Chill out, bro

Project "Road Warrior" gets a cooling system upgrade

  There is one simple fact about modifying your foxbody: One modification always leads to another. I don't just mean you add wheels then you want springs (while that is the case as well). The scenario I am referring to are like adding a supercharger requires a fuel system upgrade. Adding all that extra power, while nice, means the weakness of another system will rear their ugly head. This is simply par for the course. Adding that extra power will also strain the already fragile transmission, and soon you will be ordering up something a bit more beefy.  

“Adding horsepower means adding heat, and Road Warrior was needing some help to chill out”


    Our long term project '92 LX is going down this same slippery slope. When the car had a few minor bolt-ons, all was well. The headers, underdrive pulleys, and exhaust didn't give us much grief. However, now making nearly 120 more horses to the tires; the time had come to start addressing the weakness in the factory parts. The fact that adding horsepower is fun, is undeniable. However, sometimes some of the less sexy additions required are not so much. Everyone loves that new turbo kit, or aluminum heads, but aren't too keen on dropping their hard earned coin to upgrade things like the clutch, or cooling system. 

    This is where we were with our little hatch. The cooling system was bone stock, and while the factory parts held their own for the most part, on really hot days sitting in traffic, the temp needle began to creep up. Being all vintage '92, we had to tip our hats to the OEM parts for a job well done. The time had come to keep all those extra horses in check, and while not sexy, a cooling system upgrade was long overdue. 

    After a long conversation with the pros at National Parts Depot, they convinced us that the foundation of this upgrade should be one of their Champion aluminum radiators. A bit skeptical as we've never run one of these, Matt Laszaic convinced us we wouldn't be disappointed. While NPD does carry several options for electric fans, the decision was made to retain the factory clutch style fan. We did this for the rock solid reliability that it provides. Having run many electric fans in the past, we know all too well their tendency to fail at the worst conceivable time. 

    Carrying the full line of resto parts from the likes of Scott Drake and Daniel Carpenter, NPD had everything we needed to replace the broken fan shroud, and cracked fan blade. Not only that, but all of the rubber isolatorshardware, and the overflow tank complete with cap. This setup would look identical to factory parts, be reliable, and cool down our hot little horse. The order was placed, and we were pumped to get out the wrenches for some upgrades.

    When the big brown truck dropped off our package, we could hardly wait to tear into it and check out the goods. The biggest surprise was the Champion radiator. This thing is massive, and we were blown away by the quality of the welds, and the fully polished end tanks. We have run the likes of Fluidyne and Be Cool in the past, and those are quality part as well, but the finish on the Champion had us wondering why we've not scoped them out before. Not only that, but the pricing was nearly $100 cheaper! Win, win!

“We stayed with the original clutch fan set up simply for the reliability factor, too many times we’ve seen electric fan systems fail”

    Installing all of the new parts took the better part of a morning, and went off smoothly. Once all of the old parts were out of the way. We cleaned the areas behind the radiator, which had collected leaves and debris over the years. A shop vac, or some compressed air works nicely for this job. Fitting the new radiator in it's place did take a little bit of effort due to its added size, but once we wiggled it in, she fit like a glove. The new Scott Drake saddle isolators were also a welcome addition, as the original parts were dry rotted from years of service.

     Once the radiator was in, everything else bolted back together just as it came apart, and aside from the thick, polished top of the radiator, nobody would be the wiser to our upgrades. As luck would have it, we were met with unseasonably warm temps that day, and took the beast out to test the system. In mid 70 degree weather, the car rose to it's normal temp, and never moved past it. Even idling with the hood closed in direct sunlight, she was cool as a cucumber. Once summer hits we are looking forward to Road Warrior taking all the heat mother nature can throw at it. Cooling upgrade, done! CR


National Parts Depot~Restoring American history since 1976