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I am looking to build a race car for the 1/4 mile dirt track here in california. i found a CHEAP 88 gt that I thought would make a great car. However, in doing some research i found i may be better off waiting to find a 91? What is the difference in HP between those years? I read somewhere that the 88 with the 1.9Liter EFI go about 110 HP, but the 91 has a 16-valve 1.8-liter that runs about 127 horsepower? anyone know if that sounds about right?
 

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Power ratings are correct.
 

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power ratings are also on new engines at the crank.
 

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I noticed wikipedia is lacking that information. What do the different escort motors make their peak rpm at? I notice the 1.8 in my GT is a dog before 3500 rpms. But sometime shortly after that VICS opens up and it revs much quicker, so it's safe to say that peak HP is after 4000rpm.
 

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Peak hp is definantly after 4k, prolly around 6k or so. I race both an 88 and a 91. The 91 is much happier than the 88 at high revs like realdeal said. Your gonna have to at least put valve springs in the 88 to give it a chance. Plus the suspension on the 91 is better suited for tuning and the car is wider so it handles better. Stock to stock there is no comparing the 2 on a dirt track, the 91 will win hands down everytime. However, if you are allowed/plan to modify the car it's a close match. Parts are cheaper for the 88 than the 91. Xr4ti ECU, VAF, isky cam, and set of springs in the the 88 will really wake it up and all for about $300 or so. Exhaust cam mod, RX7 VAF, turbo intake, and header on the 91 will make it run very well but your already around $250 in parts. Cams for the 1.8l will set you back prolly more than you pay for the car.

My 88 at this point may be slightly faster than my 91.
 

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do you have any tips on keeping the engine in one peice? We have a 88 & 89 gt they are fast but cant keep them together. We run 2nd gear on a 3/8 mile dirt at about 6800 any help would be appreciated as this is new to us.
 

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intimidator992002 said:
do you have any tips on keeping the engine in one peice? We have a 88 & 89 gt they are fast but cant keep them together. We run 2nd gear on a 3/8 mile dirt at about 6800 any help would be appreciated as this is new to us.
What part of the engine particularly are you having problems with keeping together?

First thing i do with those cars (1st gen) before racing one is replace the rod bearings, by the time you get your hands on one of them it's most likely to be pretty high miles, poor oil quality, lack of maintanence and the bearings are gonna be pretty worn already. At those rpms any excessive clearance on the journals is just gonna result in rapid failure. Bearings are cheap, less than $40 at advance auto. Second you need to address your factory valve springs, they are not made to run 6800 rpm and the lack of power you feel at that rpm is valve float. Floating your valves will result in valvetrain failure. And lastly, the most sensitive part of the engine is the cylinder head. Get it too hot a couple times and it will crack. Get a low temp thermostat, flush your cooling system, and put your fan on a toggle so it's on full time once the engine is running. Do these things and it should hold together quite nicely for you.
 

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I'm mainly having problems with the bottom end. What brand are the bearings from advanced and should the main bearings be changed also? As for the valve springs what kind should i get? And lastly is 6800 too much for this engine I've tried 3rd gear but it just slows me down .I run on a 3/8th mile dirt track. I'm trying some taller tires to help me out.
 

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intimidator992002 said:
I'm mainly having problems with the bottom end. What brand are the bearings from advanced and should the main bearings be changed also? As for the valve springs what kind should i get? And lastly is 6800 too much for this engine I've tried 3rd gear but it just slows me down .I run on a 3/8th mile dirt track. I'm trying some taller tires to help me out.
Advance has sealed power bearings. Forgot just how cheap they are.

Sealed Power Rod Bearing Set - Standard
Part No. 4-1400AA
SOHC engine; A-Series aluminum bearings; Standard Size; Qty 1
Warranty 1 YEAR REPLACEMENT IF DEFECTIVE
Offer Price: $11.99

Check part number as per model year, there were some changes in journal size through the years. They should solve your bottom end issues. As for main bearings, id say they are not necessary. They tend not to wear nearly as rapidly due to lack of lateral pressure and all help to support one another because they're all on the say axis. Also, replacing the rod bearings can be done in the car, main bearings would require engine removal, not worth the effort. I doubt you will ever have a complete main bearing failure.

As for valve springs, they only known supplier at the time is escortfocus.com. They are not cheap but will help greatly. It has also been found that 2.3l 4cyl ford performance valve springs will work. Previously available from crane cams, but they have gone out of business. There may be other suppliers of these however i am not sure. I currently run a set of the crane 2.3l double springs with stock escort retainers and seats with no issue thus far.

I've found 6800rpm is not too much for the bottom end of the engine but certainly is for the stock valve springs. I also run a 3/8 mile track and tried shifting to third with no luck my first season. Honestly, your best bet would be to get the racing profile from isky $95, and a set of springs. You'd soon find your rev limiter just past 7k and you would be shifting to 3rd because you've got the power to do it.
 
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