Dale Amy
April 1, 2002

Horse Sense: If you think you've seen Lidio's car before, you have. Not only has it graced the pages of several Ford magazines over the years, but it also played model for a BFGoodrich ad campaign. The car was pictured doing a burnout in ads, posters, and banners.

"I never followed the path that many others do with their Mustangs, where after many years the car becomes a gutted tin can that can only be trailered to events." - Lidio Iacobelli

You can consider the above quotation as Lidio Iacobelli's mission statement for his well-known and faithful LX coupe. Longtime readers will certainly be familiar with Lidio's "Yellow Car," which has been a perennial part of the 5.0 drag scene seemingly since time began. For those who aren't, we should tell you that Lidio-the ever-fastidious owner of Alternative Auto Performance-has been carefully and craftily messing with the little notchback since his then-girlfriend, now-wife, bought it brand-new in 1988. "I tried my hardest," Lidio recalls, "to get her not to buy a coupe, not get yellow, and not get an AOD. I wanted blue or black, a hatch, and a T5." As you can see, Lidio has about the same level of influence on his significant other as do the rest of us.

With its pale yellow skin screaming innocence, there's little clue of the monster within (and, no, we don't mean Lidio). Filled out just right by the Cobra Rs, the only other nonfactory exterior bits include the H.O. Fibertrends hood and special-edition '93 LX wing. Lidio had the coupe repainted in 1999, converting the side moldings to body color at the time.

In spite of this original disappointment, he now appreciates its uniqueness nearly as much as we do. And despite having spent the past 13 years gradually turning it into a stroked and blown nine-second missile, Lidio has never been willing to gut the Tropical Yellow coupe just for the sake of speed. Quite the contrary, in fact, as it even still sports its factory K-member and A-arms, and weighs a hefty 3,450 pounds with Lidio in the stock, tan-cloth driver seat. Ironically, in its present 18-psi- blown, 392-inch form, with nearly 600 ponies on tap at the wheels, the little LX is more streetable and civilized than ever. This is thanks partly to this non-gutting policy, but also to the advances in modern electronic fuel injection and the laptop tuning at which Lidio has become such a master. But we're getting ahead of ourselves

With less than 50 miles on the odometer in 1988, it all began rather humbly (the car, after all, was not his). The removal of the airbox, a bump in timing, some 3.73 gears, and an H-pipe put the car into the low 14s, despite its crippling AOD, and that was about it for a while.

Though it appears to be an operating-room-clean race engine, the Yellow Car's 392 stroker is a tractable 580hp pussycat on the street, thanks to its real-time tunable FAST management system and Lidio's considerable tuning skills. The big Windsor has impeccable manners, yet it's 9.74-second capable and, so far, utterly reliable.

Marriage came in 1991, and with it, apparently, more rights to his bride's Mustang-which Lidio soon converted to a T5 with a goal of getting it into the 12s without touching the factory heads or cam. A 12.92 pass was realized after the addition of 1.5-inch long-tubes, Flowmasters, Ford Racing Performance Parts 1.7 rockers, a 77mm Pro-M meter, and the then-obligatory 160-degree thermostat. Ported '69 351W heads and a Crane 2030 cam then followed. "The car didn't respond to these heads and cam like I wanted to see," Lidio says. "They only produced mid 12s, not low 12s like I thought they should-plus I really didn't super-tune the car like I would today."

Naturally, this was just the beginning, especially after Alternative Auto Performance became a Vortech dealer in 1992. Lidio soon fit an A-Trim centrifugal, then a B-Trim, with which the LX ran low 11s, still with the iron Windsor heads. Always willing to experiment, he even tried an air-to-air intercooler, but the car ran better without it.

In 1994 Lidio resolved to make the by then well-known coupe more emissions friendly by going back to the stock cam and adding Edelbrock's new Performer 5.0 heads, in which form it managed high 10s through catalytic con-verters. Around the same time, he came to the realization that "clutches in heavy, fast cars didn't mix," and swapped back to an AOD, beefed in his own shop and fitted with a Stallion converter (whose products he's stuck with ever since).