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2.3 help

Discussion in '1987 - 1993 Mustang LX' started by loyalleef, Jan 27, 2018.

  1. loyalleef

    loyalleef New Member

    Is a 2.3 engine terrible? And like very very slow? Is it worth rebuilding the car and keeping the engine or do most guys replace it with a 5.0 or something?

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  2. broncojunkie

    broncojunkie Active Member

    In stock form, the 2.3 is a slug. 88hp, iirc. I still love them though. You can definitely make them quick. There are aftermarket sources for go-fast parts and they're fun as can be. A buddy has a warmed up 2.3 in an old Ford Courier pick-up and it sounds amazing.

    Having said that, a v8 swap is probably easier and cheaper to build and there is a HUGE aftermarket supply of performance parts available, compared to the 2.3.

    A carbed 5.0 would be easy and cheap. An aftermarket stand-alone efi setup would be easy... and a little more expensive (I believe they start around $800). A donor car would be great for sourcing all the little parts that would otherwise nickel and dime you to death. As a plus, you may be able to part the rest out to help pay for everything.

    The bad news is that v8 parts cars aren't exactly growing on trees. You can still find them, if you're patient enough. If you want to source individual parts, you could come out ahead, where performance is concerned. For instance, mid/late 90's explorers had gt40 heads and intakes. Just throw a performance cam in it and matching valve springs (can't stress enough the need to replace the explorer springs) and you'll have a fun street car. If your fox has a 5 speed (T5), you don't even need to swap in a different transmission. Just note that the 4 cyl t5 isn't as strong... but you can do some minor upgrades to it for very little $. The 2.3 cars came with 7.5 rear end. You will want to upgrade to an 8.8, which are readily available for a couple hundred bucks.

    I v8 swapped my 79 pace car. I have a build thread here. Hope this helps.
    loyalleef likes this.
  3. loyalleef

    loyalleef New Member

    Thank u. I haven’t even driven it yet i saw some vids online and realized how slow it was. I got the car for free tho so i wanna make it a good car that i can use consistently but i definitely need more speed and quickness. Saw this 2.3 on YouTube it sounded like a v8. Thanks for the info!

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    broncojunkie likes this.
  4. wbrockstar

    wbrockstar Qwik Enuff 4 Me

    You could always do some research of parts needed and build a 2.3 turbo like came in the SVO Mustangs.Im not sure of power level though.A 5.0 conversion is also an option.Its quite involved though.Not only does the engine have to be replaced, but everything else too,like brakes,rear end,some suspension parts.The only reasonable way of doing the 5.0 conversion is by purchasing a wrecked 5.0,that way all parts are available from one car.Just a matter of swapping parts from one car to the other.That being said,the following link will give you tons of options for oem parts from other Ford models.87-93 5.0 Mustangs are non existent at junkyards.You might get lucky on a 94-95 5.0 though. Theyre available sometimes.

    loyalleef likes this.
  5. lowboost

    lowboost New Member

    First post...been lurking a little but have never really posted.

    I've done it a couple different ways. Both '93 LX, and both street driven.

    First one was a 2.3. Mild ported head, 4-2-1 header, cam, etc. It might have made 130hp at 6000 RPM. Had to wind it up to make any power. Ended up converting it to a 5.0, then sold it with the V8. Gave the 2.3 away and wish I wouldn't have. Hard to find around here. It was not worth messing with a N/A 2.3...not at all.

    Second one (current one) is a '93 LX coupe, with a turbo 2.3 from a Merkur swapped in. In stock form, 145hp. Nothing worth writing home about but it's a lot better than 105hp (the pre '91's were 88 hp, then 91-93 were I think 105 due to better camshaft-and they had 8 spark plugs if that makes any difference). In order to make the turbo swap worthwhile, you'll need to swap to a LA3 computer from a '87-'88 turbocoupe and put an intercooler on it. I used Stinger's stuff, and his wiring directions on his site. It's not hard. The engine bolts right in. If you have an automatic, don't even bother with the A4LD transmission as it's a weakling and takes most of the fun away from the turbo engine. Needs a 5 speed for sure.

    You will want a T3 turbo-not the little IHI that came on the '87-'88 turbocoupe. The IHI won't support enough airflow for 250hp. About 200 is all it's good for (the TC's were 200hp I think stock and the IHI was really wheezing to make that). But the IHI comes on early, as early as 2000 RPM, and the T3 with the bigger .63 housing won't really "hit" until about 2600-ish. Mine makes 5 psi from 1200 to 2000. By 2100, it's up to 7 or 8 psi. At 2500, it hits hard and fast. With the smaller .48 exhaust housing, it'll come in harder and at around 2200 RPM but will sign off by 5000 RPM or so. The .63 will sign off up around 5800. Good street turbo combined with the stock roller cam swapped into the turbo head. BTW the turbo 2.3 head is different than the N/A '91-'93 head, and most other 2.3 heads for that matter. So your best bet is to find a complete running engine and swap it all in.

    There's a lot more to it than that, but it's entirely possible to make 300hp out of a 4 cylinder. Mine is probably close to it. In 2nd gear, when boost hits, it breaks the tires loose pretty reliably. So much so that at lower speeds I have to watch it or chance getting a "good driving award" from the local po-po. Look around stinger's site. I will say this: The 2.3 turbo is not known to be "reliable" like the N/A 2.3 is. A set of jack stands and a wrecker service on speed dial are your friends. It's a running joke among the 2.3 turbo crowd but it's not just a joke. Mine is currently on stands as we speak because the turbo is shot.

    In conclusion, the old 2.3 turbo engines are getting really hard to find. So, when it breaks (and it will at some point), parts availability suffers. I had to send my turbo off for rebuild. 10 years ago I could run to just about any junkyard and just buy one for $25. Not anymore...they're all dried up. Even finding new parts online is tough. Mine happens to be .040 bore, and NOBODY (well one company) makes a set of 3.820" rings for the stock turbo pistons (they have 2.0mm top and 2nd ring, and a 4.76mm oil ring). If you're looking at a rebuild, your ONLY option for pistons is aftermarket, at $550+ for a set of FOUR pistons, not counting rings in some cases. The old TRW L2500's are long discontinued. They were cheap and they were tough but they are gone, unfortunately. The stock rods are ok up to around 300 hp. Beyond that, you're looking at a set of aftermarket rods; also just as expensive as a set of 8 for a 5.0 but you only get 4. Original turbo heads without cracks are scarce as hen's teeth. They all crack. Sometimes you can use them in cracked condition. Sometimes they're scrap iron, and sometimes they're able to have the seats machined for inserts and bigger valves. You can put $2000 into a 2.3 head real quick; but they flow well after porting, and with the right peripherals, can support 400-450hp with a turbo. Maybe 180-200hp N/A-and at 8000+ RPM and ZERO torque below 3500.

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