Muscle Mustangs & Fast FordsFeatured Vehicles
Scott Hartrick’s 1988 GT is so much more than just your usual black Fox Mustang
Long Road, Less Traveled
As we grow from being a child to a young adult, so does our choice of toys. We start out on a tricycle, then into a bicycle, then maybe a motorcycle or ATV. After that, we usually graduate into a car or truck. It’s a gradual transition to larger, more powerful modes of transportation. It’s also a gradual transition into faster vehicles, as well. We get our first taster of speed on that tricycle, or on our bicycle. We feel the wind in our hair, and that feeling either cements itself into our being, or it fades like a distant memory.
For Scott Hartrick, the need for speed has never left. He actually grew up racing junior dragsters, so that desire to go fast was engrained in him at a young age. As a matter of fact, when he purchased the 1988 Mustang GT seen here, he was either buying a car or an ATV.
“I purchased the car in 2003 as my first car for $3,500 when I was 15 years old,” Scott says. “My father had to go with me to buy the car because I couldn’t legally drive it home,” he adds. It was relatively stock with the exception of some suspension modifications and wheels. Oh, and Flowmasters, of course. Scott spent his high school career slowly modifying the car. He did the usual cold air intake, throttle-body, underdrive pulleys, and intake porting we did with our first Fox.
As soon as Scott obtained his license, he threw a pair of drag radials on the back, and headed to the track. He bracket-raced the car on the weekends, and consistently ran high-13s.
As is always the case, Scott wanted more speed so he added a pair of AFR 165cc heads, a Holley SysteMAX II intake, and an Anderson Ford Motorsport B-31 cam. Scott was planning ahead with these modifications, knowing he eventually wanted to add a supercharger, the cam and intake would also work well under the direction of forced induction. He also converted the car to mass air at this time, as well. The new performance mods resulted in Scott running low-13s at the track.
Scott reached the point where he also wanted the car to be more show-worthy, as well. “I painted the car myself in my driveway, and welded and smoothed the engine bay holes,” he says. “I also made my own rear seat delete and stepped up the condition of the interior,” he adds. He didn’t forget about the car’s performance, though, and while still in high school, he was able to add a Vortech V-2 SQ supercharger with an Anderson Ford Motorsport PMS, along with a Snow Performance meth injection kit. Tuning the car himself with the PMS, he was rewarded with an 11.5, and subsequently asked to leave for the lack of a roll cage. On the dyno, Scott’s hard work paid off to the tune of 524-rwhp and 476-rwtq at 14 pounds of boost.
To make sure he would be able to keep running at the track, Scott added a chromoly 8-point roll cage that tied into the car’s tubular subframe connectors. Eventually the stock T5 signed off under all the power and track abuse. “It failed 20 miles from my house,” Scott says. “Every gear except fourth was gone,” he adds. He smoked the clutch on the way home, too, thanks to getting stuck at several traffic lights. Starting off in fourth at each light took its toll.
At that point, the car sat while Scott saved up money for a Tremec TKO 500 transmission and a Spec Stage 3 clutch. Now that he was in college, he stopped racing the car, but continued to use it as a daily. However, it became a little too much to deal with year-round in the northeast so he started to use the car for weekend exploits.
After earning a college degree, the car received about as much attention as a toddler throwing a tantrum on the floor of the local grocery store. Meaning, Scott looked at the car quite often with disgust as it just sat there while he concentrated on buying a house, which he did, and the car continued to sit in the new house’s garage. “It had some annoying electrical issues and a few drivability problems that I just didn’t feel like dealing with,” Scott confesses.
“It wasn’t until I test drove a Mustang for a friend of mine interested in buying a used 2003 GT,” Scott says, “that I was again bit by the Mustang bug.” After driving the New Edge for his friend he had the itch to get the car working properly. Plus, it reminded him how much he missed the thrill of rowing through the gears. “I decided it was time to give my car the attention it deserved. I decided that if I was going to fix the car, I was going to do it right,” Scott says. What Scott means by “right,” he means blowing the car apart and performing a rotisserie restoration.
“In the winter of 2010, I put the car up on jack stands and started ripping everything out of it,” Scott went on to explain. As you read, the car had a lot of nice parts on it and everything was in great shape, so he was able to sell off over $10,000 worth of performance and appearance parts. The funds he raised became a budget, of sorts, to start purchasing parts to go back in the car. Instead of going the stock block route with the new build, he found a new Dart 331 long block from a guy that abandoned his plans for the engine, which was half the cost of a brand new engine.
With the new engine, and everything stripped out of the car, Scott was able to mock up the car’s new power adder, a single 76mm turbocharger. “I purchased my Maximum Motorsports suspension and chassis pieces as well as the 2003 Cobra IRS that was replacing the stock solid axle,” he says. Scott mocked up everything on the car prior to new paint so it would go back together in a smooth manner.
As is sometimes the case with turbo kits, it wasn’t designed to mate with the aftermarket K-member. “With the exception of the passenger side header, nothing fit,” Scott says. He had zero intentions of building a turbo kit, but in this case, Scott had no choice other than to buy a bunch of tubing, and jump in with both feet. “It took a few weeks, but I did manage to rebuild all of the turbo piping so everything fit to my liking,” he says. He changed a few things around, like relocating the wastegate and adding some flex sections to keep any pipes from cracking. “It was a great learning experience,” Scott adds.
When Scott set about restoring the car, he wanted every part of the car to be like new, but the thought of climbing underneath it didn’t sound like much fun. That’s why he went the rotisserie route. “I wound up finding a guy that made a rotisserie out of wood,” Scott says. “I tweaked the design a bit to work for my application, and was able to easily get the car onto its side with the help of a few neighbors.” With the car on its side, that allowed Scott to do the job right, while also saving his back and neck at the same time.
Having never really restored a car before, a lot of what Scott did was a learning process. He had a vision for how he wanted the car to look, so he just kept making changes, and improving every aspect of the car until he felt he had it right. “Every aspect of the car was just a vision that I perfected until I was 100-percent satisfied with the outcome,” Scott says. “Some things took longer than others, but it all worked out in the end.”
Everything turned out exactly how Scott wanted until he went to start the new 331 for the first time. The combination was way too rich, washing down the cylinder walls in the process. He drained the oil, but he also drained about a quart of fuel, as well. He put the car on the dyno over at Frank Soldridge’s PSI Speed Solutions, anyway, to see if the rings and cylinder walls were salvageable. He switched to a Holley HP EFI system with a FAST distributor and an MSD crank trigger before putting the car on the dyno, but all it took was one pull to realize the piston rings were toast. “Smoke was billowing out of the exhaust, big time,” Scott says. The combo was still good for almost 700-rwhp, but the engine wasn’t happy at all.
The engine came back out to get freshened up, and it is now a 333ci combination. With the rebuilt engine back in the car, it was time once again to dyno the car. “However, the clutch fork was not preloaded correctly, and it was putting too much pressure on the clutch, causing it to slip,” Scott says. The combination made the same power at 24 pounds of boost that it made at 17 pounds. Currently, Scott has a Clutch Dynamics twin-disc clutch in the car, but he hasn’t had a chance to get the car back to the dyno to see the level of horsepower the car is making.
“My future plans for the car are pretty simple: enjoy the hell out of it,” Scott says. “I spent 5 years building the car, so I intend to drive the car hard and have a ton of fun with it. It’s an overpowered show car, and although I intend to keep every inch of the car spotless, that will not stop me from driving it as much as possible.” Scott’s plan is to be at every show on the east coast. “It has been a long road, so it’s nice to finally enjoy the fruits of my labor!”