Turbo and intercooler upgrade and retrofit on 84


New Member
Jul 22, 2001
Had a customer come into the shop today and tell the owner that he wants to upgrade the turbo and install an intercooler on his bone stock 84. He wants the shop to do the work when we recondition the heads, says it needs a valve job.

Anyway, looking for some guidance on what would be a good package. He basically said find out what I need and tell me what the cost is going to be. He says the car is too slow, that is the reason he wants to upgrade. Of course he didn't say how fast he wants to go but lets assume a mid to low 13 range.

Thanks for your help.
Hi Rick, recognized your name from MadMike's.

Well, there is an intercooler kit you can get from Spearco, that one has been used by quite a few, and with good results. Beats trying to fab up something probably. It is set up for the way the '84 is configured, all the piping, etc.
Seen that sell for $1200-1400. A search thru this forum will provide lots of info on the kit, along with some pics too probably.

A few choices out there as far as turbos go. The TA-33c is a direct replacement for the stock one. (probably around $900). Flows around twice what the stocker can do, from what I've read. That's the one I will be putting on my car someday. But there are loads of options in this area.

But before getting into those types of mods, there's stuff that should be done, even if the customer decides they aren't ready for all that. Fuel delivery in these cars was marginal in stock form. An upgraded fuel pump with a hotwire kit is almost a necessity, especially if the car is modded. Make sure that part is covered before throwing any otehr parts at it. Gotta take steps before ya leap. Some sort of scan tool like a scanmaster or turbolink will make life so much easier in the long run.

The project you outline is a fairly major undertaking. Not like a traditional bolt-on modification. Hopefully someone who's actually done some of this stuff will be able to offer more info.
I'm still in the planning stages of my project.
Thanks alot for the info Mike, I appreciate it. I figured the fuel system would be marginal at best for these cars, especially if you start building some boost. I assume as well that an upgrade in the up and down pipes would also be a part of an upgrade such as this, correct?

I have the new Spearco catalog so we will start there. I'll do some searching on the TA-33c as well.

Thanks again. Whats your sig on MadMikes board?

I am TDS-70 1/2 over there. :)

I might suggest ATR for stainless downpipe, etc. I have those pieces and they are N-I-C-E! There's enough areas that these cars can improve before even getting to the turbo and intercooler. Cracked stock headers can rob power, restrictive stock exhaust robs power. I've been eyeing up the ATR stainless headers, these non-intercooled cars are much more responsive to header upgrades than the IC'd cars.

I just threw out the 33 as a starting point. There's plenty of owners here running even bigger. Contacting one of the vendors could get your the right one depending on performance goals.

Starting from bone-stock, as you say, my feeling is these steps:

fuel pump and hotwire kit
adjustable wastegate, to allow higer boost level.
(hand-in-hand with this is a scan tool or at least a knock gauge, 'cuz once the boost is turned up, bad things like blown headgaskets, can happen)
An open element air filter, like a K&N.

Those alone should net some noticeable improvement. From there one could start looking at:

headers, crossover, up-pipe and down-pipe. Lots of cars run a dump-pipe so it can be uncorked, but I have no real intent of racing my car hard core, and I don't care too much for the sound of these cars with open exhaust personally. I intend on running mine thru the exhaust system.

New ECM chip. The '84-'85 ECm can be swapped for a version from the '86-'87 cars, which would be a good idea, due to teh lower cost, and greater chip availability.

turbo, which will also require fuel injectors that flow more. Exact size will vary depending on ultimate turbo selection.

Intercooler kit.

Notice that none of those steps are numbered. Because ya can't always just do step 4 and not look at 5, for example. The WHOLE package is very important with these cars. One could write multiple books on figuring all this out. And I'm not one that is able to do that, I'm just sharing what i've read over the years. I am hopefull I will get around to applying some of thsi to my T-Type one of these years. Sadly, the very slow progress on the old Camaro is keeping me from even starting on my Regal.

I guess without knowing for sure what your customer wants the car to run really, knowing how many of those steps are going to be necessary is tough. My gut feeling is, the smaller stuff should be done before throwing new turbo and intercooler at it. 'Cuz it's all going to be needed by the time the car does get intercooled anyway. If ya got someone with BIG pockets, do it ALL. What I'm trying to express to ya is, there's a lot that can and should be upgraded, even before the parts you originally mention. It feels to me, and I could easily be way off not being right there, but your customer maybe doesn't understand everything about the car, if they are wanting to throw those parts on a bone-stock setup. You would be in for a world of headaches to try and get it running right without all of the small steps being included too.

Clear as mud, right?!?!?!
You hit it right on the head. After your first post it gave me enough info to do some good searchs. I spent about two hours researching this. Although I am still no expert by any means it follows the same basic path I take with a car such as a WRX, which is my daily driver.

Bottom line is it appears this motor has a ton of little corks in it that need to be removed before you hit the bigger stuff.

Thanks for that second post, I'll print that off and use it as a guide. Now off to the next step to see if the customer is willing to spend the cash. That can be a hiccup sometimes.
intercooler kit

A guy on this board has one of the rarest hot.air intercooler kits for sale from turbo motion all complete it relocates the t.b up front like 86 87 I heard the thing it self will bring 1/4mile slips down to almost high 12.s just it alone . It comes with the modified 86.87 intercooler and pipes also modified intake that allows front entry of 86 87 throttlebody and the tps extender wires Also another guy at promotions onthis board is designing one but is not finished it also is similar but going to be better I ADVISE IF INTERCOOLER IS NEEDED TOGET THIS KIT I SAY THIS BECAUSE TURBO MOTION IS NO LONGER IN BUISNESS THERE FORE NO MORE KITS
you're being steered in the right direction here...

first things first:

-walbro 340 fuel pump
-hotwire kit
-adjustable fuel pressure regulator

for turbo i'd go with a john craig ta-33.the atr stainless pipes are very nice,and much better than the stockers(which are probably cracked).postons also has a nice header kit.anaftermarket exhaust is also a must,many people have good luck with the hooker kit.

as far as intercoolers go,i'm running the spearco and have had good luck with it.

i would also recommend upgrading to the 87 ecm/maf/chip.then get a scanmaster to tune with.


Thanks Shaun and Sean, got some good ideas here, did some research on costs for some of this stuff and will call the guy to see how seriously he wants to go fast. Man, this would be a great project if he wants to go ahead with it. We shall see.

Thanks again.
It is in their catalog so you may be able to go into their website and get a pic. Sorry I don't have a link off the internet. I tried to look it up but could not find it.
well that sucks no website so how di u get their catalog? is theier a number i can call an order ther catalog i really wanna see their set up compared to postons
Originally posted by shaun mccall
A poston IC would be al right but with all the piping the lag I heard would be rediculous

tuning and proper chip calibration takes care of that...:cool:
so WFO ur saying the poston intercooler kit is good wit the right tuning and chip ? that would get rid of any lag ? cuz i clicked on that spearco link and nothing comes up and id like to still take a look at it
i've never seen a poston kit,but i'm guessing it's either a spearco kit or very similar...

my point was that the spearco kit and others like it have an undeserved reputation for lag and bad idle.chip calibration and tuning experience can make an intercooled hotair idle like a sewing machine and spool right up.