Looking for a recommendation for my 289 2B, looking at increasing performance. Has anyone had a good experience with a particular carb and headers that they would recommend. Any suggestions would be appreciated.
If you're just wanting to improve the breathing of the basic engine without going for better heads/cam etc. then I'd probably look at the repro 289 HiPo manifolds. I've never even seen the repro's in person or know anyone personally who's used them but the basic design is more than enough for moderate changes on a 289.
Tri-Y's offer a better torque curve than race-bred four-into-one headers. Early Shelby's used tri-y's.
If you're wanting a four-into-one then on a mild 289-302 try to keep the primary tube size in the 1.5 in range and make VERY sure the flange where it bolts to the head is one piece and thick. Those individual flanged headers are a total PITA to put on as every flange is at a slightly differetn height.
On the subject of intake manifolds its hard to miss with Edelbrock. You'll find Performer 289's and 302's. The 289 is designed to work best with the 1-5-4-etc firing order of the 289 while the 302 is designed for the H.O's 1-3-7 pattern. There's also an RPM version but it's designed for high RPM work and not recommended on milder engines.
Most people go for Holley carbs due to cost and availability. They'll run OK but IMO they're a little picky for the casual user. Personally I'd try to use a Motorcraft carb on a mild engine but they're a bit expensive since the supply is limited after everbody threw them away back in the Sixties and Seventies. My next choice would be one of the Edelbrock Carter AFB copies. They're not popular with the car crowd becasue they don't tune like a Holley so almost no one knows how to make them work to potential and they get a bad rap for it. If you're going to run it straight out of the box I feel the AFB will prove more reliable than a Holleywhich tend to suffer from blown power valves and debris in the secondary needle and seat causing flooding over (note this is due to the fact that there's always a little bit of fuel flow into the secondary fuel bowl even if the secondaries are not opened. Eventually a small bit of debris will become lodged in the secondary needla and hold it open a bit. A quick WOT run for several seconds will usually clear it but most people panic when the car starts to run rough and stall at idle and call for the tow truck. Regular use of the secondaries avoids this but even I am guilty of going weeks/months dropping the secondaries open).
I have a Hi-Po 289 with a four barrel carb. I used to have a Holley carb on it when I first got it going. I think it was a 500cfm. I hated that carb!!!! It was always flooding badly. I was always having my dad adjust it, almost daily sometimes. Holley carbs don't like to sit around because the gas gets to the diaphragms. My dad got soo tired of adjusting it for me, he bought me a new Edlebrock 4 barrel without me knowing it until he handed me the box. I still had to pay for it though damn it!!! That is the best carb manufacturer, I think, and I will never go back to a stupid Holley carb. I like Motorcraft too. If you are looking for headers, I would suggest, either, Hooker or Hedman. I have Hooker headers on my 1960 Ford panel truck, they were on there when I bought it, and I think they are great. My 1968 Cougar XR-7 has Hedman headers. Those were my Christmas present in 2002. I noticed a big difference in the throttle response and I gained some horsepower too. When you get headers though, send them off to get them ceramic coated. It is worth it!! The coating keeps the engine bay temp down. After 7 minutes, I can touch my headers after I am done driving it. It also increases horsepower and they have different colors. Plus, the big reason is that the headers will probably last longer than your car with the coating which is kind of a bad thing. Lets hope your car never rusts away. It cost me about $200 to get them shipped off and coated. It is worth it big time. I hope I have helped you a little bit. Later
I recommend you get reproduction Shelby Tri-Y headers from Tony Branda, they are $99 painted or $189 nickel plated. The FPA headers are twice the price and for a street car no better. If you want to buy them from a Cougar vendor the same headers are sold by Mustang Unlimited and Auto Krafters.
For an intake the latest technology is Edelbrock's Performer RPM. It is a unique piece of technology being a dual plane intake that makes great torque at low RPM while out performing all of the older single plane intakes at higher RPM. It will require a custom air cleaner because it is higher than a stock intake.
Holley carbs are virtually trouble free and are only a problem if you are unwilling to read and follow directions. The 600 CFM carb 0-1850 is perfect for a 289-302. I have had this carb on a long line of 289 and 302 Cougars for the last 30 years as daily drivers and had one on my '68 XR7-G with 302-4V.
I can't say enough bad things about Motorcraft 4V carbs. They are absolute trash and there are no replacement parts to be had. Stay away.