Ford Alphabet Cams: Everything You Need to Know About 303 Cams

If you are building up a Fox Body Mustang, chances are that you’ve heard of the Ford Racing cams (E303, B303, ETC.), commonly referred to as the “alphabet cams”. Each camshaft has it’s own pros and cons, and each will perform best at different things. Before I tell you about the alphabet cams, you should know that these cams were all designed over 20 years ago, and designed for the masses. They are also known for poor quality control and are lacking in power output compared to modern aftermarket cams.

Modern age technology has allowed companies like Anderson Motorsports to develop camshafts strictly using computer programs to figure out what performs and what doesn’t.

With that said, Alphabet cams are still good cams, especially if you’re on a budget. However, they are technologically inferior to modern camshafts.

Ford Racing Cams

E303 Camshaft

The E303 camshaft is the mildest of the ford racing cams as you might be able to tell from the specifications. It’s known for its excellent street ability and decent track performance.

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The E303 camshaft provides plenty of torque way down low for great driveability but at the cost of absolute top end power. I personally love this cam for a daily driven Fox Body Mustang. However, the lack of sheer top end power makes it less desirable if you plan on doing any racing.

  • Street

B303 Camshaft

The B303 camshaft is a nice step up from the E303 cam. It retains the excellent street ability but moves the peak power up a couple thousand RPMs. This helps improve top-end power, but it loses a small amount of torque down low. Personally, I think te B303 is the best street cam, especially if you plan on doing any sort of street racing.

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The B303 camshaft is often used in various motorsports, because of its mid-high rpm power. If you plan on doing absolutely zero racing whatsoever, this camshaft might not be the best fit. However, most of us have the occasional street race where that extra horsepower up top is necessary.

  • Street/Track

RELATED: Top Cheap 5 Mods for Your Fox Body Mustang

F303 Camshaft

The F303 camshaft is loosely referred to as the “boost” cam because the F303 cam makes the best power under forced induction when compared to all the other alphabet cams. There’s a whole host of reasons why it makes good power under boost, but that’s not something we’ll dive into in this article.

F303 Cam

Unless you’re planning on boosting your Fox Body don’t even bother with the F303 cam. Although it’ll make way more power than the stock camshaft, it won’t make the same naturally aspirated horsepower as the other alphabet cams.

  • Forced Induction

X303 Camshaft

The X303 camshaft is basically a dedicated track cam. It has less duration than the F303 cam, but it has the most lift out of all the alphabet cams. The X303 camshaft is not very street friendly and makes most of its power way up high in the RPMs.

X303

This cam won’t perform all that well without a set of high flowing aluminum heads.

  • Drag Strip

Z303 Camshaft

The Z303 cam is a lot like the X303 in the sense that it’s really designed for off-road track use. It has the longest duration and highest lift out of every 303 cam at 228 intake/228 exhaust and 0.552 intake/0.552 exhaust. Just like the X303, the Z303 isn’t very street friendly.

As with all big cams, the Z303 really won’t perform as you might expect without a set of aftermarket heads. With the smaller cams such as the E303 stock heads will work okay, but with big cams, you really need to upgrade the heads.

  • Drag Strip

The Down Side

Like I mentioned earlier, these cams are very outdated. They were designed with single plane technology and were built for the masses. Modern technology has allowed speed part companies to develop camshafts that make more power, more torque, and are more drivable.

The alphabet cams are also notorious for their terrible quality control which results in cam lobes that are all slightly different than each other. I had an E303 cam in my Fox Body, but if I were to do it again I would go with a modern camshaft.

The Importance of Cylinder Heads

If you just install an alphabet camshaft and nothing else, expect to be disappointed. The stock cylinder heads on the 5.0L are terrible. Even if you port and polish them, they still suck. To get the most of out an alphabet cam, especially an X303, you need to install a set of aftermarket cylinder heads.

RELATED: 7 Reasons the Fox Body is The Ultimate Muscle Car

The common upgrade is GT-40 heads. They are better than the factory Fox Body heads, but they aren’t all that good either. A set of aftermarket aluminum cylinder heads will do wonders for your 5.0L.

My Fox Body has a set of Edelbrock E-Series street heads. Combined with the E303 camshaft it made a ton of horsepower and a ton of torque. Although it was never dynoed, I would guess that it made 300whp.

Conclusion

The E303 is an awesome street cam, making power down low. The B303 is a good motorsports cam, making power in the middle. The F303 is an awesome cam for sub-600hp forced induction engines. The X303 is a great drag strip cam, making lots of power up high.

The reason all of these cams are popular is because they’re dirt cheap, ranging from $100-200, and make decent power especially when paired up with a set of high flowing aluminum cylinder heads.

However, I personally recommend spending the extra money and getting a modern camshaft that has a dual-plane lobe design. Or better yet, a custom made cam to match your driving needs and cylinder head flow.

Fiesta ST: Our Full Review – The World’s Hottest Hatch?

Ford took the US hatchback market by storm when they released the Focus ST, and Fiesta ST. Enthusiasts overseas have enjoyed the Fiesta ST since 2008, but in America, we had to wait until 2013 to get the Fiesta ST. The Fiesta is meant to be the perfect blend of performance and practicality. But, does it really live up to all the hype?

Powertrain

Luckily Ford didn’t use the standard little engine in the ST model. Ford equipped the Fiesta ST with a 1.6L EcoBoost that outputs 197 horsepower and 202 lb-ft of torque. But, these numbers are pretty conservative. Many dyno tests show the Fiesta ST making around 180 whp and 220 wtq (210 hp and 250 lb-ft). However, the important part here is that the Fiesta ST makes peak torque at 2,500 RPM.

This is enough to propel the ST from 0 to 60 in about 7 seconds. I know what you’re thinking, 7 seconds in slow as hell. The BRZ/GT86 does the same 0 to 60 and it feels slow, but the Fiesta ST feels really fast from the driver’s seat. You can punch the throttle in almost any gear at any RPM and the torque will kick in immediately. That’s what makes the little Fiesta feel so incredibly fast.

The Fiesta really does feel like a fast car from the driver’s seat, and it pulls crazy hard out of a corner. It’s the perfect power level that you can drive really hard, but as long as you don’t go crazy you probably won’t get into trouble with the law. Getting on the gas in the Fiesta ST will make any occupants grin because of how fast it feels.

Of course, as car guys we always want more, so a “Stage 3” kit will be in the future for our Fiesta ST. But, for the average Joe, the stock power level on the Fiesta ST is more than enough to have a great time with. We feel the Fiesta deserves a 9/10 in the powertrain division.

Suspension/Handling

Ford’s ST team did an excellent job making the Fiesta handle like a real sports car. It handles better than many rear-wheel drive sports cars on the market today. Most of this is due to their suspension tuning, but Ford also added a powerful high-end performance technology to make the Fiesta ST handle like a dream.

Often times to make a front-wheel drive car handle well you need to have a super stiff rear sway bar and a not-so-stiff front sway bar. You can tell that Ford used this design philosophy because the Fiesta ST loves to lift the inside rear wheel mid-corner.

The problem is that the spring rates and/or dampers aren’t tuned properly for city usage. The Fiesta is just far too stiff for the street. Seriously sometimes it feels like my 1985 Suburban on a 4″ lift would’ve ridden better. Many suspension companies are claiming to get better ride quality with no sacrifice in handling on the Fiesta with coil overs or lowering springs.

Ford didn’t just use suspension tuning to make the Fiesta ST go fast. Expensive AWD sports cars like the Mitsubishi EVO use a highly advanced torque vectoring system. Torque vectoring send power to the outside wheels to help to car rotate in the direction you’re turning. The only problem is that a torque vectoring system is very expensive. The cheaper alternative is to brake the inside wheels, instead of powering the outside wheels. That’s all brake vectoring really is.

This system allows the Fiesta ST to out corner most high-end sports cars at the cost of wearing your brakes very fast. If you plan on going to the track don’t expect much more than 15k miles out of your brakes pads. This doesn’t bother me a huge amount just because of the massive performance benefits, but for some, this could be a deal breaker.

All of these things combined make the Fiesta ST a great little canyon carver or weekend track toy. Mid-corner rotation is determined by throttle input, making it very easy for beginners to absolutely shred a mountain road in it. If you’re brave enough you can begin to master 4-wheel drifting the ST throughout a corner. The over-steer is very predictable and requires no steering input to correct, just throttle input. We think the Fiesta ST deserves a solid 9/10 in this category.

Practicality

Ford advertises the Fiesta ST to get 26 MPG city and 33 MPG highway. I’ve found that quite a few people are complaining that the ST actually gets horrible gas mileage. I think it’s fair to attribute this to the ST’s fun to drive nature, which makes it hard to keep your foot out of the throttle.

Initially, when I bought the Fiesta ST I was averaging 25 MPG combined, which is in line with many claims that Ford lied about its fuel economy. But, after driving it for a week I’ve begun to drive it like a normal human would and my fuel economy jumped up to 30 MPG. Keep in mind that I rarely drive on the highway. If you keep your foot out of the throttle the little Fiesta will seriously impress you with its fuel mileage.

The trunk is pretty small, but for what I put in there it’s just fine. The only things I put back there are tools, a backpack, and occasionally random Jeep parts that I need to deliver. If you need space for2 large amounts of groceries or something you might want to look at a Focus ST. We rate the practicality 9/10.

Exterior Styling

The standard Ford Fiesta is what most people wouldn’t consider a good looking car. It just looks like another small car designed for commuting and nothing else. This is especially true with the Fiesta sedan which, quite frankly, is a really ugly car. Ford solved this issue with a simple body kit, which completely transforms the outside of the Fiesta.

The body kit of the ST uses a new front bumper, side skirts, rear bumper, and wing. The front bumper uses a giant fish-like grill to help with cooling, and the lower redesign helps it cool the intercooler. The side skirts make it looks lower and more aggressive, as does the rear bumper. The rear wing makes it look like a proper little rally car, and it’s also functional at providing downforce!

I’ve heard a few automotive journalists complain that the styling of the Fiesta ST makes it look larger than it actually is. I have to agree with them because the ST does look like a big car. It’s not until you look directly at the front that you realize the Fiesta ST is very narrow and very small. I think Ford hit an absolute home run with the styling of the Fiesta ST, for this reason, we give it 10/10 in the looks department.

Interior

The interior on the Fiesta ST is pretty basic. Ford has seriously increased the quality of their interiors in the last five years. But, the Fiesta ST is still based off of the cheapest car that Ford makes. There are a lot of cheap plastics everywhere, but that parts that you touch feel pretty decent. Our Fiesta ST isn’t equipped with the optional Recaro seats, but the standard seats are somewhat decent. Hopefully, sometime in the future, we will be upgrading to the Recaro seats because they are truly awesome.

My only real problem with the interior is the seating position. I cannot seem to find a position where the wheel is near me, but my legs aren’t scrunched up. Rear seat room is better than I expected, but it’s still pretty small. I can fit behind myself, but my legs have to be on the sides on the seat because they can’t fit directly behind it.

The interior accent lighting is a really nice feature, and honestly, I think all cars should come with accent lighting. It really makes the car feel alive at night, looks awesome, and is functional. Overall the interior of the Fiesta ST is pretty darn good for a $20k car, but it’s still a cheap car interior at the end of the day. The Fiesta ST earns 9/10 for its interior.

Build Quality

Build quality is pretty decent for a $20k car. There aren’t any interior squeaks or rattles and our Fiesta is all the way up to 24k miles now. But the fact that the Fiesta is the cheapest car Ford makes is starting to show itself. The grab handle trim on the door panel moves a tiny bit, and it makes it feel super cheap.

The transmission makes a slightly audible noise when shifting gears, but I figured that could possibly be normal. The gas peddle hasn’t worn out so well, but that’s sort of expected once you start racking up miles. The paint, however, is probably the worst part on the build quality. The paint seriously seems to chip from anything, which is really frustrating.

Other than those few small issues, the build quality of the Fiesta is pretty darn good considering it’s the cheapest car Ford makes. If they could up the paint quality in the coming years I would probably consider the Fiesta to be a pretty high-quality car. But, with the paint issues, I would consider the Fiesta’s build quality to be pretty average. Build quality is 7/10.

The Things I Don’t Like

The Fiesta isn’t absolutely perfect, and there are a few things about it that bug me. The lumbar support adjuster is on the right side of the driver’s seat. I have heard of a few people hitting their arm on it when the shift, but I don’t seem to have that problem. The seating position is also a little goofy; in order for me to have the wheel close to me, my legs have to be a little scrunched up.

I wish there was a little more interior storage, but that’s a little hard to ask for with a car this small. The center console isn’t very big, just tall. Plus a big chunk of it is dedicated to the USB/Aux/SD Card slots. The front storage compartment in front of the shifter is basically useless. Not only is it small, but anytime you accelerate whatever you put in there will slide out.

Another thing I really don’t like is how small the entertainment display is, and I don’t like where it’s positioned. Once again it’s a little hard to complain about this considering the Fiesta is the cheapest car that Ford makes. But, I wish the entertainment/info display was larger, and a little closer to the driver.

The ST’s suspension allows it to handle awesome, but it rides like a dump truck. Interestingly enough many ST owners are reporting better ride quality when switching to coil overs or lowering springs. I understand why the ST is so stiff, but I feel like Ford could’ve tuned it a little bit better.

Why A Fiesta ST Could Be Right For You

The Fiesta ST could be right for you if you need one car that can do it all. Something that gets amazing fuel economy, can out handle most rear-wheel drive sports cars and is practical for everyday usage. But if you have children you may want to look at the Focus ST for the rear leg room. Since I don’t have any children it made sense for me to buy the Fiesta ST.

Summary

Overall I really enjoy the little Fiesta ST. It’s the perfect blend of a practical city car and a high-performance sports car. Although there are a few minor let downs in the quality, you need to remember that it’s based on the cheapest car that Ford makes. But the slight quality issues aside the Fiesta ST is serious fun to drive and is pretty darn quick when the road gets twisty thanks to its suspension tuning and brake vectoring. One day in the future I’ll probably upgrade to a Focus RS, but for now, the Fiesta ST is the perfect car for me, and it could be the perfect car for you.

One day in the future I’ll probably upgrade to a Focus RS, but for now, the Fiesta ST is the perfect car for me, and it could be the perfect car for you. All things considered, we give the little Fiesta ST 8.6/10 stars.

Edit – Summer 2017

Temperatures in Phoenix are reaching 100* now, and the stock intercooler is showing its limits. What sucks is that it’s only going to get even hotter. Temperatures can easily reach 115* during summer time. The stock intercooler is getting heat soaked pretty bad and the car is noticeably much slower. The blow-off valve is also quieter, probably because it’s running less boost because the air is just so insanely hot. An upgraded intercooler is definitely coming this summer.

Fiesta ST: Three Features You Didn’t Know About

After about a week of owning my Fiesta ST I have found some things that I never knew about it. I thought I knew this car inside and out from all the reviews I’ve read, but I was wrong. Here are the three things I’ve found that you probably also didn’t know about.

Interior Lights

I’m not completely positive that every Fiesta has this feature, but mine has some pretty nifty interior lighting. I was cruising down the road and decided to see what this random button did, and it turned the foot area on the floor red! You can cycle through and choose from eight different colors, but favorite is red. It illuminates driver, passenger, and rear passenger foot wells, as well as the cup holders and little slot above the glove box.

Hill Start Assist

Right as I left the dealership in my Fiesta ST I was immediately confronted with a hill I had to stop on. I am comfortable hill starting in most manual transmission cars. But I still wasn’t very familiar with the car so I was pretty nervous. Right as I let off the brake and began to let the clutch out I noticed it didn’t roll backward. I thought maybe the hill was less steep than I initially thought, but upon further investigation I found that to be incorrect.

I scrolled through the setting menu and found a little setting called “hill start assist”. As you might’ve already figured out, hill start assist will temporarily hold the foot brake while you release the clutch. The result is you not rolling backward at all when you have to start on a hill. Not sure if this is a common feature on new manual transmission cars but its very new to me!

Rev Hang/Matching

Occasionally I will hear people complain about “rev hang”. You know when you rev your engine up and it decides to hold itself at that RPM for longer than you’d like. In the case of the Fiesta ST the whole rev hang issue isn’t much of a problem. But, it seems like the Fiesta ST helps you smooth out your shifts. Shifting from third to fourth, you’ll find that once you put the clutch in, the revs hang at the correct RPM for fourth gear before you actually let out the clutch.

It’s a little hard to explain, but basically, the Fiesta ST helps you smooth out your upshifts. Downshifts, however, are completely dependent on you being smooth.

Summary

So, those are the three weird and somewhat hidden features of the Fiesta ST that I didn’t know about. The interior has some pretty cool boy racer lighting, hill start assist will save you on those steep hills, and the engine computer helps smooth out your upshifts. As I find more weird things about the Fiesta I will continue to update this article.

Ford Fiesta ST: Our Initial Thoughts

As you may know, I just recently purchased a 2015 Ford Fiesta ST. My whole life I’ve been driving very cheap automobiles. My most recent vehicle was a 1992 Jeep XJ Cherokee, which I drove for the last year. Coming from cheap crappy vehicles, the Fiesta ST is very foreign to me.

The Fiesta ST has been praised by automotive journalists for being fun to drive since it came out. It’s lightweight chassis and torquey engine were major selling points. It’s been hyped up to be this amazing benchmark for hot hatch performance. But does it live up to its own legacy?

Interior

Initially getting into the interior of the Fiesta ST I noticed one thing, nothing was broken. Everything worked, including heat and A/C! The seats were incredibly comfortable, and the factory Sony sound system sounded great. The Ford entertainment system took some getting used to, although I was familiar with Mercedes’ entertainment system so I wasn’t completely lost.

Interior quality is pretty good, but it’s not something like a Mercedes. The seats are pretty comfortable, but the one we tested wasn’t optioned with the Recaro bucket seats. Once you start looking around you’ll notice almost everything is made of plastic. The touch points all feel good, but the non-touch points are where Ford saved money on this car.

Interestingly enough the Fiesta has more interior space than you might expect. I’m 6’2 and I can comfortably fit in the front, and fit in the rear. Although the rear is slightly cramped, I could definitely sit back there for quite a while. Overall the interior of the Fiesta felt like a very nice place to be. Especially coming from old Jeep interiors.

Exterior

The exterior styling feels like a small WRC hatchback. It’s the same feeling you get when you look at a WRX hatch. It just looks like a pissed off little rally car. It shares the same sea creature looking front fascia with the Focus. The body lines are also pretty similar to the Focus, but the Fiesta just looks anger.

What’s interesting is that standard Fiesta hatchbacks really don’t look that good at all. Ford did a really good job making the ST stand apart from its base counterpart. The front grill looks much more aggressive, and the body kit screams rally car. I’m not sure if the rear wing actually provides any real downforce, but it sure looks cool.

Practicality

The Fiesta is also very practical. It gets pretty good fuel mileage, can seat four adults and has a decent sized trunk. Like I mentioned above, I’m 6’2 and I can fit behind myself in the Fiesta. But it wouldn’t be very comfortable for longer drives.

In the first couple days of driving the Fiesta ST I was averaging about 25 mpg. I couldn’t keep my foot out of the throttle and ultimately my mpg suffered. After I reset my average mpg and driving a little less crazy everywhere I was able to manage an impressive 30 mpg combined. That 30 mpg also includes the canyon driving featured in the video below.

Performance

The whole reason anyone buys this car is for its performance. Although I’ve driven faster cars, I’ve never driven a car so frantic and fun. Everywhere you go the subtle turbo noises egg you on the go faster. When boost comes on you can’t help but put your foot into the throttle farther.

You can fling the little Fiesta into a corner at ridiculous speeds and it just loves it. The Fiesta is like a little puppy that just wants to keep playing. It always wants to go fast, it always wants you to push harder and harder. At my absolute personal limits I could tell the Fiesta was nowhere near its limits. It will definitely take a few Autocross events to find the Fiesta’s limit.

Summary

This car had a lot to live up to after all the good things I’ve heard about it online. Quite frankly it’s even better than I expected. I never knew you could have so much driving a front wheel drive hatchback. The tiny turbo provides tons of torque way down low in the RPMs, and the amazing suspension setup allows it to corner like a dream. I liked it so much that I actually ended buying it.

First Time I Bought New Car: Here’s What Happened

If you’ve read some of my personal automotive stories, you may have noticed I tend to own super cheap cars. But, that all changed yesterday (Jan. 19) when I got my first nice car.

Why Did I Get a New Car?

Before we dive further, I would like to tell you on why I needed a new car. I love my Jeep to death, but in a few weeks, I will begin attending school for web development. The school is about 30 minutes from my house, and work is about 20 minutes from my house. I don’t really mind spending extended periods of time in my Jeep, but my wallet does.

My Jeep average about 10 mpg. Plus it breaks all the time, it’s loud, doesn’t have heat or a/c, and is basically a POS. Like I said, I love my Jeep to death, but it’s time for me to be a responsible adult and purchasing something practical and (sort of) grown up.

Finding The Right Car

There were a few things that this new car needed. It needed to get good gas mileage, be around $17k after all taxes and fees, it needed to be fun to drive, and it needed to be decently fast. My options were pretty much narrowed down to Fiesta ST, Subaru BRZ, and Hyundai Genesis Coupe.

Picture I took of a Fiesta ST at the Phoenix International Auto Show in 2014

I already knew the BRZ would feel too slow for me, so I ended up ruling that out. I went and test drove a 2013 Genesis Coupe 2.0T, but it felt horribly slow to me. Plus finding a 3.8L Genisis R-Spec with low miles in my price range was impossible. I’ve been interested in the Fiesta ST ever since it came out, and I’ve sat in a few at the Phoenix International Auto Show. I was browsing through Auto Trader and found a silver 2015 Fiesta ST with 16k miles, and at a pretty good price.

Test Driving The Car

I showed up at the dealership and there wasn’t a silver ST anywhere that I could see. I walked in and asked for the salesman I had talked to on the phone and he took me out to the car. SUPRISE! The car was actually Molten Orange. I was totally okay with this surprise because I really like the Molten Orange color.

We spoke for a second, and he took a copy of my driver’s license and insurance. He gave me the key fob and told me to be back by 9 pm. I drove it around for a bit, dropped my mom back off at home, and picked up my buddy to show him the car. He didn’t believe me that the car felt way faster than it actually was. So, he jumped on his motorcycle and we raced. I then picked my mother back up, showed my girlfriend while she was at work, and headed back to the dealership.

At this point, I was in love with almost everything about the car and was ready to take it home. But, I was ready to walk away if they tried to jerk me around.

Purchasing The Car

I came back from the test drive and began the paperwork process. They took a quick look at my credit score, which is very good for a 21-year-old, and said I’ll qualify for it. Signed a huge amount of papers, put $3k down, and also got an extended warranty. The purchasing process was smooth as butter, and they didn’t at any point try to push anything on me. Now here I am typing this article, and I’m about five minutes away from going to pick the car up!

Summary

I’m so used to my $1k – $2k cars that purchasing a near $20k car was absolutely terrifying for me. I’m still scared and the deal is done. But, the process of purchasing my first new(ish) vehicle went surprisingly smooth! I brought my mother along for the whole thing, but I ended up not needing her for anything. Look for future articles on my long term review for my Fiesta ST.

Fox Body Mustang Buying Guide

Are you in the market to purchase a Fox Body Mustang? Here’s everything you should keep an eye out for, and possibly use to your bargaining advantage.
Before we get into the things to look out for we will quickly cover what changes happened in what years:

  • 1979 – Fox Body mustangs hit the dealership floors.
  • 1980 – 5.0L V8 was replaced with a 4.2L V8.
  • 1981 – Hatchback outsold the coupe, which continued throughout the Fox Body’s lifetime
  • 1982 – 5.0L V8 returns due to popular demand.
  • 1983 – Convertible Fox Body was added to the line-up, and front suspension was improved.
  • 1984 – The SVO (2.3L turbocharged Inline-4) was introduced.
  • 1985 – Slightly revised front facia. Last year for the carburetor.
  • 1986 – Third brake light added, last year for the SVO Fox Body, electronic fuel injection was added.
  • 1987 – Major front end redesign
  • 1988 – GT was named in “Ten Best Cars in the World”
  • 1989 – Speed density induction replaced with mass air induction
  • 1990 – Airbag added to the steering wheel
  • 1991 – Foxbody price rises, sales decline
  • 1992 – Color coated side moldings on the body
  • 1993 – Limited edition, SVT Cobra, and SVT Cobra R were released, last year for the Fox Body mustang

Frame

Making sure the frame is good applies to nearly every vehicle purchase you’ll ever make.

  • Look at the windshield pillars for denting, as well as the rear windows for bulges or cracking. This is a sign of a twisted frame.
  • Look at the unibody frame rails for dents, creasing, and rust.
  • Take a look at the shock towers, they are notorious for rusting and cracking.
  • Look at the suspension mounting points from and rear. Occasionally the mounts crack.
  • If it was previously a drag car it may drive a little crooked/sideways down the road.

It’s very common for a Fox Body mustang frame to be twisted, due to the torque monster 5.0L V8 and a weak unibody design. This is especially common for drag cars, so make sure it drives straight down the road before you purchase it.

Fox Body

Engine

The 5.0L is an excellent engine, but like all engines, it has its common problems.

RELATED: The Story of my 1991 Fox Body Mustang

  • Leaky rear main seal, look at the back of the engine/front of the transmission for oil. This is a sign of a leaky rear main.
  • Water pump failure, see if the water pump pulley has any play in it, that’s a sign of a failing water pump.
  • Oil pan leak, look at the bottom of the engine for oil.
  • Low oil pressure at high RPMs. Wind the engine out to redline and see if the oil pressure gauge drops, sometimes the factory oil pump is inadequate at high RPMs.
  • If the engine has aftermarket parts on it ask if it has been tuned by a professional.
  • Ask for receipts for aftermarket parts.

Fox body Mustang

Transmission

If the Fox Body mustang you’re looking to purchase has a manual transmission, there’s a few thing to look for.

RELATED: Top 5 Must Have Fox Body Modifications

  • Make sure it doesn’t pop out of any gears.
  • The clutch should engage about halfway through the pedal travel, if not the cable may be stretched.
  • Broken clutch cable, which is common especially on a Fox Body with aftermarket long tube headers.
  • Broken clutch quadrant, which is also common and a pain in the rear to fix.

If it has an automatic transmission, there are less thing to look for.

  • Abrupt/Harsh shifting. Either the transmission is going bad or it has an aftermarket shift kit
  • Check the fluid, it should be red, it might be a little dark if the fluid hasn’t been changed in a while

Foxbody Mustang

Drivetrain

Drivetrain parts are generally a pain in the butt to fix so make sure that everything is in order.

  • Make sure the rear end doesn’t make any strange noises such as howling.
  • Ask the owner if it has stock gearing in the rear end.
  • Is the driveshaft stock or aftermarket?
  • Make sure the u-joints good, having those explode on the road is not fun.
  • If you have the opportunity, make sure it spins both tires. If not the LSD is old and worn out.
  • Knocking when you get on and off the throttle may be a bad transmission/motor mounts.

Interior

This is arguably the least important part because the interior has no real affect on how it drives. But, if you can score a Fox Body with a clean interior that is always a major plus

RELATED: 7 Reasons the Fox Body Mustang is the best Muscle Car

  • Cracks in the dash are normal. If you find a non-cracked dash you’re in luck.
  • Make sure all the buttons work.
  • Make sure the A/C unit works.
  • Are all the interior panels there?
  • Tears in the seat can always be fixed so don’t be worried about those.
  • If it’s a convertible make sure the top goes up and down properly.

Modifications

Unfortunately, in the automotive industry, the money you put into your car is almost always lost. This sucks when you go to sell your Fox Body that you dumped $10k into, but it can be awesome if you’re the one purchasing it. A Fox Body with $2k worth of go fast parts will probably only sell for $500 more than a Fox Body without those parts.

This does not mean to go after any Fox Body with aftermarket stuff on it. Many times owners will cheap out and put crappy parts on their Fox Body. This can result in major headaches down the road if you decide to purchase said Fox Body. If there are any modifications done to the Fox Body you’re looking at, make sure they’re quality parts. A cobbled together Fox Body is worse off than a completely stock Fox Body.

If it has engine work done to it find out what heads, camshaft, and intake manifold it has. This will give you a rough estimate of what kind of power you can expect it to make. If it has any suspension modifcations ask what brand/model the comonents are. If it has a tubular k-member find out how it changed the suspension geometry.

Conclusion

In all, Fox Body Mustangs are generally problem free, but sometimes things happen. Look for strange body panel gaps, rust, oil leaks, and make sure the transmission shifts properly. None of these problems are deal-breakers, but you should try and use these problems to your bargaining advantage.

Top 5 Must Have Fox Body Mustang Modifications

Unhappy with how your Fox Body performs? Maybe you’re looking at picking up a Fox Body and what to know what you should do to it? Well, as an avid Foxbody enthusiast I knew this question needed answering. So, I have come up with a list of the top 5 mods to do to your Fox Body.

1. Intake

I can tell you from experience, a “cold air intake” isn’t going to gain you any power without modifying the rest of your 5.0’s intake system. The 302 that comes in the Fox Body is quite frankly pretty weak, especially at higher RPMs. An upper and lower intake manifold will yield very impressive gains, especially at the top end of the RPMs.

foxbody intake

A common intake is the Cobra intake manifold, but these are getting hard to find and don’t perform quite as well as modern designed intakes. I prefer Trick Flow, their intake manifolds seems to yield the best power overall. However, to see the greatest gains you’ll need an aftermarket camshaft and aftermarket heads.

  • Hp gain: 30+ rwhp
  • Price: $500- $1,000
  • Install: Easy

2. Heads

The key to making more power with any engine is in the heads. The stock heads on the 5.0 flow air very poorly, and are made of heavy cast-iron. Swapping your heads might seem like a daunting task, but it’s actually pretty easy and will transform your Fox Body. Much like the intake manifold the most common swap is Cobra (GT-40) heads. The GT40 heads flow better than stock, but are still made of heavy cast-iron.

RELATED: Ford Coyote vs Chevy LS: Which One is Better and Why?

foxbodymods2

An aftermarket head is most definitely the way to go, with modern technology companies like Edelbrock are able to blow the factory Fox Body heads out of the water. Edelbrock E-Street heads are made of lightweight aluminum and flow better than stock, I love these heads because they’re pretty cheap.

  • Hp gain: 30+  rwhp
  • Price: $850+
  • Install: Advanced

3. Camshaft

The cherry on the cake is an aftermarket camshaft. The intake manifold and the heads perform best when complimented with a new camshaft. The most popular 5.0 cam is the Ford Racing E303 cam, providing excellent low-end torque, decent top end power, and an incredible sound at idle.

foxbodymods3

The E303 is a street cam and won’t provide maximum power at the track. Other popular cams include Ford Racing B303, F303, and Anderson N41. I should mention that if you are really serious about your Fox Body, then stay away from the 303 camshafts. Ford designed the 303 cams 20+ years ago and they don’t have the best quality control. The 303 cams also won’t make as much power as a modern design camshaft. You can read more about this in our 303 Cams article.

  • HP gain: 25+ rwhp
  • Price: $200
  • Install: Advanced

I should mention that the first three modifications should be done at the same time since all three of them heavily compliment each other. Seriously, just save up and do all three mods at the same time.

4. Suspension

Unfortunately, the Fox Body chassis doesn’t handle very well in stock form. Plus stock Fox Body suspension sits WAY to high. Most Fox Body owners swap the front suspension to coil-over and put lowering springs in the rear. This generally makes the fox chassis much more balanced, helping eliminate most of the understeer and the tail happy rear end.

RELATED: 7 Reasons why the Fox Body is the Ultimate Muscle Car

foxbodymods1

Raceland makes a nice set of coil overs that are very budget friendly, and really help your Fox Body handle less like a boat. An aftermarket K-member is also an excellent modification. It essentially changed your suspension geometry to a much more desirable setup.

RELATED: How to Choose the Right Fox Body K-Member

If you plan on going to a coil-over setup I would strongly recommend also getting a tubular k-member. Not only will it improve your suspension geometry, it will also save you a ton of weight, and improve chassis rigidity a ton.

  • Price: $500 – $2000
  • Install: Easy

5. 5-Lug Swap

This last modification is something I wouldn’t consider necessary, but if you have the time and the budget then do it. Going 5-lug makes your rear axle MUCH stronger, and gives you a larger selection of wheels to choose from.

foxbodymods4

The most common swap is a rear axle from the newer SN95 Mustang, which has rear disc brakes which are a massive upgrade over the Fox Body rear drum brakes. Going 5-lug also makes your choice of wheels larger, which is always a plus.

  • Price: $400+
  • Install: Advanced

Bonus Mod – Chassis:

Of course, there are a few modifications I really wanted to mention but didn’t fit into the list of five modifications. If you really want to get serious about your Fox Body, you need to stiffen the chassis. The weak Fox Body chassis can make proper suspension setups very hard to obtain.

RELATED: The Story of my 1991 Fox Body Mustang

Subframe connectors are a popular modification that really helps the chassis, as well as the ever popular strut tower brace. Do not cheap out of these parts. Cheap chassis parts will not help your chassis whatsoever and will be a waste of time/money.

A roll cage is also a good idea. Let’s be honest, you’re reading this article because you want your Fox Body to go faster. Nobody is a perfect driver, even professionals crash. If you crash whilst racing without a roll cage you may be rolling the dice on your life. Even a simple bolt in half cage may save you and your occupants lives, plus it’s great for chassis stiffness.

Conclusion

Whether you own a Fox Body, or you are looking to buy one, we would definitely recommend doing these modifications. The head/cam/intake can gain you 100+ hp. The suspension and chassis modifications will add to the handling performance while giving it a mean, aggressive stance.

How to Choose the Right Fox Body K-Member

If you’re in the market for a new k-member for your Fox Body there are some things you need to consider before purchasing one. In this short guide we’ll cover what the k-member is, its function, and what to look for in an aftermarket one.

What is a K-Member?

The K-member on the Fox Body chassis is basically the piece that ties everything in the front together. It’s what your engine is bolted to, as well as your front suspension and steering rack. Since it pretty much ties everything together the rigidity is very important.

Build Material

Like I mentioned above, the rigidity of the k-member is extremely important. Just like how subframe connectors improve the chassis rigidity, so does the k-member. High-end k-members will typically be made of chromoly. Chromoly is extremely strong and fairly lightweight, but it is very expensive. Low-end k-members will typically be made of mild steel, which is weaker than chromoly and slightly heavier, but it’s much cheaper.

Suspension Geometry

One of the best features of an aftermarket k-member is the ability to change the suspension geometry. One of the most common geometry changes is to move the front wheels forwards. This helps with drag racing as it makes the vehicle more stable, as well as help keep the front end down when launching the vehicle.

RELATED: Here’s Why the Fox Body is the Best Muscle Car Ever

Aftermarket k-members can also bring slight change to camber, caster, suspension pick-up points, and a coil over setup. For a street Fox I would definitely stay with a factory geometry k-member to simply your alignment. Most k-members will require you to switch to a coil over setup, so keep that in mind when you decide to get an aftermarket k-member for your Fox Body.

Engine Mounts

With the insane popularity of the Chevy LS engine, it’s no surprise that people want to swap it into their Fox Body. However, this poses a few issues, mainly engine placement and engine mounts. An aftermarket k-member can solve these issues and make your engine swap a much simpler operation.

Price

This is undoubtedly the most important factor when deciding what k-member you should purchase. For a street driven Fox Body I would recommend a mild steel tubular k-member with factory geometry. The low cost of mild steel will save your wallet and you’ll still experience the benefits of a tubular k-member.

If you plan on track racing your Fox Body I would definitely recommend getting a chromoly k-member with track focused suspension geometry. Although it will be significantly more expensive, chromoly will help shave weight off the front of your Fox Body which is very important for track racing.

RELATED: Top 5 Fox Body Mods You Need

If you plan on drag racing your Fox Body look for a k-member that will push your front wheels forwards slightly. It might decrease your Fox’s cornering capability but it will be more stable down the 1/4 mile and you’ll be able to launch it harder.

Summary

Remember, the k-member pretty much holds the entire front end of your Fox Body together, so try to avoid cheaping out when you get one. You’re better off saving for a bit longer and purchasing a higher quality chromoly k-member. Here’s a good place to start your search for the perfect Fox Body k-member.

Fox Body Mustang vs IROC-Z: Which One is Actually Better?

The Chevy Camaro and the Ford Mustang have always been major rivals. They’re the cars that have always defined the pony car segment. Personally, I’m not a huge Mustang fan, but the Fox Body is undeniably awesome.  But, how does the Fox Body stack up to one of the most iconic Camaro models ever?

4. Price

Obviously, the price of these pony cars brand new doesn’t really matter in today’s age. However, the used price can be a huge factor on which one is better for you. For detailed information be sure to read our Fox Body Buying Guide. But to briefly cover the prices: the Fox Body costs around $4-5k for a decent condition example, and the IROC-Z is around $3-4k for a similar condition example.

RELATED: Here’s What Makes the IROC-Z so Awesome

The money you save on purchasing an IROC-Z could can towards modifications to improve handling since it is a little lacking in both the Camaro and Mustang chassis. But the Fox Body is quickly rising in price, so from an investment perspective the Fox Body is better, but from a young car guy with little money, the IROC-Z may be the better choice.

3. Factory Performance

Although factory performance is really a nonfactor today, it is an important comparison point. Although many people thought muscle cars handled awful the fox body prove that to be wrong. Fox body Mustang was one of the very first cars to pull over 1G on the skidpad as tested however it is not perfect. The Roxy gets a better braking setup with 4 wheel disc brakes and a panhard bar on the rear of Fox Body does not.

Fox Body Mustang
Horsepower: 220 @ 4,200 rpm
Torque: 300 @ 3,200 rpm
Weight: 3,000 – 3,200 lbs

IROC-Z
Horsepower: 220 @ 4,200 rpm
Torque: 320 @ 3,200 rpm
Weight: 3,100 – 3,350 lbs

RELATED: Here’s Why the Fox Body is the Ultimate Muscle Car

Although the made similar power and torque, the Fox Body was still able to edge out in many performance tests thanks to its low weight. However, the IROC-Z redeems itself with a rear panhard bar which improved handling as well as a much better braking setup. Both will make a great autocross car, drag car, or street cruiser.

2. Aftermarket

The small block Chevy engine found under the hood of the IROC-Z is undoubtedly one of the most modified engines in the world, and it has been featured in hundreds of racing series. The small block Ford is also very popular amongst hot rodders, but it’s not as popular as the Chevy. Ford Racing makes some of the most popular small block Ford parts such as the “303” camshafts and the ever popular GT-40 cylinder heads. Although Chevy does have its own performance parts division, it doesn’t really seem to be very popular for small block Chevy parts.

As far as total aftermarket (exterior, interior, engine, suspension, etc) the Fox Body is probably better. This is due to how popular the Fox Body chassis has become with young hot rodders who seem to stay away from the IROC-Z. As mentioned above Ford also supplies some of the most popular parts for the Fox Body. We’ve covered the top modifications that the Fox Body chassis needs to be sure to check that out.

1. Looks

This last section is very objective so don’t take it personal if you’re a die-hard Camaro or Mustang fan. Back in the ’80s and ’90s car styling was in an odd phase. Cars were going from massive for comfort to small for efficiency. They also were going from they boxy design to a more futuristic and curvy design. So all that together put both muscle cars in a very odd position. The result of this was odd styling for both vehicles.

The Fox Body looks nothing like Mustangs of the past. Gone were the traditional tri-bar taillights in favor of long horizontal tail lamps. The front end was also nothing like the traditional Mustang styling. The fastback shared a similar shape to Mustangs of the past, as did the notchback. Most people seem to prefer the body of the notchback, however, I personally prefer the fastback.

RELATED: Fox Body Mustang Buying Guide

The Camaro definitely shares the same body lines and basic shape as Camaros before it, however, it definitely has the same ’80s styling as the Fox Body. Like the Fox Body, it also has long horizontal tail lamps and the same four-eyed headlights as the early Fox Body. The IROC-Z featured ever-popular ’80s body kit, which really completes the look of the IROC-Z in my opinion.

Summary

So, in conclusion, the Fox Body is the lighter weight vehicle which ultimately makes it better stock vs stock, but the IROC’s advanced suspension and braking setup are better when the road gets twisty. The small block Chevy has a stronger aftermarket, but the Fox Body chassis as a whole is more popular with hot rodders. Both are pretty cheap to buy right now but the Fox Body is quickly becoming sought after and is an excellent investment opportunity.

4 Reasons to Buy a Lexus SC300 / SC400 Today

Have you ever wanted to own a Lexus SC300? Better yet, have you ever wanted to own a Toyota Supra? A lot of car enthusiasts don’t even know what the Lexus SC is. It’s stuck in the Supra’s shadow, so no one really seems to talk about. But, there are four good reasons why you should go out and buy one today.

4. Toyota Supra

If you’re new to the SC300 and SC400, then you probably don’t realize that they are closely related to the Toyota Supra. The S300’s 2JZ engine is sourced directly from the Supra, as well as its transmission. They also share subframes, which means they share the same suspension. They also share the same braking system, as well as lots of the same electronics. Mechanically speaking, the SC300 and SC400 are nearly identical to the Toyota Supra in every single way.

Also Read: 1JZ vs 2JZ: Which One is Better and Why?

I’m sure you are aware of the Supra being a tuner icon, which means that the aftermarket parts list is literally almost endless. Almost any aftermarket part that will bolt on to a Toyota Supra will also bolt onto an SC300, and any non-engine related parts will bolt on to an SC400. Plus, have you seen the prices for the MK4 Supra? It’s just like the 240SX’s “Drift Tax”, you’re paying way extra just because the car is popular in JDM culture. Even if the car is beaten to hell, it’ll be priced fairly high just because it can sell for that much. Ever since the first Fast and Furious, the MK4 Supra has skyrocketed in value. I would rather have its much cheaper little brothers, the SC300 and SC400.

3. Styling

Whether you love or hate the styling of the SC300/SC400, there’s no denying it’s unique. It screams “I’m a sports car!” with its long hood and low roofline, but has a classy and elegant look. There’s not a car on the market today that has such an elegant style, Toyota really knew what they were doing in the ’90s. There isn’t a super strong resemblance to the Supra, but you can tell that they’re related. If the SC300/SC400 came with a larger rear wing I think it would look like a little Supra, and probably be way more popular in the car community.

Check Out: LS1 vs LS3: Which One is Actually Better?

There are few body lines on the SC, and they are are very subtle. It’s as elegant as a car could ever be. It’s almost weird to call this car JDM because it looks so german to me. It just doesn’t look like a tuner type of car. I think that’s what makes it so special, it’s a weird mix of JDM heritage and extremely elegant styling. David Patterson (ThatDudeInBlue) recently reviewed an SC300, and he also says it’s a very elegant and beautiful car.

2. Over-Engineered Luxury

Toyota was known for the extreme over-engineering in the ’90s, that’s why the Supra was so costly and ended up going out of production. So take that same over-engineering, and combine it with a luxury car, and you’ll end up with a Lexus SC. Not too many cars from the ’90s had memory seats, power seats, power everything, beautiful wood trim, and very subtle leather. The SC300 and SC400 were pretty top of the line back then, combining incredible sound deadening, beautiful interior, and great ride quality. The same over-engineered luxury featured made their way to the Lexus LS400, winning it loads of awards for being such an amazing, luxurious car.

Check Out: RB26 vs 2JZ: Which One is Better and Why?

Even little things like the door hinges are ridiculously over-engineered. Don’t believe me? Check out the picture below, the hinges are a double hinge design.

LexusDoorHinge

There is a zillion other little things like that are ridiculously over-engineered like the door hinges. Lexus built the SC300 and SC400 as a next-level luxury sports couple. The SC300 and SC400 are still just as nice, if not nicer than most luxury cars today.

1. Engines

As mentioned earlier, the SC300 has its 2JZ-GE engine sourced directly from the Toyota Supra. The 2JZ is an excellent motor, holding up to extremely high horsepower on stock internals is a pretty impressive feat. Plus, with the aftermarket that the Toyota Supra has created, getting your SC300 over 400 horsepower is super. Slap on a big turbo, head studs, better fuel system, and you’ll be making north of 400whp like its nothing.

But, the SC400 has the 1UZ engine. It’s not too often that Japanese cars come with a V8, and man is it cool to see Japan make one. The 1UZ is known for running forever, Matt Farah from The Smoking Tire has his “Million-Mile Lexus”, an LS400 which he is attempting to push past 1 million miles.

Also Read: Here’s Why The 1UZ is so Awesome

The 1UZ-FE was a technological feat for production cars. It was one was one the first DOHC V8 engines that was actually reliable and in a car that wasn’t insanely expensive. Lexus designed the 1UZ to be a very strong and reliable engine. The 1UZ’s short stroke and big bore allow it to rev to the moon. Think of it almost like a 1990s Ford Coyote engine. It also has 6-bolt main caps, which the Chevy LS is often praised for.

In its last form the 1UZ had a 10.5 compression ratio, as well as Toyota’s VVT-i, and it made 300 horsepower. That’s a pretty impressive amount of horsepower considering its small displacement. If you think about it, the 1UZ is basically a 4.0L version of Ford’s Coyote engine. Not only is the 1UZ really reliable, it also makes decent power especially considering its only a 4.0L.

Summary

The Lexus SC is basically a nicer, more luxurious Toyota Supra. But, unlike the Supra, you have multiple engine choices. Plus, the SC is was cheaper than an MK4 Supra. Even by today’s standards the SC300 is an extremely nice car, and with prices so low, now is the time to get one for yourself

SC300 vs SC400
So, you’ve decided that you definitely want one of these cars, totally understandable. But, now you’re stuck with a decision: SC300 or SC400? Considering both platforms are completely identical other than powertrain, the SC300 is the better option. I know the 1UZ is an awesome engine, but there is no denying that the 2JZ is better especially on a budget. Coming from someone who owned an SC400, get an SC300 if you plan on getting an SC at all.