Matt Rawlins
June 1, 2000
Photos By: Gray Baskerville

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P95336_large 1986_Ford_Mustang_GT Front_Driver_SideP95338_large 1986_Ford_Mustang_GT Rear_Driver_SideP95339_large 1986_Ford_Mustang_GT InteriorP95340_large 1986_Ford_Mustang_GT EngineP95341_large 1986_Ford_Mustang_GT Driver_Side

For 26-year-old Charles Kistler from Huntsville, Alabama, there was no doubt what kind of car would be his first. Ever since he could remember, Mustangs seemed to be part of his family's heritage.

As far back as 1971, the year Charles was born, his father was involved in "a little road-racing in Minnesota." As well as racing Mustangs, Charles' dad also was a member of the Minnesota Mustangers, a club dedicated solely to Ford's best car. According to Charles, his dad was the kind of guy who would go out and buy a brand-new Mustang and slap on a bunch of speed parts before it even saw its first 1,000 miles. Tragically, Mr. Kistler passed away when Charles was only 14, leaving behind trophies and photos of all his accomplishments with the Mustangs he had owned. Charles' older brother, who also loved Mustangs, bought a new '86 GT, which Charles was always bugging him to borrow.

It wasn't long before the '90s rolled around and the '86 GT was sold to someone outside the family, as Charles was strapped for cash and couldn't come up with the money to buy the car. A year or so later, when his finances improved, he scoured dealers' lots looking to buy his first Mustang. This car would be the culmination of the last seven years spent wondering what it would be like to have his own Mustang. All of the countless hours spent wondering how he would modify his dream Mustang, what parts he would add, what wheels would look good, how much horsepower would be enough, and so on. This kind of daydreaming is all too familiar to thousands of enthusiasts out there. It only took about three dealerships before Charles found the car of his dreams at Woody Anderson Ford. It was the '93 LX coupe you see here with a Wild Strawberry exterior and totally black interior. So far, the Wild Strawberry coupe has only received mild, yet distinctive, upgrades to set it apart from the rest of the stampede. Although Charles hasn't touched the stock brake system yet, he has added some stiffness to the suspension with a set of Koni shocks and struts, as well as a set of FRPP springs at all four corners. He also added a chrome strut-tower brace from MAC which triangulates the geometry of the front of the car, giving the driver better steering response under heavy cornering and braking. Of course, what Mustang's suspension and chassis would be complete without the good old subframe connectors to add in the stiffening department.

Charles' next steps involved giving the car a little more efficient horsepower, or in other words, mods that would make his Mustang faster, but not by adding horsepower. What part can do this? A set of gears, 3.55s to be exact. This, along with some 31-spline axles, would really wake up the car as well as make it more durable.

Under the hood, the coupe was treated to a Cobra upper and lower intake, a 65mm throttle body, a 73mm mass air meter, and a Hypertech ram-air system. This, along with the MAC 15/8-inch short-tube headers would add some indisputable horsepower to the rear tires. Charles didn't want to lift the valve covers because he wanted to keep the car as stock as possible. This also ensured his pony would idle and run exactly like it did out of the showroom. Although Charles only added about 30-40 hp with the intake and other augmentations, he did strengthen his five-speed tranny with a Centerforce clutch and a Hurst shifter, which will really come in handy if he ever decides to take a short trip down the 1,320.

One of the last details Charles did to his Mustang was to complement that dark, cool interior with some heart-thumping sounds from a bad-ass stereo system that would make sure to wake up the neighbors. The system includes a pair of MB Quart 41/2-inch speakers in the kick panels, a pair of 61/2-inch speakers--also from MB Quart--in the doors, and two 10-inch subwoofers from JL Audio to keep the dogs in the area howling. All of this is powered by 900 watts of power from the Phoenix Gold amps in the trunk area. A good comparison, as far as booming sounds go, would be the sound of a baby grand piano falling and crashing down--on your chest.

What further sets this Wild Strawberry coupe apart from other Mustangs is its chrome Weld Racing wheels, compliments of the shop where Charles works, Wheel Fix-It, in Huntsville, Alabama. These shiny rollers measure 17x8 both front and back and are mated to Goodyear's 255/40 series GS-C rubber which do a great job of putting a footprint on the asphalt. The rest of the car, per Charles' request, is bone-stock. And even though he would like to think of himself and his car as a wicked "HELRAZR," it's really just to scare off those pesky little Bow-Ties from getting too close to his pride and joy.

As for the future for Charles and his '93, all he can tell us is that the car will still be driven only on sunny days, look as good as it does now, and probably have a few more miles on it. With only 23,000 miles on this 7-year-old car, we're willing to bet this Mustang will never grow up to have a sagging rearend.

Horse Sense: Charles and his '93 Mustang are members of the North Alabama Late-Model Mustang Club, and although he hasn't attended too many events or dragstrip races, he has taken his car down the eighth-mile to a best of 8.60 at 100 mph.