The Rush a power adder can add to your internal combustion engine can be a fulfilling and fun experience. The surge of supercharged horsepower or the instant torque of a nitrous hit is sure to put a smile on any gearhead's face, so long as the sound of said power isn't accompanied by detonation or misfiring. To make sure that doesn't happen with our little black, nitrous-sniffing notchback, we called MSD to upgrade our stock ignition system with high-performance components that are sure to light the fire when the cylinder pressures are rising.
One of the great things about the 5.0 aftermarket are the numerous products that are simple, bolt-in pieces to make things work better. MSD's ignition components are just that, and they make beefing up your ignition system a relatively easy task.
In anticipation of an increased amount of nitrous oxide (we're going for the 150hp jets versus the 100hp ones we used last month), we called MSD and ordered a Digital-6 Plus ignition control, a set of Super Conductor spark plug wires, a Blaster TFI coil, and a TFI adaptor harness.
The Digital-6 Plus control unit ensures better combustion, quicker throttle response, and a smoother idle through a hotter and longer series of sparks. We liked its built-in features that would help us optimize our combination both on and off the bottle. The Digital-6 Plus features a two-step rev control, an adjustable start retard, and a single-stage retard. The single-stage retard will allow us to run increased initial timing while off the bottle, and once the nitrous system is armed, the 12-volt signal triggers the timing retard, so both operating modes are truly optimized.
Our path to a sparkling performance...
Our path to a sparkling performance was paved with MSD's Digital-6 Plus ignition control (PN 6520), Blaster TFI coil (PN 8227), TFI adaptor harness (PN 8874), and Super Conductor spark-plug wires (PN 31329). Make sure you order MSD's cap and rotor setup if you're going through the trouble of upgrading your ignition system. It's PN 8482.
Installation is fairly easy, and MSD includes excellent directions, with diagrams on how to connect it to a variety of ignition components. Since the control unit needs to be mounted in a dry place, we passed over the engine compartment and mounted the control unit in the trunk. The fact that our subject vehicle is a Fox-body coupe made the decision easy. MSD recommends stepping up one gauge in the wiring, which we did, and with using its adaptor harness, we didn't have to splice into any of the factory wiring, so we could take the unit out quite easily if we needed to.
The MSD spark-plug wires, coil, and cap and rotor were simple remove-and-replace procedures. After 80,000 miles of service, the stock ignition components had served their purpose. Last month, we installed a new Ford Racing Performance Parts Cobra intake manifold and shorty headers on the car, and upon startup, the owner had seen a slight blue flash near the header.
Our Mustang technician, George Xenos, sprayed the spark-plug wires with a mist of water, and we realized the spark was coming out of the No. 7 boot and arcing to the cylinder head. There was no visible damage to the wire or boot, but there was evidently a breach of the insulation, which was allowing the spark to divert from the combustion chamber. Not good, especially considering we're throwing nitrous at the engine and need every flicker of spark we can get.
The new Super Conductor wires solved that problem, and with the Blaster TFI coil and Digital-6 Plus upping the power output, we shouldn't have any issues with lighting the fire, so it's off to the track.
Last month, we headed to Bradenton Motorsports Park in Bradenton, Florida, for the local test-and-tune night and proceeded to drop elapsed times at the wheel of our little '92 coupe. Equipped with an AOD transmission, the Fox-body was less than stellar out of the box, even with a 3.55:1 ring-and-pinion gear change, FRPP underdrive pulleys, and Flowmaster mufflers. That led us to the installation of a Cobra intake manifold, DynoMax shorty headers, and an x midpipe. After those mods, naturally aspirated times dropped from 15.12 to 14.55 at 97 mph (thanks in part to some cooler air), and with the Nitrous Express fogger chilling the chambers, the coupe charged to a 13.06 at 111 mph.
We wanted to keep the Digital-6...
We wanted to keep the Digital-6 box high and dry, so we opted to mount the unit in the trunk. If you need to extend the wiring as we did, MSD says you'll have to step up a gauge in wire, from 12 to 10 gauge for the power leads, and 16 gauge for the other wires.
Because we wanted to mount...
Because we wanted to mount the ignition box in the trunk, we ran the appropriate number of wires from the trunk to the ignition coil on the driver-side inner fender apron. We actually left a bit of slack in the wiring so we could remove the interior panel without removing the ignition box.
Installing the Digital-6 in...
Installing the Digital-6 in the trunk necessitated a trip to the local Advanced Auto Parts for a few items. Half-inch wire loom, heat shrinkwrap, and some new pushpins for the rear interior panels had things looking spiffy. We already had the needed wire on hand from another project, but since we forgot to ask for a distributor cap and rotor when we called MSD to order our components, we picked one up at the store.