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John Richichi's 1984 GT: Mirror, Mirror...
...On The Wall, Who Has the Fairest Mustang in Jersey?
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It's rare to come upon an earlier Mustang as nice as this one owned by John Richichi of Monroe Township, New Jersey. Most square-light ('79-'86) Mustangs seem to be in rough shape or they've already been updated with late-model bumper covers with matching sheetmetal and moldings. Even with the current trends in the Fox Mustang hobby, we hear a lot of people expressing the desire to have one of these cars and keep it in its square-light form. We have a feeling John Richichi's '84 GT will inspire those who've been on the fence about that early Fox-body purchase.
John got a jump on the rest of us when he bought the car from its original owner in 1994. "It was pretty much stock except for the engine, which had World Castings heads, an Edelbrock Performer intake, and a Holley 650 carburetor," John says. The car also boasted MAC long-tube headers, a Flowmaster two-chamber after-cat, a Hurst shifter, and a Ford Racing Performance Parts clutch. The short-block was barely broken in with 99,000 miles on it. When John retired it from daily driven status in 1996, the car had just 130,000 miles on it.
With this many trips around the block, the engine began to blow smoke, but the car was still fast and smooth. And it was in excellent condition overall. The paint was in great shape and the interior was good as new. Despite the car's condition, in the spring of 1997 John decided it was time for a total restoration (we still can't get used to the words "total restoration" in reference to Fox Mustangs).
Out came the engine and transmission, which allowed John to clean, strip, and have new paint applied to the engine compartment. During the down time, John hooked up with LaRocca's Performance for the installation of a used '91 stock-block with Edelbrock Stage II ported heads, a Vortech S-Trim, a Lunati blower cam, a Cobra intake, and an upgraded suspension featuring an 8.8 rear. In this form the car was capable of mid 11s in the quarter-mile. John left the original paint as is and drove the car through the summer of 1998. But toward the end of that summer, the rings within the used short-block began to show their age. John removed the engine to set the stage for bigger and better upgrades. While the engine and transmission were out, John had Carlson's Auto Body in Jackson, New Jersey, apply a Stage 4 paint job to the car. And he went a step further by adding a Cervini's 3-inch cowl hood and a Saleen wing.
With the mirror-like finish applied, John took the car home and kept it covered up in the garage. Then, in December 1998, the car was taken to Alfredo Bollatta at Valley Performance in Belleville, New Jersey. John and Alfredo discussed several ideas to set his car apart from every other Mustang on the road. The first plan was to bring the car's wiring harness up to par with the rest of the vehicle. Since the car is an '84, it was not wired for fuel injection, which meant most of the wiring was spliced in to make the components work together.
Alfredo spent long hours rewiring the car, which included using an '86 wiring harness that seemingly took forever to locate. With the new wiring, the car looked like a factory fuel-injected Mustang.
To make the most of the new EFI, John contacted Probe Racing Components for one of its Pro Street Fighter 347 stroker kits. John ordered the complete short-block, but with the horsepower level John was wanting, Alfredo suggested getting one of FRPP's R302 blocks.
After a two-month wait for the R302 block, the rotating assembly was taken out of the Probe-supplied block and reinstalled into the R302 block by B&B Machine Shop in Carteret, New Jersey. When the stroker was originally installed in the car in July 2000, it featured Edelbrock Performer RPM heads and a GT-40 intake, both ported by Probe. John also upgraded the blower from an S-Trim to a thumping T-Trim. In November 2000, he finished off the car with a set of chrome Cobra wheels that he purchased in June 1998 for the day when the car would be done. Nitto treads with drag radials out back fight for traction.
Why is traction such a hot commodity on John's '84? Off the trailer, the car made 502 hp on Crazy Horse's Dynojet. Through a short series of tuning tricks without the aid of an air/fuel monitor (which was down at the time), horsepower shot up to a humbling 544 ponies combined with 536 lb-ft of torque at just 12 pounds of boost. Now that's just not fair!
Horse Sense: To illustrate the fact that square-light Mustangs are hard to come by, we did two searches on www.autotrader.com. One was for '82-'86 Mustangs and the other was for '87-'93 models. The price and miles search was the same for each segment. The '82-'86 search turned up 25 cars, while the '87-'93 search found 138 possible purchase candidates. Moral of the story-if you want a square-light car, you better get busy. There aren't many left.