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1993 Ford Mustang Fox-Coupe Is an 8-Second Beast
It’s Only Getting Better: Proof that former project cars don’t always fall into the wrong hands
Gearheads rarely talk about what happens to their treasured cars after they sell them. Former cars are usually only spoken of if the new owner wrecked it or ruined it. Maybe that’s because oftentimes the beloved cars from our pasts fall into lesser hands and talking about the disappointment simply stings too much. Thankfully this is no such story. In fact, if you had to sell your beloved first car, a car you bought in high school and built from scratch, David Martin is the type of guy you’d want to sell it to.
Why? Because Martin is the kind of gearhead who honors the hard work previously invested in a car by not only taking great care of it but also making it his own with tasteful additions, driving it regularly, and racing it even more frequently. And as if that weren’t great enough, he also keeps the original owner updated about the car’s progress.
“I’d been looking for a clean Fox-body for nearly a year, and after reading over 100 ads that never panned out, I’d almost given up,” Martin tells us. “Most of the Foxes were rough and beaten up, and the few that were supposed to be nice never lived up to my expectations once I saw them in person.”
That was, until he decided to give Craigslist one more shot. He stumbled onto an ad that looked too good to be true.
Martin says, “The ad said the coupe was clean, but I had no idea what I was in for. Needless to say, when I got to Gary Schreffler’s house I was blown away. There was no way I was going home without it, and thankfully my wife is supportive of my hobby or I would have given up on finding the right Fox-body a long time ago.”
Astute readers might recognize that name from the August 2015 cover story of the father and son coupes. Well, long before the two cover coupes, Schreffler got his first car while in high school, a stock 1993 Reef Blue coupe with a four-banger.
Schreffler says, “It was my first Mustang and my first car, and in no time my father (Gary Sr.) and I added Weld Draglites and cut the tailpipe off so it looked like a V-8 car.”
As you can guess, it went from just looking like a V-8 car to actually receiving a complete V-8 swap with the entire harness, brakes, fuel lines, rearend, and every detail soon thereafter. And again as you can guess, it didn’t stay a stock V-8 for long.
“I added Roush 200 iron heads, a Ford Racing F303 cam, and an NOS fogger nitrous system along with a C4 transmission,” says Schreffler. “The combo was good for high 11.40s.”
So how did it end up with the rowdy big-inch Windsor that currently resides between the towers? Simple—the never-ending pursuit of more power and better timeslips.
“The stock-block 302 setup was affordable and effective, but as with any combo, you always want more. So when a friend offered to sell us a 418ci Windsor that was built to unknown specifications for an affordable price, we jumped on it,” Schreffler says.
“Jumping on it” is an understatement. They initially went in for little more than a new motor, and a year later the car emerged with a complete restoration, include a color change, a refreshed engine bay, and a revamp from floorpan to rooftop along with a move in the direction of the dragstrip beast you see before you.
Schreffler says, “Once we decided a full restoration was in the cards, we removed all of the glass, interior, and the motor and dropped just the shell off to Bayway Collision Center to have it sprayed GM Summit White for more pop.”
As the coupe came back together, the Schrefflers continued to take it to another level with ARP bolts wherever possible (we’re talking everywhere), along with wiring that would make any true enthusiasts drool.
“A friend of mine was really good with electrical, so we wired the entire car with military-spec, all-weather bulkheads for the ultimate in durability and ease of engine removal,” says Schreffler.
Next came the drag suspension. It consisted of a UPR K-member and coilovers with Lakewood 90/10 struts up front. Out back a factory 8.8 rearend was filled with Ford Racing 3.73 gears, a Moser spool, and matching 35-spline axles that are supported by QA1 coilovers and UPR upper- and lower-control-arms along with a matching rear antiroll bar with adjustable wishbone support for high-speed stability.
Schreffler knew the car was going to be quick, so he added Aerospace Components drag brakes at either end with a dual-caliper setup in the rear for extra security at the line and while scrubbing speed after the stripe. A Skinny Kid Race Cars manual brake pedal setup was added to help keep pedal pressure in check. Mickey Thompson tires were the rollers of choice, and they were wrapped in a set of Weld Draglites for a timeless Fox-body look.
The same C4, Hurst shifter, and Steeda aluminum driveshaft were thrown in the tunnel, and the aforementioned 418-Windsor also joined the party. At the time, the Windsor had a roller cam of unknown specs that spun inside a stock 351W block filled with a Scat stroker crank and rods along with Probe pistons. Ported Ford Racing iron N351 heads brought compression to 12:1 and they worked in unison with a port-matched Edelbrock Victor Jr. intake manifold and a no-name 750 carburetor that helped ingest copious amounts of air. All that incoming air exited through a set of Jet-Hot coated Hooker long tubes with 2-inch primaries and 3 1/2-inch collectors that fed into a pair of 3 1/2-inch Dynomax Bullet mufflers.
Air and fuel are nothing without spark, so an MSD billet crank trigger, ignition box, billet distributor, and wires landed under the hood, as did an NOS plate fogger kit with a progressive controller that was pilled for a 175 shot.
Beyond the already killer setup, the coupe received a smattering of more race-worthy components, such as a 10-point NHRA-8.50-legal chromoly cage along with a Corbeau race seat and plenty of Auto Meter gauges to keep tabs on vitals. An Innovate Motorsports LM-2 wideband gauge was also added to monitor the air-to-fuel ratio.
Externally the car remained stock, save for a fiberglass 6-inch cowl hood and that flawless new paint. When the coupe finally emerged from the ashes of a full rebuild, the Schrefflers were eager to get it tuned and to the track.
“The car never dyno’d as high as I wanted, but it’s always run a lot faster than the dyno numbers or parts list would lead you to believe,” Schreffler explains. The car put down 490 rwhp on motor and 601 rwhp on the nitrous through a loose converter. The dyno figures translated into a best of 6.05 in the eighth-mile with a best quarter-mile pass of 9.46 at 146 mph on the pill. Although the car still ran mid 10s on motor alone, when the Schrefflers lost a head gasket they knew something greater was wrong.
As you’d expect, the blown head gasket was only part of the problem. A close inspection revealed that one of the heads wasn’t even ported, nor had it been decked, which meant it had less compression and airflow on one bank—and yet even in mismatched form it still went mid 9s. Thankfully USA Racing Engines addressed the mismatched cylinder head issue, freshened the entire motor, and took it a few steps further with upper and lower girdles to keep the stock block alive along with a swap to a solid roller cam and the associated valvetrain components. Needless to say, the car got even quicker.
Schreffler says, “After messing with different carburetors to maximize the freshened combo, the car went 9.30 on nitrous. I decided it was too dangerous to go that fast, so I cut it back to eighth-mile passes.”
Further tweaks and playing with leaving on a 300-shot resulted in big wheelies and a hair-raising 1.30 60-foot on the back tires en route to a best eighth-mile pass of 5.85, which translates to just under 9.20 in the quarter.
“It was a simple combo that always ran harder than expected,” says Schreffler. “I mean, it was a stock block Windsor with ported iron heads, a decently sized solid roller, a small carb, and some nitrous—that’s it.”
After the local drag racing scene dried up for a few years, the coupe sat for months on end and eventually was begrudgingly put up for sale. That’s where the current owner, David Martin, steps in. Martin says, “I came home that evening with the car and trailer as a package, and I couldn’t have been happier.”
What makes him happy? Racing. Lots of racing! “I wasted little time getting the car to the track and experimenting with different combinations, but unfortunately the motor dropped a valve.”
So it was back to USA Racing Engines for another refresh and a once-over to make sure everything was ready for battle. Much like the owner before him, Martin is a bit of a perfectionist. Over the past year of ownership has added plenty of modifications in search of more performance.
A Matt Exner–built C4 transmission with trans brake along with a Circle D Specialties 3,200-rpm torque converter helped harness the big-inch Windsor, while a swap to Billet Specialities Street Lite wheels in 15x10 rear variants wrapped in 275/60-15 Mickey Thompson Drag Radial Pros and 15x3.5 fronts wrapped in Hoosier Front Runner tires helped the coupe track straight.
In preparation for serious passes, the coupe received a heap of drag-specific mods reserved for the fastest of Fords. These included a Team Z trunk spoiler for better aero, Quik-Latches to ensure that the hood stays shut at high speed, and a Skinny Kid Race Cars parachute mount with a Stroud Safety parachute to help safely scrub speed.
Martin started hitting the track regularly and whittling away at a new personal best with the car. So much seat time called for further modifications, like homebuilt cable limiters up front. A Bickel Race Cars removable steering wheel makes ingress and egress easier.
“The motor was running really strong, and on motor it was pulling 10.20s at 132 mph. I decided to start dialing in the nitrous and accidentally caused a nitrous backfire that bent all four throttle-body blades inside the carb,” Martin says.
Once the carburetor was fixed he earned a new personal best of 8.92 at 154 mph on a 250 progressive shot with a mild four-second ramp time. To say there’s a lot left in it would be an understatement.
Despite impressive additions and even more impressive e.t. gains, Martin has no intentions of stopping here. The car is currently sitting on jackstands awaiting a host of new upgrades like a Nitrous Outlet dual-stage setup from Dave Vasser, an MSD Power Grid System for better tuning, and suspension upgrades. He says, “I commissioned Ron Galbreath at Santhuff to build me some double-adjustable front struts that will allow me to dial in the front suspension, and I’m also upgrading to Viking double-adjustable coilovers in the rear.”
With a badder motor in the works, a more sophisticated nitrous system, and serious suspension upgrades already en route, Martin has his sights set on 7s. We have little reason to doubt he’ll get there, especially with the support of family, friends, and quality shops.
“I can’t thank my wife Kristi and my two sons, Kaleb and Kegan, enough for their endless support and all their tireless nights and weekends at the race track; and my father Tom who instilled both my love for cars and the ability to work on them from a young age. His support through the years and his love for watching me race means the world.”
This coupe started life as a high school labor of love. Through the decades it has changed hands and continues to be a labor of love with family and friends. Maybe there is hope of selling a project car to the right person after all.