Muscle Mustangs & Fast Fords
1989 Ford Mustang LX - Constructing Class
House-builder Alan Happel contracted an all-star team of friends and family to create a masterpiece.
Terminator-swapped Fox-body coupes: if you've seen one, then you've seen them all, right? We were beginning to think so—until we saw Alan Happel's 1989 Ford Mustang LX. This slick notch has just set the bar for Four-Valve Fox-bodies. Besides, isn't everyone doing Coyote swaps now? Apparently not, and that's just fine by us.
Alan's wife, Megan, sent us photos of this Sonic Blue '89 Mustang coupe for our Snap Shots section last year. We contacted her immediately to tell her we'd be happy to run her husband's coupe in Snap Shots, but we'd rather make it a full feature. With a Cervini's Stalker nose, cowl hood, '93 Cobra side skirts and rear fascia, and polished Boyd Coddington wheels, this Mustang was unique and super-clean. Add the Terminator drivetrain and a spotless '03-'04 Cobra interior, and we were in.
Alan and his dad own and operate their family's business, Happel Construction, which builds houses and develops subdivisions in Warner Robins, Georgia. Alan's mom and wife also have their hands in the family business. And when the Happels aren't busy constructing houses, they're building super-clean Mustangs in Alan and Megan's home garage. The couple's 3-year-old daughter even gets involved.
Happel had built a similar Terminator-swap Fox a couple of years earlier with his buddy Kyle Vander Poorten in 43 days, working only nights and weekends. "I wanted to build one that was perfect, so I sold that one," says Alan. After finding a good, clean four-cylinder coupe and stripping it down to a bare shell, Alan began looking for the perfect donor car. He found it in a wrecked '03 SVT Cobra in September 2010 and drove to Maryland to pick it up.
Back in Middle, Georgia, Alan began stripping the Cobra. With only 14,000 on the clock, everything was like new, and Alan decided to use as much of the donor car as he could—engine, transmission, wiring harness, fuel system, dash, console, steering column, and braking system. Kyle Vander Poorten jumped in to wire up the lights, power door locks, and power windows; he even modified the '03 switches to fit the Fox door panel trim.
Elsewhere in the interior, Automotion made custom black leather and suede door panels and black suede headliner to match the '04 Cobra seats that Alan picked off another Terminator. Automotion also dyed the rest of the Fox interior trim to match the charcoal pieces. Bryan Busch and his brother stitched "SVTerminator" into the door panels, and Alan added a Raptor shift light and Auto Meter Phantom boost gauge. When you're sitting in the cockpit, it feels like you're in a showroom-new Terminator.
Adding to the Cobra theme, Alan called on his buddy Chris Lancaster to apply the Sonic Blue finish. The boring phrase "smooth as glass" is an understatement. "I kept going back and forth on the Stalker nose and '93 Cobra kit, but I'm glad I did it—it turned out nice," said Alan. He also splurged on a set of 18-inch Boyd Coddington Destructors, with 265mm and 295mm BFGoodrich rubber in the front and rear respectively. QA1, UPR, Maximum Motorsports, and Eibach handle suspension duties. Alan opted to stick with a solid rear axle, upgrading an 8.8 with 31-spline Moser axles and 3.55 gears. He also beefed up the T56 with a Centerforce dual-friction clutch and 26-spline input shaft.
Underhood lies more than your run-of-the-mill '03 Cobra engine. Atop the stock long-block sits a Stage 5 Stiegemeier-ported Eaton, a 2.76-inch pulley, Accufab single-blade throttle body, and a JLT cold-air kit. Ford GT pumps feed the 60-lb/hr injectors, and controls are managed by the stock '03 Cobra computer, re-flashed by Mark Biddel of Panama City, Florida. On 14 pounds of boost, it laid down 482 rwhp and 482 rwtq (on a Mustang Dyno).
Since this project was completed in mid-2012, Happel and company have been working on yet another project—an '03 Cobra with a serious turbo setup and an eye on low e.t.'s in True Street competition. We're hoping it will debut in Bradenton next year, and we'll be watching it closely. If it's as nice as this coupe and can run with the big dogs in Bradenton, we'll certainly be impressed.
On 14 pounds of boost, it laid down 482 rwhp and 482 rwtq.