Ro McGonegal
July 11, 2016
Photos By: Bill Erdman

In this business we are exposed to a huge portfolio of cars and an even wider range of drivers. We appreciate most owners who do the work themselves simply because they enjoy the process and being able to say they did it, and not have to relate its history at some celebrated emporium. As the saying goes, “Those who can, do.”

Nitro Joel’s cars are committed to the mechanical plane—but he likes his rides to look good, too. So he works the end of the proposition that costs him time but very little loot. He has been a painter for the last 22 years at Northern Valley Auto Body, in Englewood New Jersey. At 43 he considers himself old-school in a car that reinstated low-buck hot rodding; at one time you could buy a 5.0 LX sedan for less than $10K. He has an affinity for a skulk of Foxes, and this 1993 is the second of his Mustangs we have featured in as many years. Hmm.

OK, he can’t do everything by himself, so he relied on a backfield of like-minded car lovers. Though he wasn’t specific about their contribution, Don Raghoo, Joey Stout, Matt Gogliucci, Mike Fink, and Carlos Abute squeezed big time on this build. But Nitro Joel began by lighting the fuse on the engine build. While Ron Ross at Performance Simonek in Wyckoff, New Jersey, set about massaging the 302 cylinder case and all items related, Raghoo and the boys poured themselves into the chassis and suspension.

While the street-legal Mustang is often pressed to the dragstrip, its suspension is crafted for cutting up corners as well. He set the stage with a tubular K-member. The upper and lower control arms are original equipment, but the rest of the menu is not. Koni five-way adjustable dampers work in concert with an Eibach Sportline springs and antisway bar. Maximum Motorsports stuff rules the rear: Upper and lower links, subframe connectors, a torque box kit, a shock tower brace, and a six-point roll bar shore things up even more. Raghoo says, “The car handles like it is on rails.” Trite but true.

For the hoop/binder concession, he liked the Weld S77-series 17x8 and 17x10 wheels and set them with modest DWS 06 Continental Contact Extreme 235/45 and 255/45 tires. When he needs bite like a Gila monster, Raghoo quietly upgrades to Mickey Thompson Drag Radials. One of the Fox’s attributes is a 3,100-pound curb weight; therefore the stoppers needn’t be mondo. Raghoo does with Cobra brakes: 13-inch-diameter cross-drilled front (with Brembo 4-piston clamps) and 11-inch cross-drilled discs in the back.

This man’s a fool for Gotta Have It Green. He says that when he got the GHIG Fox from a friend it had 70K on the clock and was a little crusty. He did not relent. His renewal included all the finish work and Glasurit paint: three coats each of GHIG, pearl, and then clearcoats on the Cervini’s four-piece body kit and heat-extracting hood, a deck lip, a carbon radiator support, and a custom ram-air bumper. Smoked headlights, taillights, and a peppering of black screw heads enunciate the field.

Ron Ross ramped up the five-liter. He balanced the rotating assembly, fly-cut the pistons for valve clearance, and kept the compression ratio at 9.0:1. Straight out of the archives came the Wolverine 1190 roller grind, which features 0.510/0.534 inch lift, 222/232 degrees duration at 0.050, and 112-degree overlap. Ross strapped the iron TFS heads down and ported and polished the runners and the combustion chambers, to which he fitted 1.94/1.60-inch Manley valves and introduced FRPP 1.7:1 rocker arms. He flipped the long-block on its back, attached a high-volume oil pump, and screwed the original sump and windage tray back in place.

Ross gathered a Downs Ford upper manifold and fuel rails, a Turbonetics 70mm turbocharger, 42-lb/hr injectors, and an On 3 Performance install kit and corresponding 3-inch intercooler core. Fuel is sourced and monitored by an Aeromotive 1000 pump and regulator.

The turbo is supported by one of the On 3 exhaust headers. The rest of the tract includes a 3-inch system fitted with Flowmaster mufflers. Positive manifold pressure is introduced through an Accufab 75mm throttle-body, and maximum boost is set at 12 psi. A high-cylinder pressure application needs a strong, vibrant spark front, and this car gets it from an MSD 6AL box and Blaster coil and Moroso Ultra-40 primary wires juicing Autolite plugs. Tuner Frank Soldridge at PSI Speed Solutions in Palmerton, Pennsylvania, did enough tweaking to pull 500 hp from the little blue devil. To reliably absorb the torque, Raghoo specified a FRPP flywheel, an 11-inch Dual Friction Centerforce clutch assembly, and a Tremec TKO 600 five-speed. An aluminum prop shaft built by Axle Exchange in Fairfield, New Jersey, joins the 8.8-inch housing set with 3.55:1 gears, a Detroit Locker differential, and Moser 31-spline shafts.

In the cockpit Raghoo changed only the things that concerned him. There’s no extravagance, but he kept the air conditioning. He changed out the seats for some SVT buckets and a Corbeau four-point harness/seatbelt setup. To the right of the Momo tiller is a trio of Auto Meters just below eye level. Readily at hand is the MGW short-throw shifter that connects Raghoo to 11.50 e.t.’s and 120 mph trap speeds at Raceway Park in Englishtown or Island Dragway in Great Meadows.

Even in Raghoo’s paint jail, the wacky green Fox required just a year off the street while it snacked on Benjamins. And so now he says he is going for the hat trick, seeing if he can get his third Fox in Muscle Mustangs. Yeah, relentless.

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