Dale Amy
December 1, 2000
Photos By: Steve Turner

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P56330_large 1984_Ford_Mustang_LX Driver_SideP56331_image_largeP56332_large 1984_Ford_Mustang_LX Engine
Donnie Ostgen put together the car’s current 377, built around an FRPP M-6010-R351 block, with a 9.2-inch deck. Bored to 4.125 inches, the siamese-bored block houses a stock-stroke Crower crank linked to Bill Miller 500 Series rods and 14:1 Probe pistons. Don’t even bother asking about the cam. Heads are ported Edelbrock Victors with a 2.08/1.625 valve package and T&D shaft-mounted rockers. The power adder is a throttle-activated NOS single-stage Pro Fogger, with purge control wired to the rear defroster switch.
P56333_large 1984_Ford_Mustang_LX Interior
Though wisely surrounded by a 10-point S&W cage, the red interior remains astonishingly stock, save for some Auto Meter gauges and a B&M Pro Ratchet shifter controlling the Driveline Performance Powerglide. Oh, and the emergency brake lever now controls the Simpson ’chute.
P56334_large 1984_Ford_Mustang_LX Trunk
During last winter, Jim and co-conspirator on the car, Jason Perilli, took 150 pounds out of the Mustang by installing a Granatelli Motorsports tubular K-member and control arms, along with coilovers. Out back, a 4-gallon fuel cell replaced the stock tank. The car now weighs 2,965 pounds with driver. The result was a two-tenths–quicker e.t. and somewhat improved stability down-track.
P56335_large 1984_Ford_Mustang_LX Front_Driver_Side

Actually, the name’s pronounced “Woy-da,” not “Waj-da,” but no matter how you say his last name, the fact remains Jim Wojda’s innocently virgin-white ’84 GT could have been be a whole lot of fun in the old days on Detroit’s Woodward Avenue, not far from Jim’s hometown of Howell, Michigan.

If you could time warp this thing back to the heyday of Woodward street racing, its devious combination of stock looks and repeatable mid-eight-second performance would have made for many a surprised competitor.

Come to think of it, even today those same attributes probably make for some surprised rivals in the NMRA Super Street Outlaw class where Jim regularly competes. Despite its unassuming countenance, this car is, as Jim describes it, “the fastest Southside Mustang in the country,” referring to the fact that its spooled rear axle is located by Southside Machine lowers, rather than anything more exotic—and expected—like a pair of ladder bars.

Now, Outlaw Mustangs in general are not noted for their stability or sanity (you may have noticed that every time they come to the line, Dr. Jamie Meyer’s announcing voice jumps yet another octave), but trying to e.t. in the mid-eights on a stock-style suspension nearly always makes for a brief but exciting foray into the world of the Truly Deranged.

We asked Jim what it was like to rip through a quarter-mile in about half the time the rear suspension was engineered to go. “The car is pretty scary down track,” Jim admits (now there’s a surprise). “It seems to leave the starting line fine, and it’s fine until almost the eighth-mile, and that’s when the car starts to move around—it yaws from side to side.”

These top-end antics are practically unavoidable in the overpowered, under-chassised Outlaw class, but Jim says the car behaves much better than it used to, thanks to his introduction last fall to Rich McCarren, a race-car fabricator and owner of Taylor, Michigan’s McCarren Racing. Jim explains how Rich, who is now the car’s unofficial crew chief, can quickly adjust for track conditions using one of his own custom sway bars: “The car will move around, do this and that, he’ll crawl underneath it for 10 minutes, come back out, and say ‘OK, it’s fine,’ and this thing’ll be on a string.” Rich’s hand has also played a role in the GT’s 60-foot times, which Jim tells us are now consistently in the 1.28- to 1.30-second range.

When Jim bought the ’84 GT six years ago at age 19, running it in Street Outlaw was the furthest thing from his mind. At that time the low-mileage white hatchback had a 302 with iron 351 heads, and would run mid-11s with no power adder. That was fine at the time, but as his friends’ cars went quicker and the drag-racing bug bit deeper, Jim felt he had to keep up, so in 1998 he put together a stock-block 377 with Trick Flow Street Heats and a fogger that was capable of 9.20s at 146 mph. After snapping a rod, that motor was put back together and sold, as Jim realized he would have to step it up to be competitive in the ever-accelerating Outlaw field.

The ’84 GT’s best performance as of this writing has been 8.65 at 159 mph—good enough to attract Southside Machine and Creative Performance Racing to come on board as sponsors. That was with a No. 32 jet (about 325 hp) in the fogger. For the latter half of the season, Jim may experiment with a No. 46 jet (good for about a 500-horse hit), so everyone please stay away from the guardrails at the far end of the track.

Naturally, all this performance doesn’t come without some breakage. “We started the year with four spare pistons,” Jim says. “It’s the second week of July and we’re down to one.” Looking for improved reliability, Jim is likely to replace the nitrous with a blower next year. No matter what its power adder, look for this plain white wrapper to surprise a few competitors.

Horse Sense: According to Southside Machine [(330) 669-3556], its Lift Bars relocate a Mustang’s instant center, or “lift point,” from three feet in front of the bumper to the middle of the car, which is said to reduce frontend lift and rearend squat for a more even lift at launch. Lift bars are available in bolt-on (PN 1314) and weld-on (PN 1314HP) versions.