Kristian Grimsland
Associate Editor, Muscle Mustangs & Fast Fords
March 3, 2014
Photos By: John Machaqueiro

It's a swap that's taken over like wild fire, and Ford enthusiasts have taken to it like Camaro owners to mullets.

Enter—the Coyote. It's a small 302ci Four-Valve modular misfit that features twin-independent variable-cam-timing (Ti-VCT), pushes out over 400 horsepower, and averages over 25 mpg. It's the latest from Ford when it comes to high-performance small-blocks, and Mustang and Ford owners are jumping at the all-in-one power package.

Mark and Jackie Cuomo are just two of many to hop onto the Coyote-swap bandwagon, and for good reason, too. The proof is their '84 T-top Mustang coupe. It's a piece of eye candy that packs a punch and caught our attention, quickly. But where did it start?

"I'm a Fox guy and when Ford came out with the Coyote I knew I wanted one," Mark told us. "I wanted to build a Fox for my wife that was reliable, one that I didn't have to worry about her driving and breaking down."

"In September of 2011, my wife and I attended the SmokinStangs Laconia Rally in Laconia, New Hampshire, where we met Terry and Julie Allen and saw their '84 T-top Mustang coupe," Mark explained. "We fell in love with the T-top and the extent of their build. It was just beautiful. We were torn about what to put the Coyote in at the time, and when we saw their coupe, we knew it was perfect for what we wanted to do."

With butterflies still in their stomachs, it wasn't long after the show that Mark and Jackie were on the hunt for a T-top coupe. After extensive searching online, they found just what they were looking for in Tennessee, purchased it, and had it shipped home to Haverhill, Massachusetts, where the disassembly began.

"Within a couple of weeks, we pulled the motor, transmission, fuel system, interior, and stripped the body for paint," Mark explained. "In October 2011, we had every inch of the car media-blasted."

Josh Camuso of Pro Tree Performance, a shop specializing in both paint and performance, is responsible for the flawless bodywork and Black Purple metallic paintjob. "My wife chose the color," Mark told us. "I love black and she loves purple. Almost everything we own is black, so we decided on something in between. The hours of bodywork Josh put in was insane, and we can't thank him enough. He had over 20 hours into the trunklid alone. He even painted the underside of the car—Chassis Black."

Owner of Pro Tree, Tony Lomardozzi, and son, Dana, handled the mechanics of the build. They installed a new Coyote into the smoothed engine bay and bolted it up to an AJE tubular K-member. A Performance Automatic 4R70W transmission was installed, as well as BBK Performance Coyote-swap headers and a 3-inch exhaust system. Fuel is supplied thanks to a Glenn's Performance HP 600 fuel system. The 8.8-inch rearend houses a new FRPP differential and 3.73 gears, and disc brakes were added all the way around.

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Once back home, Mark and Jackie converted the interior to black, leaving everything almost stock except for two Corbeau front seats and matching rear upholstery.

Mark and Jackie's build took a total of 18 months to finish. In the six months they drove it before storing it for the winter, they put 1,600 miles on their Fox. At the recent Carlisle Ford Nationals, they took First Place in the '79-'86 Modified class.

"It was a lot of time, money, and aggravation to finish the build," Mark said. "But the best part is it drives like a brand-new car. It's so docile when cruising, but as soon as you lay into the throttle, it wakes up and goes. The goal of this project was to build a Fox that was unique, reliable, and fun to cruise in, and we couldn't be happier with the result."