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

Horse Sense: If you're a fan of the click-click clubs, Eric Berman has his own Web site show-casing AOD-equipped Mustangs. "I post lots of information on my car, including news, dyno sheets, videos, latest combos, and pictures," he says. If you'd like to check it out, go to www.clickclickracing.com.

Hardly any of us still own our first Mustang. Whether we wreck it, blow it up, or sell it for college or family, it usually takes owning two or three of these cars before we settle on just the right one. For Eric Berman, it was owning his third Mustang-the '90 GT shown here-that led him to really put the wrenches to it.

Eric's first Mustang was an '87 LX sedan he drove while in high school. He then purchased a new '96 GT, but he thought it was too slow, so he traded that car before buying his '90 GT in the spring of 1999. Of course, he planned to do only a few simple bolt-ons to wake up the car's performance. When he bought the car it was bone-stock, right down to the factory air silencer. "The car had just under 100,000 miles on it," Eric says, "so I was just going to freshen it up a little. Somewhere along the line, I got a little carried away.

"Eric yanked out the tired 5.0 and swapped in a new 306, but he couldn't just put in a new short-block and leave the stock top end in place. "I decided this would be a good time to add a cam, some heads, and an intake," Eric says. The 306 received a Ford Racing Performance Parts E303 camshaft, Edelbrock heads, and a Holley SysteMAX II intake. Eric also decided it was the perfect time to add a Vortech S-Trim supercharger. By the way, did we mention the car came with an AOD transmission? Well, it gave out on its maiden voyage, so Eric replaced it with a TTC Tremec TKO five-speed. When he finally got the car ironed out, he took it over to LaRocca's Performance for a Jimmy Chahalis dyno tune. All of Eric's hard work and Jimmy's tuning prowess paid big dividends when the graph told of 477 hp at the wheels.

Though many GT owners ditch the factory two-tone paint treatment on their cars, Eric chose to accentuate his Mustang's lines by adding a Design Concepts 3-inch cowl-induction hood, a Saleen wing, LX taillights, and a '93 Cobra rear bumper cover. Besides, who has time to do a color change when you're chasing after low 10s anyway?

"At this point," Eric says, "I had no idea there was a lot more to getting a car to go fast than just horsepower. I raced the car for the entire '00 season at every test-and-tune I could attend, and the best I could go was 12.17." Eric knew the car was easily 11-second capable, but he couldn't get the hook required using bald drag radials and a completely stock suspension.

Needless to say, Eric went back to the drawing board. During the winter of 2000, he installed a Level 10-prepped AOD with a Lentech valvebody and an Art Carr 3,200-stall converter. He also addressed his suspension concerns by adding Lakewood 90/10 front struts, four-cylinder springs at every corner, MAC upper and lower control arms, and an airbag in the right rear springs. To make sure the rearend would stay together at his next track outing, Eric beefed up the 8.8 by installing an FRPP 31-spline differential and Moser 31-spline axles. Off came a set of chrome Pony wheels and on went a set of much lighter Weld Draglites, along with a set of Mickey Thompson ET Drag slicks out back in place of the drag radials. For chassis stiffening and safety, Eric had LaRocca's weld in a pair of Global West subframe connectors, while Rhodes Custom Auto installed an eight-point rollbar.

The big news inside this car is the eight-point Rhodes Custom Auto rollcage and vast array of Auto Meter gauges. With the stock AOD shifter in place, Eric may be able to fool some into believing the car's a 14-second poser, but he would surely get the last laugh on that assumption.

Unfortunately, Eric's Newark, Delaware, hometown and surrounding areas were still covered with snow, so he would have to wait until the SuperStallions of the Net Spring Nationals at Cecil County, Maryland, to see the fruits of his labor. However, at the Nats he was rewarded with an 11.5 at 126 mph, and with continued fine-tuning he was able to get the car into the 10.90s by November 2001.

As is the case with most Mustangs up north, Eric's car once again went under the knife during the winter of 2001 with the installation of a Vortech YS-Trim supercharger with a Renegade pulley setup. That upgrade proved unfruitful as, after a few pulls on the dyno, the stock block "split down the middle of the main caps in several places," Eric says. "As a result, I built another 306 to replace the broken one, I upgraded to a Trick Flow Stage II camshaft, and I put the S-Trim back on." So far, Eric has run a best of 10.46 at 130 mph with the new combination that made 524 hp at LaRocca's Performance.

Eric built the car's current 306 around a balanced and blueprinted rotating assembly featuring a turned stock crank, stock rods, TRW pistons, Federal-Mogul rod and main bearings, Speed-Pro rings, and a CAT main girdle. A Trick Flow Stage II cam actuates the valves via Ford Racing Performance Parts roller rockers atop a pair of stock Edelbrock Performer heads. A Holley SysteMAX II intake provides a path for compressed air from a Vortech S-Trim. The new combination has made a best of 524 hp on LaRocca's Performance dyno with Jimmy Chahalis at the tuning helm.

Eric has many people to thank for the car's transformation, but "most importantly," he says, "I have to thank my very understanding wife, Barbara. She never got upset when I spent lots of time in the garage working on the car." Yeah, what about that gas smell in the house?

Being an active SuperStallions of the Net member and moderator, Eric would be remiss not to thank the host of people who've helped him during the buildup of his GT, including fixing it from time to time. Key players include Jimmy Chahalis, Bob Lunner, and friends Darin Croom and Mike Euston. "Mike is responsible for turning me from a checkbook racer into someone who does all his own wrenching," Eric says. "He has been a true mentor."

5.0 Tech Specs

ENGINE AND DRIVETRAIN
Block Stock
Bore 4.030
Stroke 3.00
Displacement 306 ci
Crank Stock
Rods Stock
Pistons TRW Stock Replacement
Cam Trick Flow Stage II
Heads Edelbrock 6037 Performer,
  FRPP roller rockers
Intake Holley SysteMAX II
Throttle Body Accufab 70mm
Mass Air Pro-M 83mm
Fuel System Weldon 2025-A fuel pump,
  Aeromotive pump controller and
  adjustable regulator, Ground Pounder
  fuel rails, MSD 50-lb/hr injectors,
  Rhodes Custom Auto sumped fuel tank
Headers MAC 15¼8-in unequal length
Exhaust MAC Pro-Chamber H-pipe,
  Straightline mufflers, MAC tailpipes
Power Adder Vortech S-Trim,
  Anderson Ford Motorsport Power Pipe, Renegade crank pulley
Transmission Level 10 AOD, Lentech
  Street Terminator valvebody,
  Art Carr 3,200-stall converter
Rearend 8.8, F-150 31-spline differential, Moser axles, 3.55 gears

ELECTRONICS
Engine Management Stock with FRPP
  Extender
Ignition MSD 6AL, Crane PS-91 coil,
  ACCEL {{{300}}}+ plug wires
Gauges Auto Meter
SUSPENSION AND CHASSIS
FRONT SUSPENSION
K-Member Stock
Control Arms Stock
Springs Four-cylinder
Struts Lakewood {{{90}}}/10
Brakes Stock
Wheels Weld Draglite
Tires Pep Boys radial
REAR SUSPENSION
Springs Four-cylinder, airbag in
  right rear spring
Shocks Stock
Traction Devices MAC upper and lower
  control arms
Brakes Stock
Wheels Weld Draglite
Tires Mickey Thompson slicks (track),
  Nitto Extreme drag radials (street)
Chassis Stiffening Rhodes Custom Auto Works eight-point, Global West subframe connectors