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Ronnie Reynolds Borrows His Wife’s 2014 Ford Mustang GT for 8-Second Fun
Honey, I Took the Keys
For most married men the notion of borrowing the wife’s car usually involves filling it up with gas then promising to replace the wiper blades and top off the windshield washer fluid tank as part of the automotive honey-do list. Ronnie Reynolds, however, has a slightly more horsepower-fueled list. His wife, Stephanie, expects her 2014 Mustang GT to be returned with a full tank of gas but it has to be filled with 117-octane race fuel, the rubber must be cleaned off the rear quarter panels, and the parachute mount removed. This is no ordinary family car. It has won a NMRA race in the Coyote Modified heads-up division and finished in the semifinals one race later. Yet Stephanie still drives it to get groceries because it is, after all, her car.
“She always wanted a supercharger, so one day I took the car to work, put on a Paxton High Output kit, and surprised her with it,” said Ronnie, a high-performance mechanic who now works with the horsepower scientists at JPC Racing.
With the typical modifications like American Racing Headers long tubes and exhaust, sticky tires, and drivetrain/suspension mods, the Reynolds saw instant success by running 9.80s with the stock motor and burning E85. The easy run into the 9s had them (more Ronnie than Stephanie) hatch a scheme to go quicker and faster, but first they ditched the factory 5.0L long-block before it broke. In its place went a Ford Performance Aluminator, allowing more boost because, after all, the car was running on E85 fuel so “more” was a simple pulley swap away on the Paxton NOVI 2200 centrifugal supercharger.
Safety concerns usually come up quickly when you are dealing with a boosted Coyote 5.0L setup. To keep everything legal, Ronnie had Rogue Race Cars build a 10-point rollcage for the car’s single-digit performances. The chassis shop took great care to ensure that the extra bars didn’t infringe on the comfort of the passengers, particularly the back-seat cargo—the couple’s daughter, Brooke, still sits in a car seat. The suspension is fairly straight forward, with UPR Products supplying the necessary components like the fully adjustable Pro Series upper and lower control arms, antisway bar, and tubular front end. Strange Engineering was tapped to fill the factory 8.8-inch rear housing with 35-spline axles, a spool, and 3.90 gears. Strange Engineering drag race brakes are tasked with slowing car and driver down from the jaunts over 150 mph. Viking double adjustable rear shocks and Ford Racing single adjust front struts combine with Ford Racing M-5300-L springs at all four corners. The result is a best 60-foot of 1.30. Not bad for a 3,800-pound street car that rolls around on DOT-legal tires.
More boost, stronger short-block, and some awesome weather led to Ronnie to drive the car to its best time: 8.94 at 155 mph. The street creditability of the car, which has been modified since day one, is certainly unquestionable, as the odometer has logged over 24,000 miles in a few short years. A couple of elements make this modern muscle car capable of such feats. First is the sedate engine combination, which saw 18 psi of boost with the Paxton supercharger. The E85 fuel is cheap race gas for the street. Second, the engine still utilizes stock camshafts that offer smooth idle and docile street manners. The Mustang even logged 24 mpg with the 6R80 transmission after delivering Ronnie to the 8-second zone.
The old adage “If a little is good, more is better” rang true to Ronnie, who began crafting a way to get more boost into the engine. Vortech, a sister company to Paxton under the Air Power Group moniker, released a hot new supercharger this past spring, a billet impeller version of the JT centrifugal head unit. The billet impeller benefits from an advanced airflow technology design and was built specifically for the Coyote Modified category. Ronnie scooped up one of the first JT-B units, but to realize its benefits, he had to ditch the Aluminator 5.0 short-block for an even stronger lower end, as the goal is to go deeper into the 8-second zone.
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A local machine shop installed aftermarket sleeves, and Ronnie added billet block supports in the sleeved holes. He then installed Manley steel rods and custom pistons, which swing off the stock crankshaft. The stock heads received Boss 302 valves, but the factory valvetrain and camshafts were left in place. A Boss 302 intake manifold sits on top of the new engine combination. Once the engine was installed, the new JT-B head unit was bolted on and Ronnie built custom charge piping and welded two air-to-air intercoolers together to help handle the extra volume. Despite the bigger intercooler and larger charge pipes, the JT-B pumps the 5.0L engine to 25 psi.
The factory PCM remains with SCT custom tuning to help it adapt to the severe output. Supplying the fuel is the job of a factory tank, which has twin 465-lph fuel pumps, larger feed and return fuel lines, a Fore Innovations fuel pressure regulator and fuel rails, and a set of 2,150cc fuel injectors. The E85 has been ditched in favor of VP Racing Fuels C16 in order for the car to be legal in NMRA competition.
That last set of blower/engine modifications put output to over 1,100 through the 6R80 factory transmission, which caused all sorts of trouble on track when Ronnie went to go bash up his personal best. “The transmission had shifting issues, which led me to getting the TH400,” he said begrudgingly. Until this point the car drove nicely on the street with only the parachute, Weld Racing Alumastar 17-inch skinny front wheels, and Mickey Thompson 275 radial rubber out back drawing attention to the car’s capabilities. Deleting the overdrive transmission for a race-bred TH400 (built by Bowie Transmissions/Wayne Bryant) certainly changed the landscape of the Reynolds’ family truckster.
“Steph pretty much went along with the modifications, but now it has gotten to the point where she has given up,” said Ronnie with a hint of a devilish smile, as if he had this planned all along. A new PTC torque converter has been installed as the first converter proved to be too tight. Ronnie recently began working at JPC Racing, and the engine has been removed and will be upgraded to a JPC/RGR short-block, as the goal is to run deep into the 8s and well over 160 mph.
How fast can he go? Time will tell, but first Ronnie has to steal keys from his wife before he can go out and have some more fun.