2.3 turbo swap in an SC? - TCCoA Forums
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post #1 of 35 (permalink) Old 10-25-2011, 08:13 PM Thread Starter
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2.3 turbo swap in an SC?

Can this be done? I'm thinking more about the tranny then anything. I love the sc body but I'm not a fan of the 3.8.
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post #2 of 35 (permalink) Old 10-25-2011, 09:22 PM
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ANYTHING can be done. You'll just need to do a lot of re-wiring and probably some custom mount/driveshaft fabrication to drop that drive train in there. Since the Bird is heavier, I hope you're gonna mod the 2.3L for some extra go go...

Probably be pretty original! Good for you, I'd go for it!

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post #3 of 35 (permalink) Old 10-25-2011, 09:36 PM
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2.3 wont cut it, even with upgrades and a turbo. 5.0 is the way to go if you want to lose the SC motor. 5.0 upgrades can get pretty nice up in the power level all under the stock hood what more could you ask for.

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post #4 of 35 (permalink) Old 10-26-2011, 06:30 AM
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I say go for it! The SC already has an intercooler on it, but from what I am reading online the 3.8l transmission wont bolt up to the 2.3l I did find some info on this on turboford.com. There was an adapter plate to switch the 2.3l to SBF (3.8l, 5.0l) bellhousing bolt pattern, but its not available. So I would suspect you would have to swap a transmission from a TC/SVO also. I always heard the 2.3l turbo would run circles around the 5.0, but that's just hearsay. I havent got to drive a turbo 2.3l in the right manner to find out for myself.

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post #5 of 35 (permalink) Old 10-27-2011, 08:34 PM Thread Starter
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Ok thanks guys. I'll do a write up for it if I decide to do it.
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post #6 of 35 (permalink) Old 10-27-2011, 08:47 PM
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I always heard the 2.3l turbo would run circles around the 5.0, but that's just hearsay.
For the 5.0s of the time (late 80s) that would be true from a horsepower standpoint; the latest generation of the turbo 2.3s in the Fox TCs were rated at 190 HP and 240 Ft-lbs whereas the last 5.0s available in the Fox T-birds were rated at 155 HP/265 ft-lbs. Earlier years were less, 130-150 HP range.

The 5.0s in the MN12 were rated at 200 HP and 275 ft-lb and the 5.0s in the 88-92 LSCs were rated at 225 HP and 300 Ft-lbs (partly due to exhaust), so you get more horsepower and more torque than the 2.3, and the swap is already well documented and more straightforward.

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post #7 of 35 (permalink) Old 10-27-2011, 09:05 PM
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Originally Posted by theterminator93 View Post
For the 5.0s of the time (late 80s) that would be true from a horsepower standpoint; the latest generation of the turbo 2.3s in the Fox TCs were rated at 190 HP and 240 Ft-lbs whereas the last 5.0s available in the Fox T-birds were rated at 155 HP/265 ft-lbs. Earlier years were less, 130-150 HP range.

The 5.0s in the MN12 were rated at 200 HP and 275 ft-lb and the 5.0s in the 88-92 LSCs were rated at 225 HP and 300 Ft-lbs (partly due to exhaust), so you get more horsepower and more torque than the 2.3, and the swap is already well documented and more straightforward.
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post #8 of 35 (permalink) Old 10-27-2011, 09:09 PM
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post #9 of 35 (permalink) Old 10-29-2011, 03:15 AM
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What exactly do you not like about the S/C 3.8L? You have the horsepower and torque of a V-8, only with two less cylinders. I call that a win-win. Rebuild the long block and run some newer head gaskets, and you'll be good to go as far as tuning and modifications go.

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post #10 of 35 (permalink) Old 10-29-2011, 08:41 AM
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Well, I thought that too at first, then I considered the general high maintenance costs and less-than-average reliability of the 3.8 SC motors then it all seemed clear to me.

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post #11 of 35 (permalink) Old 10-29-2011, 12:21 PM
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Well, I thought that too at first, then I considered the general high maintenance costs and less-than-average reliability of the 3.8 SC motors then it all seemed clear to me.
I dunno about you, but I've seen quite a few reliable 3.8L S/C's. The 3.8 would be the smallest motor I'd put in such a big car. I really don't feel the TC/SVO 2.3 would be up to the task of moving such a car as well with out extra help. But that's just me. Once the head gaskets are replaced with better ones, reliability problems are moot. An S/C motor really isn't much more expensive to maintain than a 4.6 or a 5.0...and even the TC/SVO 2.3. The expensive part of maintaining an S/C is the suspension, the ARC shocks, to be more precise.

Now maybe it's the inner purist coming out in me, but I'd say run with the S/C 3.8. By the time you spent the money on the engine swap and getting the drive train set up right, you would have been able to make that S/C 3.8L a monster.

However, to answer OP's question. Yes, the swap can be done. But, you'll need to look at the MR=MC (economics for ya) approach to doing such a swap.

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post #12 of 35 (permalink) Old 10-29-2011, 02:12 PM
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IThe 3.8 would be the smallest motor I'd put in such a big car. I really don't feel the TC/SVO 2.3 would be up to the task of moving such a car as well with out extra help.
N/A being equal, yes, but the TC 2.3 outperforms the N/A 3.8s.

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post #13 of 35 (permalink) Old 10-29-2011, 02:39 PM
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I think if you're going to the trouble of installing an engine that was never intended to be put in this platform, you could do better than the pinto 4.

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I dunno about you, but I've seen quite a few reliable 3.8L S/C's... Once the head gaskets are replaced with better ones, reliability problems are moot. An S/C motor really isn't much more expensive to maintain than a 4.6 or a 5.0
The head gaskets constantly pop with factory gaskets and hardware. Studs are a must. The MLS gaskets require additional machining to the surfaces to seal properly.

The harmonic balancers grenade on themselves as well. Occasionally they even make a nightmare scenario getting the remains off the crank. Only option for the long haul is the BHJ.

The 89-93 ignition control modules are just plain junk.

They eat belts.

Oh and the spark plugs suck to change.

True you can build a monster but like most monsters, it wont be cheap or pleasant to live with.

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post #14 of 35 (permalink) Old 10-31-2011, 01:20 PM
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I wouldn't swap a stock 2.3T in, but one warmed over like mine could be interesting...

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post #15 of 35 (permalink) Old 11-04-2011, 03:07 PM
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Besides the head gaskets and harmonic balancer I don't think the 3.8 SC motor would be any more of a pain than the 2.3L. 2 things you can fix. MLS gaskets are the way to go but like Matt said you have to have the block specially surfaced along with the heads. I had Dan put the MLS gaskets on my 3.8 NA when he rebuilt it and it was worth every penny IMO for that peace of mind.

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post #16 of 35 (permalink) Old 11-08-2011, 01:14 PM
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Originally Posted by XR7-4.6 View Post
I think if you're going to the trouble of installing an engine that was never intended to be put in this platform, you could do better than the pinto 4.



The head gaskets constantly pop with factory gaskets and hardware. Studs are a must. The MLS gaskets require additional machining to the surfaces to seal properly.

The harmonic balancers grenade on themselves as well. Occasionally they even make a nightmare scenario getting the remains off the crank. Only option for the long haul is the BHJ.

The 89-93 ignition control modules are just plain junk.

They eat belts.

Oh and the spark plugs suck to change.

True you can build a monster but like most monsters, it wont be cheap or pleasant to live with.
There's a lot of generalizations here and I know you can find plenty of examples to support or contradict your statements. I will just post my experience, as some of it applies.

Blew stock head gaskets (and cracked a piston) at around 95,000 miles while trying to better my fastest bolt-on pass of 13.52 @ 101, which happened on the previous run. I blame myself and the circumstances for this.

Never lost a stock balancer, but went to a BHJ when I rebuilt the engine. A lot of balancer failures are from installing used balancers.

*knock on wood* I'm still running the original ignition module at about 130k miles

I've never lost a belt. I just change them as needed.

The spark plugs aren't bad if you don't have headers and change several of them from under the car.


Personally, I think you are creating a lot more potential for problems if you swap in a different engine than stock.

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post #17 of 35 (permalink) Old 11-08-2011, 05:34 PM
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I have headers and can change my plugs in 45 mins. Though unfortunately I am on my 3rd ICM (got life time warranty on the first replacement so no big deal). Belts have been fine, though I hate the fact you have to remove the lower radiator hose to replace the main belt.


While I like the idea of turbo 2.3 in a Mn-12 is not a good idea IMHO. Now a turbo I-300

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post #18 of 35 (permalink) Old 12-11-2011, 04:47 PM
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I know this is an old thread but I'm having fun reading up on these. I had an 88 Turbo Coupe 5 speed and a 93 SC auto. Even though it's a small detail it's another thing to add to the list, no way could you use stock rear gears from an MN12 in it either. My TC had a fun enough time moving around the 3400lb Fox platform with 3.73 gears, add 400 pounds (average) and throw in 3.27 or 3.08 or 2.73 rear gears and you would be putting your foot through the floorboard getting that baby off the line!
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post #19 of 35 (permalink) Old 12-16-2011, 10:06 PM
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those who say the 2.3 aren't up to the task are just misinformed, there's quite a few of them running in the 9s

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post #20 of 35 (permalink) Old 12-16-2011, 11:08 PM
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those who say the 2.3 aren't up to the task are just misinformed, there's quite a few of them running in the 9s
How much money would you have to spend to get a 2.3 turbo to run 9 seconds ?? ( in a MN12, not a fox )
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post #21 of 35 (permalink) Old 12-17-2011, 05:54 PM
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I only drive V-8's and above . But .......

I think it's a great idea. If you get a 2.3L engine/trany and wiring harness out of a pick a part , you could do it on the cheap . A ebay GT45 turbo for $250.00 . I beat the Ranger (4x4) and THUNDERBIRD mounts mixed up would do the trick . Pony Stock stock cars get 300Hp with no turbo on the cheap , they have to so they can keep racing . Not a down side I can see .
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post #22 of 35 (permalink) Old 12-18-2011, 09:03 AM
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How much money would you have to spend to get a 2.3 turbo to run 9 seconds ?? ( in a MN12, not a fox )
Not to mention how much weight reduction would have to be done.

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post #23 of 35 (permalink) Old 12-18-2011, 09:27 AM
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I'll say again.. I dont think it's a good match but I got no problem with the concept of seeing what you can get out of it.

Beats the heck out of doing the same thing as everyone else. Swap in a 5.0? Why? There is a right answer but most dont supply it.

And I beat my head on the keyboard every time some schmuck on the Blazer Forum says he want to put a 350 in his. Usually the same guy you have to tell how to change his spark plugs.. or tell him not to buy cheap fuel pumps.

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post #24 of 35 (permalink) Old 12-18-2011, 11:44 AM
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I'll say again.. I dont think it's a good match but I got no problem with the concept of seeing what you can get out of it.

Beats the heck out of doing the same thing as everyone else. Swap in a 5.0? Why? There is a right answer but most dont supply it.

And I beat my head on the keyboard every time some schmuck on the Blazer Forum says he want to put a 350 in his. Usually the same guy you have to tell how to change his spark plugs.. or tell him not to buy cheap fuel pumps.
We have a black S-10 pickup at the shop with a 350 in it. Hauls *ss quite nicely!

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post #25 of 35 (permalink) Old 12-18-2011, 02:49 PM
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Quote:
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I think it's a great idea. If you get a 2.3L engine/trany and wiring harness out of a pick a part , you could do it on the cheap . A ebay GT45 turbo for $250.00 . I beat the Ranger (4x4) and THUNDERBIRD mounts mixed up would do the trick . Pony Stock stock cars get 300Hp with no turbo on the cheap , they have to so they can keep racing . Not a down side I can see .
Then do it.

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post #26 of 35 (permalink) Old 12-18-2011, 03:31 PM
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Then do it.
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post #27 of 35 (permalink) Old 12-18-2011, 09:42 PM
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Me personally, I think the 2.3T was a great motor in the SVO Mustangs, but they are a lot lighter than our MN12's.

I would go with some sort of V8 with a blower or even a turbo if you want to go that route, I think you would like the "off the line" punch and the overall performance of that engine over the 2.3T.

Just my two cents, but it's your car - in the end do what makes YOU happy. Good luck on your project.

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post #28 of 35 (permalink) Old 12-21-2011, 11:52 PM
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Me personally, I think the 2.3T was a great motor in the SVO Mustangs, but they are a lot lighter than our MN12's.


Just my two cents, but it's your car - in the end do what makes YOU happy. Good luck on your project.

The MN-12 is only 150 lbs heaver than a 88 THUNDERBIRD with a V-8 . And both are lighter then some stock and faster mustangs . Besides , your all missing a big point , 250hp turbo four 90 THUNDERBIRD will out perform a Super Charged SUPERCOUPE .....any day ! The car should be close to 3,500 Lbs with A-C and a girl in the seat . Those V-6's are heavy as a 302 in some cases . Boosting a 4-cyl will give more power and be lighter with a older cheaper engine like the 2.3L . Stock car racers are getting 300Hp without the turbo , and that's better then a Explorer engine swap . And no matter what engine you use 250Hp will get you moving down the road course faster .
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post #29 of 35 (permalink) Old 12-22-2011, 12:03 AM
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Since we're committed to thinking outside the box ideas that will never happen, why even bother with a pinto 4 at this point? Why not put a turbo to the all aluminum DOHC 2.3 from a newer ranger? Even less weight, much better tech.

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post #30 of 35 (permalink) Old 12-22-2011, 05:02 AM
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Originally Posted by 90 sc 460 View Post
The MN-12 is only 150 lbs heaver than a 88 THUNDERBIRD with a V-8 . And both are lighter then some stock and faster mustangs . Besides , your all missing a big point , 250hp turbo four 90 THUNDERBIRD will out perform a Super Charged SUPERCOUPE .....any day ! The car should be close to 3,500 Lbs with A-C and a girl in the seat . Those V-6's are heavy as a 302 in some cases . Boosting a 4-cyl will give more power and be lighter with a older cheaper engine like the 2.3L . Stock car racers are getting 300Hp without the turbo , and that's better then a Explorer engine swap . And no matter what engine you use 250Hp will get you moving down the road course faster .
Unless your talking about 1/4 mile with a trans brake I'll take the torque the SC makes over a 250 peak Hp turbo I4. If you were using stock figures the SVO made 250 lb-ft @ 3200, verses the SC 315 @2600.
Peak Hp is meaningless on the street, torque from 2k-3k matters and that's were this turbo 4 would be a dog.

If all else fails get a bigger hammer!

93 SC Tbird
MPII w/ Plenum,90mm MAF, 85mm TB, 40# Injectors, 255 lph FP, Double IC w/fan, SCT Chip (Tuned by Jerry),3/4" Raised Top, F52-TT TC, SilverFox AOD 550, SPT-R VB
96 1/2 XR7 Sold and Salvaged
93 5.0 Tbird

Last edited by bowez; 12-22-2011 at 05:13 AM.
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