Michael Johnson Associate Editor
May 1, 2002
Photos By: E. John Thawley III

The GT packs 351 ci of Lightning Windsor with a Vortech S-Trim supercharger thrown in for good measure. Joe says he hasn't been able to get any dyno numbers yet, but you know this one's going to crank out serious power once the tuning wizards at Swanson Performance get the keys. Joe would like to thank his dad, Albert, and friend Danny Lopez for their help in the car's metamorphosis.

The turning point for Joe and his GT came when a friend started raving about the Windsor swap he had just performed on his car. Sure enough, Joe couldn't resist the urge to go for more cubic inches. In 1997, he was able to purchase one of the last Lightning short-blocks from Ford Racing Performance Parts. However, the swap wasn't that easy. He had to procure the remaining parts-headers, a new intake, and so on-to make the swap possible. By this time, Joe was no longer working for his dad, so it took a little longer in the transformation process. He was able to work on the car at his dad's shop in the evenings and on weekends. He also became pickier about what to add to the GT, and he began using the Internet to aid him in his quest for supreme performance.

"I'm by no means a rich guy," Joe says, "so I had to be careful with money and buy only what I could afford. For example, last year I bought used seats from a '97 GT and had them reupholstered. They look unique, and I've gotten a few positive comments." With this addition he gained power seats. "And not for a whole lot of dough," Joe adds.

It would be the summer of 1998 before Joe would finish the 351W. "It came out nice, the car had a ton of torque, and I was pretty darn happy," he says. Around this time he also added Baer brakes, 17-inch wheels, and whatever else caught his eye. But the train fell off the tracks once again when another friend took him for a ride in his blower car. Oh, yeah-Joe now had to have a supercharger. Of course, he took his time and finally located a used Vortech S-Trim kit. He had to massage the kit to make it fit his Windsor, but once everything was on the same page, the power delivery was well worth it.

Joe added reupholstered '97 GT seats to the interior, along with a MOMO steering wheel, an MGW shift knob, and a complement of Auto Meter gauges to keep track of what's going on underhood.

Yes, it was nice, but with this newfound power the car would get really out of shape when he hit the loud pedal. And, yes, it was time for more upgrades. Naturally, he looked toward the mainstream suspension manu-facturers and studied each kit on the market. After much research he decided to add a Maximum Motorsports torque arm and corresponding control arms and Panhard bar. Tokico Illumina five-way adjustable shocks and struts also found their way on the car, with H&R springs up front and Eibach springs out back. To finish up the exterior and shore up the handling aspect even further, Joe added MSW Motorsport wheels with corresponding Kumho treads. The suspension improvements proved to be the big-ticket item for 2001.

"I've had a lot of fun with this heap over the years, and I made a lot of friends," Joe says. He blames us magazine-types for planting ideas in his head as to what direction to go in next. Hey, Joe-we can't resist the urge either.

Block FRPP {{{M}}}-6009-B58
Displacement 351 ci
Cam Lightning
Heads FRPP GT-40 aluminum
Intake 5.8 Lightning lower, Downs box upper
Exhaust Bassani 351W swap headers, high-flow X-pipe, Quiet Thunder mufflers with dumps
Power Adder Vortech S-Trim
Fuel System 255-lph in-tank pump, T-Rex external pump, ’89 GT fuel lines, Cartech fuel rails, 36-lb/hr injectors
Transmission TTC 3550, FRPP Cobra clutch and billet flywheel, Steeda Tri-Ax shifter
Driveshaft FRPP aluminum
Rearend 8.8, stock axles and Traction-Lok, 3.55 gears