Rob Kinnan
December 1, 2000

Step By Step

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P73175_large 1989_Ford_Mustang_LX Front_Driver_Side
This car was featured in the very first issue of 5.0 Mustang magazine.
P73176_large 1989_Ford_Mustang_LX Engine
Internals include a billet Sonny Bryant 3.5-inch stroke steel crank, GRP aluminum rods measuring 5.38 inches, and Pro Power pistons that bring static compression to 13:1.
P73177_large 1989_Ford_Mustang_LX 3rd_TaillightP73178_large 1989_Ford_Mustang_LX Rear_View_Trunk_LidP73179_large 1989_Ford_Mustang_LX Rear_Driver_SideP73180_large 1989_Ford_Mustang_LX Driver_SideP73181_large 1989_Ford_Mustang_LX Interior
The nitrous gets its fuel from a separate, front-mounted fuel cell and pump.
P73182_large 1989_Ford_Mustang_LX EngineP73183_large 1989_Ford_Mustang_LX Rear_AxleP73184_image_largeP73185_large 1989_Ford_Mustang_LX Emblem

The way heads-up 5.0 races are popping up these days, it's easy to get a little spoiled. If you look at the schedule of events throughout the summer months, rarely a weekend goes by when a race isn't going on somewhere. You can choose from NMCA, NSCA, NMRA, WFC, FFW, and a dizzying list of other one-off Ford-specific race events. The bottom line is that it's a good time to race a Mustang. But, there once was a time when people struggled to find a race with a 5.0. Sanctioning bodies were just forming in the early '90s, and track owners thought you were crazy if you wanted to race heads-up on a pro-tree with just a little Mustang.

Luckily, there were a few pioneers who pushed the limit with these cars and blew the whole thing wide open for the rest of us. This is the story of one of those racers, Hermann Stolzenberg, and how his passion for the 5.0 platform helped shape a revolution in motorsports, which still thrives today.

Hermann Stolzenberg is a living legend in the history of the 5.0 Mustang. Besides all of his racing exploits, he even appeared in the first issue of 5.0 magazine way back in 1994 in a story written by our now-competitor's technical editor. Ironically, it is that same 5.0 Mustang that we feature here some six years later. But before we get to the goods, let's see how Hermann got to be the big Mustang stud that he is today.

It all started innocently enough in 1989 when Hermann bought the '89 LX that you see here. He had been strutting his stuff in a brand new Pontiac Formula 350 (remember those?). The Fireturd was running in the 12s with a ton of parts and even a nitrous system helping the cause, and Hermann thought it would be neat to see what it would take to get the little Ford to run similar numbers.

With 3.55s, 26x8-inch slicks, a homemade ram air induction system, and the typical tuning tricks of that era, the red LX was blasting high-12s! Hermann wanted in, so he built up an '87 LX sedan to compete in the now-dead AMRA racing series. Racing in the Stock class, Hermann became an overnight sensation capturing more points than any other racer in any other class, as well as holding both ends of the class record with a 12.58 elapsed time at 108.7 mph.

But by 1991, Hermann decided that he needed something a little faster, and the '89 looked like the perfect car. He soon got down to business and went completely through the car as only Hermann can. If you haven't seen a Stolzenberg car up-close and personal, you don't know what you're missing. There are lots of clean cars, but Hermann's always have a way of standing out from the rest. He doesn't do anything to attract attention; he just makes every aspect of the car so near-perfect that only he can point out a flaw.

The Honda Tahitian Green that the car was painted in 1991 is still on it today. Back in 1994, the hatch touted Dart heads, a GT-40 intake, a B-trim Vortech supercharger, and an Art Carr-prepared AOD transmission. Like many of the parts that Hermann has worked with through the years, the AOD was a prototype unit that tested the wide gear set and other neat tricks that have found their way onto many a hot 'Stang today. The best part about this car is that it was still street driven daily, and when Hermann showed up to the track, he'd change tires, lay down some low 10s, and then drive it back home. That kind of versatility is still cool!

But times have changed, and it takes a lot more to impress people when you go to a dragstrip with a 5.0 Mustang. When we caught up with Hermann again at the NOS NMRA Ford Motorsport Nationals, we were glad to see that he was still driving the car and still kicking butt. Now Hermann is looking to continue his exploits in the NMRA Super Street Outlaw class with his rebuilt '89 LX. It has come a long way since 1994.

The foundation for the hatch started with a trip to Wolford Brother's Chassis. Hermann has high praise for this shop with good reason. The Brothers started with a 12-point chrome moly cage with completely custom bends and welds. They kept the stock frame-rails in the back of the car, but modified things enough so that Hermann can run up to a 12-inch slick if the class allows. The rear suspension is a complete ladder bar setup with coilover shocks that hang a Ford 9-inch rear with 3.89:1 gearing. The Wolfords narrowed, braced, reinforced, and added Wilwood brakes to the 9-incher before it was installed. It also features Strange 35-spline axles and a companion spool. Up front, there is a complete Wolford K-member/A-arm/coilover setup featuring Aerospace brakes for the shutdown area.

Sticking with the 5.0 heritage the car was born with, Hermann has built up one nasty little Henry from an A-4 FRPP block. Internals include a billet Sonny Bryant 3.5-inch stroke steel crank, GRP aluminum rods measuring 5.38 inches, and Pro Power pistons (Ross blanks) that bring static compression to 13:1. The final measure is 358 inches of pure dynamo.

Ron Robart at Fox Lake worked his magic on a set of TFS old-style Street Heats. They feature Del West titanium valves (2.10-inch intake and 1.65-inch exhaust), and the heads flow 342 cfm on the intake and 262 cfm on the exhaust at .800-inch lift (with a pipe).

As you can imagine from a person with Hermann's experience, the cam is a top-secret subject. All he'd tell us is that it's a Cam Motions grind with dimensions that Hermann describes as "big by large." Actually, it has a mid-.700-inch lift with lots of experimentation on the duration figures. The intake is a straight-forward Keith Wilson Victor Jr. that "looks stock on the outside, but is cut to pieces on the inside," according to Hermann. The carb is a Chuck Nuytten 980-cfm unit that receives the go-juice from a Product Engineering 2500 fuel pump.

The nitrous gets its fuel from a separate, front-mounted fuel cell and pump. For the exhaust side of things, the Wolford Brothers came to the rescue bend-ing up a killer set of 2-inch- primary long-tubes with 3.5-inch collectors and two-chamber Flowmasters supplying the bark. The nitrous system itself is an NOS fogger setup that Hermann has yet to jet to its full potential. Hey, with the numbers this thing runs, that doesn't surprise us. It is conservatively jetted for 300 horses (36 jets) using the "B" nozzles with the total timing only 22 degrees. As for the power of this mill, Hermann has seen 680 hp on the dyno with motor alone. When a safe shot of the sauce was added to the mix, 1,000 horses rang the doorbell.

Hermann has moved on from the AOD days with a Performance Automatic two-speed Powerglide with the Ultrabell Bellhousing. An 8-inch ATI converter that has been played with by Art Carr stalls at 5,900 rpm.

Surprisingly, Hermann is still driving the streets with his LX, going as far as 150 miles to participate in local cruise nights. What started out as a hobby has turned into a way of life. Since 1994, he has run his shop, Horsepower By Hermann, as his full-time gig. As always, he has demonstrated his mastery of these cars with the '89. On 10.5Ws, it has run a best of 8.68 at over 159 mph with a 1.26-second short time. With real 28x10.5s, 8.90s are a piece of cake.

Hermann's thank-you list reads like a who's who of 5.0 experts: Wolford Brothers, Gary Tomlinson, and Ben Butcher (his co-workers), Art Carr, Performance Automatic, Dale Metlika at Pro Power, and Joe Amato at Down's Ford.

As Hermann looks into the future of 5.0 racing, he sees only good times and faster cars for all of us to enjoy. His personal goal is to dominate the NMRA's Super Street Outlaw class as that's where he sees all of the really fast, small-tired Mustangs coming out to play. His involvement in that series brings with it both good and bad news. The bad news is that it's forced him to sell this car. The good news is that his new car for 2000 is an SN-95 chassis that will house a Ronny Crawford 417-inch Windsor with Yates heads and two hits of nitrous. With an estimated 1,300 to 1,400 hp, Hermann fully expects 8.10s to 8.20s. Hang in there folks. We'll be back in a couple of years with chapter three.