When General Motors designed the fourth-generation F-body the goal was to create a car that would be a worthy adversary for the Mustang, but making sure there was a lot of free space under the hood wasn’t at the top of the priority list. The battery takes up a lot of real estate under the hood, so if you’re looking to create some room it’s one of the first things that gets moved. Today we’re going to cover the ‘how’ and ‘why’ of relocating the battery in a fourth-gen.
Project Red Dragon’s new Huron Speed T6 turbo kit is going to generate a lot of horsepower — it also needs to route the cold side right where the battery lives. The kit requires the user to relocate the battery, and the best place for drag racing purposes is the rear of the vehicle. We wanted to make this relocation process as painless as possible, so we picked up one of BMR Suspension’s battery relocation trays and a wiring kit from Tick Performance.
Why Relocate Your Battery?
A battery doesn’t have to be relocated to the rear of a vehicle, but it provides a few advantages that will help you when you’re working on a build or if you’re going to the track. Project Red Dragon is a street/strip car, so moving the battery to the back of the car needed to happen no matter what. The battery being placed in the middle of the car would be ideal if we were going to carve some corners with the Trans-Am, but since that’s not our plan, over one of the rear tires is a better choice.
Jonathan Adkins is the owner of Tick Performance and is an accomplished drag racer in his own right. Adkins has set multiple records ripping gears in his 1996 Camaro known as “The Grub Worm”, so he knows a few things about how to set up an F-body. Adkins explains why you want to move the battery to the rear of a car for drag racing purposes.
“Moving a battery to the back can improve traction, especially for street and no-prep use where more rear weight than nose weight is desired on a rear-wheel drive vehicle. By moving a battery to the rear, you’ll see a bigger swing in the weight percentages than simply removing that amount from the nose for example. Moving the battery to the right rear corner of the car also helps to even up the weights over the rear tires.”
Now, you can try to use other methods to help with weight transfer and balance for a car that will see a lot of drag racing action, but they will present their own sets of issues. The weight needs to be placed in the proper location if you want to get the most out of your efforts.
“Coil-over shocks, adjustable sway bars, and anti-roll bars can be used to jack the corner weights around on a car, but physically moving weight like the battery to the right rear is better. You want to go with the right rear because it has less weight on it versus the left rear due to the driver being on the left side. This helps bring the balance closer while keeping the suspension adjustment and ride height closer to neutral or balanced from side to side,” Adkins says.
If you thought space was tight in the front of a fourth-generation F-body, the rear really isn’t much better. The vehicle really doesn’t have a trunk per-se, so the amount of area you have to put a battery is limited. Kyle Briese from BMR explains why the spare tire well became the location of choice for F-body battery relocation.
“The spare tire well was the most logical choice because it doesn’t take away from the limited space these cars have in the rear. A lot of these fourth-generation F-bodies have T-tops and the owners still like to take them out, so they need the hatch are to store them. The spare tire well is also open in a lot of these cars because people remove them to save weight, since the OEM spare won’t work with the wheel and tire package they’re running.”
Moving a battery to the rear can improve traction, especially for street and no-prep use where more rear weight than nose weight is desired on a rear-wheel drive vehicle. – Jonathan Adkins, Tick Performance
If you do decide to move the battery to the rear, there are some requirements the NHRA has put in place to make sure it’s done safely. First, the battery must be secured properly; how you do that is up to you, but it needs to be done so the battery doesn’t become a projectile if a crash occurs. The last thing you want to do is take a battery to the head at a high rate of speed right?
Second, if the battery you’re using is a dry cell-style, it will need to be housed in a sealed box that’s vented outside of the chassis. A lead-acid battery has the same requirements because of the gasses it releases and the acid that’s inside of them. The NHRA also requires a bulkhead of some kind between the battery and the driver, along with an external cutoff switch for the vehicle’s main power. The kill switch is there so safety crews outside of the car can shut off the power and prevent or help stop fires after a crash.
Relocating An F-Body Battery
Battery relocation to the trunk area on most cars doesn’t require a ton of planning or special parts, but as we eluded to earlier, the fourth generation F-body presents its own challenges.
If you’re the DIY type with some fabrication skills and have the materials laying around, you could make your own relocation tray, but for most people, it’s a pretty tall task. BMR solved that problem with its fourth-generation F-body specific battery tray — this saves you the hassle of trying to measure and design your own. The BMR tray is also affordable and comes with everything you need for installation.
The fit, feel, and finish of the BMR battery tray is impressive.
“We used steel that was thick enough to support the battery to ensure it doesn’t move around if the car experiences an accident,” Briese says of the product and why BMR went this route with the materials. “The kit uses a formed steel plate that has been CNC laser-cut and is powder-coated for durability. The battery tray is bolted to the framerail to ensure a good mounting point. We wanted to use the best materials possible and make sure the finish was nice so it would last.”
The spare tire well was the most logical choice because it doesn’t take away from the limited space these cars have in the rear. – Kyle Briese, BMR Suspension
The BMR battery tray drops right into position inside the spare tire well of a fourth-generation F-body with ease. BMR’s included self-tapping screws are used to hold the battery tray in place. BMR doesn’t recommend using a wet cell battery unless you seal it off from the rest of the interior, per NHRA’s rules.
So, you finally wrestled the battery into its new home — now comes the fun part: wiring your F-body based on the battery’s new location. This type of wiring job requires some pretty large wire since it will be carrying the power for your F-body from the rear of the car to the engine. You also need to account for adding a master disconnect switch and making sure you have the right connectors for everything. If you did a lot of research online you could find what materials you need along with how to do it, but what if there was an easier way?
The Tick Performance Battery Relocation Kit for 1998-2002 F-bodies takes all of the guesswork out of getting what you need to relocate the battery to the rear of your car. The correct wire, connectors, cutoff switch, and hardware are all included in the kit. Tick designed this kit to work with the BMR Battery Relocation tray so you don’t have to worry about trying to create your own tray. The Tick Performance wiring kit will also work with LT1-powered F-bodies, you just need to run the cables along the passenger side instead of the driver’s side like you do with an LS1-powered car.
“The challenges for moving the battery on an F-body are about the same as moving the battery on any vehicle. Our kit provides everything necessary to complete a battery relocation and comes pre-terminated in all but two locations. It eliminates questions about required cable lengths, sizing, and provides instruction on how to properly wire a battery disconnect switch so that it kills the engine when the switch is shut off,” Adkins explains.
Hopefully, you understand why you need to relocate your battery to the rear of a vehicle, and how to do it in a fourth-generation F-body now. We plan on using the extra space for our Huron Speed turbo kit on Project Red Dragon. You can learn more about the turbo kit and what else we’re doing to Project Red Dragon right here.