Michael Johnson Associate Editor
February 1, 2003
Photos By: Steve Turner

Horse Sense: Steve has worked at Trenton Carstar, a paint and body franchise in Trenton, New Jersey, for more than eight years. His talent obviously came in handy during the construction of his '93 LX convertible.

More often than not, a love affair with a Mustang begins after your first ride in one. For Yardley, Pennsylvania, resident Steve Saurman Jr., that first ride must've been a wild one because it was in none other than Wild Bill Devine's Mustang. Steve was a young chap at just 14-and that was 12 years ago-but the car was the same one Bill pedals in Pro 5.0 today. It was a street car then, but it was still plenty wild. Bill is a family friend of the Saurmans. Young Steve, not knowing what he was getting into, says, "I strapped myself in for the ride of my life. I was hooked."

As he approached driving age, Steve searched for the "perfect Mustang." Said perfection came in the form of a '91 LX with a Steeda suspension, a Sony stereo system, and Bazooka bass tubes. "After countless tickets and more time spent in traffic court than driving the car, I sold it," Steve says.

After that first Mustang, he satisfied his need for speed and customizing with a Typhoon and an S-10 lowrider. But a few months without a Mustang was too long. Realizing he needed something that made noise, Steve purchased the '93 LX convertible seen here. The car served daily driver duty until being T-boned, which resulted in extensive damage to the driver's door, the fender, the rocker panel, the quarter-panel, and the convertible top. Even with all that damage, Steve knew he wouldn't sell the car. He soon began "countless nights of bodywork." Good thing that's what he does for a living.

With the damage repaired, Steve researched the brightest hue of Vermillion Red and applied it to the rejuvenated convertible. "For the stripes, I mixed a black with red pearl," he says.

Once the car was looking better than new, the chrome Pony wheels just couldn't keep up. To improve the exterior in a big way, Steve added Cobra R wheels and a Saleen ground-effects kit, including a legendary Saleen wing. The exterior was finished just in time for winter, so Steve took the opportunity to gather parts and adapt more upgrades to the car. First up was a Steeda four-point rollbar and a Global West strut-tower brace. These chassis additions were followed by items aimed at dressing up the inside, such as white-face gauges, Auto Meter Phantom gauges, and a laundry list of interior billet accessories. When all the new stuff made the existing interior components look dated, Steve replaced the factory seats with Corbeau racing seats, a custom back seat, and RJS five-point harnesses.

Although the LX won several show trophies, Steve still had the itch to make the car go fast. With his dad assisting, Steve installed a Cobra intake, GT-40X heads, an Accufab 70mm throttle body, an E303 cam, 24-lb/hr injectors, Ford Racing Performance Parts roller rockers, and March brackets and pulleys. He followed up the performance additions with a complete MAC exhaust consisting of long-tube headers, an off-road H-pipe, and a 3-inch after-cat featuring Flowpath mufflers.

With the newfound power on board, it didn't take long for the stock differential to exit stage left. And, Steve's penchant for modifications meant he couldn't just install a new differential. He had his buddy Jim Swarr install a new Ford Traction-Lok, 4.10 gears, Moser 31-spline axles, a TA cover, and 9-inch ends. "While the rear was out," Steve says, "I decided it was time to make it hook up, so I installed Steeda adjustable uppers, Southside lowers, Eibach springs, Lakewood drag shocks, and airbags." Before he headed back to the track, Steve made sure the LX would stay cool under power by installing a three-core radiator, performance hoses, and a Flex-a-lite Black Magic electric fan.

Of course, with the engine ready to go and the rearend fresh out of the shop, you know what came next. That's right-Steve heard a loud bang when shifting into Third at a Mustang Shootout at Englishtown. That bang signaled the end of the T5 and the hunt for a new tranny. "I debated switching to an automatic for the track," Steve says, "but I enjoy driving a manual on the street. Being strapped for cash, my father helped me out with a Tremec 3550, which was purchased from Wild Bill, who worked at Downs Ford at the time." Of course, once again Steve didn't replace just the broken component-he also added an FRPP heavy-duty clutch and aluminum driveshaft, along with a Steeda firewall adjuster and adjustable cable.

Before the LX found its way back to the road, Steve relocated the battery to the trunk, removed all the wires from the engine bay, and treated the car to new paint. He also removed the Saleen ground effects and installed a Limited Edition wing in place of the Saleen unit. In this form, the car won First Place at the '00 Fords at Englishtown event.

The engine compartment looks fresh out of the paint and chrome shop, and Steve's meticulous detailing has won him several show trophies. But a best time of 12.50 at 108 mph proves it's not all show. We especially like the intake paint treatment, which Steve did as well.

Another winter meant more mods. For his birthday, Steve's fiance, Dee, bought him an Anthony Jones chrome-moly K-member and A-arms. Aerospace brakes found their way onto the front as well. The car made another trip to Coast Chassis to upgrade the four-point cage to an eight-point, which was also connected to the subframe connectors. The exterior changed once again when Steve removed the Cobra R wheels and replaced them with Weld Draglites. He won First Place at the '01 Fords at Englishtown event, made it to the final four of a large bracket race, and took home a victory in another.

Obviously, you can tell Steve has-again-upgraded his convertible's rolling stock in the form of '93 Cobra wheels. He's also added a Nitrous Works adjustable, wet-nitrous kit. And that's just the beginning of several planned mods. It looks like Steve has turned that wild ride into his own wild trip.

5.0 TECH SPECS
ENGINE AND DRIVETRAIN
Block Stock 302
Camshaft FRPP E-303
Heads FRPP {{{GT}}}-40X, FRPP
  1.6 roller rockers
Intake FRPP Cobra, ported lower
Throttle Body Accufab 70mm
Mass Air Pro-{{{M}}} 75mm,
  Tiny {{{Avenger}}} polished inlet tube
Fuel System Walbro 190-lph, FRPP
  24-lb/hr injectors, Paxton billet
  fuel-pressure regulator
Exhaust MAC headers, off-road H-pipe,
  Flowpath mufflers and tailpipes
Power Adder Nitrous Works adjustable nitrous kit
Transmission TTC-Tremec 3550,
  FRPP clutch, Pro-5.0 shifter, Steeda firewall
  adjuster and adjustable clutch cable
Driveshaft FRPP aluminum
Rearend 8.8, 9-in ends, FRPP Traction-Lok,
  Moser 31-spline axles, 4.10 gears, T/A cover

ELECTRONICS
Engine Management Stock, Superchips
  performance chip
Ignition MSD
Gauges Auto Meter Phantom

CHASSIS AND SUSPENSION  
FRONT SUSPENSION  
K-Member Anthony Jones
Struts AFCO coilover, Hotchkis caster/
  camber plates
Springs AFCO
Brakes Aerospace
Wheels '93 Cobra
Tires Bridgestone Potenza 225/45/17
REAR SUSPENSION
Traction Devices Southside Machine
  lowers, Steeda adjustable uppers
Shocks Lakewood
Springs Eibach
Brakes Stock
Wheels '93 Cobra
Tires Nitto Extreme Drag 275/40/17
Chassis Stiffening Coast Chassis
  eight-point cage, Global West subframe
  connectors and strut tower brace,
  Competition Engineering torque link,
  welded torque boxes