustang Country in Paramount, California, and Hahn Brothers Racing in Stanton, California, who helped install and dyno test our day-two mods. At the end of the day, we spent about $1,700, which doesn't include the cosmetic mods, for an increase of 35 hp and 15 lb-ft of torque (peak-to-peak). That’s a pretty good deal for a 45-year-old engine, and should we decide to rebuild or replace the old 289, these bits can be reused for even more power!
10 Bolt-Ons To Glory
|Edelbrock Performer 289 intake
|Flowmaster American Thunder exhaust
|Hooker Competition headers (ceramic coat)
|Mustang Country 289 Hi-Po air cleaner
|PerTronix Ignitor III ignition module
|PerTronix Chrome 45,000 V canister coil
|PerTronix “stock look” plug wires
|Quick Fuel Technology 580-cfm carb
|Summit Racing air cleaner element
|Team C Performance header reducers
On The Dyno