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Brian Thorpe's '89 Flamed Mustang Coupe
This Retired Florida Highway Patrol Car Traded in its Lights for Flames
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It's funny how things turned out for retired Special Service highway patrol Mustangs. Initially designed to catch speeders and squash other unlawful acts, most of these cars when retired ended up in the hands of speed freaks ready to turn them into street/strip brawlers.
This occurred mostly because the Special Service Mustangs featured many heavy-duty items such as a transmission cooler and 130-amp alternator. You could buy them relatively cheap through various police auctions-at least in the early days before prices got out of hand.
Take Brian Thorpe's '89 flamed coupe for example. Our March issue's cover model began life as part of Florida's Highway Patrol arsenal. Brian always wanted one of these cars because he thought it would provide a relatively low initial investment. When he heard of a couple for sale, the Caneyville, Kentucky, resident cruised down to Mathis Mustang in Georgia in September of 1992 and took one home with him. Since he knew he was going to build this car to race, why continue beating on the brand-new coupe he had just purchased? The coupe was sold and the proceeds were used toward the patrol car.
Although Brian was not necessarily looking to go in the Windsor direction, his buddy Glen Akin had a 351 block and a pair of World Castings heads he would sell for cheap. This sold Brian on adding Windsor power. One stipulation Brian kept for himself was the desire to utilize fuel injection. He noticed every other Windsor/Fox swap featured a carb, and he wanted to be a little different.
To turn up the wick on the Windsor, it was opened up to 357 cubes and topped off with the aforementioned heads and a Bennett Racing upper/Lightning truck lower intake combo. Total Engine Airflow ported the heads and the lower intake, while John Bernard Motorsport is responsible for the assembly of the Windsor. JBM added Dove Machine 1.6 roller rockers and a Bennett Racing-spec Lunati roller using a Crane roller-cam retro kit. A BBK 70mm throttle body and C&L 73mm mass air round out the induction package.
As if the cubic inches didnt make for a big enough nightstick, Brian called out an APB on extra horsepower by adding a Compucar adjustable nitrous kit, complete with a purge kit. On the backside, MAC long-tube headers and DynoMax Bullet mufflers take the place of the siren to announce Brian's arrival. A 190-lph in-tank and a T-Rex external fuel pump feed 30-lb/hr injectors through the watchful eye of an Aeromotive regulator, while an MSD 6AL keeps the lights flashing until the FRPP Extender says enough. The best run on nitrous was an 11.16 at 124 mph. Brian has since removed the kit and sold it. Since replacing the stock coil with a Holley unit, the car has run a best of 11.46 at 119 mph.
Of course, you'd call Brian 5150 if he stuck with the stock T5 behind the Windsor. He did the right thing, though, by dispatching a Tremec 3550 in its place, utilizing a Hurst shifter and a Centerforce Dual Friction clutch. From the Tremec, power ends up at a stock 8.8 complete with a spool, 4.10 gears, and Strange 31-spline axles. Lakewood 90/10 struts up front and stock springs out back work with stock springs all the way around to aid weight transfer. Speaking of weight transfer, Southside Machine Lift Bars provide the bite needed to get out of the hole, while Mickey Thompson 26x10 slicks grip for all their worth.
If all this is starting to sound familiar, Brians car made the magazine rounds a few years ago wearing an EMS paint scheme (Brian is an EMT by profession), but a hailstorm sent it to the body shop for repairs. It was then he decided a change was in order. He had an idea to paint the car purple and add flames. At an NMCA event at Bowling Green's Beech Bend Raceway, he found the perfect color-Ford Ultra Violet metallic. Richie Jones of Jones Custom Creations [(270) 597-3178] repaired the car and applied the Ultra Violet metallic basecoat. Brian-who also owns Brian's Signs and Graphix-then laid out the flame. He airbrushed shadows onto the flames and pinstriped them with a jagged edge. During the painting process, Brad Carrol of Gipe Automotive detailed the engine compartment.
Brian plans on using this former highway patrol car to chase down fellow NMRA and NMCA Hot Street competitors in the 2001 season. Right after we spoke with him, he was off to purchase another Windsor block for the transformation. He'll be packing a 408 Windsor with Twisted Wedge R heads, an Edelbrock Super Victor Jr. intake, a Holley carb, and a C4 trans. Judging by the car's past, it'll feel right at home.