Eric English
August 1, 2002
Photos By: E. John Thawley III

It's a bit ironic that the person responsible for motivating Ray Brandhorst through an extensive buildup of this '87 GT has taken the reins to an import. Yep, Ray's friend Craig Lieberman was once a blown 5.0 owner too, and on the surface, we wonder how anyone could trade the torque and sound of a blown V-8 for an 8,000-rpm buzzsaw driving the wrong wheels.

But this is truly a case of "different strokes for different folks," as Craig now pilots perhaps the ultimate rice burner-a four-wheel-drive, twin-turbo Nissan Skyline GTR. While it wouldn't be polite to dis this variation of high performance, Ray assures us he's an unwavering musclecar guy with no intention of straying from the fold. For many of us, loyalty to the Blue Oval is in our blood, and with a ride such as this Fox GT at Ray's disposal, the sentiment is perfectly understandable.

Ray's '87 GT stands out from the crowd by virtue of a Cervini's 'glass hood, a Saleen rear wing, a Cobra grille insert, LX taillights, nonexistent emblems, and 17-inch ROH ZR6 wheels. The Reflex Silver PPG hue is from the Volkswagen color charts, and was applied by National Auto Collision in Mission Viejo, California.

Ray has owned his '87 longer than many late-model fans have had a driver's license, with the memorable day of acquisition being back in 1989. He recalls being fairly smitten at the time, despite the car's long-legged 2.73 rear-end and AOD. But true to form, the bug for power bit shortly thereafter, followed by a temporary fix from a round of typical bolt-ons such as gears and exhaust. About this time, Ray made the acquaintance of his neighbor Craig, a seemingly die-hard enthusiast with a Vortech-blown '93. Just a few laps around the block in Craig's ride made Ray realize he was missing out on something smooth, and a whole new round of modifications soon followed.

Those of you who've experienced a good-natured, fast-car rivalry know the game of one-upmanship that ensued with Ray and Craig-that is, until Craig fell off the wagon. Ray jokes about his friend's jump "to the dark side," though we do give the guy an attaboy for furthering Ray's interest in the maze that is Mustang speed parts.

One of Ray's first moves was the addition of a Powerdyne blower, though that piece gave way more recently to the ubiquitous Vortech S-Trim. In the interim, a solid foundation was laid through a balanced, 306-inch short-block, assembled by Chicane Sport Tuning's Joe Gosinski. An Edelbrock Performer intake and World Castings Windsor Jr. heads sit atop the whole shebang, with a supporting cast made up of a Pro-M 75mm air meter, a Ford Racing Performance Parts 65mm throttle body, 30-lb/hr injectors, Scorpion 1.6 roller rockers, and a Comp Cams blower grind. Exhaust components include JBA 151/48-inch unequal Shorties, a BBK catalyst-equipped H-pipe, and a stainless MagnaFlow after-cat system. The Vortech uses a stock 3.33-inch pulley, though Ray picked up an additional 2 pounds of boost through an Anderson Power Pipe.

There's nothing too outrageous about the interior, which boasts the typical instrumentation for monitoring a blown powerplant. Passengers have to make do with the stock FoMoCo seating, but Ray gets to plant himself in a more supportive FloFit bucket equipped with a Schroth harness.

The resulting horsepower took a toll on several different AODs, which spurred Ray to a Tremec 3550 conversion performed by JBA. Improved durability was a nice result, but the fun factor improved markedly as well when Ray had more to do than point and shoot. The five-speed is teamed with a Centerforce clutch and Hurst shifter, and it sends the twist to a rearend augmented with 3.55 gearing. With the stick box in place, the entire combo was put to the test on the Dynojet at Mission Viejo's GRC Performance, where the little 306 pumped out peaks of 430 hp and 412 lb-ft of torque.

Ray knows better than to drive this kind of oomph through the stock Fox suspension and binders, so he fortified the '87 with a host of aftermarket underpinnings. GRC pitched the wimpy factory disc/drum setup in favor of Baer four-wheel discs, featuring 13- and 12-inch drilled rotors front and rear. Suspension upgrades come in the form of Griggs Racing's torque arm, Panhard bar, and coil springs, Tokico Illumina dampers, and a host of other bits and pieces. Lest we overlook the ever-important chassis stiffening, a signifi-cant improvement comes through a six-point rollbar, subframe connectors, and typical underhood bracing.