North American Turbocoupe Organization

Radiator upgrade or OEM replacement?
Interceptor86 Offline
Junior Member
I’m sure it’s been covered in the past, but maybe newer options are available... What’s the best route to take for a new radiator? I have a bone stock and original 86’ TC and I will be looking to keep it mostly stock with some minor bolt-on modifications. I noticed the radiator looked a little crudy, so I’d like to know what is the beat option for a replacement? Again, the car will be a basic bolt-on car, maybe an upgraded turbo and add an IC. Otherwise, a nice cruiser. Let me know whats a good route take and who are the go-to tunerss for our platform.
  Thank you very much in advance.

Kuch Offline
Senior Member
I have used both the standard "556" replacement single row as well as the double row "556" which they sometimes call the heavy duty cooling version. Both are cheap, easily available, and they both work well with our cars
1988 Turbo Coupe, Black/Black, 5 Speed, Moonroof,  T3/T4, ported E6, 255LPH, Kirban, Stinger Exhaust, MGW shifter, K&N, Gillis valve, BP1.5, PIMPx, Koni's
1964 Ford Galaxie 500XL, 390 6V, Big Solid cam, Headers,3.89's, 4 Speed, Vast and fast
1960 Ford Starliner, 292 Y Block, 312 4bbl intake, headers, 3 Speed, slow and low

John B Offline
I went with a 3 core aluminum radiator with two fan shroud but I also have a lot of modifications where additional cooling would be beneficial. I think as long as your fans and shroud are in good condition and the application is mostly stock, you'll be fine with either stock options of radiator. This doesn't really apply to the 83-86 crowd but the 87-88 cooling of the radiator is also very dependent on the front lip (lack of open grill).

As far as tuning goes, you have some options. If your application will remain mostly stock, you can probably get away with the stock ECU and injectors. They are very limited though in both power and tunability. I would recommend visiting and taking a look at the FAQ section. There is a ton of information including the capabilities of each platform. With the stock ECU, injectors, pumps, etc., outside of elevated fuel pressure from an adjustable FPR, there's not much you can do.

Your next option is a programmable chip that piggybacks on the stock ECU. I don't have any personal experience with these so I can't comment.

The third option (and best in my opinion) is going with a standalone, plug n play ECU from Stinger Performance (Called the Pimpx/Pimpxs). This ECU replaces your stock ECU gives you full tunability over the car. I have to say that out of all the mods I have done to the car, this has been (by far) the best one. You can tune the car straight from your laptop. The community is great and Shannon from Stinger is extremely helpful. This also converts the car to speed density so the VAM goes in the garbage. I HIGHLY recommend this route if you're looking to tune the car and get the most out of it.
88 Turbo Coupe: Front mount intercooler, MGW short throw shifter, full coilover conversion, tubular control arms front and rear, svo front brakes, vacuum assist brake swap, manual steering swap, GT35R turbo with external gate, pimpx ecu, 60lb injectors, 3 core aluminum radiator, Boport 1.5 cam, gutted upper, corbeau fixed back seats, and the list goes on.

Jeff K Offline
Any radiator that fits a FOX platform Mustang will fit the Tbird. Tons of options out there for the FOX Mustangs. I have had Summit branded Aluminum radiators in both my TC and 86 Tbird 5.0 for many years. They are really built to high standards and have performed flawlessly and cool way better than any stock replacement.
Jeff Korn

88 Turbo Coupe: Intake and exhaust mods, T3 turbo at 24 psi, forced air IC, water injection, BPV, Ranger cam, subframes, etc., etc.
86 Tbird 5.0 (original owner): intake, exhaust, valvetrain mods, 100 HP N2O, ignition, gears, suspension, etc., etc.
11 Crown Vic Interceptor
14 Toyota Camry (wifes car)
95 Taurus GL Vulcan winter beater
67 Honda 450 Super Sport - completely customized

vegas_ss Offline
Senior Member
Check with some local radiator shops. I picked up a 2 core aluminum for a very reasonable price. Generally the core size of a two core aluminum radiator is about 25% larger than a 3 core and will cool more efficiently due better airflow.
1987 TC, 5sp, Boport Stage 3 Head/2.1 Cam
1996 Impala SS, DCM, Borla Cat Back, too much other stuff!!! (SOLD)
2009 Pontiac G8 GXP 6M, 6.2l LS3, Kooks Long Tube, Hi Flo Cats, Mild Cam

Interceptor86 Offline
Junior Member
Thank you all for the replies! I'm planning on just the 'basics" for now (K&N intake mod., Gillis Boost valve, and probably a FMIC, eventually replace the whole exhaust with a Stingers dual setup. As I'm still gaining knowledge for what we can and can't do with tuning on this platform, I will base my modifications off cost/budget and availability.
I will probably look into a basic Fox-body 2 row aluminum radiator and once the "support" bolt-ons are in place (radiator, IC, AFPR/255 pump), I will work on adding more power.

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