Dale Amy
January 1, 2000

Step By Step

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P59870_large 1993_Ford_Mustang_LX Front_Driver_SideP59871_large 1993_Ford_Mustang_LX Rear_Passenger_SideP59872_large 1993_Ford_Mustang_LX EngineP59873_large 1993_Ford_Mustang_LX WheelP59874_large 1993_Ford_Mustang_LX Interior_Shift_KnobP59875_large 1993_Ford_Mustang_LX Interior

Consider the history of the Fox-chassis Mustang two-door sedan—sometimes referred to as a coupe or trunk car. You could easily draw comparisons to the high school wallflower who later showed up on a magazine cover. To be frank, when the design debuted in 1979, there was little to get excited about. Those were the dark days of performance automobiles—Fords in particular—and virtually all the excitement of a brand-new ponycar was focused on the sporty hatchback. The hatch even paced Indy that year with Jackie Stewart at the wheel, while the two-door went largely ignored.

Ironically, the California Highway Patrol helped turn the tide in 1982, when they tested a fleet of 5.0 H.O.–powered sedans. With successful results, Ford was able to justify regular production of the Special Service package the following year. Other law enforcement agencies quickly jumped on the Mustang bandwagon, and enthusiasts nationwide soon related to the coupe as a high-speed pursuit vehicle instead of a pedestrian grocery-getter. That the sedan was lighter and more rigid than its flashier siblings was yet another draw for the go-fast crowd.

By the early ’90s, sedan fans had several options for acquiring their car of choice. One was to visit the government surplus auctions, where retired pursuit Mustangs were turning up in substantial numbers. But beyond having to rub shoulders with the geeks who drive ex-cop Caprices, the pitfalls of 100,000 special-service miles are obvious. Brand-new versions weren’t as easy to nail down as the more common hatchback models, but could still be found with a bit of perseverance. Steve McKinney had that perseverance and turned up this Reef Blue ’93 LX at a nearby North Carolina dealership.

Daily-driver duty was its calling for several years, but Steve recently made the decision to add competent open-track performance to its list of chores. Mark Ray Motorsports was a natural for the project, not only because of its nearby locale, but also because the shop has a habit of building hard-hitting street cars, which is why so many of his cars have been featured in these pages in the last several years.

As with so many businesses specializing in late-model modifications, MRM is a firm believer in addressing the inherent Mustang weaknesses of brakes, chassis, and suspension before cranking up the power. That’s a tough call for straight-line traditionalists, as sophisticated suspension and brakes can be as pricey as a serious engine, but for open-track participants, these upgrades are essential. In Steve’s case, Mark’s sage advice was well heeded.

A rigid chassis was created using a variety of Kenny Brown components. Subframe connectors, strut tower brace, lower chassis brace, and a Super Street Cage provide a solid platform from which to hang a complete Griggs suspension system. Up front that includes Griggs tubular K-member, control arms, and bumpsteer kit, along with a double adjustable Koni coilover shock setup. Out back, the 3.55 geared 8.8 is reigned in by a Griggs torque arm, adjustable spring perch lower control arms, Panhard bar, and conventional Koni sports with Griggs coils.

After the chassis and suspension were squared away, it was time for a serious brake upgrade. Mark chose to use Baer Racing’s highly regarded track kit for plenty of late-braking capability. In this application, the four-wheel disc system consists of ventilated 13-inch front/12-inch rear rotors, and the optional cross-drilling, slotting, and anticorrosion zinc wash. PBR calipers pinch all four corners, with twin piston aluminum units up front and single piston pieces in back. For those who want to hide a big disc package behind the smaller factory rims, Baer also offers a similar package in four-lug configuration with 12-inch rotors all around. Clearing the 13-inch front discs almost always necessitates a 17-inch wheel, which in this case is the ROH ZS 17x8.5-inch wrapped in 255/40R17 Yokohamas.

As Steve chose to invest his disposable income in the previously described pieces, the engine remains fairly mild. With just 67,000 miles on the clock, the original 5.0 short-block will continue to see duty for some time, while the current upgrades were chosen in anticipation of fitting a Vortech S-Trim in the near future. For now, the intake tract consists of a Moroso cold air kit, Pro-M 75mm Bullet air meter, a Ford Racing Performance Parts 65mm throttle body, and port-matched Cobra intake. Mark Ray is a big fan of Edelbrock cylinder heads, which in this case were Extrude Honed and use a 1.90x1.60-inch valve combination. An FRPP E303 cam specs out with 0.512-inch lift, 226 degrees duration at 0.050 inch, and actuates the valves via FRPP 1.6 roller rockers and stock pushrods.

Premium fuel is supplied through an FRPP 190-lph pump and Kirban billet regulator before being sprayed by 24-pound injectors. The mixture is then lit by an ignition system sourced from Performance Distributors and MSD. MAC got the nod for a majority of the exhaust system, which features the company’s unequal-length 1-5/8-inch short-tube headers and 2-½-inch after-cat system—modified to clear the aftermarket suspension as is so often necessary on late-models, no matter whose exhaust and suspension parts are used. A Bassani catalyst-equipped X-pipe fills the void between the headers and after-cats. While the combination has yet to see the dyno, Mark figures it’ll be worth a conservative 285 hp at the rear wheels.

Interior updates on Steve’s LX are minimal but effective. Flofit buckets replace the sedan’s marshmallow stockers, which were far worse than the marginal sport seats found in all other ’93 5.0 Mustangs. The aforementioned Kenny Brown cage is nearly transparent, as is the Steeda Tri-Ax shifter—which rows the gears in a stock T5 with help from an FRPP King Cobra clutch and an adjustable quadrant.

Mark Ray likened Steve’s desire for his Mustang to the proverbial wolf in sheep’s clothing. Yes, the cowl hood and rolling stock aren’t exactly lamb-like, but the clean and understated approach seem to create a good fit with Steve’s conservative banking background. Also remember the ’90s is an era when even the lamest cars seem to have a big wheel and tire package, so in that context, their presence isn’t a big giveaway. Regardless, Steve is now enjoying one of the more balanced Mustang sedans we’ve seen, an opinion that wouldn’t change even if the blower never made it to the party. However, with the good chassis and brakes, could you ever have enough power?