My first thought for the exhaust was that maybe I could get away with using the 2wd van headers for the conversion. So I ordered up a cheap set of Dynomax headers from Jegs and they arrived shortly. Well they shortly got sent back after realizing my new front spring shackle mounts and the front driveshaft got in the way (big time got in the way). What a bummer. Then I tried the 1970 Mustang headers for a 302 I got from my cousin. They cleared the shackle mounts and the mechanical clutch mechanism, but once again not the driveshaft. Hmm ok time to do more research I guess. Looking at pics online of Mustang shorty headers proved useless as well since it angles the down pipe right into the clutch mechanism. My last option without making a custom set was to look into truck headers. Sure enough a set for a 351w in a '92-'96 F-150/Bronco would do the trick.
Unfortunately I never got to try these while the frame was put together. Before ordering them we took the frame apart to sand and paint everything before summer ended. Then when they came I didn't feel like lifting the mock 302 and tranny back into place. I have a feeling they will work, but won't know for sure until the body is resting on the frame.
Update 3/15/06: Today I replaced the clutch in the van with a used Center Force unit made by Luk. To make it easier to get to the bell housing and all of the other bolts, I went ahead and removed the Hedman 2wd headers. While they were out I got the urge to bolt on the 1996 F-150/Bronco 351 headers and sure enough, they clear the starter, clutch mechanism and the frame rail. The only issue might be engine cover interference. But judging by eye, it still looks like there will be plenty of room without needing modification. So far they seem like the perfect header to use for a custom 4wd van.
Doing the math to keep from changing the speedo drive gear or the 4.10 gear ratios to keep the same settings the van currently has means I can use no larger than 35" tires. Again what a bummer since the norm seems to be 33" and 35" tires. My brother scored me a free 39" Mickey Thompson Baja Claw from his boss. Now all I need are three more and four new rims lol.
Thanksgiving 2008: finally decided to mount the free Baja Claw on the old '70's wheels to check fitment. After checking out good (not to mention 16.5x9.75 is one of the wheel choices listed on the tire's sidewall) I bought three more from 4 Wheel Parts before the 16.5" tires become extinct. The above photos were taken Thanksgiving of 2004 and isn't dry rotted yet, so what's a few more years of sitting around?
Update 12/21/2008: After thinking about this for a long time (20-30 mins) I decided my specially-built Ford toploader transmission may not be up to the task of surviving under the heavy van with tall (4.10) gearing. A newly acquired Borg Warner T-18 from a mid '70's Ford 2wd pick-up may be a better transmission. With such large tires and 4.10 axle gears, the 1:1 4th gear ratio might be the perfect thing for high way cruising without bogging down the engine. True the toploaders can handle big block power, but Mustangs, Torinos and Rancheros do not have the weight I will be pushing. Here are some comparison shots:
This transmission is 2.5" longer than my toploader. That shouldn't be a problem as there is still a few inches for a short intermediate shaft. My cross member will need to be redesigned, but this is a good thing as this T-18 mounts from the underside rather than the top: factory mounts can be used instead of the stiff poly I originally chose. I know, I know, you're thinking why am I using this set up when Ford made a T-18/NP205 combo unit? I thought of that too and my answer is I like having each unit mounted independently (makes removal much easier). Also I don't feel like rebuilding another 205 or removing my sturdy T-case X-member. The 6.32:1 granny gear sure makes me happy, even if it is unsynchronized. Like all of the other components, it will get a full rebuild. The only issue will be where the shifter protrudes through the floor. Some finessing will cure that.
Another item I picked up on eBay was a new Richmond Powertrax No-Spin lunch box locker for the rear Dana 70. This will be added much later once everything is confirmed working properly. I've heard these still make clunking noises, although nothing to the effect of a Detroit. The soda can is for size reference.