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70 Sports roof. From Dearborn to Downunder

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It's a long way from Dearborn to Sydney and I don't have any history one the life of this car. All I know is that it was sold in NY State and was bought in Texas and exported to Melbourne, Australia.

This is a Grabber pack, which along with a 302/auto supplied such things as a driver and passenger sports mirror, blacked out rear panel and 69 Boss striping.


I bought it in 2015 and have only just started to get work done on it. House renovations with an endless scope creep slowed me right up.

The car isn't too bad and seems to be rust free. Plenty of bog in it and a few dodgy lines but as you see in the picture it looks good for afar. I wanted a car that I didn't have to do paint and panel as I'm no good at that but mechanically I'm all over it.


First issue I had was brakes that were like an on/off switch. A very long story here but the key points were the brake booster was missing the rubber reaction pad and the pushrod was the long length. After 2 total brake setups fitted I now have decent brakes. I had to go to an adjustable brake proportioning valve to get a decent result and I used a local Ford Falcon dual line brake master cylinder, which has the brake light switch built into it.

The plan is to drop in a roller 347 with alloy heads, a TKO600 5 speed and keep the 8" but change to a true trac with 3.50 gears. I've also got a Borgeson power steer setup for it but unsure if that will get fitted. Our registration rules here forbid any welding on any steering item and all modifications need to be passed by a mechanical engineer. Borgeson have advised that they have had customers from here have the steering boxes Xrayed for certification. Unfortunately I bought all the bits I needed when I bought the car so don't have the new style cast case.

So, the first thing to do after getting the thing registered was to fit a Holley Sniper kit. I wanted to do this before the new engine setup went in so I didn't have Big Drama's.

So, here's the way it panned out.
I bought the base system and decided I'd go for the EFI tank from Holley as well. I want a car that is integrated, reliable and works.
So, the fuel tank arrived and despite being in a Holley box, was in fact a Tanks Inc unit.IMG_0118.png.051a0338dad077f868564e30b8970776.png

So at least it's a known quantity. However since then the in-tank senders and pumps have been released and I'd go that way if I did it today. Especially when the car had a brand new tank in it already.
The fuel lines and filters I decided to do out of Aeroflow stuff - cheap, local and plenty of choices in fittings. My first plan of running -8 AN stuff was foiled, as the tank fittings didn't allow -8 fittings to, well, fit. They don't tell you that on the box.


Dammit. Back to Evil Bay and -6 stuff is bought. Anyway, who wants to be a tryhard with 800hp fuel lines on a 250hp motor?? I'm using barb fittings and secured by one use hose clamps.
Then I figured why I am running $14/metre EFI hose twice? So I bought some alloy 3/8" fuel pipe made by Aeroflow. I'd prefer to do steel but couldn't find it.

This was run up the transmission tunnel with EFI hose joining at each end.

Next, drop in the tank. The original mounting using tek screws didn't cut it so I put in nutserts and used 1/4" stainless button heads for a sexy finish.
The way the pump is mounted in the tank is a pain the in ringthing and it means you have to have hoses exposed. Due to the bigger tank in the 70 it sits flush with the boot sides so a false floor will need some thought.
Aeroflow came to the party with a 10 micron filter and neat billet alloy mount, so I cut up some 2mm sheet and mounted it to the lip under the tank. Makes for a neat hose routing and easy to remove and clean out.

I ran the fuel hoses through the boot floor using the original power wire for the sender hole and another which I drilled in. I also sheathed the original fuel sender wire and the new fuel pump wire and routed then neatly.



Up the pointy end the more observant may have spotted an issue - a 4bbl sniper going on to a 2bbl manifold. Easy fix - a Edelbrock Torker and 4bbl was for sale cheap. Sold.
Routing the wiring was fairly easy. Holley are pretty clear on wiring right first time and not to run wires next to others, and to have clean power sources.


In this shot the new 12v feed from the ignition switch  is the sheathed cable and the main harness from the Sniper is cable tied to it.
So, I spent about 2 hours trying to find clean power under the dash. The wiring had been hacked to out a better voltage resistor in, but it also has new coil wiring, a feed from the oil light and power back to a electric fuel pump. Everything I tried pulled 13.6v static but down to just under 11v when cranking. Time was a wasting so I plugged into the green/black wire after the ignition switch pink wire. At the coil there is a resister wire but stuffed if I know where they plugged it in - all the intel says a 70 has the resistor wire back to the switch. Don't you love old cars? On this wire I used some cable sheathing that is the same as what Holley uses, so it looks factory.

The carb/injection/carbtion is pretty easy to hook up. Holley give you everything, down to cable ties and wiring connections so you just need to keep going back to the box to pick up bits. 
I ran the main power harness off to the right hand side of the engine bay as it had the most room, plus the battery and also fits in with future plans for power and starter wiring.
On the battery I used Narva quick connectors so the battery can be pulled easy. The 12v switched supply I used a waterproof connector similar to the Holley stuff. The coil wire I just used a blue fitting and left the wire exposed. I'll try to get some real small sheathing and clad it in the next stage.

The oxygen sensor I put into the LH pipe, simply because the wiring comes off the LH side of the carbtion.
The accelerator cable hook up is simple - there is a plate supplied that has the correct square hole for the cable and also 4 different studs. I now have 3 spare studs if any laydeez are interested. I already had a new cable so in it went. Alignment is good. The original return spring is too heavy so I need to change that to a lighter one.

Water temp sender I put into the manifold itself, as it needs water flow (thanks Mustang 360) and I put the gauge one into the thermostat housing.
Fuel pipes I had terminated about block height and ran 2 EFI hoses up to the carbtion into -6 fittings.
Nice and neat.

The fuel pump feed wire was plenty long enough to go through the firewall, under the LH sill plate and back out into the trunk. This is run off a relay so plug and play.
Last chore is to get the 3.5" screen (sounds great until you realise that's a horizontal measurement, not diagonal) inside the car.
So far, so good. A couple of things I think I did good was to use a decent crimping tool for the electrical fittings. I bought a Narva one for about $100 and it was worth the cost. One shot crimping, no duds. I also have a Toledeo wire stripper so again, one go and it's done.
I also thought about the wiring and routed it away from the other wiring. Holley actually say cross existing wiring at right angles and don't use the aluminium sheathing which I did consider to stop interference and their manuals have on there after all the 'don'ts' that you'll thank them later for doing it right. Thanks Holley.

Now, to start up. Turn it on, the system takes 2.5 seconds to cycle on and power the fuel pump. It has a bit of noise to start but I never noticed it again.
Go through some screens on engine spec (cubes, cam, nitrous, ignition type) hit save and boot it up. (I'm working on getting that 2,000 cube monsta motor delivered next week)

Instant start up!
I didn't read the instructions to the end so the idle was too high but a couple of left turns on the idle screw on the carbtion fixed that. You can set your own idle speed so I chose 775 rpm. Because I could.
Driving it the first thought is no coughing or hesitation from dead cold. Response is much better and it's just a nice thing.

Driving down the road the display is constantly changing as it picks up the data and adjusts 'things' to suit.

So, as I stated at the start the base line was pretty naff but even on a dead stock 302 there is a big change in throttle response, the way it performs and the feel of the car. It now bags the rear up easy (OK, it's a single spinner with 14" tyres that are as hard as a steel track but let me have some glory).
I took my time with this and did the install over 3 part days by myself. I needed to get new clamps for the oxygen sensor adaptor, as the supplied ones are 2 3/8" and were too big for my pissy 2" pipes.
I can't get an air cleaner on there with the Torker manifold. I will be using an RPM air gap when I build the 347 so I'll have to think about putting either a hole in the hood or a shaker.

This conversion cost me probably $2,000 all up but I wanted to use all AN fittings and run new fuel lines and to make it look a nice install. I think it's pretty good value for me, as I don't have to muck around with carbs, tuning and poor cold starts.
With all of 30 minutes driving around the local streets so far I am sold on it and am really impressed with how it works.

Next step is to plug in a MSD6AL, MSD distributor and coil and let the carbtion do the timing as well.

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Nice to see another Grabber Special on the forum. Mine was no where near as nice as what you're staring with and the rebuilding has been slow over the past couple of years. I'll be watching to see what upgrades you are making. I like it!

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On 5/4/2019 at 11:47 PM, latoracing said:

Nice to see another Grabber Special on the forum. Mine was no where near as nice as what you're staring with and the rebuilding has been slow over the past couple of years. I'll be watching to see what upgrades you are making. I like it!

Thanks. I wasn't sure if Grabbers were anything to talk about. There's a website for them http://1970mgr.org/index.html if you didn't know about it

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On 5/7/2019 at 1:03 AM, Grabber70Mach said:

Welcome, nice looking car.  Thanks for the write up on the Sniper system, I've been wanting to do this on my 70.

Based on this experience I'd not hesitate to do it again. A few guys have dissed the concept as low rent but my needs were being able to fit it easily, it willimprove the performance and be able to adapt to performance improvements.

As I have a 347 to go into it, I'm happy with not having to visit a dyno guy twice to get the thing running well.

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Upgrade 2; MSD 6AL system (and then starter, relay, battery cables scope creep)

So, with the Sniper running good it was on to the next stage - fitting a MSD6AL, ready to run distributor and a blaster coil.

First up, I had been supplied a vacuum advance distributor from the shop I bought the whole kit from. Duh; vacuum advance isn't used on MSD.

So, lets remove the vacuum advance and lock out the rotor. Read MSD instructions, follow them and it's not right. The shaft for the vacuum unit won't come out the little hole. Despite trying, and making a bit of a mess I took matters into my own hand and pulled the top half off. Yabba dabba doo, easy.



Dratted little stud caused all this issue.


When you pull the top half off it's easy.

So, now I have a distributor time to move on. The Holley Sniper instructions tell you that you also need an adjustable rotor. For why they don't say but I dutifully paid my  bucks and bought one.

Now, where to put the box. It's an a/c car so under the dash is no room. Lots of room on drivers side but all the power is on the passenger side. And there's a particularly ugly starter solenoid over there. Only one thing to do....

Change this:


To this:


I had a Tilton super starter on the shelf to install, so why not know?

New 00 B&S cables to the starter and ground, a relay to cope with the starter loads and while I'm at it why not put in a power distribution block to handle all the power needs. To protect the alternator circuit I also made up a fusible link in 6 B&S cable. I would have liked a nice circuit breaker but nothing was sexy enough to put in.

This is the business of the red cables. The alternator feed is plugged into the battery cable which is 8 B&S. The other side has power going to the relay for the starter and across the other side the relays for the headlights. I also pulled the original wiring harness down and hooked the power feed into the distribution block. The wire sitting up is the coil feed ('I' side of the original solenoid) and the original amp meter wires I have left. I'l run an idiot light from the alternator to the dash until I make a decision on what gauges I am going with.

The battery cables are probably too big, but I want a reliable car that is over-engineered. As well as crimping all teminals to the big wires I dropped some solder in as well. No electric failures I hope.















So with the new starter installed, relay in place and wiring sorted now to put the MSD box in. I'm not totally happy with this, I should have put the power distribution block up on the strut tower and put the MSD box right down, but there's still time to change.

The wires running across the top are the power and earth for the Sniper and I looped the 6AL wiring into the conduit as well. 


Now there's more hassle with MSD wiring. Both Sniper and 6AL books gave me different instructions (to my dumb-ass eyes anyway) and it wasn't clear how to do it. A quick watch of the Holley video on fitting a 6AL with a Sniper gave me the answer; distributor output to the CD box witht he included extension cable, grey wire from the box to the purple and green wire from the Sniper, using the included plug which had only the purple wire. The white wire normally used for a coil driver is not used, but you can use it for a kill switch. The yellow wire which was used to trigger the coil now becomes redundant.

It is probably me but I found the instructions a bit confusing.

I put the coil on the driver side as I had run out of room and just extended the power wires across (about a foot anyway).

Now for the kick in the pants - the Holley video didn't mention anything about adjustable rotors, putting the distributor retarded 15 degree's. Just whack it in about 10 degrees BTDC and lock it in. So I have a spare, brand new adjustable rotor. Great.

Last steps, install the plug wires (MSD 8.5mm) check for lost tools/wires/hands and boot it up. Yes, that K&N filter just misses the plug ends. Still need to put the wire routers on to make it neater, but that will come with the new engine.
















Started first go, timing was showing on the Sniper screen and all was good.

First thing I noticed is it idled too high. So, I backed off the idle screw a tad and it settled down (this is in direct contrast to having to wind it up when first installed)

Took it for a run, runs well but I haven't driven it enough to complete the learning. 

The install was nice and easy, the biggest issue was trying to find a decent spot to put things and to route the wiring nicely. Once I had the wires figured out it was fine.

I used decent tools for this - a Narva (local go-to brand) pro wire crimper, a B&S terminal crimper and a decent soldering iron and blow torch. I used heat shrink on all connections and cable-tied it all back. They did make it easy, terminal crimps first time, no waste.

If you're wondering I have a trickle charger on the battery which is what the clips on the battery terminals are.

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Nice, Thanks for the write-up.  I just ordered my Sniper and Aeromotive tank.  Currently running a MSD pro billet distributor and a 6 series box.

Looking forward to hearing more of your impressions of the setup after you get some more seat time with it.

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Stereo Install

So now the car is running well, next step is to out in some decent music. As much as I like the sound of a V8 there are times I need to rock out.

Looked around at various options like Sony, Kicker, Rockford Fosgate, etc. My wife has a kicker system in her toy but it's not that impressive. I went to a local specialist to buy Rockford speakers and amp and ended up buying a Hertz system. Never heard of it, was a bit suss but pricing was good and the salesman reckoned for what I wanted - just good decent clear music with some bass - it would do the job.

So, I bought a 10" subwoofer, 4 channel amp, 6x9 3 ways and 4" for the front as I wanted to keep the original factory speaker locations in the doors. The head unit I bought a Kenwood media player as CD's are so last century. Bluetooth, Pandora, USB input and pre-outs. Along the way, I found a new Hertz 5 channel amp cheap so grabbed that.

So, the start was to pull out the parcel shelf and mount the sub (which was in an enclosed box) and the rear speakers.


I centered this on the parcel shelf using an existing hole that was there. Using rivnuts into the box it's a nice clean mount.

Next was the 6x9's. There was 2 holes already there so I put these where I took the least amount of metal out. They ended up right on the ends of the shelf which I was happy with.



The finished shelf.


I trimmed the cut in the parcel shelf with some U channel rubber so it looks clean.


Then, the amp. Not much room to place one in the boot of a Sports roof and I decided to place it horizontal right behind the rear seat. I wanted to be able to access it easily if needed and taking the rear seat back off it not too much hassle (this is not a fold down seat car).


A piece of 20mm MDF did the job. Some black spray paint and 4 rubber insulators had it mounted. I screwed it to some brackets on the wheel arch side and in a moment of brilliance (?) I used hook and tongue 3m tape to hold the inside edge down.


The Amp pretty well done, with speakers and Sub Woofer box shown.


Then, running the wiring back to the amp from the head unit was fun. More like spaghetti at the start, until I had them all in order and ready to run.


One D'Oh moment was not matching the pairs at the amp end, but a multi meter when wiring them up sorted that out. I used coloured wire matching the head unit positive and plain black for the negative.


I put the bundle through the driver side sill, as the power went through the passenger side. The bundle had the pre-out RCA cable for the sub, all 4 speaker out wires and the front speaker wires as well, so was quite a fat item.


I used Summit cable sheath to protect it at critical points. As an aside, I love that stuff. It is easy to work with, tough and doesn't fray and looks good.


My trusty pal wasn't much help during this work.


The front door speakers caused me a lot of thought. I started with 4" ones but decided they would not be much good. Some of the forums I looked at about car stereos said that 'front of stage' is where you wanted your sound, not at the rear. Made sense to me, so I went about bought a pair of 6.5" speakers with separate tweeters. I have this set up as factory in my Falcon and once I started playing with the settings I could tell the difference.

But, that meant cutting into the door panels and trying to mount the tweeters on the A pillars. So, more research showed that Hertz actually do make a 4" x 6" speaker. I had been searching for a 6" x 4" speaker so Mr Google failed me.

Now a much happier speaker owner, I went to work. I had to make up some mild steel backing plates to mount them, but once done they fitted into the holes like a dream. I couldn't use the original plastic mounts as they would have spaced the speakers out too far.


The car had Ken Harrison speakers fitted:


The Hertz ones are pretty identical with lots of choices to put screws through.

I wanted to use the original speaker covers as they were new repro. Lots of clearance, factory look.


Now, the hardest part - fitting the head unit into the factory bezel. I have a bent to make cars look original but they hide a sledge hammer. This is a base model and there are single DIN bezels available but they look crap in my opinion.

I think it was on here someone cut up and original black and chrome bezel to fit a single DIN, so I bought a repro one for that use. First task was to make up a housing for it. Some scrap black plastic did the job. I don't have pictures of it being done, but I cut it in half just above the bottom opening, chopped out the amount from the sides to match the height of the radio box, then glued it all back together with plenty of support. The radio is pretty light so I can't see it busting.

For the wiring into the head unit I used Narva plugs so there are 2 connectors for all wires. I also have the pro quality ratchet crimper so every connection is good.

The finished product:


The cable above is for the Holley Sniper which I ran through a gap I made at the top of the bezel.

So, how does it sound and was it worth it? Hell Yeah!! The sound - and especially from the fronts, for the size of them - is damn impressive, clear, beefy and loud. I can get the side mirrors shaking without any distortion.

I think it all cost me about $1,000 Australian for the bits and around 4 weekends or more to put it all together. I took my time, making sure things were right. 

The Hertz stuff is quite under rated - Although the front speakers are only rated at 40 watt continuous (80W max,) they pump some good sound and I have the front of stage effect I wanted. The other smaller speakers I found were only 30-35 watts.

I ran the power wiring direct off the distribution block shown in the MSD posts so it is 'clean' and the earth for the amp I tapped an existing bolt hole and put a bolt in there. All the power wiring I crimped but also soldered.

Been out and about in it for a while, radio is clear, bluetooth phone works well and the doof doof (aussie slang for a kid in a shitbox car with a mega stereo) makes heads turn.

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Tail light upgrade

I saw on another forum an upgrade to 3 lights for the tail lights, instead of the single light.

So about 50 bucks later I had the kit. It's a Scott Drake kit and is pretty simple


These sit under the tail light lens and are held in place by the lens locating screw.

Fit was a bit ordinary; the lens sat a bit proud of the base and despite trimming the front and back of the vertical separators I was never happy with the fit, but they are done.

As in Australia we must have both tail lights showing when the brakes are on, most cars get converted to have the reverse lights as the indicators and the brake lights both work at once. 

So I joined all 3 light's wiring into a single plug, and also ran a earth direct from the plate insert. All 3 bulbs now work for park and stop lights.

I changed the main harness to accept the same plug and ran an earth wire from each light.


Even though the Scott Drake catalogue shows a grommet mine didn't have one but my trusty spares box had one. I bought a set of leather punches just for this sort of purpose, to be able to cut a nice clean hole.


I need to get an 'after' but this is the 'before' shot of the brake lights on:


This is the 'after' shot of just the tail lights (it was taken in the middle of the day so not real indicative)



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Radiator and electric fan upgrade

I started driving the car for real during February which is our summer. Not really driven it far before then and for only short trips to check things like the brakes, so putting about 100 miles on it in traffic showed that the cooling was not great. It overheated after about 15 minutes and wouldn't cool down until it got a good run, which is hard to do in the 'burbs. The car had a 20" radiator with a 5 blade steel fan and no shroud.

So I turned to my spares shelf and plucked off a GPI 24" alloy radiator that I had bought some years back. This came with 2 x electric fans included. The quality is questionable as the whole kit cost $240 Australian (about $200 US).

The radiator looks to be decent quality, the welds are nice and it looks like it should.


First issue, the opening for the radiator was just a tad too wide to bolt it in comfortably:



Even though I used rivnuts in the radiator there just wasn't enough room to get a bolt in, so I welded in a couple of 1" wide strips so the opening was now as wide as the core.

The height of the new radiator was as big as you could get in there. I removed the (1) original lower mount and out a 15mm spacer under the radiator and bolted it in. First test had the driver side tank touching the hood, so that had to go down a few mm. This was tight as the lower hose inlet sat right above the strut bar cross member.

But, get it in I did and it looked like this. Note the lower hose inlet location, we'll address that later.


Next, mount and wire the included electric fans. These were 10" diameter and could be run as push or pullers. For reasons only known to me I decided to mount them in front of the radiator. Probably to keep the engine bay clean looking and to be able to run the relay wiring neatly, although in the shot above there is plenty of room.


This shot shows the welding insert, the relay mounts and the fans.

I am running a Holley Sniper which allows for 2 fans to be controlled with on and off for both fans adjustable. I set this at 190 on and off at 180 for the first fan and 200 on 190 off for the second one.

Now the problems started. I had bought a new hose set from Summit and the lower hose didn't fit. It was for a radiator that had the inlet right at the very end of the bottom tank. Remember how this car has been put together from random parts? After looking and researching it appears that the hose that was fitted was from a Ford Falcon XW & XY with a Cleveland engine. For all of those who have this issue this is the part number you need:


No thanks to the parts jockeys at all our major parts shops. Half of them are kids who asked me what a 302 Windsor was. I need to start my own parts shop I think.

Anyway, cooling now fixed, whats the next issue? Oh, they have used one belt to run the alternator and the power steer, not two. Now, I don't know what the exact set up is, but it appears to me that the alternator is driven off the water pump and the power steer off the crank, based on pictures I have seen.

So the pulley lined up with the alternator and the power steer, so I ended up spacing the power steer pump out about 30mm to run the two belts. Still not happy but it's running.

First drive, we get up to about 190 degree's quickly.Easy I think, I just dial up fan control and drop them 10 degree's on run temp. No difference, we still hit 210 and climbing. Dammit.

I research fans and find Spal, Mishmoto and all variations between. You have to use a shroud, no you don't. Use a BF Falcon set up seems to be the solution for most Aussie's, but that needs cutting, trimming, modification. Then I find Aussie Desert Coolers in Melbourne. Over-engineered they promise. We'll fix it. So I call them and tell them what I have. Easy they tell me, give us the width of the radiator core and the width of the mount tabs and we'll do the rest. How much? $295 delivered for 2 x 12" 1,000 CFM fans, mounted and wired. Shut up and take my money I says.

A week later, look what turns up, (and in the meantime I have spaced the power steer pump, aligned all the belts and made it nice):IMG_2183.thumb.JPG.938962cdf9db8db0131a7089656c80c8.JPG

Damn if that's not  good product. 220 watts each motor, pisses on the 80W supplied with the radiator. But that means more improvements, more power to the relays and bigger wires from the relays.

So I have run 8 AWG wire across the front of the car to a junction block and have put the fan relays there with the headlight relays, and put new 5mm wire to the fans. A decent body earth and nicely tied in.


Now all is sorted, test run it in the shed and let it get hot. 185 degree's, first fan comes on. It is quiet and powerful. I had the radiator cap off to burp the cooling system and it was pulling the steam down into the fan.

I let it get hot and the second fan comes on. The temps are dropping nicely, brings it back under 190 and holds it.

I go to take it for a test drive and I have no brakes!. FAAAAAARRRRRK the repop booster has failed after less than 100 miles driving. Folks, I did say I had no issues with a repop but now I have the original Bendix in with the shop to rebuild. The old saying goes buy the best first time because it will cost you in the end of you don't.

To be continued....

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