TTAC Project Car: It's About Time!

Sajeev Mehta
by Sajeev Mehta
The prolonged journey of TTAC’s Ford Sierra is partly because of my prolonged recovery from Stevens-Johnson Syndrome. While other projects never help matters, the excuses end now.Because, even during the depths of my recovery, my vision never faltered; thanks to prednisone’s side effects during treatment, said vision became a C4 Corvette-like laser-infused slalom but with Young the Giant screeching in the background.So it’s about time I drove to my friend Brian’s shop and made it happen.
Let’s do it, but remember the mission: to improve performance via Ford donor cars of the era, honoring the time when boneheaded computers made radical aerodynamic shapes that altered our automotive landscape.The 1989 Merkur XR4ti’s superior suspension, brakes and larger differential bolted up easily, but our donor had a bashed engine crossmember. Mercifully, the Sierra’s unit accepted everything up front — being right hand drive wasn’t an issue!Upgrades include Koni shocks and rear disc brakes from one of the Thunderbird donor cars.
Adding American ingenuity to West German engineering involved upgraded rolling stock… parts of which haven’t been rolling for years. This better work!
Can you say sleeper?The choice of the 15×7-inch Ford Mustang 10-hole (teledial) wheels (with grippy Spec Miata rain tires) is the widest setup to fit a stock chassis. And these Fox Body wheels provide the perfect offset and 1980s aerodynamic swagger for a Ghia-spec, near-luxury, British family car.
While no Chevy Nova on slicks, the difference from a 165 mm, 13-inch wheel to a 205 mm, 15-incher gives the little Ford a tough demeanor.No wonder the Bondurant Driving School used them on their Merkurs!
Since the body was ready to test fit its new motor, we spent hours determining the best bits: parts from a 1985 and 1987 Thunderbird Turbo, plus the 1989 Merkur gave us options.I also splashed the cash on ported intakes (one is on the right), even a ported and ceramic-coated “E6” exhaust manifold (the better flowing option).
The most important bit was the larger Garrett T3 from earlier turbo Fords, seen here getting a clean with leftover cam covers (destined to be garage art).
Those factory covers were cool, until the uber-rare Ford Motorsport cam cover (finished in brown like the motor, ‘natch) hit my Facebook feed. And it’s beyond worthy considering there’s a BoPort 2.1 roller camshaft within.So let’s get that motor installed!
Out goes the Nova so the Sierra can get its new engine. Except not.The fancy aluminum engine mounts/brackets of a Merkur’s 2.3-liter turbo “Lima” are 2 inches wider than the Sierra’s 2.0L “Pinto” crossmember.We huffed, we puffed, we failed: why, oh why, did our donor car have a smashed crossmember? That’s one bit we cannot replicate (easily).
Mercifully the Turbo Ford community on Facebook is strong, and a solid Merkur XR4ti crossmember was boxed up within hours of hitting this brick wall. Apparently those addicted to social media are not always clueless!While this won’t be the last roadblock, it hopefully was the worst.

Why? Because everything else in our parts cache is appears intact, as they were pulled from running vehicles.The only thing missing to complete the engine swap is a low-mount alternator: it shall clean up the engine bay and smooth out/shorten the distance from the (aftermarket front-mount) intercooler to the throttle body. Shouldn’t be hard considering the Sierra has no power steering or A/C to complicate matters, right?
Oh Google Image Search, what wonders you find us!Here’s to hoping the local junkyards have a 92-94 only (yes, really) Ford Ranger with these brackets and pulleys. I’m visiting one with a complete (looking?) 1992 Ranger shortly after I hit the send button on this article!Not to worry, the Sierra’s time will come. Soon.[Images:© 2018 Sajeev Mehta and]
Sajeev Mehta
Sajeev Mehta

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  • Ford.scorpio Ford.scorpio on Dec 08, 2018

    Good morning, very nice article! I have the ranger set up & brackets if you need them including PS pump. You can find me on the merkurclub forum; just listed some XR's... Jan

  • Art Vandelay Art Vandelay on Dec 09, 2018

    I need a Lima 2.3T in my life. I think an 85-88 Thunderbird Turbo would fit the bill. But then I'd be tempted to try to make an ecoboost 3.5 fit.

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  • Varezhka And why exactly was it that Tesla decided not to coat their stainless steel bodies, again? My old steel capped Volant skis still looks clean without a rust in sight thanks to that metal vapor coating. It's not exactly a new technology.
  • GIJOOOE “Sounds” about as exciting as driving a golf cart, fake gear shifts or not. I truly hope that Dodge and the other big American car makers pull their heads out of the electric clouds and continue to offer performance cars with big horsepower internal combustion engines that require some form of multi gear transmissions and high octane fuel, even if they have to make them in relatively small quantities and market them specifically to gearheads like me. I will resist the ev future for as long as I have breath in my lungs and an excellent credit score/big bank account. People like me, who have loved fast cars for as long as I can remember, need a car that has an engine that sounds properly pissed off when I hit the gas pedal and accelerate through the gears.
  • Kcflyer libs have been subsidizing college for decades. The predictable result is soaring cost of college and dramatic increases in useless degrees. Their solution? More subsidies of course. EV policy will follow the same failed logic. Because it's not like it's their money. Not saying the republicans are any better, they talk a good game but spend like drunken sailors to buy votes just like the libs. The sole function of the U.S. government is to take money from people who earn it and give it away to people who didn't.
  • CecilSaxon Sounds about as smart as VW's "SoundAktor"