5.0 Mustang & Super FordsFeatured Vehicles
1988 Ford Mustang LX - Rising Son
Street Fox - Matt Baker became a dad and cooked up this coupe to inspire his boy
Horse Sense: Not only did the '91-'93 Mustangs receive updated front fenders to accommodate the larger, 16-inch five-spoke wheels of that era, but these cars also have reshaped inner fender liners to make room for those storied hoops.
When a baby is on the way, people suddenly feel the weight of the world on their shoulders. They brace themselves for the social and financial responsibilities of bringing a new citizen into the world. At least that's what you hope they do, because, as Chris Rock so eloquently put it, "You are supposed to take care of your kids."
The changes can be big and small. Moms often feel the need to change their hairstyles to keep baby from pulling on them, and dads feel the pressure to get rid of their toy cars and park a minivan in the driveway. Fortunately, such measures aren't really mandatory. A child seat does fit in a Mustang, and there are always some of us that like to go against the grain.
Matt Baker has that hot-rodders rebellious streak combined with a true-blue love for Mustangs, and, more importantly, his son. "For car guys, it's the one excuse you hope you never have to use: Must sell—baby on the way. It's the reason for some smoking deals in the car hobby.
"Over the years I've heard about the arrival of a kid causing the departure of many hot rods, dream cars, and toys. Well, for me, the announcement of our son, Kelby, brought about the realization that it doesn't have to be that way," Matt explained. "Why not buy a project vehicle and over the course of a few years, build a build a car that makes a lasting impression on a kid?"
A lasting impression is something every good dad hopes to leave on his offspring. Sure you want to raise your children to be responsible, productive adults. Perhaps an even more important message is to impose upon our children to pursue life, liberty, and happiness. And, after all, what can make you happier than building up a Mustang? "In other words, make sure that some of his first memories include a loud, fast, and eye-catching car that gets him interested in what's going on out in the garage," Matt added.
There was far more than minivan oil changes going on in Matt's garage. He went after his new project Fox with fervor. That he had a daily driver probably meant that he went a little overboard for his inspirational Fox. "The first engine combo that I built for the project took about a year to complete, and it consisted of an E85, blow-through-carburetor, and a custom turbo setup with a 67mm Precision turbo by my friend Ray Yip of Fusion Works Racing," Matt continued. "All this was backed by a C4 with a full-manual valvebody and a 'brake. While this combo was fairly fast, it was not as much fun as I hoped. You see, it wasn't exactly kid or street friendly. I could never even think of strapping my kid in a car like that."
The upside of the Fox's radical nature is that it started to garner some attention from the young man that inspired its creation. However, it wasn't the only car vying for his affection. "...Two years into the build my son was beginning to take notice of the noisy hot rod in the garage. But he seemed more interested in my mildly modified '98 Cobra daily driver that he rode in all the time," Matt said. "Interest in the ‘Cobah' quickly faded when we traded it off, which caused him to quickly shift his total attention to the blue coupe. At that same time, I found myself missing the fun of driving the Cobra, so back to the drawing board I went."
On that board was a map right back to streetability. An aerospace trainer by trade, Matt knows how to put a plan together. He drew up a new combo with a five-speed, fuel injection, and pump gas. Matt found a local Fox owner willing to accept his drivetrain in trade for a Tremec TKO five-speed, a McLeod clutch, a Pro-5.0 shifter and everything necessary to convert to a manual-trans setup. He also removed the drag-oriented suspension gear and replaced it with street-friendly parts from Granatelli and Maximum. This final phase of the project took another year, and both the project and its inspiration, Kelby, were three years old.
"Today my 3-year-old expects us to take the car everywhere. He always talks to people about the blue coupe, and is constantly finding ways to bring it up in a conversation no matter what the discussion topic," Matt said. "His favorite thing to do is cinch down the five-point Sparcos, and ride shotgun wherever our destination may be. On Fridays we take it to the local cruise night, and while it may not be as fast as it once was, it's still capable of hanging with our '14 GT, and to him it's the fastest thing on four wheels."
Photo GalleryView Photo Gallery
In the end, Matt is rightfully proud of his creation, and you'd have to agree that the project turned out great, and his reason for doing it was even more inspirational than the car.
"I think I did alright," Matt concluded. "I built a car that I hoped would introduce my son to the hobby I enjoy, and now I have someone to share it with."
You did better than alright, Matt. You have our vote for Father of the Year.
5.0 Tech Specs
Engine and Drivetrain
Block: Stock iron 5.0
Pistons: CP Hypereutectic, 0.040-in over
Camshaft: FRPP E303
Cylinder heads: FRPP Turbo Swirl GT-40X
Intake manifold: Explorer w/ 70mm throttle body and BBK cold-air intake
Power Adder: None
Fuel system: 255-lph fuel pump w/ BBK fuel pressure regulator, and stock 19-lb/hr injectors
Exhaust: BBK short-tube headers w/ BBK H-pipe and Flowmaster two-chamber mufflers
Transmission: Tremec TKO five-speed w/ McLeod RST twin-disc clutch, Pro-5.0 shifter, and FRPP aluminum driveshaft
Rearend: 8.8-in w/ 3.73 gears and Moser 28-spline axles
Engine management: '93 EEC-IV w/ de-pinned '93 harness
Ignition: Stock w/ MSD coil and FRPP 9mm wires
Gauges: Stock w/ Auto Meter oil and trans temp
Suspension and Chassis
K-member: Granatelli Motor Sports tubular
A-arms: Granatelli Motor Sports tubular
Struts: Tokico D-spec
Springs: Maximum Motorsports, 300 in/lb
Wheels: Matte Black American Muscle FR500, 18x9-in
Tires: Hankook, 265/35ZR-18
Shocks: Tokico D-spec
Springs: Maximum Motorsports
Control Arms: Granatelli Motor Sports upper and Weight Jacker lowers
Wheels: Matte Black American Muscle FR500, 18x10-in
Tires: Hankook, 285/35ZR-18