Tur­bocharged, Sleeper Fair­mont

This Car-Re­pair YouTu­ber’s 1979 Fair­mont Is a Tur­bocharged Sleeper

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Eric Cook of Kings Mills, Ohio, has been mak­ing au­to­mo­tive-re­pair videos for more than 10 years on his YouTube chan­nel, Eric the Car Guy. Though he’s fixed hun­dreds of cars, he has never built a com­plete car un­til now. His daily driven, sleeper 1979 Ford Fair­mont has a tur­bocharged Mus­tang driv­e­train un­der­neath.

Eric pur­chased the Fair­mont for $3,200 from a used-car lot in Ohio. He went straight to the lo­cal dragstrip to make his— and likely the car’s—first passes on the quar­ter-mile, where it ran low-20-sec­ond e.t. base­line passes. Eric set out to cut that time in half, and he started by build­ing a nat­u­rally as­pi­rated, 400hp 5.0L from a Fox-body Mus­tang parts car. Be­cause the Fair­mont shares the same struc­ture as the Fox-body, af­ter­mar­ket parts are read­ily avail­able and, with their vanilla ap­pear­ance, the Fair­mont, LTD, and Ze­phyr mod­els are per­fect sleeper cars.

“I took on this project to demon­strate the dif­fer­ent and com­pat­i­ble aspects be­tween those cars, but some­where along the way, I thought it would be cool to get a turbo,” Eric says. That sin­gle no­tion shifted the project. “That sim­ple phrase cost me $10,000 more, and the orig­i­nal plan would have been a de­cent sleeper with a lot less money and a lot less headache.”

Eric pur­chased a 1982 Mus­tang 5.0L parts car for its 302 en­gine and T5 trans­mis­sion, nei­ther of which were ul­ti­mately used; when Kalv­ina­tor En­gines of Wa­pakoneta, Ohio, found rust on the 302’s cylin­der walls, Eric or­dered a new block from World Prod­ucts. Kalv­ina­tor En­gines filled the block with a stro­ker kit from PBM Per­for­mance Prod­ucts, which in­cludes a forged Scat crank, dished pis­tons, and 5.4-inch H-beam rods. They fresh­ened up the 5.0’s GT40 cylin­der heads and out­fit­ted them with val­ve­train parts from Comp Cams. The

On3 turbo kit in­cludes a 72mm tur­bocharger, 3-inch stain­less-steel pip­ing, a

3-inch bar-and-plate in­ter­cooler, a 44mm V-band waste­gate, a 50mm blow-off valve, and all the nec­es­sary oil-feed fit­tings. The sin­gle 3-inch wrapped ex­haust dumps into ei­ther a Walker Ex­haust Sys­tems muf­fler or through a Race Ready RRP elec­tronic cut-out. Elec­tron­ics are lim­ited on the car, un­less you count the Retro Man­u­fac­tur­ing ra­dio and cus­tom phone charger. An MSD 6AL ig­ni­tion box works with an MSD 6-BTM boost tim­ing mas­ter hid­den un­der the dash. With ev­ery pound of boost, the MSD will pull 2 de­grees of tim­ing. “It just acts like a reg­u­lar en­gine un­til it sees boost,” Eric says. The sim­ple tur­bocharger setup works with a Hol­ley fuel-pres­sure reg­u­la­tor that reads boost pres­sure. On the en­gine dyno, the com­bi­na­tion made 575 hp at

5,500 rpm and 622 lb-ft at 4,400 rpm with 7.8 pounds of boost and a strong, steady torque curve. “It just doesn’t stop pulling,” Eric says.

After that dyno day, Eric had to re­think the project even more, want­ing to strengthen the rest of the chas­sis to match his new­found power. He in­stalled a Max­i­mum Mo­tor­sports’ K-mem­ber, sus­pen­sion parts, and an 8.8inch Ford axle. Once the new driv­e­train was in­stalled, Eric chased his tail with an in­con­sis­tent fuel-pres­sure is­sue. A so­lu­tion came after a viewer sug­gested he run a re­turn-style fuel sys­tem. “I get a lot of feed­back from view­ers; some in­for­ma­tion is ques­tion­able, but I do have some re­ally good sug­ges­tions some­times, and that was one

of them,” he says.

Test-fit­ting of the re­turn-style fuel sys­tem re­sulted in an epic fire after an is­sue with the reg­u­la­tor filled the in­ter­cooler with gaso­line. Of course, it was caught on tape. “It was an hon­est mis­take,” Eric says, “and I’m grate­ful I had a fire ex­tin­guisher—that’s what ev­ery­body should be con­cen­trat­ing on from that video.”

He’s since fixed the fuel-de­liv­ery is­sue, and we found Eric at a Ge­or­gia car show, where he’d driven the car 1,000 miles.

Since com­ple­tion, there are 2,500 miles on the odome­ter, with lit­tle trou­ble. Eric av­er­aged 15 mpg on the mostly high­way trip. At 75 mph, the Ford sees around

2,000 rpm in Fifth gear, which is right where the turbo makes boost, mak­ing it a blast to drive. “My only is­sue now is trac­tion,” he says.

It’s a daily driver, but Eric plans a chas­sis­dyno ses­sion in the near fu­ture. Plus, with the re­cently ac­quired Mickey Thomp­son slicks, he’ll re­turn to the dragstrip. Eric has been con­flicted about whether or not the money, time, and headache was worth it:

“It’s hard to say if I re­gret it. If I go to the dragstrip and run 10s, I’m not go­ing to com­plain at all.”

01] The Ford 8.8-inch rear axle came out of a junk­yard Mus­tang and fea­tures Strange 31-spline axles and 2003–2004 Co­bra lim­it­ed­slip cen­ter­sec­tion with 3:55 gears.02] The On3 turbo kit is de­signed for a Fox­body Mus­tang with EFI. Eric had to build new pip­ing to get it to work with the Fair­mont and car­bu­re­tor hat.

01] The dash fea­tures ba­sic con­trols with a man­ual boost gauge and a Retro­fit Man­u­fac­tur­ing ra­dio—old look, mod­ern fea­tures.02] A sim­ple four­point roll­bar sits high enough to keep the Fair­mont’s sleeper sta­tus. Com­plete with bench seat and RaceQuip five-point har­nesses, the in­te­rior is mostly stock. 03] Ford Crown Vic­to­ria wheels were used all around, and Eric in­sisted on not clean­ing the car be­fore our shoot. His slo­gan: “Stay Dirty.” 04] The front sus­pen­sion fea­tures a Max­i­mum Mo­tor­sports K-mem­ber that, with the com­bi­na­tion of con­trol arms, changes the fron­twheel place­ment and gives the car a sub­tle stance.

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