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by Jon Mikelonis

Have you ever read any of those famous CarTech books like "How to Build Max Performance Ford V8's on a Budget", "How to Build Big Inch Ford Small Blocks", or "How to Build Horsepower"? If you are like any other do-it-yourself Ford enthusiast then you probably have. All three titles are aimed at the power hungry hobbyist in search of more horsepower and torque. Between the covers, the reader finds information on optimium component interchanges, proper cam selection, proven engine combinations, dyno tests, and more. On the other hand, these informative resources share similarities that are a bit more discrete. Reading from beginning to end, you'll encounter subtle tokens of
wisdom the seasoned technical authors have worked into the copy.. Careful not to discourage you from purchasing the book or straying too far from the title's original purpose, some of the most valuable information is found in less prominent areas, like the last chapter for instance. Shortly after learning performance engine building tips, the reader is offered critical but lackluster suggestions emphasizing the importance of braking systems, cooling systems, and the quality of auxiliary equipment. The kind of wisdom the budget conscious wrench tends to read reluctantly, if at all.

On the last page of the last section of "How to Build Max Performance Ford V8's on a Budget", author George Reid provides advice on including a quality starter and alternator in your performance engine build. Advice FordMuscle disregarded when we built our Streetwise 460 for Project Torino. Yes, we figured we could "get by" with a chain store rebuilt starter and a 70's era 60-amp Motorcraft alternator. While the factory alternator was satisfactoy, when used in conjunction with a weak starter we faced some problems.

In this article we'll show you how we honored the prophecies of experienced builders and installed both a high torque starter and 3G alternator in our early Ford. OK, let's get real. Perhaps it wasn't so much about honoring those who travelled before us as it was about preventing more public humiliation. You see, it was rather embarrasing to find ourselves stranded at a Summit Racing Equipment Show N' Shine this past July. Stranded because we used a chain store non-PMGR starter which was powered by a battery that was backed up by a weak alternator.

FordMuscle has installed high torque starters and high amperage 3G alternators on late model Fords in the past. Finally, because of this article, we'll no longer have to apologize for neglecting the early Ford set. When we discussed our Torino starting problems with PA Performance, a FM sponsor, they helped us out by providing their Mini-Starter and 95 amp 3G Alternator Upgrade kit. In following pages we'll demonstrate the install of both of these performance auxiliary components on our 70's intermediate. Keep in mind that the procedure is much the same for nearly all early Fords with externally regulated alternators.

PA Performance PMGR Mini-Starter
The unit shown here is the PA Performance PMGR (Permanent Magnet Gear-Reduction) Mini-Starter. Our subject car was equipped with a stock Postive Engagement starter. For background on the operational differences between the Postive Engagement and PMGR starters, see the article Gentlemen Start Your Engines. View the following video clips for a functional comparison. In addition to offering the twist needed for our 460, the PA Performance Mini-Starter sounds killer during the spin cycle.

The failing stock "rebuilt" starter seemed to have an axe to grind with us. Better yet, the starter had an axe to grind with our flexplate.

Not only does the higher torque of the PA Performance Mini-Starter offer the twist needed for our 460, but it sounds killer during the spin cycle.

Starter Installation
Installing the Mini-Starter is very straight forward. Follow along here for a step-by-step demonstration showing every bolt we turned and precaution we took.

We jacked the car up and got stands under all four corners to make the removal of the old starter and install of our new starter obstruction free.
As always, when working on the charging system we were sure to disable the battery.

We didn't challenge the supplied instructions, we removed the starter wire from the negative side of the starter relay just as they specified.

The starter wire was to be moved over to the postive side of the relay.

With everything that was already mounted on this side of the relay, the heavy gauge of the starter cable meant we needed to better organize the arrangement.
After we pulled out the old starter we brought the starter cable up into the motor compartment.

The new starter includes this red wire which we installed on the negative side of the starter relay.

TThe wire provided was long so we needed to cut, strip, and crimp, for a perfect length.
(Starter Installation Continued)
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In This Article:
In the quest for more horsepower, hobbyists might find it tempting to skimp with a standard rebuilt starter or alternator. Don't do it! We'll show you why on FordMuscle's Project Torino.


The stock Postive Engagement starter on the left once turned the Streetwise 460 in Project Torino until a no-start condition occured on our way out of the Summit Show N' Shine in early July. On the right is the PA Performance PMGR Mini-Starter. In combination with a fully charged battery and new 3G alternator, our starting problems were long gone. We'll provide you with some great before and after video along with the usual "FM style" step-by-step install.

This is the PA Peformance 3G alternator and accessories required for a 1G to 3G upgrade for Early Fords, like our Project Torino. We'll provide some background on Ford alternators and show you how we installed the 3rd Generation alternator safely.


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