Steve Turner
Former Editor, 5.0 Mustang & Super Fords
November 1, 2000
Photos By: E. John Thawley, III

Step By Step

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P55745_large 1988_Ford_Mustang Front_Driver_Side
With all the excitement over how much power Brent Wiest’s car makes, it’s easy to overlook the things he hasn’t put on the car. He doesn’t have a big cam. His intake manifold isn’t ported, and most interesting in this day and age, he hasn’t installed an intercooler or aftercooler. That will give you something to think about.
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Brent lucked out finding a fully machined FRPP A4 block for sale over the Internet. Coast High Performance had done the machine work and vouched for the block, so Brent bought it and had Coast built him a 342ci short-block. It features a forged-steel crankshaft, Eagle Rods, Probe pistons, and Childs & Albert rings. The block squeezes out a blower-friendly 8.5:1 compression ratio when working with as-cast Twisted Wedge combustion chambers.
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Inside, Brent’s wild ride is fairly Spartan with no center console and a few Auto Meter gauges. However, the yellow Corbeau seats match the car’s exterior and often steal the scene at car shows, much to Brent’s chagrin. “I put all that work into the car and most people just notice the paint and the seats,” he says.
P55772_large 1988_Ford_Mustang Front_Passenger_Side
Since spinning the dyno rollers at Powertrain Dynamics to the tune of 686 hp and 650 lb-ft, Brent has added in a bit more timing and adjusted his bypass valve, which had leaked under big boost. He says the car is surely putting more than 700 hp to the rear wheels these days. With 15-percent power loss through the drivetrain, that’s 824 flywheel horsepower.
P55773_large 1988_Ford_Mustang License_PlateP55774_large 1988_Ford_Mustang Rear_Passenger_Side

It probably won’t surprise you that we see quite a few hot Mustangs here. Of course nearly everyone we meet asks us how to get theirs in the magazine. Only a few are audacious enough to ask what it takes to be on the cover. Well, if you were ever curious about what it would take to make the cover and have four color pages devoted to your Mustang, pay close attention to Brent Wiest’s ’88 coupe.

When we first opened the FedEx envelope containing Mr. Thawley’s beautiful photos, it was clear we had discovered the prototypical car for this maga- zine. The crucial elements: awesome performance, great looks, and a little twist.

Of course, building the perfect magazine car wasn’t really in Brent’s plans. He originally gutted the car and took it to his brother-in-law Jim Cafarelli’s shop (Jim’s Custom Auto in Fallbrook, Cali-fornia) for paint and body work. Jim convinced Brent he needed to pick a color that reflected the car’s intent. After considering variations of red and orange, Brent settled on this electric Organic Yellow shade from PPG.

With the emblems, windshield wipers, and cowl grille smoothed over and a Cervini’s 4-inch cowl-induction hood in place under the yellow paint, the car’s intent was no longer in question.

Then Brent went to work putting the car back together. Most everything was as it sits today, but the car was originally powered by a 133,000-mile stock short-block pumped up by a Vortech S-Trim, a GT-40 intake, and Twisted Wedge heads. According to Brent the old motor made only 470 hp at the rear wheels. While that sounds fairly good to the casual enthusiast, Brent kept pushing the limits of the stock block with smaller supercharger pulleys and more boost. Soon the detonation demon paid a visit and Brent bent a few rods.

The search for more power was on, but Brent wanted more than power. He wanted the new engine to make more power and still pass emissions. This is no small task, especially in California. He eventually decided on a stroker to pump up the power. His initial thought was the larger engine would need a larger camshaft, but the fine folks at Coast High Performance told him that simply wasn’t true. Brent told them to research a cam that would pass emissions. They wound up with a small bumpstick right out of the Lunati catalog. Brent says the cam favors the exhaust side, which is typical for a streetable blower cam.

What’s not typical is the rest of the combination. Most people chided Brent for using a small cam, and his choice of an unported Holley SysteMAX II intake and some mild bowl and exhaust-port work on his Twisted Wedge heads might have seemed too mild as well—before you saw the dyno sheets, that is.

“I’ve seen too many guys at the track slow down with radical sets of heads,” Brent explains. “Either they didn’t know what they were doing with tuning or the heads were just too big. I figured a lot of the aftermarket heads that were out there nowadays worked pretty well out of the box.”

Brent took this common-sense approach to building his engine combination too. He researched parts with knowledgeable people at Coast, Fox Lake, and Powertrain Dynamics. In addition, he simply watched what worked at the track. He ended up with a combo that doesn’t feature two parts from the same manufacturer. Normally we’d expect that to be a recipe for disaster. In this case it’s a recipe for unreal horsepower.

After driving 100 miles from his Carlsbad, California, home to Powertrain Dynamics in Huntington Beach, California, Brent was delighted by the fruits of his late-night-garage labors away from his wife Ann and son Josef. With plenty of fuel in the chamber and only 24 degrees of total ignition timing, the new combination rang the dyno bell with 686 hp and 650 lb-ft of torque. With those numbers Brent resisted the urge to turn up the wick, and drove home a happy man.

A big part of making this power came courtesy of a Paxton Novi 2000 supercharger kicking out 22 pounds of cog-driven boost. Brent was all set to run a 10-rib serpentine belt but couldn’t find a belt to work with his pulley combo. He ended up with Auto Specialties’ 31-tooth blower and 75-tooth crank cogs. The sure grip of the cogs means no boost slips away.

One thing you might expect to slip away with all this power is emissions legality. Believe it or not, after locating a smog shop that knew what a performance car was, Brent’s coupe passed the California emissions test with a clean bill of health. He had retained all the smog equipment, held on to all his speed equipment’s California Air Resources Board Executive Order numbers, and bolted on a set of MAC 2½-inch high-flow catalytic converters behind his long-tube headers. Of course, the Powertrain chip had to help reign in those 72 lb/hr fuel nozzles.

Reigning in this much power was a bit much for the first two T5 five-speeds. Brent is currently banging the Hurst shifter on a T5Z given careful attention by the experts at D&D performance. Still, he knows he’s on borrowed time doubling a T5’s torque output, so he’s on the cusp of turning this street-legal wonder into a full-time race car with a Novi 3000 and a Powerglide. We hope he changes his mind, but if nothing else we can all follow Brent’s model. A ton of money and trick parts aren’t always a substitute for a great combination.