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

Horse Sense: At first glance, Emile's car looks like another Mustang street machine with a few nice additions. But a second inspection reveals a serious, purpose-built device that's been carefully crafted for ultimate street performance. Stripped to a bare body shell during construction, Emile's Mustang is far beyond a kid's bolt-on car.

There are Mustangs for fun, Mustangs for doing the to-work shuffle, Mustangs to be seen in-and then there are Mustangs crafted just for driving. Emile Bouret figured he needed one of the latter. He didn't so much care if anyone noticed him in it-witness the subdued gray paint-and he didn't need to drive it to work, or even keep it close as his sole source of driving endocrines.

Custom engine bits include carbon-fiber valve covers, an air-to-oil cooler, a power-steering cooler, a three-row Griffin aluminum radiator, and a nice B&B-fabbed Tri-Flow 2 1/2-inch exhaust system Jet Hot coated from the long-tubes to X-pipe to tailpipes. Those long-tubes are collected in a flat, four-in-a-row arrangement for ground clearance. Originally, the mufflers were B&B carbon-fiber units that proved too noisy for street use. Currently, simple Walker two-pass "turbo" mufflers are onboard. Let's not forget the entire engine shebang is 1 inch lower and 1 1/2 inches back thanks to the Griggs K-member, as well.

What he did need was a tool to keep his race driving skills sharp.A budding pro racer who was also hearing the call of business, Emile wanted a car capable enough to support his hard-driving ambition when the need for money outsped the need for speed. In other words, he needed a readily accessible car in which he could practice when he couldn't log seat time at the track. Thus, superb handling along with crisp, potent power and excellent brakes were required. Naturally, none of this was supposed to cost too much money, and therefore Emile's existing '86 street car was volunteered for the job.

For years people have been turning to Griggs Racing when they wanted race-car handling from their Mustangs, and in due course Emile ended up at Griggs. There the Mustang was transformed, an operation requiring total disassembly so the chassis could be properly reinforced for the huge cornering loads the suspension would generate. Griggs' massive, labor intensive, full-length, through-the-floor subframe connectors went in, along with a jungle gym of small tubing to form new seat tracks, and larger-diameter pipes for a street-friendly rollcage. Lacking only the overhead bars of a full-on racing cage, the Griggs street cage and chassis reinforcements effectively negate the T-top chassis' natural Flexiflyer status.

The Ford suspension was discarded, replaced by Griggs' GR-40 system. This means a torque arm and Panhard bar in the rear, a tubular K-member in front, tubular control arms all the way around, and coilover spring/ shock units up front. Koni "yellow" dampers are featured, coupled with 400-lb/in springs in front and 350-lb/in springs in the rear. The only Ford suspension bits-late-model '94 Mustang spin-dles and hubs-were fitted, and the entire thing is bumpsteered using a Griggs bumpsteer kit and camber/caster plates.

Normally, this sort of car would have a Cobra brake or equivalent onboard, but Emile wanted to emulate as closely as possible the unbelievable stopping power of the Formula Atlantic cars he'd been driving. He opted for Baer Brakes' PRO+ four-piston Alcon system with 14-inch discs up front, and dual-piston, 13-inch slotted rotors in back. This huge stopping power is adjustable front to back with an underhood bias adjuster.

While the car was apart, some racy, one-off touches were applied to the vintage interior by Griggs. Notable of these was a carbon-fiber instrument cluster insert fitted with Auto Meter dials. We also noted an eclectic grouping of interior demon tweaks that quietly speak volumes about these cars' intent. Some of these are harmless fun, such as the toggle switch and push button for ignition and starter duties-others are more serious, such as the switches to disable the brake lights or all the exterior lights save the headlights. We did not find a compartment for moonshine. We did, however, encounter a custom, flat-floor section in the now inaccessible rear seat and hatch areas. This allows a full-size 17-inch Cobra R-sized spare, a gel cell battery, a veritable chorus of stereo speakers, and an electric fuel pump to occupy the space wasted on mere offspring by more mainstream Mustang operators.