Michael Johnson
Associate Editor, 5.0 Mustangs & Super Fords
October 10, 2013

Back in the day, if you took on a project you could really only rely on local buddies to help keep you motivated. Maybe it was family members or close friends, but they had to live nearby in order to help you see a project through. Sure, you could call long-distance pals for a pep talk, but other than that, you were on your own. These days, thanks to the interwebs, people you've never met, and probably never will, are able to provide moral support to help keep you on task.

Such is the case for Cortlandt Manor, New York's Wes Ryan. He used motivation from across the country to get his '91 LX coupe to this point.

"Most car guys have certain vehicles that grab their attention," Wes says. For this NYPD detective, a Fox Mustang will always be that vehicle. His first car at the age of 15 was a red T-top '83 GT, after all. "That was the beginning of this addictive hobby for me," Wes says. Of course, at around 15-16 years old, it's all about having fun. You have life by the tail, you're flying by the seat of your pants. However, soon enough life steps in to spoil the fun, but as Wes accurately points out, being a car guy doesn't ever go away. "It's always inside of you, sometimes dormant, but still there nonetheless," Wes adds.

For Wes, life happened, and Mustangs came and went after the '83, but shortly after marrying his wife Michelle, he waited patiently to revive his inner car guy. Wes stumbled upon a rather fed-up owner after enduring it's last AOD rebuild. The '91 LX coupe was available for just above the price of the transmission rebuild, and $2,800 later a stock, one-owner LX coupe was parked in Wes' garage.

The car started out as a cruiser, transitioned to track duty, and back to cruising. After going through these phases in 10 years of ownership, Wes decided the car needed some attention. "I needed a simple combo with clean body lines and amazing paint I could enjoy with the wife and kids," Wes says. He does mention "life" was well underway at that point so he wanted a car everyone could enjoy. His '01 Bullitt—one of the cars that had entered Wes' life after the '83—had become more race car than street car thanks to a Wolfe Racecraft cage and a YSi-Trim supercharged Two-Valve capable of shaking the neighbor's coffee table. Most of us build a car too far past streetable. We end up selling that car and starting over with a street car. Wes didn't have to do that. He simply had to build the coupe into something his Bullitt had surpassed.

Wes' Project Family Values had some talented champions spurring the effort. Namely Martin Ochs (MartyO) of Mo's Speed Shop, and Derrick Smith of Smith's Paint and Restoration. A plan was hatched, and Wes was to get the wheels in motion by stripping the car to a bare shell in getting it down to Georgia for MartyO and Derrick to take over. Yep, you heard right, Wes lives in New York, while his friends' shops are in Georgia. Wes stripped the car, took it down South, and the Southern hospitality must've had an impact because he's been trying to change his address ever since.

He tasked MartyO with adding tubular subframe connectors, boxed and welded subframe connectors, and a smoothed engine compartment. With those steps complete, the car took the short trip over to Derrick's body shop with Wes' goal of masking its factory white hue in mind. "Derrick went on to prep and spray the complete interior, trunk, and undercarriage before moving on to the exterior panels," Wes explained. The color is PPG Deltron Dark Cherry Pearl, while the undercarriage and floor pans are coated with 3M Body Schutz to maintain a clean look and reduce noise. You know, to help with the car's main function.