Mark Houlahan
Brand Manager, Mustang Monthly
October 1, 2002
Photos By: Chuck James

Horse Sense: If you can believe it by looking at these pictures, Jeff lives down a 1.5-mile-long gravel road on his father's farm, where this '85 GT is stored in a barn with a dirt floor! So you can quit whining about having to clean your LX's tailpipes again at the next car show.

We all want that one Mustang that can do everything. Unfortunately, one factor usually gets in the way of another. Maybe you start off with an idea about being able to drive your car to a drag race one weekend and an autocross event on the next weekend, but along the way the buildup goes astray. A few parts later, you're in an all-out quest for e.t, or your Mustang is so unstreetable you have to trailer it to events. Sound familiar?

Jeff Colvin of Barboursville, Virginia, didn't want to make the same mistakes he'd seen others do, so he took his time and mapped out a plan to allow him to enjoy the fruits of his labors with his T-top-equipped '85 GT. Whether it was going to the store, down the quarter-mile, through the esses of a road course, or taking show trophies, Jeff wanted to do it in one Mustang. After seeing this car run the autocross course, the drag race event, and take Second Place in the car show at last year's Year One Bristol Bash, we think he pulled it off.

In 1992, Jeff purchased the all-encompassing GT from a coworker for $2,000. It had been used for pizza delivery (and we thought Associate Editor Johnson was the only one) until the sour note of a rod knock forced the sale to Jeff.

Jeff went through the stock engine adding a cam, headers, intake, carb, and 3.45 gears in the stock 7.5 rear. Eventually he broke the crank in it. It was then he decided to run with the big dogs. He whipped out the plastic and set it afire, ordering a new D.S.S. 306 Bullet short-block with main support, Edelbrock Performer 6039 heads (2.02/1.60 valves), an AFM N-6 cam, Omega rocker arms, an Edelbrock Performer RPM intake (equalized by Panhandle Performance), and a Holley 650 double-pumper.

Putting this newfound power to the pavement made for a dyno-proven 297 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque on a Dynojet chassis dyno. With a new 8.8 from an '86 GT donor out back, and sporting 4.10 gears with Turbo Coupe rear disc brakes, Jeff has been able to run a best of 12.54 at 110 mph, rowing his Pro-5.0- shifted T5. A Ford Racing Performance Parts aluminum driveshaft keeps things humming instead of shaking.

The RCI five-way harnesses keep Jeff in place, while the Auto Meter gauges and Ford Racing Performance Parts 140 speedo tell him what's happening under the HO Fibertrends cowl hood.

With the engine combination sorted out, Jeff began work on his GT's suspension and brakes. He wanted something he could autocross with but still have suitable for daily driving. No 90/10 front struts here; they'd be unbearable on a road course. Beginning with a set of Suspension Techniques springs, Jeff added Steeda caster/camber plates, BBK urethane bushings, and Monroe Formula GP struts. Front brakes consist of Power Slot rotors with Performance Friction pads. Out back, Jeff used HP Motorsport Mega-Bite Jr. control arms along with the aforementioned shocks, springs, and Turbo Coupe rear-disc kit. To tie together the chassis and help cornering as well as straight-line acceleration, Jeff threw the Kenny Brown catalog at the car, and a Super Street Cage and Super Subframe connectors stuck to it. Dugan Racing is also on board for chassis assistance with its G-load and strut tower braces.

The most intriguing part of the '85 GT's suspension and brake buildup has to be the wheels. During cruising and car-show duties, the car sports ROH Reflexes with Sumitomo rubber. But when it comes to autocrossing, Jeff simply pulls the Diamond Racing wheels wrapped in Kumho tires from his 2x3 utility trailer and bolts them on. Then, when it's time to go drag racing, he swaps the Diamonds for Weld Draglites with ET Streets on 'em. Most interesting of all is the wheels are all still four lugs. When we asked Jeff about it, he said he would love to go with Cobra-sized brakes, but he couldn't afford buying three sets of wheels and tires to make the switch, thus the Power Slot stock-sized rotors up front.

Last on Jeff's "To Do" list was a killer paint job and some body touches. He likes things understated, where people have to take a second look to notice something, so no outrageous tribal flames here. No, what he wanted was a slightly tweaked look. Using an HO Fibertrends 2-inch cowl as a start, Jeff also mixed in some '93 Cobra with a Cobra rear wing and Cobra taillights, and finished off the look with Saleen side skirts and rear spats. The body was completely stripped and refinished in Deep Canyon Red (the original color) using PPG materials, but all graphics and accents were painted burgundy, with a clearcoat applied over everything. No black hood decal to worry about fading here. Inside, Jeff brought the interior up to enjoyable (and safe) standards with '86 SVO seats, '88 door panels and switches, a full set of Auto Meter gauges, RCI five-way harnesses, and a killer Sony stereo with CD-changer and 13 Kicker speakers.

Jeff came up with a low-buck yet effective induction system that utilizes the stock, dual-snorkle air cleaner base (painted to match the body) with a K&N filter and Extreme filter lid.

Jeff uses the car only on weekends and dry days (remember the gravel road and dirt-floor barn) and has other Blue Oval motivation (including four Broncos and a '66 Mercury Cyclone) to get him and his wife around. While he is pleased with the GT, he wants to squeak a bit more power out of it. And, if he can get a swingin' deal on some wheels, he just might go up to those big, 13-inch brakes he's been eyeing.

Jeff has his tire swapping down to a NASCAR-like art with gloves, cordless drill, lug nuts, and center caps all organized for quick work between rounds.

In the meantime, if you're parked next to a gorgeous '85 Mustang GT hatch at a car show, and you see the owner start to jack up his car and pull the wheels off, don't freak out. It's just Jeff getting ready for the next gig.

5.0 TECH SPECS
ENGINE AND DRIVETRAIN
Block Stock, DSS-prepped
Cylinder Heads Edelbrock Performer 6039
Intake Manifold Performer RPM, equalized by Panhandle Performance
Carburetor Holley 650 Double-Pumper
Camshaft AFM N-6
Exhaust MAC equal-length headers, off-road H-pipe, DynoMax mufflers
Fuel Pump Holley Red
Transmission {{{M}}}-7003-X T5
Clutch FRPP King Cobra
Rearend 8.8, FRPP 4.10 gears, Traction-Lok
ELECTRONICS
Ignition MSD 6AL, MSD distributor, and coil
Gauges Auto Meter
SUSPENSION AND CHASSIS
Springs Suspension Techniques
Struts/Shocks Monroe Formula GP
Front Suspension Steeda C/C plates, BBK bushings
Rear Suspension HPM Panhard bar, HPM Mega-Bite Jr. control arms, FRPP HD upper arms
Wheels ROH Reflex 17x8, Diamond Racing 16x8, Weld Draglites 15x8 (15x3 fronts)
Tires Sumitomo, Kumho, and ET Streets
Brakes Power Slot Rotors, Performance Friction pads, Turbo {{{Coupe}}} rear discs, '93 Cobra master cylinder