Winter Work


New Member
Aug 27, 2003
Ok, so I have around $2k to play with this winter, and I want to know what add-ons I can do to my car with this money. Car is a '96 Saleen with an aftermarket Vortec S/C. First thing is I am getting the top end rebuilt (high miles on engine). Now, what do I choose next:

1. Power Pipe ($200)
2. PI Headswap (not sure about the labor/parts cost)
3. Vortech Intercooler
4. Cams?

I just had the car dyno'd at almost 300rwhp, and I would like to add around 50 rwhp, possibly higher. All other equipment is in place such as fuel pump, #24 lb injectors, and such. I don't race the car on the track at all, and this is a weekend only driver.
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With pi heads on your stock block you will have like 10:5:1 cr ,you would definetly need an intercooler. I would get an intercooler, add more boost, and larger injectors at least 30lb ,a power pipe. I would keep your stock heads unless you rebuild the bottom end with a lower cr ratio for the pi heads.You will want you engine to breathe and exhale well so I would say a better exhasut to if you havent already.
just get your stock heads ported and polished. there are big gains from that and you save lots of money. Also, grab a PI intake. They're worth like 20 hp! Along with that, a stage I set of VT blower cams and you'll be putting down SERIOUS power.

There are automatic 4.6L thunderbirds over at the modular depot with ported 96~98 heads, PI intakes and PI cams running 12's N/A!!!
Ok...I like the sound of the P+P, but where do I get the PI intake?? Also, what am I looking at for this work???

Onlyme, so your saying forget the head swap, and maybe just do the P+P that FRPC is telling me about??...I did not know that ratio stuff, so I'm glad you told me. Also, what kind of gains am I looking at IF I just go with the P+P and cams? (that damn intercooler is $1400 alone).
PI cams and Intake can be found cheap. go to modular depot and ask around. there are lots of guys selling them.. they came stock on 99 + 4.6L

If not there, check They've got the best prices on ford parts that I know of.

As far as power gains, I'm not sure since you've got a blower but N/A ported heads, PI intake and cams nets around 50ish HP. I would STRONGLY reccomend you get a set of VT blower cams though. Alone, those are worth an easy 35 hp. They're about $550 a pair so it's not too bad.

I would estimate you paying about $1000 for a decent port and polish, cams, intake and install. :nice:
Thanks.....I think I'll go with those blower cams like you said.....whats your opinion on the intercooler???.....Sounds like I may not need to do that since I will be getting the HP that I am looking for with these upgrades.
well...honestly for the price of an intercooler, you can get a lot more stuff. the intercooler would be a good choice if you're planning on running more boost. I'd start with the headwork, cams and intake to get a good foundation to work with. Those mods alone will yield more performance than the intercooler. After that (if your internals aren't forged) I would either get a set of forged pistons and rods or the intercooler.

Just for future reference, unless you're going to be making stupid amounts of power, a forged cobra crank isn't necessary. The GT cranks are good to over 550 hp so that's an extra $600 you can save for other stuff.

I think a set of forged pistons and rods will run about the same price as the intercoolef. Not sure what all kinda manifold pieces have to be fabricated to get the intercooler properly setup but I'm willing to bet that the cost of that work will be about the same as the cost of getting the pistons and rods put in the bottom end. If it were me, I'd personally get forged stuff. The stock internals are only good to about 400~425 ish.

Your 96-98 heads will have a differant port shape than the pi intake though so your heads will have to be port matched to the pi intake. See the pre pi heads heave teardrop shaped intake ports where the pi heads have rectangular so does the intake so you will have to have your heads port mathed to the intake. I have read somewhere on this board you can have your stock plastic intake ported,then you could maybe go with a c@l upper and a 70mmtbody?
PI intake doesn't fit your heads properly. I think it can be made to fit. I wasn't aware it was better. The PI headswap will help the most. You may end up with compression issues as someone else said. That will be fine if you do the bottom end. Do it now , before you have to do it later. :p
OK, I'm a little lost now.....can I just do the P+P w/a PI Intake if I get them machined to match???.....I would rather not do any bottom end work, or forged internals.....basically, I am looking at wanting around 350RWHP, and I really don't see myself going over that.

Out of curiousity tho, how much would I be looking at for forged internals??
check out for the best prices and deals on modular engine parts. you know cobrakiller? this is his site.

I think they offer everything from DIY kits all the way to completely assembled forged shortblocks at very reasonable prices.

As far as your initial question goes, Find a good machining shop or performance shop who does head porting and take your stock headsd to them and get them to fully port and polish your heads with oversized valves and to also port match the intake runners on teh heads to match up with the intake runners on the PI intake manifold. It's a lot easier than trying to use bondo to make the intake port openings match up.

If all you're looking for is 350, a pair of blower cams and a powerpipe would probably get you there easily but you will get phenomenal gains with headwork due to the fact that you've got the blower. higher flowing heads will really wake your car up. Hell, there are guys N/A with headwork and cams making over 300 hp so 350 is EASY for you.