5.0 Mustang & Super FordsFeatured Vehicles
Jim Wojda's '84 Mustang GT Outlaw Race Car
What Makes This Near-Stock-Appearing GT Outlaw So Quick?
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Actually, the names pronounced Woy-da, not Waj-da, but no matter how you say his last name, the fact remains Jim Wojdas innocently virgin-white 84 GT could have been be a whole lot of fun in the old days on Detroits Woodward Avenue, not far from Jims 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 exoticand expectedlike 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 Meyers 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 theres a surprise). It seems to leave the starting line fine, and its fine until almost the eighth-mile, and thats when the car starts to move aroundit 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, Michigans McCarren Racing. Jim explains how Rich, who is now the cars 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, hell crawl underneath it for 10 minutes, come back out, and say OK, its fine, and this thingll be on a string. Richs hand has also played a role in the GTs 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 GTs best performance as of this writing has been 8.65 at 159 mphgood 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 doesnt come without some breakage. We started the year with four spare pistons, Jim says. Its the second week of July and were 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 Mustangs 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.