Steve Turner
Former Editor, 5.0 Mustang & Super Fords
May 6, 2014

When it comes to choosing cars to appear in this magazine, we are guilty of setting our sights on the best blend of performance and appearance we can find. The idea is to put examples on these pages for all of us to aspire to. Achieving show-car perfection or stratospheric horsepower might not be attainable for everyone, but it's nice to see how far you can push a car.

Lately we have seen the other side of the coin. We've grown to appreciate cars that eschew style in favor of substance. There is room for both, but putting performance in front of perfection allows you to enjoy a car without fretting. The car that really changed our perspective appears before you, and its mastermind is our old friend Rick Anderson of Holley Performance Products.

"I was looking to build another Mustang to run in the Street Race class at Drag Week. As I thought about the build, and I remember how many times I didn't drive my '88 coupe—to the movies or to the mall—just because I was always worried about getting a door ding in a nice car," Rick explained. "This time I wanted a car that would be a blast to drive with no worries... I knew a friend that had built a first-gen Camaro that kept the factory faded paint. I liked the concept, but I thought I could go one step farther and find a Mustang that was ugly with plenty of little dents."

Around this time, Rick approached us to see if we'd be interested in covering the project. The timing couldn't have been better, as we'd been inundated with S197 beauty queens and we needed a down-to-earth counter-balance. We dubbed the car Project Pretty Ugly, though Rick affectionately shortened it to Ugly. From there, we hit the highlights of the car's construction in a three-story series.

Therein, Rick set out to construct a Fox that could deftly walk the tightrope between street and strip. Cubes are a great foundation for reliable performance, so he turned to D.S.S. Racing Engines for a 427ci stroker based on Ford Racing Performance Parts' Boss 351 block. Filled with robust internals from D.S.S., the stroker Windsor is built for forced induction.

A robust D.S.S. Racing Engines 427 stroker breathes in 28 pounds of meth-cooled boost from a Vortech supercharger. In turn it puts down 888 horsepower to the feet. Naturally Rick plans to add to that number this year by increasing the boost level. “Boost builds fast which makes a blast to drive,” he enthused. “I also love the noise from the cog pulleys and bypass. When you pull up beside cars at a stoplight they can’t figure out what the noise is.”
Rick is a believer in water-meth injection to rein in boosted air temperatures. Such cooling is mandatory on a grueling path like Drag Week. He set Ugly up with two 1,000cc water-meth injectors to keep the temps under control.

As part of our story arc, Rick took the car from an NOS nitrous combo laying down 678 rwhp on the Redline Motorsports Dynojet to a Vortech-blown combo smacking those same rollers with 888 rear-wheel horsepower.

Backed by a Performance Transmission automatic transmission and carrying the necessities, like air conditioning and a radio, Rick's ride is built to drive and drive hard. More importantly, the car is just what Rick had it mind.

"Yes. It has turned out exactly like I wanted. You can jump in it and drive it anywhere. I drove it to Bowling Green for Drag Week—a 12-hour round trip—and then back to Bowling Green for the NMRA finals..." he said. "The only trailer I own is the trailer I pull with Ugly."

People might not ooh and aah over the paint, but if they are performance enthusiasts they soon get what Ugly is all about. “Most people, once they look it over, love it,” Rick said of people’s reaction to the car. “They also love that it’s a driver, not a trailer queen.”

At Drag Week, Rick's ride turned a lot of heads with its surprise performance.

"I have always wanted to do Drag Week, but I never had the time with my previous job. Working for Holley, I had the extra time. So, with my good friend Brian Detweiler riding with me, and my other good friend Doug Flynn from Holley driving his Nova, we took on Drag Week. It is not for the faint of heart," Rick explained. "It is five tracks in five days, and 1,000-plus miles of stop-and-go traffic/two-lane traffic/highway traffic with 92-plus-degree temps all week. Over 230 cars started Drag Week this year and only 173 finished. It turned out to be the most fun I have ever had in a week's time..."

Though he left the exterior alone, Rick wanted to enjoy driving Ugly, so he spent some time sprucing up the interior with some basic restoration and the addition of a fully digital gauge cluster, a new stereo, and some race-worthy Kirkey seats. We covered the evolution of this project in the magazine, so if you missed it—and shame on you if you did—you can see the interior makeover (“Insides Stout,” July ’13, p. 74), engine build (“Dominant Genes,” Sept. ’13, p. 66), and supercharger install (“Inner Beauty,” Jan. ’14, p. 82) in our back issues or at 50mustangandsuperfords.com.

Of course, having a good time and being satisfied with the results are mutually exclusive concepts. Rick obviously had fun participating, but he wanted the car to run stronger than it did. For most of us, a project car is never really finished, and for Rick it's not finished until it meets his expectations.

"I haven't approached the power the Vortech XB110 is capable of. I plan on turning the boost up and working on the chassis. That should get us into deep into the 8s," Rick added. "I will also install cruise control.

"This car is all about the fun of driving a hot rod."

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The hubcaps are what really keep Ugly’s sleeper theme going. Meanwhile, that trailer hitch is a necessity for a Drag Week participant. Rick carries tools and support gear in a small trailer during the event. At the 2014 event, he’ll remove the trailer hitch and install a trick parachute mount in its place. The car should be fast enough to need the ’chute this year.

Tech Specs
Vehicle: 1979 Ford Mustang Coupe
Owner: Rick Anderson
Engine and Drivetrain
Block: Ford Racing Performance Parts Boss 351
Crankshaft: D.S.S. 4340 forged stroker
Rods: D.S.S. 4340 forged H-beam w/ full-floating pins and ARP fasteners
Pistons: D.S.S. forged GSX w/ forced pin oiling and drilled oil returns
Camshafts: Redline Motorsports custom
Cylinder Heads: D.S.S
Intake Manifold: Edelbrock Victor w/ Holley 1,000-cfm throttle body
Power Adder: Vortech XB110 supercharger w/ NOS nitrous system and Holley twin 1,000cc water/meth injection
Fuel System: Holley Dominator fuel pump w/ Earl's fuel lines, Holley fuel-pressure regulator, and Holley 120 lb/hr injectors
Exhaust Hooker long-tube headers w/ Flowtech H-pipe and Hooker mufflers
Transmission: Performance Transmission (Clinton, Illinois) 4L80 automatic w/ Precision Industries 3,500-stall torque converter and B&M shifter
Rearend: 8.8-in w/ spool, Strange Engineering axles, and 3.55 gears
Electronics
Engine Management: Holley Dominator EFI
Ignition: DIS coils w/ MSD spark plug wires and NGK spark plugs
Gauges: Auto Meter and Holley
Suspension and Chassis
Front Suspension
K-Member: Racecraft Inc.
A-Arms: Racecraft Inc.
Struts: Strange Engineering
Springs: Racecraft Inc.
Brakes: Stock '93 Mustang
Wheels: Cragar Series 69 Delux
Tires: Classic All-Season
Rear Suspension
Shocks: Strange Engineering
Springs: Racecraft Inc.
Control Arms: Racecraft Inc.
Brakes: Stock '93 Mustang
Wheels: Cragar Series 69 Delux
Tires: Cragar Series 69 Delux


Horse Sense:
Holley offers three levels of its standalone EFI: Avenger, HP, and Dominator. The Avenger is for plug-and-play operation with stock engines, HP is designed to suit street/strip performance engines, and Dominator will handle any performance setup you can imagine. www.holley.com