Muscle Mustangs & Fast FordsCar Reviews
1987 Ford Mustang Coupe - He Did it His Way
Seth Temple built his own turbo Mustang notchback.
One of Frank Sinatra's most famous lyrics, "I did it my way," came from the classic tune of nearly the same name. Elvis sang this song, too, as did the immortal Sid Vicious of the Sex Pistols, just before stabbing his girlfriend to death.
In modern times, "I did it my way" often means farming out work such as turbo installations, engine machining, and other high-performance upgrades to the professionals. But Seth Temple must have taken the Chairman of the Board's song to heart when he embarked on building this turbocharged '87 Mustang coupe in the comfort of his own garage.
After owning a handful of cars, including a twin-turbo '88 Mustang hatchback and a '94 Cobra equipped with a single turbo, Seth acquired the '87 coupe while it was still in factory form. "I have always worked on cars," says the 29-year-old manufacturing engineer for Borg-Warner AirWerks. "My dad was a mechanic, and I picked it up [working on cars] from that. I first started with the car when it was bone stock."
Seth bought the notchback from a friend, and started out like most others: adding bolt-on after bolt-on for more and more speed. The first iteration saw the stock motor get stuffed with a new cam and topped with a new set of heads, an intake, and a nitrous system. "It started off basically as a make-it-go-fast project," Seth says. "As the years went on, I kept on stepping up, and it kept getting bigger and better."
The only thing that wasn't better was the nitrous system. Seth was getting tired of always having to refill the bottle, and eventually decided to do things his way. "I'm around turbos all day long," he says. "Guess what happened next? I decided to build a twin-turbo kit for one of my Mustangs. Having that project behind me gave me the confidence to build this turbo car."
The makeover started by yanking out the original 302 and sending it to Keith Craft Racing, who punched the small-block out to accept 331ci internals. When Seth got the block back, he filled the bottom end with an Eagle forged crank spinning H-beam rods. JE Pistons top off the bottom end combination and squeeze a low 8.5:1 compression ratio, which would be perfect for the turbo he would later bolt on. With the bottom end strong enough to handle all of the abuse the turbo could throw at it, Seth topped the romper small-block with a set of out-of-the-box AFR 205 aluminum heads. A Lunati roller cam featuring 0.593/0.624 lift with a 248/258 duration actuates the 2.08/1.60 intake and exhaust valves and Harland Sharp 1.6 rockers, while an MSD 7AL2 ignition system lights the plugs.
With the motor assembly now complete, it came time for Seth to send the car over the top and rig up the turbo system. "I decided to start from scratch and build the headers, the intercooler, all of the intercooler plumbing, and the complete exhaust system," he says. "The project turned out great."
Starting with a Borg-Warner AirWerks 85mm turbo, Seth ran the plumbing to the air-to-air intercooler and sequential Bigstuff 3 fuel injection system sporting a 75mm BBK throttle body and an Edelbrock Super Victor intake manifold.
To make sure the rest of the car was as bulletproof as his newly built tire-melter, Seth backed the potent powerplant with a C4 three-speed automatic transmission complete with a transbrake, a reverse manual valvebody, and a Hurst Pistol Grip Quarter Stick shifter. A PTC 4,500-stall torque converter helps transfer the power to the 8.8-inch Ford rearend spinning 3.73 gears and Moser 33 spline axles. Seth's personalized version of Ford's ponycar rides on 15x10 rear and 15x3.5 front Weld Pro Star wheels. He uses 15x11.5 Hoosier Quick Time Pro tires out back and skinnies up front.
To make sure all of the turbo small-block's power was making it to the ground, Seth bolted in a set of Koni shocks and QA1 springs in the front end along with a UPR K-member, antisway bar, and upper and lower control arms. Out back, the Stang features Tokico shocks, stock springs, an antiroll bar, an FMS rearend girdle, and Kenny Brown subframe connectors. Going this fast makes improved stopping power a necessity, so Seth took care of that potential problem by installing 12-inch Aerospace Engineering disc brakes on all four corners.
Not only did he want his pride and joy to go fast, he wanted it to look good while doing it. After bolting on a 4-inch cowl hood, he enlisted the help of Ken Wilson Ford, who helped him spray on the three coats of DuPont Maroon paint. After the exterior was looking smart, Seth turned his attention to the interior, installing a chrome-moly 10-point rollcage and an RCI five-point harness, as well as Auto Meter gauges to keep an eye on the motivation under the hood.
After eight months, the car was finished, and it was time for Seth to stretch the Mustang's legs. Running only 14 pounds of boost, the nimble little Ford cranked out an eighth-mile best of 6.22 seconds at 118 mph. "The car isn't great for handling, but it has great acceleration and is tons of fun to drive," Seth says. "I drive the car on the street and the track, and it puts a smile on my face. I wouldn't change anything about it."
Why would he? Seth Temple did it his way.