Mustang Tiller, Power Pack, Benz Bliss and more - Mick's Workshop

By: Mick McCrudden

Mick is toiling away in the workshop and providing you with the car advice you need

Mustang Tiller, Power Pack, Benz Bliss and more - Mick's Workshop
Mick and Norm

We’re at a point with Guido’s VK wagon where we need to sort out a radiator and oil cooler. Our biggest problem is space, as the 355 stroker engine combined with the TH700 transmission take up a lot of real estate and haven’t left us much room to play with.

So we’ve called in Norm from Aussie Desert Coolers. I respect him and what he does, and I know he might not be crazy about what I’m asking for, which is to put a transmission cooler inside a radiator. 

He works on a lot of high-performance vehicles and combining those two is not ideal. However, in this case, the car will have around 400 horses and will be used as a cruiser. That’s not a big number these days and the relatively easy use means we can take a liberty or two. 

Norm seems comfortable enough to compromise in this case. He took one look in the engine bay and knew exactly what we need. I know whatever he comes back with will work and be perfect for our needs. 

Guido made the comment that even though the engine bay is pretty tight, you can still get to service items such as spark plugs. And that’s something that comes from being old and having years of mistakes behind you!

It’s all very well with these one-off builds that you jam everything in there, but when you do that, you’ll end up regretting it. I know from experience you need to think a few steps ahead. Such as, can I reach those manifold bolts or water pump when I need to, or can I get to the spark plugs quickly and easily to do a tune? If it’s not looking good, you need to take a step back and rethink your approach. 


Hello Mick. I read with great interest your article in issue 484 regarding the power steering installed into the customer’s Mustang.

I have a similar Mustang which has undergone a right-hand drive conversion some years ago, and my wife wants to have a drive, but without power steering, it is too heavy for her.

So the question is – do you happen to know someone/somewhere that could obtain and instal such an electric system, it looks the perfect solution!

Drew Jessop

Mick says...

I’m proud of that installation – it came up so well. I found that system in the USA from a company called CJ Pony. Of course, it’s designed for left-hand drive and is a very easy installation in that situation.


 Ready to add power to the steering

Because ours was the first attempt with right-hand drive, meant a fair bit of work and consultation with CJ Pony to nut it out. Now we’ve worked out what needs to be done, I expect the next one will be relatively straightforward. If you are in reach of Melbourne, we can do it for you, otherwise a good workshop that’s not afraid of a little fabrication should be able to handle it.

One caution: You will need an auto electrician to wire it up properly as it does haul huge amperage.

 The whole kit and caboodle

Funnily enough, one of the major hurdles for us was dealing with the dodgy location of the wiper motor, which was part of the original right-hook conversion.

CJ Pony does electric power-steering conversions for all sorts of American classics, so they’re worth keeping in mind if you own something along those lines. As it turns out, the one we used for the Mustang could be adapted for pretty much anything.


Just had to fit a new battery to my 1985 Rover and noticed that, apart from the starter-motor being more willing, the engine sounds much happier too. The previous battery still indicated okay – in spite of being old enough to be kaput – but could only turn the engine over when freshly off the recharger.

Unlike old points-ignition engines, that seem okay with a low battery so long as they can actually start, the 1980s EFI in the Rover seems to generally benefit from a very healthy battery.

I assume this goes to things like better fuel-pump performance and hence fuel pressure, but also maybe the engine sensors work better too?

Thought explaining whether/why my old EFI seems ‘perkier’ might be an interesting topic for Mick’s column?

Russell Cuerel

Mick says...

The moment modern cars starting converting over to electronics, lots of mechanics started to panic and then we got used to it. As a general rule, these cars don’t like dropping under 9.5 volts.

In fact the moment they start getting down around the 10s, everything starts playing up. They love lots of volts and really good earths. Which is also why modern cars tend to suffer more from electrolysis than older cars. Every component has to have an earth.

Something you’ve mentioned is that a good voltage reading sometimes can be a little deceptive, which is right. And yes, a healthy battery absolutely will improve the overall performance of the electronics.

We’re now in a situation where the battery has to be really good all the time. So spending money on a quality unit will pay off.


Hi. I’ve been in the market for a convertible of some sort and have more or less settled on R107 Mercedes-Benz, preferably a 350 or 380SL (with the 3.5/3.8lt V8), about 1970-’80s vintage.

They seem to come up for sale fairly often and the prices aren’t too silly. 

It seems important to ensure you get one with a good folding roof and the detachable hardtop – or at least important for resale value.

Is there anything I should be looking for on this series?

Ellen Davis

Mick says...

Those V8s and the four-speed transmissions are pretty well-known and there is a lot of service knowledge out there for them. Mechanical parts shouldn’t be too much of a problem as they were sold in surprisingly big numbers, particularly when you realise the sedans used the same power trains.

The weak link in those V8s was the timing chain. In the right hands, replacement is straightforward – you find the joining link and hand-crank the new chain through. It’s one of those things that is easy enough to replace, but will cause untold damage if it lets go.

That’s not a reason to walk away – just check the service history and have a good listen to the engine. It might even be one of those jobs you budget to do early in your ownership, just for the peace of mind.

I think the sixes were better than the eights, though they were all pretty tough.

When you’re checking out the car, look at the folding roof fully up. If it’s been folded away for too long, it will develop creases and cracks and will eventually split. The kindest thing to do with soft-tops is to have them up when the car isn’t being used and put it out in the sun occasionally.


We have an LX Torana hatch, which we love. It’s been in our garage for about a decade and somehow managed to dodge having a V8 shoved into it. Yes, it still has the 202 six with four-speed manual. 

It seems to be all the original mechanicals in the car – in fact I don’t think it’s had much more than maintenance done to it over the years.

The six is feeling a bit tired, so now of course there’s the debate over whether we freshen it up or throw in a V8.

Your thoughts?

Ashley Simpson

Mick says...

My heart says leave the six in it because these days it’s probably more rare than an eight.


 Any LX Torana hatch with a 202 six under the hood is a rare bird.

Okay, if that were my car, this is what I’d do: I would take the 202 out, do some work to give it more compression, a medium cam and then I’d contact someone like EFI Hardware and put six-throttle-body fuel injection in it.

You would have an absolute weapon! It would have a sound all it’s own.


Hi. Our old CM Valiant seems to be getting through fuel like it’s going out of style. Even more than usual for a Valiant!

It’s running a 318 V8 and auto and has a fair few miles on it. Any thoughts on what we should do with it?

Peter Evans

Mick says...

I would suggest the engine is getting tired. The 318 was stock standard with a two-barrel Carter carburettor. Over time you find you’re putting the boot in harder to get the same performance and your fuel consumption goes up along the way.

Give the engine a freshen-up (give it compression again!) and then look at getting a new carburettor. Put a four-barrel manifold on it, and put a small Holley with vacuum secondary on it. I’d go for 500-570cfm. You’ll find it will be economical
and your car will come back to life. 

From Unique Cars #486, Dec 2023

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