5.0 Mustang & Super Fords
1992 Ford Mustang - Creative Spark
This '92 Fox looks like a fairly ordinary daily driver, but looks can be deceiving.
"Working on the Electric Fox taught me a lot of things, but mostly how to figure things out and solve problems on my own"-Lab 306 student
It's rare that we feature a Mustang with road rash, faded paint, missing side moldings, and an estimated top speed of around 80 mph. As a performance-first magazine, we'll let a lot of things slide when it comes to bringing you the most innovative, finely built race and street machines, but this is a combination that may have never been considered for a feature in these pages before. Until now.
This particular Fox Mustang is much more than it appears at first glance. In fact, what you're looking at-in all of its 1992 glory-is the future. You see, this Mustang is the product of a group of very determined high schoolers in North Carolina that converted this car to an electric propulsion system of their own design.
Hopefully, the internal combustion engine will always have at least a small place in the performance car world, but it's obvious that electric cars are destined to take a prominent spot on our roads. This Mustang proves that it can be done in a performance-oriented chassis to produce a vehicle that's still fun to drive.
McMichael High is a school of approximately 1,000 students, located just a few miles south of the Virginia border in tiny Mayodan, North Carolina. The area of the state was a hub for textiles and high-end furniture manufacturing, but those industries have mostly gone offshore, and many towns haven't fully recovered. To help students develop marketable skills, McMichael started a special Technology, Engineering & Design curriculum. Students in this course are allowed to choose from a series of subjects according to their own strengths. The offerings include mechanical engineering, graphic design, and programming. All are goal-oriented.
But students working on individual projects can only get so far, so instructor John Butler began a project to allow the students an opportunity to work together toward a common cause. John encouraged the higher level students in the course (known as Lab 306 after the facility's room number) to build an electric car and compete in the EV Challenge, a competition for high school students who design, construct, and drive their own electric vehicles. The Lab 306 students first competed in the challenge in 2009 with a Mustang hatchback now known only as The Prototype.
"We learned so much from that first competition," John explains. "Doing the challenge gave the students a good idea of just how much they were capable of achieving, which was the goal. But being our first shot at it, the car really wasn't competitive. So we decided to start over with a new car and do it right."
For the second go round, John-who has owned multiple Mustangs and is the driving force behind the group's Mustang focus-actually donated his own '92 notchback Mustang to the students and the school.
"It's not like it was a big donation though," John says with a laugh. "That was the car I drove when I was in college, but it was totaled with some pretty significant burn damage. It was parked beside a barn on my farm when the barn caught fire and burned to the ground.
"The car was a loss. In fact, when we went to get the car and bring it back to the school, we had to drag it back out of the woods where it had been sitting for five years.But the chassis was sound, and we had planned all along for the students to completely strip the car so that they could not only design and build the electric drivetrain exactly how they wanted, but also so that they could get a better understanding of how these cars go together," John added.