5.0 Mustang & Super FordsFeatured Vehicles
1998 Ford Mustang GT - Staying Power
Christopher Alfieri stuck with his first Mustang and learned a powerful lesson
Our story begins on familiar note as a budding Mustang enthusiast snags a lighly used SN-95 coupe—thanks to his father's financial assistance—at the ripe young age of 16. That was more than a dozen years ago in 2000, and the Pony in question was an unremarkable, black-on-black '98 six-banger.
For too many of us, those first cars never seem to last, so where our tale happily departs from the norm is that Christopher Alfieri still owns his first Mustang. However, you'd now be hard pressed to guess its humble beginnings. Which is not to say the relationship hasn't had its ups and downs…
Far from a golden-spoon story, Christopher's deal was that he was completely on his own for all insurance, gas, and maintenance, as well as for any modifications he had in mind. Of course, he had plenty in mind, 'cause what he had really wanted was a Cobra. But the economic realities of a teenager meant moving slowly, detailing cars after school to finance some mostly visual bolt-ons that he installed himself. Still, by his senior year in high school, his coupe had been lowered, wore some aftermarket body enhancements, some 4.10 gears, and was even rigged with a 100-shot of dry nitrous.
By 2004, that giggle gas had taken its toll on the aging V-6. At that point, Christopher could have sold his coupe and bought a Cobra, but says he had become quite attached to the car. So he instead decided to muscle it up with a V-8 swap. He bought a used 351W truck block, and sent it off to be bumped to 393 cubes with a stroker kit and some (what he thought were new) AFR 205cc heads.
By then, he was working at a shop called Mustang Services and Performance in Marietta, Georgia, so he had the skills, facilities, and a few co-workers to help him with the transplant. Even so, it took 10 months of after-hours effort, but when his SN-95 finally reemerged, its 393 small-block was nestled in a UPR tubular K-member, and bolted to a Tremec TKO 500 gearbox and a built 8.8-inch housing. It then rolled on 18-inch Saleen rims wrapped in Nitto rubber.
In 2005, that shop was sold and Christopher opted to attend college. Meanwhile, his new 393 Windsor combo wasn't running too well and kept puking head gaskets, so he hooked up with Jeff Harris, who then owned Pro Speed performance in Powder Springs, Georgia, to see why. Upon teardown, it was discovered that warped heads and a damaged piston were the culprits. Wanting to do it right this time, Christopher had the re-pistoned short-block balanced and blueprinted; converted to roller lifters; fitted with a bigger, custom Comp cam; and capped with an Edelbrock Victor EFI intake. The warped heads were decked, bumping compression up to 10.4:1, and long-tube headers came onboard, feeding a 3-inch exhaust.
At that point the combo made 413 rwhp, but still wore its original black hue. It was time for paint. "After contemplating a few colors," Christopher said. "I decided on a color that BMW used on its M-series cars from '86 to '95— Diamond Schwartz from Spies Hecker." He gave the job to Mike Smith of A&W Auto Body who unfortunately became ill and passed away before he could finish. From there, the coupe went to a shop where Mike's son worked, and where the paintjob was completed. Christopher loved the results: "By the end of 2007 the car was finally rebuilt. Over the next few years, I would enjoy it and do minor upgrades all around…"