Drew Phillips
June 1, 2013

Ever since he was a teenager Paul Fercho has worked hard to be able to afford his passion for cars, particularly the Ford Mustang.

"My first real car was a 1967 Ford Mustang 390 GTA fastback," he tells us. "I worked for a year and a half as a dishwasher and saved every penny. I bought it for $3,400 back in 1985."

Paul had to eventually sell his 1967, but his love for Mustangs continued into his adulthood when he purchased a 2005 Mustang GT. While he used the car as a daily driver, he also spent plenty of time at the drag strip. Thanks to a twin-screw supercharger and a modified suspension setup he ran consistent 10.60s in the quarter-mile. All of that ended, though, in an unfortunate accident.

"One day on the way to work I got hit by a semi-truck in the driver door, and the rollbar saved my life," Paul remembers. "I had a broken pelvis and two broken ribs, but the car was totaled."

With his Mustang written off, he decided to build the car he always wanted, a big-block Ford. "Because of the accident I decided that life is short and that I wasn't going to wait anymore. I've always wanted a big block Ford, so I went ahead and did it." The catch, however, is that Paul wanted to put the big-block into an S197 Mustang.

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To make the build as cheap as possible. he purchased a '06 Mustang that didn't have an engine and transmission. He also bought his wrecked Mustang back from the insurance company and pulled out all of the modified suspension components that hadn't been damaged in the accident.

For the engine, though, Paul didn't hold back. He ordered Ford Racing's 460 iron-block (PN M-6010-A460), turning it over to Vrbancic Bros Racing Engines in Ontario, California, to complete the build. The block was bored out to 572 ci, then filled out with items like an Eagle 4340 steel crankshaft, Diamond 16:1 forged pistons, Eagle 6.700 H-beam connecting rods, ARP L19 rod bolts, Comp Cams solid-rollers, Manley Nextek valvesprings and Kaase P51 aluminum cylinder heads.

For airflow, a Holley 1150 Dominator carburetor and a Trick Flow Mafia 4500 intake manifold are on the top end, while a custom set of headers from Overkill Fabrication in La Verne, California, handle the exiting of exhaust gases.

With everything said and done, the engine produces an impressive 924 hp at 6,900 rpm and 781 lb-ft torque at 5,000 rpm at the crank. An ATI ProGlide straight-cut transmission, Strange Engineering driveshaf, and a Currie 9-inch rearend direct the horsepower to the rear wheels.

While swapping out the 4.6-liter Three-Valve V-8 for a big-block V-8 could be considered fairly difficult, Paul says it's easier than you might think. "It's not really a big deal," he tells us. "Probably the most difficult part is the electric—how much functionality you want to keep with the stock computer. But as far as physically fitting a big-block Ford into these cars, it's easy. The width was perfect. The engine is 2.5 inches longer than the Three-Valve V-8, but as far as the width goes, it's exactly the same. So it was a easy installation." Paul says the only items required to install the big-block into the S197 engine bay are a custom set of motor mounts and a custom transmission mount.

For the suspension and chassis setup Paul kept it simple, using many of the same components on his previous car. In front, the stock struts and springs are still in place, although a tubular K-member and tubular A-arms from BMR Fabrication replace the stock pieces. The rear has been modified more extensively, featuring Strange Engineering double-adjustable coil-overs and BMR suspension gear. Paul also replaced the stock brakes with a set of Strange drag race brakes with lightweight slotted rotors and billet aluminum calipers front and rear.