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Turbocharging a ford i6 170

9439 Views 77 Replies 24 Participants Last post by  1stLove
Is it possible to turbocharge one? I have only found one video about turbocharging a 200 and was wondering how would it work and is it feasible. What would I have to change, because I the engine needs to be upgraded to be able to sustain the power and other parts like the rear axle. How would one go about turbocharging a carbureted engine? Is it possible to get a good power gain from it or am I very limited? How would you control the turbo to avoid blowing it up? I just became very curious about this and want to hear more from the community to know how would this work and is it worth a shot.
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Throwing a turbo on a 170 is the last thing you should do.

Everything on the engine and drivetrain would need to be upgraded first.

Want to grenade an engine? Throw a turbo on it without really knowing what you are doing.
Yea, I Was thinking it might just make it blow up, but don't know if it was possible to avoid it.
Sure it's possible but is it practical? You could turbocharge a lawn mower engine if you really wanted to. The 170 is not a good candidate. It has fewer main crankshaft bearings than the 200.
How to do it is beyond the scope of this website. I'm sure there are thousands of websites devoted to adding turbos to any gasoline engine. Google it and start reading.
Yea it has 3 bearings, but I didn't know if that had a massive effect, but now I know though.
Back in the 1970's, in London Ontario, there was a fellow who put a honking turbo on his two tone (faded green and rust) Pinto. He blew off 383 Cuda's on the highway. Do-able? Sure. And about as controllable as a cannon shot. I never heard much of that car after just one summer, so that must say something.
As an addendum, when Porsche first put a turbo on their 911 in 1976 or so (now called the "Porsche Turbo"), it produced a sensational 0-60 time of around 5 seconds. Good for then, meh for now, but the Turbo was notorious for trigger like on/off action of the turbo, as waste gate management was in its infancy. You HAD to treat the car with respect or it would truly bite you.
Now if the OP finds a way to turbo his 170, not only will he have to find a way to still make it live more than 15 minutes, it will need proper thought and engineering to make the turbo step in gradually enough that it will still be decently drivable with even cylinder loads what with the log manifolding and so on.
Engineering a lot it looks like, I mean I am stuck at home. Maybe time to design something lol
While I'm not an expert, here's what I'm thinking...

- A boosted engine requires a special build. The pistons should be forged and the ring gaps should be specific for boost

- A turbo setup requires a LOT of fabrication. Such fabrication takes a lot of skill, like TIG welding, and many components. This add up very quickly to big dollars.

- If you did get a turbo working well in an I-6 Mustang, you'd have upgrade everything specific to the I-6 Mustang: 5 lugs, brakes, springs, diff, drive shaft, transmission...

- Unlike turbos of the past, modern turbos use oil from the engine. They spin up fast, make a lot of boost and they last a long time.

So, yeah. It would be really cool, but also very involved and very expensive. The pic Bart posted above is badass. But this is project for a very advanced builder with deep pockets and not something for a shade tree mechanic on a budget.

The Roadkill "Rotsun" is an example of someone bolting a turbo on a car and slapping everything together. Not surprisingly, it breaks constantly.
The rotsun was one of my inspirations, but of course they know much more than I do. It would require me to learn a lot more.
Drop in an Aussie 'Barra' engine. Then upgrade EVERYTHING in the drivetrain.. and hang on!

Sent from my SM-G950F using Tapatalk
Yea, I have heard of barra swaps and even wrote a post considering one, but the problem I feel like is getting parts in the states.
I did not know what a Aussie 'Barra' engine was until this afternoon while watching Hotrod Garage while wrenching on the Mustang. Of course they tried to replicate it with GM "Holden" stuff as usual. I know they are easy and cheap to get in your neighborhood, but not here. Ever think about going into the export business?
The OP didnt know a 170 is a 3 bearing block. Good luck.
Still learning, eventually I will get there.
ok a few things here, first the 170 has FOUR main bearings not three. granted it isnt the best set up with an inline engine, but it does well.

now on to turboing the 170;

1: first build the short block to handle the power. this means forged pistons, forged rods, and yes the factory forged steel rods frm the early motors will do nicely after polishing and shot peening, and adding stronger rods bolts from ARP. also balance and polish the crank.

2: prepare the head for turbo use as well, larger valves, port the valve pockets, install stainless steel valves and hardened seats and dont forget the ARP head studs.

3: turbo selection is important here, as well as whether you choose a draw through or blow through set up. you fuel system choice will also come into play here, carb or EFI. each has its pros and cons, let me know if you want me to elaborate on them. my choice if i decide to turbo my falcon 170 would be a blow through efi or a raw through carb set up. as for teh turbo itself, select one from an engine of similar size and base power out put, say the turbo from a stock early SVO mustang or tbird turbo coupe as these turbos would be a close match for the 170.

4: control your boost pressure. keep it no higher than about 10psi max boost pressure. that will push you poweres levels up pretty good and give you a safety margin for a daily driver.

5: installing a turbo isnt as hard as some make it out to be on an inline six, the stock exhaust manifold with a "J" pipe does a nice job. check this link for lots of good information on turbocharging the ford inline six;

Yea can you elaborate on Efi vs carb, I want to make a shopping list because some of this stuff I still want to learn but need to know what exactly I am dealing with so I can research it. i want to keep the boost on a safe level so I can get more power but at the same time have a fun daily driver so I will keep it kind of low. Thanks for all the info so far!
How about swapping in a supercharged 3.8 V6 from a Thunderbird Super Coupe? The 3.8 V6's are plentiful and dirt cheap. If you blow up a stock one, who cares, spend another $700 on a junkyard engine and do it again. You can usually find complete blower kits for under a grand.
Where would be a great place to find more info cause I am open to all suggestions, thanks though!
This is true. He later did a very mild V8 swap on the same car and said that the V8 was just as fast and way more reliable than the turbo 6. If memory serves, it was cheaper too.
At the same time though, I want something unique and there are barely any of these builds. It would be a great learning experience and if I don't like it, I part it out and get a v8 stroker. I have a 289 just need to put it in if i choose to.
IF you keep the pressure low shouldn't be too much of a problem. Buy the Manual over at and read up on the tech archive they have. Sounds like it'd a be fun build!
Yea, i don't plan on making a drag car, just a nice quick daily driver. I will give it some time to research.
There's a member on here who turbo'd his 6cyl on a budget, he was like 18-years-old when he did it and had pretty decent results. I would not listen to anyone here who does not have direct experience working on turbocharged engines.

You won't have great results turbocharging a single cylinder due to exhaust pulse issues but I've seen it done. One guy I know had a motorized bar stool with a turbocharged lawnmower engine. The turbo was more of a novelty than anything.

As you can see by most of these posts, this is the last place I'd ask about anything turbo related.
If i could find that dude it would be great to ask him these questions since he has done it before.
You need a carb specifically set up to operate in blow-thru. They're readily available from a number of carb companies. Or you could do one of the fuel injection setups that works in place of a carb.

You use a wastegate (which bleeds exhaust before the turbo) and boost controller. There's multiple setups for both. The most simple is a manual boost controller (which is basically a ball and spring valve) and an internal wastegate that is integrated with the turbo. There are also electronic controllers and external wastegates. You can choose a wastegate and run it off spring pressure without a boost controller with the proper spring but then it will open progressively which can alter the spool characteristics.

I like MHI (Mitsubishi) turbos because they are not picky about oiling and last a long time. Garrett turbos are sometimes cheaper with more options available but they simply are not as stout and you can over oil them. A lot of people grab diesel turbos out of the junkyard (like Holeset and Borg-Warner).

Unrelated thoughts? I now see where you said he should look at other sites. I agree. I disagree that putting a turbo on a lawnmower engine is the right analogy for this situation though. That's just my opinion.

I knew of a guy who took the 4-door Chevelle that was rotting in his inlaw's yard, put in a stock 350 Vortec that he rebuilt himself, his own homemade blow-thru carb, and the biggest Borg-Warner turbo he could find on Ebay, hung on a cheap twin turbo hot side he reworked himself for single turbo, and ran 8s on a 10.5" tire. Stock worn out suspension. Powerglide (of course) with a custom converter. You have to have a little bit of knowledge, you don't need a huge budget or even incredible fab skills.

He did hurt the motor on his first 8-second pass but ran numerous 9-second passes all fine and dandy before that. He got a little more serious after that but this is the car:

I can't remember every time the Rotsun broke but I don't ever remember it being specifically because they slapped a turbo on a non-turbo engine. At least not since they put the 5.0 in it.

I think the idea some of you guys have about turbos is exactly the opposite of reality. Head over to The Turbo Forums or Yellow Bullet Forums and you will see lots of guys slapping cheap turbo setups on everything under the sun and getting results. A little knowledge is the key.
You gave a lot of information and now I understand it a bit more.yea, I have to change more parts like the drive shaft rear end so on. I will probably stick to blow by also because since its still a carb it should be easier to understand and learn. I have been looking at used turbos and I feel those are better because I don't plan on running too much boost and also I plan on making it a fun daily driver. I have thought of diesel turbos, but don't know much about the differences. Thanks for all this though, I will continue on my quest on making a list and seeing how much it would cost.
Ok, I’ll bite... how?

Knowing that just a decent top end for a six is $2-$3k, plus turbo and the fabbing it takes to install, header, etc.

I’ve got a roller 306 with forged pistons, aluminum heads, TFS cam, fancy roller rockers, headers, Holley etc. and spent less than $3k. I did some horse trading to do so, but it was easy and no amount of batgain hunting is going to land you with one of those exotic six banger heads.
That is rather expensive for a small part.
start here:
This now what I am talking about
The Barra idea is really cool, but those things don’t exactly grow on trees around here, and there’s some complexity to it from an engine management standpoint. Couple that with the fact that it’s big and heavy, plus cost, and like a turbo 200/250, you’re in the same position where you have to be in it for the wow factor and budget has to be way down on the list of priorities.

Nothing wrong with that approach, but I feel it should be noted in those terms.
Its rare here
The U.S. six was always a low cost economy engine.

Ive owned 200s and a couple 250s.

My advice is to mill the head to bump compression, get rid of the SCV and LOM, double roller timing chain, degree the cam, have the distributor recurved, headers and exhaust. If you want more power than what that will do, go with a V8. Its just not cost effective. Most sixes came with 2.80 or 3.00 gears. A bump to 3.20s will do more for you than anything. I just hauled a 4 lug 7.5 rear end to scrap with 3.20s. I couldnt give it away, it even had new brakes.

A well tuned six with a 3 speed and 3.20s is pretty zippy and fun to drive. the key with the six is keep the weight down. Dont add a bunch of weight: fog lights, dual exhaust, insanely big wheels and tires, AC, PS, console ect. People load up these cars with weight, then complain they are dogs.

A 5 speed and a Fox rear end with 3.55s would be more fun.
I would need a foxbody to use for parts, I have been having trouble finding some.
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