Rebuilding 97 3.8L Engine; thoughts on my cam choice - Mustang Evolution

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Old 04-16-2013, 05:51 PM   #1
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Rebuilding 97 3.8L Engine; thoughts on my cam choice

Hi guys,

I'm planning to rebuild a 97-98 3.8L. I'm not doing anything crazy, I'm looking at ported upper and lower intake, ported heads, a new exhaust system and a chip tuning. My goal is to maintain street drive-ability and keep peak torque as low in the rpm range as possible - ideally between 2k and 3k. My trans is an automatic and the only modification I have so far is a 3.55 rear end.

As far as cam specs go, I want to keep the lift at stock - so at or under .48/.48 - and I would like to minimize overlap and keep LSA around 110, ideally. A rougher idle is desired, but not necessary. I won't sacrifice lower-end peak torque for super lumpy sound. I looked at SuperSix, Tom Morana, and CompCam and found a handful of cams that keep lift within stock range - all durations are at .050:

**Stock Specs**
184/202 .43/.45 110LSA

Morana
210/210 .48/.48 115LSA

SuperSix
214/224 .46/.46 110LSA

CompCam
200/208 .48/.48 112LSA
204/216 .48/.48 115LSA

Keeping my performance desires in mind, I'm fairly set on going with the CompCam 200/208. My thought process is this:

According to Popular Hot Rodding, the optimal LSA for my build is approx 110, so I use that as my starting point, and am left with SuperSix's low-lift lumpy and CompCam's 200/208. The overlap on the SuperSix cam is pretty large, compared to the stock cam. So, the 200/208 is my next logical choice. I would prefer if the LSA was 110 for a rougher idle, but with that same duration the overlap goes up when the LSA goes down.

I still feel like I'm going to have a nice little lope to it, but not as much as a real hot rod. But, in the end, I'm not building a hot rod, I'm just building a conservative street engine.

First time posting, but I wanted to do my homework before I opened my mouth. What do you guys think? What have you put in your cars with a similar setup, and how did it perform?


~~Nick
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Old 04-17-2013, 07:14 AM   #2
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I'm also looking for a new gas cap. Any ideas?
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Old 04-17-2013, 05:18 PM   #3
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Sounds like you know your stuff already and it's all about what you want from the car. I can't help you much as I'm still learning myself but others will chime in
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Old 04-17-2013, 05:28 PM   #4
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Thank you for the comment, Sam.
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Old 04-17-2013, 05:31 PM   #5
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No problem oh and welcome to the forum. Only a handful of people that I know of here in the V6 section have the internal engine knowledge that you're looking for and some don't come online as much as others so maybe that's what's taking so long. So don't worry you'll get some awesome feedback sooner or later
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Old 04-17-2013, 05:58 PM   #6
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The compcam 200/208 would be a good one for your engine. Your ecu should rewrite itself but you should get a tune done anyway. Also your going to need hardened push rods and performance rockers too, it would be a good idea to get better valve springs too.
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Old 04-18-2013, 01:43 AM   #7
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You'll break factory valve springs with .48 lift, maybe not right away but it's a lot of stress on them, cheap upgrade = LS valve springs and gt spring retainers
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Old 04-18-2013, 11:45 AM   #8
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Thanks Red and David,
I'm definitely going to get different springs, but I was hoping that I could salvage the stock rockers, push rods, and lifters as long as they're all true and in good condition. But, as I read more and talk to people, I'm starting to realize that I shouldn't skimp on the valve train if I want this guy to last another 100k+.
That being said, I don't put a lot of trust in the necessity of the extras that a company tries to sell me. I know that some performance parts only make a difference when the assembly is revved 5k+ or with a super high lift.

My questions:
should I opt for OE replacement rocker arms? I can't find any performance arms with a 1.5 ratio. Just buying the rocker is half the cost of the rocker/pivot/bolt package. Can I reuse the pivot and bolt as long as there isn't any damage or excessive wear?

OE lifters? Melling is $30-$40 cheaper for a set than CompCam's.

I'm set on buying hardened rods and better springs. The compCam Beehive springs for LS engines seem pretty reasonable, cost-wise. On their site it says $155 and I'm ASSUMING that's for a set of 12. . .
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Old 04-18-2013, 05:20 PM   #9
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I can't see why you couldn't reuse the pivot and bolt, as long as their is no damage. You should be able to get away with using the stock rocker arms. As for the lifters, I would go aftermarket with those.
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Old 04-18-2013, 05:56 PM   #10
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According to what i've read you dont want to use the old lifters, you want to buy new ones. because of the way they wear it'll be bad for your cam. Can't remember if i read that off of SSM or somewhere else though.
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Old 04-18-2013, 06:37 PM   #11
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The stock lifters can't take the extra stress they will heat up faster and bend, and when they bend your valves will start hitting the pistons.
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Old 04-19-2013, 01:18 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Redstang19 View Post
The stock lifters can't take the extra stress they will heat up faster and bend, and when they bend your valves will start hitting the pistons.
LOL

I have stock replacement ones in mine, 6000rpms on a regular basis not a single ***** is given

Just go on AM get the set for an old 5.0, we use the same lifters as them

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Thanks Red and David,
I'm definitely going to get different springs, but I was hoping that I could salvage the stock rockers, push rods, and lifters as long as they're all true and in good condition. But, as I read more and talk to people, I'm starting to realize that I shouldn't skimp on the valve train if I want this guy to last another 100k+.
That being said, I don't put a lot of trust in the necessity of the extras that a company tries to sell me. I know that some performance parts only make a difference when the assembly is revved 5k+ or with a super high lift.

My questions:
should I opt for OE replacement rocker arms? I can't find any performance arms with a 1.5 ratio. Just buying the rocker is half the cost of the rocker/pivot/bolt package. Can I reuse the pivot and bolt as long as there isn't any damage or excessive wear?

OE lifters? Melling is $30-$40 cheaper for a set than CompCam's.

I'm set on buying hardened rods and better springs. The compCam Beehive springs for LS engines seem pretty reasonable, cost-wise. On their site it says $155 and I'm ASSUMING that's for a set of 12. . .
Stock rockers are 1.73:1... The best aftermarket set are the comp pro magnums (I run them on mine also) 1.7 ratio

I've see stock rockers take a beating, my friend still uses them on his turbo car.. But if you can afford it get the comps less worries and they are somewhat adjustable thanks to not resting on a seat

Stock pushrods are 7.150" btw
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Old 04-19-2013, 07:02 PM   #13
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Thanks David,

You're right, I misspoke about the rocker ratio. What do you say about their claim that they give you a 5-10 hp boost? I could see that better balancing and reduced weight in the rockers would reduce inertia in the valve train, but it seems like SUCH a small difference. I like them, though. SOLD!
One issue with the advertised ratio though, is it 1.7 or 1.73? It makes a difference of 0.01 for my cam. . .

Ghost:
As far as reusing the old lifters, I think it depends on the type of lifter: Solid lifters get a wear pattern associated with the cam and pushrod, so lifters and pushrods would have to stay paired if you were to reuse them, which I've heard is not recommended. Roller-hydraulic lifters, like the stock ones, usually don't get a wear pattern and can be reused if they look good and you're overhauling or something. But, I'm assuming that there's a price tag with reusing them, depending on how long they've been used and how aggressively.

I'm trying to be cheap with this rebuild, and wanna reuse as much as I can. But, I can't be a cheap@ss and get a quality engine that will last for miles like I want. So, I WILL be buying new lifters.

Also, I feel like a skinny@ss pushrod will bend before a 1''x2'' lifter bends. Maybe you meant collapse?
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Old 04-21-2013, 11:20 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by NickieNay View Post
Thanks David,

You're right, I misspoke about the rocker ratio. What do you say about their claim that they give you a 5-10 hp boost? I could see that better balancing and reduced weight in the rockers would reduce inertia in the valve train, but it seems like SUCH a small difference. I like them, though. SOLD!
One issue with the advertised ratio though, is it 1.7 or 1.73? It makes a difference of 0.01 for my cam. . .

Ghost:
As far as reusing the old lifters, I think it depends on the type of lifter: Solid lifters get a wear pattern associated with the cam and pushrod, so lifters and pushrods would have to stay paired if you were to reuse them, which I've heard is not recommended. Roller-hydraulic lifters, like the stock ones, usually don't get a wear pattern and can be reused if they look good and you're overhauling or something. But, I'm assuming that there's a price tag with reusing them, depending on how long they've been used and how aggressively.

I'm trying to be cheap with this rebuild, and wanna reuse as much as I can. But, I can't be a cheap@ss and get a quality engine that will last for miles like I want. So, I WILL be buying new lifters.

Also, I feel like a skinny@ss pushrod will bend before a 1''x2'' lifter bends. Maybe you meant collapse?
They are heavier than stock ones lol but that's part of the reason they are better, more strength but they provide better geometry in the valvetrain, they won't really give a hp boost..

The comps are 1.7 ratio but its such a small change it makes no difference really

The normal thought if you're 80K or over replace the lifters

I may have missed it somewhere in here but split port swap? Good for 40ish hp and old motors are cheap and everywhere
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Old 04-22-2013, 11:33 PM   #15
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isn't the low lift lumpy cam suppose to work wit the stock parts? I don't know how the low lift lumpy cam sounds. BUT My favorite V6 exhaust video uses a lumpy cam, LT headers, O/R H and flow 40's. Sounds pretty good in the video.
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Old 04-23-2013, 11:34 AM   #16
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David,

No, this is not a split port swap. I'm buying a junked 97/98 3.8 engine, rebuilding it, and throwing it in my 97. But, you got me thinking. . .

Could I instead get a 99-04 38, rebuild it, and put that in a 97? I don't know what trans they use, so I'm unsure on how it will bolt up + All the other BS I'd have to swap out. Or would it be easier to do the split swap? I'm still getting my parts list together, so everything is up in the air.

Lemons,

The LL Lumpy will work with stock rockers, but you need new springs. Since I have an automatic with no torque converter, I don't think my car will perform as well with the Lumpy. But, the idle would be real cool.
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Old 04-23-2013, 11:49 AM   #17
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The 99 3.8 block is the same. The trans. will bolt strait up. The difference starts at the heads up. Yes, a different cam also. If you get one from the recycle center(junk yard) you will have every thing you need. A few wires need to be spliced. The write up is probably in the archives or deep in a mustang form.
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Old 04-23-2013, 11:55 AM   #18
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And if I'm going to do that, I might as well look for a 4.2.
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Old 04-23-2013, 12:11 PM   #19
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And if I'm going to do that, I might as well look for a 4.2.
YOU would need a different oil pan. I am not shure if the headers are useable because the new 3.8s put the O2 sensor below the headers. You would have to reuse yours.The upper intake will not work unless you have a Cobra R hood. Look at my signature. And follow the 4.2 post. The 3.8 97 to 99 conversion is easier if you get a complete engine at a recycle center. Wiring harness included.
Is this too much for you?
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Old 04-23-2013, 12:15 PM   #20
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I always recommend a 4.2 swap if you're going to drop a new bottom end in the car, just as cheap as a 3.8 but you just have to get the proper oil pan, pick up tube, balancer, and flywheel/flexplate (neutral balance since the motor is internal)

You'll have the same 4R70W trans as they were used from 96-04

I have basically the "lumpy" cam in my car but has a 112lsa not 110, it's the actual comp version, you would notice a lack luster bottom end if you didn't have gears or a stall, after both though it works pretty good haha
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Old 04-23-2013, 12:29 PM   #21
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I always recommend a 4.2 swap if you're going to drop a new bottom end in the car, just as cheap as a 3.8 but you just have to get the proper oil pan, pick up tube, balancer, and flywheel/flexplate (neutral balance since the motor is internal)

You'll have the same 4R70W trans as they were used from 96-04

I have basically the "lumpy" cam in my car but has a 112lsa not 110, it's the actual comp version, you would notice a lack luster bottom end if you didn't have gears or a stall, after both though it works pretty good haha
You would get all the parts with a 1999-2004 mustang engine at a recycle center. Including 3.8 fuel injectors. I am pretty shure 4.2 fuel injectors don't work.
I don't know his budget that is why I went with a later 3.8 engine.
I don't want to be included in the cam debate. I do like a lumpy cam. The sound sells the 112 lsa cam. You need a tune from a pro to get this, regardless.
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Old 04-23-2013, 06:28 PM   #22
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I actually have a '97 shell and I'm dropping an '02 split port V6 in there. I know for sure you will need the gas tank and fuel line from the New Edge. As for exhaust it is all completely from the '97 just need to splice some O2 sensors
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Old 04-24-2013, 01:12 AM   #23
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By the way OP, if you're looking or someone to tune the setup for a good price Ortiz Performance has been tuning my built sixxer and has does an outstanding job, if you want his email pm me.

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You would get all the parts with a 1999-2004 mustang engine at a recycle center. Including 3.8 fuel injectors. I am pretty shure 4.2 fuel injectors don't work.
I don't know his budget that is why I went with a later 3.8 engine.
I don't want to be included in the cam debate. I do like a lumpy cam. The sound sells the 112 lsa cam. You need a tune from a pro to get this, regardless.
They use the same fuel injectors..

SSM Lumpy cam has 110 lsa Comp cam has a 112lsa.

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I actually have a '97 shell and I'm dropping an '02 split port V6 in there. I know for sure you will need the gas tank and fuel line from the New Edge. As for exhaust it is all completely from the '97 just need to splice some O2 sensors
For a split port swap you use an e150 (iirc) fuel rail so it retains its return style fuel system, so you don't have to modify anything else.
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Old 04-24-2013, 12:37 PM   #24
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Thanks Samuel for keeping my budget in mind. I'm expecting to spend some cash on this build, but I still want to be reasonable and don't want to get performance parts that don't make sense with my build. .

David,
You got me reading up on the Split Port design. At first, I thought that maybe having the dual runners would be like having huge ported heads on a street car - I was worried that it would only increase high-end torque and possibly reduce low-end torque. But, I found a good article that described the split port system and it settled some of my worries. For anyone interested, here's the article:

AutoSpeed - Split Port Intake Manifolds

I think I'm gonna go with a 4.2 rebuild instead of a 3.8. - it makes more sense. If I'm going to rebuild another engine and swap it in, I might as well bump it up as long as it's a reasonably clean swap - as opposed to dropping a 351W, lol. I know it's going to be more work, but it seems to be a well documented swap, and I think that I would be happier with it in the end. I don't think this will affect my cam selection either.

So, I should start looking for a 99-08 f-150 engine? I heard the 97's and 98's had some problems. Also, is it hard to make the f-150 chip work with the mustang?
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Old 04-24-2013, 02:29 PM   #25
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Yeah look for one from the junkyard that's been wrecked, less likely the motor will be bad lol or try LKQ if you can afford it since they come with a nice warranty.

What do you mean by the chip? You can run it on your stock ecu, just whenever you get a tune tell them it's a 4.2 now and not a 3.8 so they can scale the load tables for it
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Old 04-24-2013, 02:40 PM   #26
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I thought that since I have a 97, my chip wouldn't support the little valve that opens when you hit a certain rpm.

EDIT: or closes - I can't remember.
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Old 04-24-2013, 02:48 PM   #27
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I thought that since I have a 97, my chip wouldn't support the little valve that opens when you hit a certain rpm.

EDIT: or closes - I can't remember.
Ahh you're talking about the imrcs, you'll have to get a lower intake from a 99-00 mustang so you won't have to worry about it, and yeah around 3000rpms they open up
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Old 04-24-2013, 03:00 PM   #28
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I'm reading about some guys that wired a rpm activated switch to open the valve when it reaches a certain rpm. Which year mustangs use the IMRC? I could probably grab a lower off of one of those and use it, right? That's if I wanted to go that way.
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Old 04-24-2013, 03:25 PM   #29
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I'm reading about some guys that wired a rpm activated switch to open the valve when it reaches a certain rpm. Which year mustangs use the IMRC? I could probably grab a lower off of one of those and use it, right? That's if I wanted to go that way.
01-04 use it, you can if you want, I'm not 100% on it but I think you could swap out the ecu and engine wire harness and use it, if its not missing a pin on the ecu hook up, never really looked into that.. But hey I just deleted them in mine haha it's really up to you if you want to do the extra work on it.
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Old 04-24-2013, 03:33 PM   #30
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I'm thinking that having the short runner open all the time would affect the low-end torque. I'll look into swapping out the 01-04 ECU. I'm assuming it's a b!!!!tch.
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Old 04-24-2013, 03:40 PM   #31
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I'm thinking that having the short runner open all the time would affect the low-end torque. I'll look into swapping out the 01-04 ECU. I'm assuming it's a b!!!!tch.
It does to a degree, not really sure how noticeable it would be, my DD 2000 model feels just as peppy as my 02 did back when it was stock, to me at least, of course with the 4.2 swap you'll have an extra almost half liter of displacement to help out with torque lol

If the pin is actually in the wiring for it, swapping out the ecu is relatively easy, it's just behind the kick panel on passenger side, pull up sill plate under door (if it was closed) then remove push pin from back of kick panel, it'll slide right out, just a couple bolts holding everything together behind it.
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BV heads, P&P lower, comp 218/226 cam, 4.2 bottom end, 3k stall, flow 40's, O/R x-pipe, Pacesetter lt's, SCT xcal2 (93 Ortizperformance tune), Windstar upper, 65mm tb, CAI, 8.8 w/ 3.73's, SFC's, cut springs, KYB shocks/struts, MM LCA's
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Old 04-24-2013, 04:53 PM   #32
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Once you do the ECU exchange a parameter reset has to be done. You need to bring the old one to the dealership and have it flashed. This will fix PATS. Basically a transponder, key, instrument cluster, and ECU make up this system. You have to have two keys also or have them made. All the diagram is on this site, except for pictures. I have problems transferring pictures. Just do a PATS and dummies search. Basically the dealership is a requirement. Unless any one knows any tuner secrets.
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Old 04-25-2013, 09:54 AM   #33
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Yeah it's called get the tuner to turn off pats lol
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BV heads, P&P lower, comp 218/226 cam, 4.2 bottom end, 3k stall, flow 40's, O/R x-pipe, Pacesetter lt's, SCT xcal2 (93 Ortizperformance tune), Windstar upper, 65mm tb, CAI, 8.8 w/ 3.73's, SFC's, cut springs, KYB shocks/struts, MM LCA's
blower/new cam soon
Dealer for Ortiz Performance, great tunes at a good price!
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Old 04-25-2013, 10:11 AM   #34
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Would the car be useless until I get a tune then? Could it be driven?
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Old 04-25-2013, 12:19 PM   #35
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I'm sorry but I came in and read all of that and then..

"Also looking for a new gas cap."


I lol'd
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