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Horsepower: Joe Mauro's 351 Stroker Fox Body Mustang
One cannot deny that the Fox-body Mustang has changed the landscape of the street/strip world. The budget-friendly price from the modern Mustang generation lets the average enthusiast get in on the fast fun.
We caught up with Joe Mauro of West Lebanon, New York, and his tale of dragstrip glory proves that even after a quarter of a century, the 1987-1993 Mustang continues to provide awesome bang for the buck. Originally purchased for $4,500, Mauro's Mustang came with a stroker Ford 351 Windsor from its previous owner. Over the course of a few years and another $1,500, Mauro managed to go from 11.50s (as-purchased) down to a best of 11.11 at 121 mph.
At that point, the speed bug had bitten Mauro and little by little he upgraded the chassis to get the power to the ground more efficiently. He added items like a Team Z Motorsports rear suspension, Strange Engineering adjustable shocks and struts, and better 8.8-inch rearend internals with a 4.30:1 rear gear ratio. The goal was to get the Mustang into the 10s and he risked nothing—the tailpipes were cut off and the interior became very minimal to save as much weight as possible. The reward was a 10.89 at 123 mph—task complete, but it left Mauro hungry for even more.
The addiction to speed brought him to the Holley-NOS and a Big Shot nitrous plate for some chemical enhancement. Mauro backed off the rear gear to a 3.90:1 set of cogs and increased the height of rear tires from the 26-inch-tall slicks that he ran on motor to a pair of 28x10.5 slicks.
With the nitrous flowing, the Fox-body Mustang delivered him to a best of 9.72 at 136 mph! The car rolls over the scales at 2,900 pounds with Mauro behind the wheel. The total cost into the car, including the purchase price, is a mere $15,000; Mauro did all the upgrades himself, except for the 10-point rollcage.
Nitrous and Induction
A NOS Big Shot nitrous plate (225 hp) is sandwiched in between a Holley 750 carburetor and an Edelbrock Victor Jr. intake manifold—simple, effective, and all out of the box, save for a jet change in the carburetor.
Camshaft and Cylinder Heads
An out-of-the-box set of Air Flow Research (AFR) 205 cylinder heads sits on top of the 351 Windsor. These cylinder heads feature a standard 20-degree valve angle and are CNC-ported from AFR. The intake valves are 2.080-inch, while the exhaust valves check in at 1.600 inches. The only specs known on the hydraulic roller camshaft are 0.528/0.547 for the intake and exhaust valve lift, respectively.
The stock 351 Windsor block has a 4.030-inch bore and a steel crankshaft with a 3.850-inch stroke, bringing the displacement to 393 ci. Both the rods and pistons are forged, and the compression ratio checks in at 10.8:1. A Moroso oil pan has been bolted on along with a high-volume oil pump.
Ignition and Fuel System
A standard MSD 6AL ignition box combines with Ford Racing spark-plug wires, MSD coil and distributor, and Autolite 3923 spark plugs (0.035-inch gap) to provide the zap in this street car. A pair of Holley Blue pumps (AN-8 feed lines) and Holley regulators deliver the gasoline from a fuel cell to the engine. Naturally aspirated runs are made with pump gas while nitrous runs are made on VP Racing Fuels C16.
A Dynamic Racing Transmissions C4 with TCT 9-inch torque converter rests behind the small-block Ford. The 8.8-inch has been fortified with a Strange Engineering spool, 35-spline axles, and sturdier rear cover. A 3.90:1 rear gear and 28-inch-tall tires are used for nitrous while a 4.30:1 gear and 26-inch tall tires are for motor runs.
The best time with the nitrous combination has been a 9.72 at 136 mph, which was accomplished at a 2,900-pound race weight. That puts output at around 570 hp on the bottle. Off the juice, Mauro has gone as quick as 10.89 at 123 mph, which means the engine produces roughly 421 hp on pump gas.