Ro McGonegal
September 29, 2015
Photos By: Late Model Restoration, Harris Lue

Late Model Restoration first came into the market back in 1999 with a goal of giving Fox-body owners the quality components they were looking for. Between their popularity and growing success, they have since expanded their product line to serve the entire ’79 and later Mustang community by making it easy to order everything you could ever want, quickly, easily, and reliably through their online services. As a rolling testament to their mail order offerings, they’ve put together this stellar S197 Boss clone!

When we began accessing the facts behind the 5.0L Ford Performance Parts Aluminator crate engine that Late Model Restoration had infused in its shop car, a Kona Blue 2011 GT dubbed Boss XS, we fell over a video hosted by LMR’s Jonathan McDonald (aka JMac), who did the narration as well as the high-speed exhibition. We sat in rapt attention, like a cat watching a mouse, as he wound the crap out it (an eight-grand howl) several times on one of those string-straight, lightly travelled Texas byways that guys in Jersey would give their left nut for.

LMR runs their outfit out of Hewitt, TX (a couple of clicks south of Waco). The 27,000-mile shop car, the car in the video, is the one you see here. The Mustang was already equipped with the Track Pack option: heavier springs and antiroll bars, a 1-inch-lowered ride height, 19-inch wheels with Pirelli PZero Corsa R-compound skins, strut tower brace, and 3.73:1 gears. A good jumping off place, to be sure, but Late Model would change all that with calibrations of its own.

The Aluminator crate is a special piece, built with race-motor thinking. As it comes out of the oven at Ford Performance (FP) it produces 500 flywheel horsepower. On the rollers at Late Model, as JMac related, that translated to 457 hp and 388 lb-ft or torque. The motor is rife with good stuff from top to bottom. A production GT block is capped with CNC-ported Boss 302 cylinder heads, cam timing is more aggressive (0.511 inch lift on both valves; 263/290 degrees duration), and the injectors are rated at 47 lb/hr. The crankshaft is forged steel, the Mahle hard-anodized pistons sport Graphal low-friction coating and 11.0:1 static compression ratio and swing on Manley forged H-beams cinched with ARP bolts. A magnificent 12-quart (rear-sump) oil pan and windage tray seal the bottom of the block.

Since all the good stuff was already in the Aluminator, the mechanical changes by LMR were minimal: Stainless Works 1 7/8-inch headers, a catalytic-equipped X-pipe, and Bassani cat-back mufflers with a crossover pipe set in a 3-inch system. LMR included an FP Cobra Jet intake manifold, a JLT cold-air intake system, and FP 65mm Cobra Jet twin throttle-body that passes 1,517 cfm. Both these realms were patently obvious as JMac blew the eyes out of those silly longhorns nuzzling the fence.

OK, so you’ve got a store full of Mustang parts exclusive of the Ford Performance aegis. You need a place to showcase all these pieces and enjoy the performance improvement, so it might as well be your shop-car demo. You want to elevate the status of the drivetrain, suspension, brakes, wheels, and interior, show the troops what you got in one tidy, credible package.

The first thing LMR did was put up a Maximum Motorsports (San Luis Obispo, California) prefabbed six-point cage. The area surrounding was stripped clean and supplanted by a FP rear-seat bottom and backrest delete and X-brace kit. Aside from the cleanliness of the installation, the X-brace adds a measure of rigidity to the chassis. Going forward, LMR set the driver’s pod up with FP Recaro bucket seats and a Boss 302 Alcantara steering wheel, shifter boot, and e-brake boot as well.

In the matter of transferring torque, the OE MT-82 six-speed (3.66:1 low gear) assimilates it via a Spec Stage 2 billet flywheel, pressure plate, and clutch. Gears get flicked up and down by a Barton short-throw shifter.

While the OE parts are clearly competent, LMR dearly wanted to improve the prowess of the suspension. Though they retained the original upper and lower control arms, they fit some neat stuff between them: FP nonadjustable struts, stance-setting K springs (1 1/2 -inch drop), and a 35mm (1.37-inch) antisway bar. Aft, the Mustang hunkers on factory upper control arms and SVE billet lowers, FP struts and another pair of K springs (1 1/2-inch drop), and the companion FP 22mm (0.86-inch) antisway bar. As such, the stance of this hellion is perfectly weighted.

The rollers are SVE Series 3 wheels wrapped with Invo rubber. At the plowing edge, we have 20x8.5 rims and 255/35 tires; at the opposite end, LMR put up 20x10 hoops and fitted them with 295/35 Invos. They went outré on the brakes, applying the FP 2013 GT500 upgrade kit. Since most of the braking force is applied to the front wheels, the Brembos maintain a whopping 15-inch diameter and are monitored by six-piston calipers; on the other hand, the rear discs measure 13.8 inches and are pegged by single-pot calipers.

And when you are out dancing, you want them to see you coming, get their hearts thumping and adrenalin pumping. Gnarly visuals will do that. Compounding the Boss XS’s wider, lower stance, LMR added a California Special front valance and splitter, a Boss 302 grille section and spoiler, and Roush side splitters. They won’t see that Boss 302 Laguna Seca–style wing on the deck (according to Ford worth nearly 90 pounds of downforce at 140 mph) until it’s way too late.