Tom Wilson
March 1, 2002
Photos By: E. John Thawley III

Horse Sense: Veronica's father works at Keystone Ford in the body shop, thus the source of the meticulously maintained, monochromatic, factory red paint.

While Veronica and Ken Harkness' '90 LX hatch with its Saleen wing and Cervini's hood profiles like many other clean Foxes patrolling the Ontario, California, area, under the hood is a major reason why it isn't just another 5.0. Thanks to the wrenching of Mark Sanchez at Advanced Engineering West, the Harknesses are packing a built mod with no less than 18 pounds of S-Trim Vortech boost pumped into its all-aluminum innards.

The unusual combination got its start in the early '90s when car-loving Veronica found just the red LX automatic she'd been searching for. A stocker with a B303 cam, it soon turned into a Kenne Bell compressor car under Mark's tutelage. Then, when Veronica spied Mark's 4.6 Cobra-engined Fox convertible, she decided she just had to have one of the big, wide, smooth-thrusting V-8s between her shock towers. Never one to pass up an opportunity, Mark whipped out his engine and stuffed it in Veronica's chassis, then built another Cobra engine for his car.

The Vortech blower with the "small-real small" pulley, as Veronica puts it, cranks out 18 pounds of boost. According to Mark Sanchez, this combination was good for about 670 hp on the engine dyno.

In that quick exchange, Veronica scored a 281-incher built with all the good stuff. A steel crank, forged rods, and similarly formed pistons address the weakest links in the modular program. The compression ratio is up there at 10:1, a high value given the major boost, to say the least. Sealing the cylinder pressures are Total Seal rings and stock valves treated to a back cut for airflow reasons. Other breathing mods include Extrude Honed heads, custom-ground AEW camshafts, a port-matched Cobra intake manifold, and the Vortech blower. The rocker arms and lash adjusters are factory stock, while the valvesprings are via Comp Cams.

Bits you can see include an S&B air filter and an 80mm mass air meter. Neat stuff you can't see is a 220-lph fuel pump gushing the good stuff through AEW fuel lines and rails, along with 50-lb/hr injectors. Engine management is all Ford, from the EEC V computer to the incredibly comprehensive Ford Racing Performance Parts Extreme Performance Engine Control. Blowing out the bad stuff are custom Joe Ellis headers and an H-pipe teamed with MAC mufflers and tailpipes.

The FR500-style seat trim can be chalked up to Mark's close association with FRPP and supplier Classic Soft Trim.

The resulting excitement is funneled through a 700R4 GM automatic fitted with a 2,500-rpm stall converter. This is because the Harknesses and Mark went through no fewer than four AODEs in one month as the blower power would simply overpower the clutch packs on the fourth wide-open throttle blast. Ultimately, Julian at Four C's Transmission in Santa Fe Springs, California, built the 700R4 and necessary bellhousing adapter, shift linkage, overdrive wiring harness, and he supplied the driveshaft yoke. A custom steel driveshaft does the honors on the way back to the 3.73 cogs in the 8.8-inch axle, while the Harknesses command their shifts through a modified factory shifter.

For all the modular glory cradled in it, the chassis makes do with limited handling improvements befitting the car's pampered street-toy status. They include Koni shocks, Eibach springs, urethane bushings, and Nitto tires riding on Ford Racing wheels. Subframe connectors, also from the FRPP catalog, do what they can to hold both ends together when the boost roosts. A rollcage may appear, but in the meantime, the Harknesses are simply letting the good times roll.