Michael Johnson
Technical Editor
June 1, 2013
Photos By: Paul Rosner

Richard Furr might've had one of the coolest dads ever. His pop owned an '84 GT T-top car. "I remember him teaching me how to wash a car while helping him clean it," Richard says, "and going for a drive with the T-tops off, feeling the wind and smelling the tire smoke."

Of course, all this was enough to turn Richard into a lifelong car guy. Richard and his dad even fixed up a '66 Mustang for his high school car. This time around, he wanted to get into something a little more modern.

Having owned a Fox convertible after the '66, he set his sights on another four-eyed Fox, but he narrowed his focus to a coupe. He began his search in January 2009, and after a few weeks, he finally came across a qualified candidate. "It was a blue '85 LX coupe, four-cylinder, automatic with a blue interior," Richard says.

He made arrangements to take a look at the car; what he saw looked tired but in pretty good shape. It had what Richard thought was original paint and all the parts were there. "When the owner started the car, it shook pretty bad and seemed like it was running on three cylinders," Richard said. Plus, there was rust in all the appropriate areas—at the bottom of the doors, the battery tray, and the trunk corners. "The steering wheel also flopped back and forth as if it wasn't even connected to anything," Richard adds.

That doesn't sound shady at all. This deal is getting better by the sentence.

Like us, his look of doubt must've been really evident, but the owner assured Richard that with just a bit of body filler and a new rag joint, it would be good as new. We've heard those same words on more than one occasion, and we're sure Richard had as well. However, he was undeterred. He used the car's imperfections as a bargaining tool to buy it for as little as possible. Of course, once cash changed hands, Richard didn't dare trust that floppy steering wheel for driving. He loaded up his new honey and headed for home.

Before applying that little smidge of body filler and tackling that new rag joint, Richard spent many hours planning every aspect of the build, figuring out exactly what he wanted from the car. "I knew it was going to be a lot of work and a long process," Richard says, "but I wanted to do every part of the build myself, including building the engine, body work, paint, and upholstery."

Since he had owned race cars in the past, Richard wanted this car to be completely different. "I wanted to build a unique, clean Fox coupe in which everything functioned like it was intended," Richard says. Meaning the car had to have cruise, A/C, an automatic trunk release, a fuel door release, power locks, and fully functioning gauges. "I also wanted a good stereo system, great stopping ability, handling, ride quality, and at least 400 horsepower," Richard says.

Richard wasn't out of line with his desires. However, he took a different route than the road often traveled, calling on a 351 Cleveland engine to get the job done. His plan was to pair the Cleveland with a Tremec five-speed transmission and a Moser 9-inch rear. Though the recipe was unique, Richard wanted a good driver he could hop in and drive cross country.

To get started, Richard stripped the car, putting whatever parts, nuts, and bolts into labeled bags so he wouldn't have any hardware leftover when it was put back together. He even kept a spreadsheet outlining the parts he would need to complete the build. He updated the list as the car came apart to keep track of what was needed.

With the car torn apart and up on a rotisserie, most of Richard's weekends were spent welding and smoothing all of the holes in the engine compartment, doing initial body work, and fixing the aforementioned rust issues. He rented an industrial-size compressor and media-blaster to remove all the paint, grime, and undercoating from the body. To keep the rust from coming back, Richard finished off the body with several coats of Dupont epoxy primer and 3M undercoating.

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When he wasn't working on the coupe, Richard surfed eBay, Mustang forums, and swap meets checking off items on his spreadsheet list. Through this diligent work, he was able to continue the build, and add a '99 GT hydroboost system, a Hurst roll/control, and custom-bent brake lines. "I put the front suspension in place with SN-95 spindles, 13-inch Cobra rotors and calipers, and a quick-ratio Fox steering rack with a Steeda bumpsteer kit and caster/camber plates," Richard adds. Out back, he bolted up a Moser Engineering Fox-width 9-inch rear with Steeda Autosports upper and lower control arms. Adding 10th Anniversary Cobra wheels to the mix meant the car had reached roller status.

With the coupe back on all fours, Richard began the process of choosing the car's powertrain. He already had the Cleveland engine leftover from a previous project. Since his goal was to make 400 hp, he decided it would be a good fit for the project. It would save him from buying another engine, and also make the car unique.

Historically, the Cleveland engine isn't known for torque, but Richard called Coast High Performance, ordering one of its 393ci rotating assemblies. Richard believed the added cubic inches would benefit the Cleveland's free-flowing heads and keep the rpm at a reasonable level.

While waiting for engine components, Richard went through the heads, cleaning up the ports, matching them to the Edelbrock Torker 351 intake gasket. He also smoothed out any casting imperfections, cc'd the combustion chambers, and calculated the compression at around 11:1. With the rotating assembly pieces in hand, Richard thoroughly cleaned every component, also checking for proper sizing before calling in his dad to watch over his shoulder as he built the engine.

In the spring of 2010, the engine was mated to a Tremec TKO600 transmission and installed in the car after a little clearancing and fabrication. The original wiring harness was hidden behind the inner fender aprons and he removed all of the unused circuits, replacing them with new units for the electric fan, fuel pump, and roll/control solenoid. "The factory headlight circuits were rewired to trigger a relay instead of feeding the voltage through the headlight switch for longevity and brighter illumination," Richard says. Then he fabricated and installed the exhaust to ready the engine for its initial start-up.

"After priming the oil pump and double- checking all of the hose connections, it fired to life, emitting a wonderful exhaust tone with a nice, lopey idle," Richard says.

He spent the summer of 2010 adding all the parts and pieces to make the coupe a complete car. He fabricated a serpentine-belt front-accessory-drive system, incorporating an A/C compressor and power steering pump.

Once the car was complete, it was time to put wheels into motion, and since Richard's father had contributed so much work to the project, Richard gave him the honors. His dad fired it up, eased it into gear, and made a few trips up and down the driveway. "That only lasted a short time before we were taking turns lying parallel stripes of rubber down the driveway," Richard says. "It was a lot of fun, and a big relief to see it actually move and drive for the first time," Richard adds.

You'll notice we didn't say anything about the car being painted, only that it was in primer. That's because the car was still in primer during the lying down of parallel stripes in the driveway. So after all that excitement, Richard took the car all the way down to a bare shell—again—so Richard could undertake the long process of straightening dents, sanding, and going back over the work he'd already done. It's a good thing Richard's grandfather ran a body shop in the '70s. Many of his grandfather's tools had been passed down to him and were used to rework the metal on the car.

After many weekends of tedious work, Richard chose a custom red mix from Dupont's Chromabase and Chromaclear line, spraying the hue with an Iwata LPH400 spray gun he specifically purchased for the project. But instead of spraying all the trim with the factory Ford gray, he painted all the trim black to add a starker contrast to the project. After applying the paint, even more weekends were devoted to wet-sanding and buffing to achieve a mirror-smooth finish.

With the paint handled, the car was ready for reassembly—again. "Since everything had already been fabricated, painted, and fit into place, it went back together again pretty smoothly," Richard says. Except this time he took the time to refinish all of the car's hardware, sandblasting and re-coating them individually for a properly restored look.

By the summer of 2011 Richard was able to reinstall the car's glass and interior. In some instances he was able to reuse original parts, and in other areas he had to purchase new parts. "I then put on the final details like the door moldings, radio antenna, wiper arms; I finally had a completed car ready for the road in September 2011," Richard says.

"After the first drive, I knew I had achieved my goal," Richard adds. The car was everything he wanted in a Fox Mustang. "The doors shut like new, the A/C was cold, and the engine sounded and drove great," he says.

Richard says he'd like to one day open a shop of his own and do the type of work he loves. Judging by his finished product, let us know when you're ready, Richard. We have enough work to keep you busy.

Horse Sense: The 351 Cleveland engine was introduced in 1969 for the ‘70 model year, and continued through the '74 models. Clevelands were available with low- and high-compression forms, and 2V and 4V versions. The most powerful variant was found under the hood of the ‘71 Boss 351, which was underrated at 330 horsepower from the factory.

Richard chose a custom red mix of Dupont Chromabase and Chromaclear for his coupe. The hood is a Cervini’s Auto Designs cowl, and that’s the extent of the aftermarket gear on the car. He did add ‘93 fenders, customizing the ‘85 fender extensions accordingly to fit the later fenders. Richard painted all the trim pieces black instead of the factory gray to add more contrast, while a set of 10th Anniversary Cobra wheels look right at home on the Four-Eye coupe.

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5.0 Tech Specs
Engine and Drivetrain

'71 351 Cleveland
Scat 4340, forged-steel
Scat 4340 forged H-beam w/ ARP bolts
Probe forged -3cc dish
Comp Cams hydraulic-roller
Cylinder heads
Owner-ported 1971 Cleveland closed chamber w/ 2.19/1.71 valves, and Harland Sharp 1.73 roller rockers
Intake manifold
Edelbrock Torker 351 w/ Holley 830-cfm double-pumper carburetor
Fuel system
Holley Blue pump w/ Holley regulator, stainless braided fuel lines, factory tank, and welded sump
Hedman Hedders Husler Fox-swap 351C 17⁄8-in long-tube headers w/ custom midpipe, Magnaflow catalytic converters, Flowmaster 40-series mufflers, and Dynomax tailpipes
Tremec TKO 600 w/ Centerforce Dual Friction clutch, Ford Racing aluminum driveshaft, Steeda Autosports Tri-Ax shifter, and Hurst chrome handle
Moser Engineering 9-in housing w/ 31-spline axles, Detroit Locker 31-spline differential, and Richmond 4.11 gears
Crane HI-6 w/ LX92 coil, ACCEL 8.8mm spark plug wires, and Autolite 24 spark plugs
Auto Meter in MC-Machine gauge panel w/ Innovate Motorsports LM1 wideband
Suspension and Chassis
Front suspension
Stock w/ polyurethane bushings, and SN-95 spindles
Mustang Bullitt
Cobra 13-in rotors w/ '99 GT hydroboost system
17x9-in 10th Anniversary Cobra
Nitto NT555 Extreme 245/45
Rear suspension
Mustang Bullitt
Control Arms
Steeda Autosports
Moser disc w/ parking brake, and Lokar cables
17x9-in 10th Anniversary Cobra
Nitto NT555 Extreme 275/40
'85 LX