Michael Johnson
Technical Editor
October 1, 2002
The body of John's GT is modified with a fresh coat of paint, a Cervini's ram-air hood up front, and a Saleen wing out back. The only other mod was opening up the front bumper cover to allow more air to hit the radiator and oil cooler to aid cooling.

Horse Sense: The alternator on John's car came off a '91 Taurus with a 3.8 V-6. "It works fantastic," John says, "especially at the screamin' price of $15." The electric fan is from a '95 GT and is wired through high and low relays from a '91 Trans Am. "A little radiator welding and you're in business," John says. "Isn't that what hot rodding is all about?"

We first came to know John Piskopos after many trips to Idle Wild Racing [(727) 507-9453, www.idlewildracing.com] in Largo, Florida. If you've read 5.0&SF for any length of time, you know we've done tech stories at Idle Wild, with John usually the one turning the wrenches. There are a few things about John that you notice soon after meeting him. The first is that he kinda looks like the character Joey Tribiani (Matt LeBlanc in real life) on Friends. The second is that he's crazier than a runover dog and barely makes sense when you're trying to carry on a normal conversation with him. The third-but certainly not the least-is the boy knows how to work on Mustangs, plain and simple.

John will take what might be a difficult job to most-such as installing long-tube headers on a Four-Valve Cobra-and work until he's able to find a shortcut. A lot of guys would rather eat whatever's on the Fear Factor menu-twice-than put long-tubes on a Four-Valve Cobra. But now that John has figured out an easier method, he welcomes the task with open arms. Heater-core replacement on an SN-95? John says he'll do them all day long for a measly sum (although he says heater cores on an SN-95 are easier to replace than on a Fox Mustang). His knowledge of everything Mustang is boundless. If you've been thinking of trying a certain component on a Mustang, he's probably already tried it. And he's probably tried it on his '87 GT, which is featured here.

"It all started back in 1987 after performing a mild tune-up on a friend's car," John says. "After one test drive, I said, 'One day I'm going to build one and it will be fast, it will handle, and brake well'-unlike this '83 GT." Fast forward to 1994. John spots this GT and buys it the next day. "A week later, so much for the 39K virgin," John says. "I just wanted to build a fun street car."

At the time, John was working at Charlie's Mustangs in San Jose, Cali-fornia. With help from Charlie Bruno and Vince Rosengren, the GT was soon flying around road courses at breakneck speed, with John loving every minute of it. After attending open-track events-basically test-and-tune road-race events-John couldn't resist the next level of improvements. "See ya, 302- hello, stroker," John says. "Ouch-sorry, Mr. Wallet."

John later moved to Florida and started working at Idle Wild Racing. "Just when you think you have the horsepower thing in the bag, along comes Dan Flowers, the horsepower guru at Idle Wild," John says. Dan suggested the addition of ported Edelbrock Victor Jr. heads, a Trick Flow Track intake, and a Cam Motion mechanical-roller cam. Installing these parts onto the existing A4 block provided John with 365 hp and 375 lb-ft of torque.

Of course, all this power makes for a lot of noise on the street. John is often asked what the car will do in the quarter-mile. "A lot of tire smoke," he responds. "But wait-if that quarter-mile is the entrance to the road course, well, now we're talking." We told you he didn't make much sense.

Kirkey seats provide ample support to keep John and a passenger firmly planted, even in the most wicked turns. To keep him notified of what's going on, John has several Auto Meter gauges, an air/fuel ratio meter, an air adjuster, and a Wilwood adjustable proportioning valve to control braking tendencies.

Oil's Well
John provided us with a sneak peek into what he believes is the most important part of a road-race car-the oiling system. Try to follow along.

"All road racers must pay special attention to their oiling system. After attending various track events, I noticed the oil pressure tends to drop off on a hard right turn and on straight-line acceleration. After trying several remedies, here's what works for me.

1. A high-volume Melling oil pump (blueprinted, of course) with a heavy-duty shaft and a Moroso oil-pump relief valve spring from a 351 Cleveland.

2. A NASCAR-style Fluidyne oil cooler capable of dispersing 100,000 BTUs of heat (I found out you never skimp on the quality of your oil cooler).

3. Good-quality oil. I've tried many, and I think the best performer is Kendall GT-1 20-50.

4. Canton's Accusump will send accumulated oil under pressure back into the engine in the event of a pressure drop. This is especially handy in hard turns and straight-line acceleration.

5. A good, purpose-built oil pan."



The current engine is based around a 347 stroker kit utilizing an A4 block that's been bored 0.030 over and filled with a Scat 3.40 crank, Crower rods, Ross pistons, and a Cam Motion mechanical-roller cam. Edelbrock Victor Jr. heads and a Trick Flow Track intake top off the built A4. The heads were ported at John's place of employment, Idle Wild Racing. To prove the 347 is more than a pretty face, John tested its worth on TuneTech Diagnostics' Dynojet. The stroker made 365 hp and 375 lb-ft of torque. John may be most proud of his latest addition-a Canton Accusump.

5.0 Tech specs

ENGINE AND DRIVETRAIN
Block A4
Bore 4.030
Stroke 3.40
Displacement 347 ci
Crank Scat steel
Rods Crower
Pistons Ross
Cam Cam Motion mechanical roller
Heads Edelbrock Victor Jr., Idle Wild Racing-ported
Intake Trick Flow Track
Throttle Body BBK 75mm
Mass Air Meter Pro-M 77mm
Exhaust BBK 13¼4 long-tubes, Idle Wild Racingcustom 3-in X-pipe,turbo mufflers
Transmission T5 five-speed, Hurst shifter, Ford RacingPerformance PartsKing Cobra clutch
Rearend 8.8, TA cover, truck differential, FRPP3.73 gears, Strange31-spline axles

ELECTRONICS
Fuel Management Stock A9L, FRPP Extender
Ignition MSD 6AL
Gauges Auto Meter
SUSPENSION AND CHASSIS
FRONT SUSPENSION
K-Member Stock
Control Arms Stock with Global WestDel-a-lum bushings
Sway Bar Suspension Techniques 13¼8-in
Springs Griggs 450 lb-in coilovers
Struts Koni Yellows
Brakes Wilwood 12-in Road Race kit
Wheels Factory 16-in Ponys
Tires Kuhmo V700 Victor RacerRear Suspension
Springs Saleen 250 lb-in
Shocks Koni Yellows
Rear Suspension Edelbrock lowers,boxed stock uppers
Sway Bar Suspension Techniques 1-in
Brakes Wilwood 12-in Road Race kit
Wheels Factory 16-in Ponys
Tires Kuhmo V700 Victor Racer
Chassis Stiffening Global West inner and outer subframeconnectors, withlateral bracing,welded-up torque boxes
Rollcage Custom-built by Charlie Bruno andJohn Piskopos