5.0 Mustang & Super FordsFeatured Vehicles
Brent Wiest's 1988 Mustang
The Most Powerful Street-Legal 5.0 We've Ever Seen
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It probably wont 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 Wiests 88 coupe.
When we first opened the FedEx envelope containing Mr. Thawleys 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 wasnt really in Brents plans. He originally gutted the car and took it to his brother-in-law Jim Cafarellis shop (Jims Custom Auto in Fallbrook, Cali-fornia) for paint and body work. Jim convinced Brent he needed to pick a color that reflected the cars 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 Cervinis 4-inch cowl-induction hood in place under the yellow paint, the cars 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 wasnt 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.
Whats 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 wellbefore you saw the dyno sheets, that is.
Ive seen too many guys at the track slow down with radical sets of heads, Brent explains. Either they didnt 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 doesnt feature two parts from the same manufacturer. Normally wed expect that to be a recipe for disaster. In this case its 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 couldnt 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, Brents 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 equipments 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 hes on borrowed time doubling a T5s torque output, so hes 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 Brents model. A ton of money and trick parts arent always a substitute for a great combination.