By on July 1, 2013

Justin writes:


Last October I was able to purchase a car I had been swooning over for about 15 years: A ’98 Lincoln Mark VIII LSC. It has about 108000 miles and is my daily driver. During the summer months I generally prefer to ride a motorcycle, so I need to do something with this car. Selling it is out of the question, as it only has a few cosmetic blemishes (that will soon be tended to), so it will require some…more.

My question is, what do I go with first; Supercharger or 5-6 speed?

A good friend of mine can help me with either. As it sits, the car is completely stock. Money isn’t much of an issue, but I would like to keep total upgrades just under 10K. I am aware that sounds a bit ridiculous, but I have wanted this car since I was 12. I prefer to keep the motor I have; I want it’s heart to stay the same, but I am open to almost anything else mechanical.


Sajeev answers:

This Lincoln-Mercury fanboi’s heart just melts to hear this. It’s nice to see someone join the madness, as sanity is overrated. The sad reality is that the Mark VIII’s release in 1993 was the last time I was excited about a new product hitting the showroom…and remained excited after the initial buzz wore off.

 Sure, plenty of great iron came afterwards, but nothing that’d personally spin my personal-luxury crank.

Since I am in your shoes (sort of) with my Hot Rod Mark VIII, I can rattle off what you need to do.  With that, your $10,000 budget for powertrain upgrades is unrealistic.  I doubt you can DIY the whole thing, you’re gonna need to buy custom bits unique to Ford’s MN-12/FN-10 chassis and labor to make things that never existed for the Last of The Great Lincoln Continentals.

This isn’t a Mustang, making it all look/work like the factory intended will be…challenging.

The 6-speed swap: Temple High Performance supposedly has you covered (i.e. not an endorsement, I don’t know them) with a 6-speed swap for the low-low price of $7500 including installation.  The 6-speed is better as it seems to fit in the factory location in the transmission tunnel: not so with the T-45 5-speed stick from a normal Mustang GT. While you can source most of the parts yourself, their electronic E-brake release sounds pretty trick. The only way to know how much effort is needed is to dig into the swap yourself…or write ’em a check and watch them do the install to your satisfaction.

The Supercharger Exhaust:  Your first problem is the horrible log manifolds and crush bend tubing on the exhaust. The mid-length Kooks headers are your first purchase. Then a custom, mandrel bent exhaust with fancy mufflers and hi-flow catalytic convertors from a local shop known for high quality work. When you drop the subframe (yes really) to install the headers, this is a good time to spend the cash on new engine mounts, and any worn rubber suspension bit you might find along the way. I’d also install Addco swaybars, personally.

Congrats! You’ve probably burned through your budget! I’d recommend doing the transmission/exhaust and the misc. bits that are easily replaced when tearing into these components.  I’d rather address the transmission before the engine, because there’s a good chance that a worn out transmission behind a supercharged DOHC 4.6L** won’t last very long.

And once you’ve finished here, save your money for a Mustang Cobra whipplecharger kit, a computer re-flash and dyno tune!!!


Send your queries to [email protected]com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry…but be realistic, and use your make/model specific forums instead of TTAC for more timely advice.

 **Yes, the right answer is LSX-FTW, because it always is.  But the DOHC Modular Ford V8 was a pretty interesting bit of kit with a better exhaust note, a similar powerband and the 32-valves respond very well to supercharging (pretty easily to boot). So let Justin have his fun!

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38 Comments on “Piston Slap: Son, You’re Gonna Drive Me to Drinkin’...”

  • avatar

    The Temple trans conversion includes a SPEC clutch… ewwww… If this is going to be part of the plan, find some rube to off load the SPEC and get a good clutch from McLeod or Exedy.

  • avatar

    You might get sick of the supercharger whine in short order.

    • 0 avatar

      Tiered of supercharger whine? Blasphemy!

      You know what I get tiered of? People who whine about supercharger whine/ (eh, eh, you see what I did there?… I’ll show myself out.)

      btw, my last two cars have been supercharged… instant boost and the “power scream” never gets old.

    • 0 avatar

      Whipples don’t whine. Lysholm twin-screw FTW.

      • 0 avatar

        Yeah you might get sick of Taylor Swift for a girlfriend too. I thought the whole point of a supercharger was the whine… The extra neck snapping acceleration is what would get old 1st.

        • 0 avatar

          I’ve had to deal with too many whiney Ford alternators to ever want that from a supercharger…since there are quiet ones on the market.

          • 0 avatar

            you sure its an alternator? My Explorer’s PS pump whines like a kid not getting their way ALL the time, same with every other Ford from 1980 to 1999ish.

            I’ve learned to not hear after a while, or make fun of it.

  • avatar

    You’d probably use/enjoy the manual transmission more of the time than the supercharger, plus it does not come with a fuel consumption penalty.

    • 0 avatar

      Fuel consumption isn’t to bad with a supercharger provided it has a bypass. I better a lot of lead footed new 5.0 drivers by a good margin and get pretty close to the what the more sane drivers get in their N/A application.

      I averaged almost 23 mpg to and from DC this weekend with the bulk of my highway speeds between 70-80 mph. Drop down to 55-60 and my car will knock down almost 26 mpg. All with over 500 ft lbs and 550 hp on tap at the rear wheels.

  • avatar

    Actually, this makes me wonder…

    Would a supercharged DOHC 4.6 fit in a Panther?

  • avatar

    Since you said money isn’t much of an issue feel free to live my dream. As a 97 Mark VIII owner, this is what I would do:

    Drop the subframe and pull the engine. Sell the engine to some Mustang owner so he can have his make believe Cobra. Purchase new 5.0L V8 from ford racing ( along with PCM. Install 6 speed kit (I would buy the transmission separately and only purchase the custom pieces from Temple High Performance). Reassemble and stress the minor details like braking and handling later.

    • 0 avatar

      If money’s no object, and since he wants a blower, why not just buy a supercharged Coyote 5.0 from Roush? It’s got 600HP compared to the regular 5.0 that you linked to. Okay, so it’s $19K vs $7,200 for the regular motor, but Justin did say that money is no object.

    • 0 avatar
      TwoTone Loser

      This-sort of. Instead of going for the ohc version, its easier to get the old school 5.0 or 5.8 pushrod motor and have it built by a local shop that specializes in those engines. As an added bonus, the engine is physically smaller, allowing for a lot of extra room for turbos, superchargers, bigass headers and so forth. The ford website has a pushrod 5.0 thats costs grand more than the coyote 5.0, for example, and it makes 90 more horsepower.

      However, a local shop could take a short block and works its magic, maybe for less. maybe more. depends how fast you wanna go.

    • 0 avatar

      I forgot to mention the first thing after any engine performance mod that a Mark will need is some type of limited slip rear end. I always wanted to try the Torsen LSD kit that is available.

  • avatar

    I wouldn’t bother with the manual swap – into a car never designed for a manual, that’s a lot of money and effort and cursing for not a lot of reward. These have the same 4-speed auto as like, Mustang GT’s, Crown Vic’s, F-150’s etc, right?

    Here’s what I’d do with ten grand.

    -Built rotating assembly on that 4.6L: rods, pistons, ARP head hardware, MLS gaskets. I dunno how well these early 4.6 32v’s handle boost.
    -Blower: a TVS1900 or a Whipple. Not sure it’d be worth all the work for the stock Eaton M112 that comes on Cobras. Heaton, and all that.
    -Shift kit for the auto: Like Trans-Go or similar. Worth every penny.
    -Good rear end: replace all the bushings. Ditch the air bags and convert to coil springs with good shocks. 4.10 gears with a real LSD.
    -Drop the motor like Sajeev said, replace motor mounts/trans mounts/headers.
    -Real exhaust setup.

    I think you can squeak all this in under 10k – whereas swapping a manual (and all it’s headaches) will put you 75% through your budget before you even get started making power!

    My .02 as your average 25-year-old tuner type.


    • 0 avatar

      Actually Ford made most of the parts to make it an almost 100% bolt in, they come from a Tbird Super Coupe.

      You definitely don’t need nor want a “shift kit” you just perform the “J-mod” and use a tuner to adjust the shift points and firmness as desired.

      Loosing the air suspension is a bad idea, the ride and handling suffers.

  • avatar

    Also a “dream” car of mine in the 90’s. It’s still on my bucket list.

    My first mod would be to change the rear end gear to something like 4.10 or 3.73. Great bang for the buck and it will make a substantial difference, the car will feel a thousand pounds lighter.

    On something like a supercharger, I doubt anyone still makes a factory kit and you’d probably have to do something with a Vortech. It’s unlikely anything like a Roots-style blower that mounts on top of the engibe will fit under the hood.

    I’d buy a whole new engine before I’d drop $5k+ on a supercharger installation for a 15 year old car. You can get a brand new Ford Crate Coyote engine for something like $6k. A lot less if you want to buy a used engine with low miles. It’s not going to be a “drop in” job though.

    Probably the easiest and cheapest would be nitrous.

  • avatar

    I don’t follow the Modulars overmuch, but I do notice some conflicting info regarding the exhaust manifolds. Quite a lot of recommendations say that they suck, while a not-insignificant amount of people that seem to have experience with, and a passion for, Modulars suggest that they’re good to about 600hp, which would be more than sufficient for the intended application IMO.

    • 0 avatar

      Mark VIII log manifolds are horrible, 1996-up Cobras are supposedly a good bit better. Cobra DOHC manifolds are far nicer “flowing”…compare the two side by side and you will see the difference.

  • avatar

    Having had a lot of experience with Mark VIIIs, here are some things I would do before I spent money on a supercharger.

    1. Replace the 4R70W transmission with a recent GM 6 speed automatic. Someone makes a kit to do this. It will make the car much more pleasant to drive.

    2. Change the rear gear from a 3.08 to about a 3.5. With a GM 6 speed, this will give you about the same RPM in top gear, but lots of better gearing for acceleration.

    3. Have the computer reprogrammed. If the 97 could get back to the calibration of the 93, there would be a signifigant power increase. And the aftermarket can do better than that.

    4. Replace the stock alternator with one from PowerMaster, or equivalaent. Getting stuck with a dead Ford alternator, with no replacement for a Mark VIII available, gets old real quickly.

    5. Replace the rag joint in the steering intermediate shaft with a real U-joint from Borgeson.

    6. Add an ADDCO bar to the rear, keeping the front stock. This will reduce the understeer a lot.

    Good luck. I agree with Sajeev that Lincoln hasn’t made a luxury car like this since the Mark VIII disappeared.


    • 0 avatar

      If I didn’t get a J-MOD rebuild with a nice billet convertor, I’d be soiling myself to get that 6-speed in mine. Definitely when this one bites the dust…20 years from now.

    • 0 avatar

      Relton, do you have any additional information on the GM 6 speed swap? I searched around but couldn’t find anything. I would seriously consider this swap for my Mark VIII.

      • 0 avatar

        The kit that was offered was for a 4L60E trans, but anywhere the old 4L60E goes, the new 6 speed auto will go as well.

        There was a T-Bird featured in Hot Rod several years back with this conversion.

  • avatar

    I have always wanted to see what one would look like without the fake spare tire hump. I think it would be slick.

    Mark VIII Trivia: In it’s day it won the Car Wash Association “car of the year” as the easiest car to wash!

  • avatar

    Go for the blower right off the bat. Start with lower boost and work your way up. The 4R70 will take the beating for a bit, the J mod and removing one of the springs out of the 1-2 accumulator piston will firm up the shifts a lot and help it last a bit longer. Or just build it up to begin with, can be done to hold at least 400hp (depending on your boost) or so ~$1500, plus a higher stall converter.

    You’ll want to budget for a decent limited slip rear diff as well. If you shop for a decent used supercharger kit, you should be able to get it done for under 10k.

  • avatar

    I love some of these replies. The first thing the guy said was that he DID NOT feel the need to change engines, yet the first thing some commenters think about are crate engines. I guess no one reads what is written any more.

  • avatar
    MRF 95 T-Bird

    The 4R70W transmission is fairly reliable. Adding the J-Mod but a transmission oil cooler is a good investment for longevity. Additionally a chip/module and K&N filter will improve performance and fuel economy.

  • avatar

    Jeeves, LSX-FTW is never the right answer in a Mark VIII. You know this to be true. :)

    While the stock internals in a Mark VIII or NA Cobra (’96-’01) aren’t going to be up to much in the way of boost – 7 psi is pushing your luck with the stock pistons and rods – there exists a robust, if expensive, aftermarket for stronger internals. Also, one can still find ’03-’04 Cobra engines from cars that have met an early demise, and Ford Racing Parts sells the Aluminator crate motors in NA and blown forms. And if you’re up for a minor packaging challenge, the ’07-up GT 500 engines are, of course, based off the same thing, though I doubt they’d fit under a FN10 hood.

    A mod motor is never going to be as cheap as a bellybutton, but it’s far more interesting.

  • avatar

    a Mark VIII with the 5.0 coyote engine.. a guy can dream no?

  • avatar

    Can you fabricate? My recent 6 speed swap into my Marauder was done for under $2,000! Wise shopping of course.. Since I am running a Cobra block now, roots boosted at 20 1/2 #s and cammed, the only logical choice was a 2012 GT500 TR6060 w/twin disc. Besides the pedals, all the rest was too easy. I insisted on not losing any factory options such as electric pedals, plus I would never go the hack way so obviously it is all hydraulic.

    So if you can do the work, then why not do both? You can easily do an Eaton swap and a 6 speed for under 10 large including the dyno…

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