Tom Wilson
April 1, 2003
Photos By: Courtesy Of BBK

Horse Sense:Originally, Brian Murphy was thinking about keeping his yellow GT on the street and buying a body-in-white to make into a race car. Ultimately, the cost savings of working with an existing car won out.

In the 15 years we've been chronicling Ford performance, we've lost count of project cars that started as bone-stock daily drivers, moved to heavy bolt-on status, then occasional-use fun cars, and finally to trailered race cars. Following the domestic tradition of straight-line performance, nearly every one of these machines traveled from street to strip, their engines gaining power while their chassis lost weight.

But there's another game in town these days, and the yellow '94 GT under inspection here is one of several high-visibility cars marking the definite swing toward that game. The "new" sport is road racing, and while there is,of course, nothing new about it-American cars and drivers have been competing in road races since the invention of the automobile-in the lower-cost, V-8, rear-drive performance segment young men have traditionally cut their automotive teeth on, road racing has become an accepted destination.

Furthermore, this car's owner figures prominently in the equation. He's Brian Murphy, who, along with brother Kenny, owns parts giant BBK. The then tenderly young Murphy brothers started in the performance-automotive world roughly at the same time we did-the major difference being they had the good sense to materially participate by selling Mustang go-fast parts, while we chose to write it all down. The result is their finances are now vastly more capable of supporting their driving-suit fantasies than ours, and their cars are considerably more interesting than anything with our names on the title.

It's also worth noting that Brian could have built any sort of car he desired. That this '94 GT goes around corners as well as blasts down straights is a sure indicator the new game of road racing has arrived. After all, besides indulging his own tastes, Brian has to consider the flagship he builds resonates with his customers.

Naturally, the yellow GT didn't start out looking this way. In the beginning, Brian bought the car as a daily driver for his equally new wife, Tracy. The '94 was then a new- fangled SN-95 Mustang, and part of the plan was Tracy's car would provide important BBK experience with the new body style. As such, successions of bolt-on parts were developed on it, with the 302 eventually succumbing to a 377 Windsor stroker. By 2000, the resulting coverage in Motor Trend and Super Ford magazines helped propel BBK forward, along with highlighting the big Windsor's Edelbrock induction and other technical highlights.

Also by this time, Brian had taken his interest in performance driving to the track. In BBK's Southern California home, robust, Ford-based, open-track action has long been the norm thanks to a rather muscular Cobra Owners Club and its open-track activities. The GT was Brian's logical choice in which to zoom around Willow Springs, and much of the 377's reason for being was to provide the major thrust this high-speed track can absorb. You can imagine that Tracy's involvement with the car had tapered off from its once daily interaction at this point.

But that was comparatively nothing when after five years of open-tracking Brian decided to go American Iron racing with NASA. As Tim Gilpin, who was the project manager over both this and his own American Iron Mustang, noted, when the yellow GT came down to the Brothers' shop for its AI transformation, it did so under its own power. Tracy, we've been told, hasn't seen it since.

Twin Sparco Monaco seats and Crow harnesses are used-so Tracy can still hitch a ride in her old daily driver-all of which looks considerably more stock than a single seat. Of course, the custom blue anodized Auto Meter bioluminescent instruments, clear anodized aluminum interior panels, missing door glass, Lexan rear window, rollbar padding, and other performance accouterments give a fun, racy look the racer in all of us enjoys.

She won't recognize it when she does. With balance and power-to-weight being the key road-racing ingredients, the GT was gutted and nearly every major component replaced. The too-torquey and too-heavy 377 was replaced by a built 331; the interior was removed in favor of a custom 0.120-inch-wall rollcage; and the suspension was replaced by Maximum Motorsports gear. Still, even though the license plates are long gone, Brian's idea was to retain a street-able look while building on a Trans Am car theme.

To that end, the stock dashboard skin remains, although nothing lives underneath it, and the steering-which functionally is a Flaming River manual, 15:1 quick-ratio rack and shaft-is sheathed in a stock-appearing sheet aluminum column.

More attention to the looks department is found on the custom blue powdercoated 17x8-inch Speedware forged wheels (Speedware is BBK's in-house wheel, while yellow with blue is a BBK signature scheme). The tires are the spec 275/40-17 Toyos required under AI rules, while the hood is a genuine Cobra R Ford part. And BBK is working on a custom front splitter, along with a new carbon fiber R wing. Those wheels sit on ARP studs too.

As noted, the tubular-K-membered, torque-armed, Koni-coilovered suspension is full Maximum Motorsports (BBK is a Maximum distributor), with the exception of BBK's own subframe connectors and BBK custom rear lower control arms with Heim joints on the axle side. Braking is via Baer Braking Systems' 13-inch Track kit with two-piston PBR calipers and Hawk pads.

The heads are Edelbrock Victor Jr. units with 60cc chambers and a 2.05x1.60-inch valve package. Naturally, a Performer RPM intake is used, along with a 70mm throttle body; cold-air intake; full-length 131/44-inch ceramic-coated headers; new custom X-type side exit, off-road dual exhausts; and new Bullet-style mufflers-all from BBK.

Under the hood, the 331 uses a 0.030-inch overbored 302 high-nickel block; a forged, internally balanced crank; H-beam rods; Ross forged 11:1 pistons; a Ford Racing Performance Parts X303 camshaft; and Crane 1.6 roller rockers. Oiling is via a Moroso race-sump oil pan, windage tray, and high-volume oil pump.

In front is a March underdrive pulley system. A nice-looking design, it allows using '87-'93 Fox Mustang front engine dress on an SN-95. In front of that, a Fluidyne high-performance oil cooler and radiator shed the heat. Out back, the fuel system starts with a Fuel Safe 22-gallon Cobra R tank and BBK 255-lph fuel pump. That feeds 30-lb/hr injectors at least partially controlled by a Pro-M 75mm mass air meter.

While we don't have dyno numbers on the combination, Brian reports from the single time he's been able to wheel the recently reconfigured car around the track, it feels as expected: lighter over the front axle, with great revving power and maybe not quite the low-rpm torque hit the 377 enjoyed. For smooth, driveable, road-race power that isn't so hard on the rear tires coming off the turns, the 331 certainly fits the bill.

Transmission duty is performed by a Tremec TKO-II five-speed with an 0.84 Fifth gear and a Pro 5.0 shifter. That's a relatively low-geared Fifth, which makes it usable on tracks with long straights. The rear-axle gearing is 3.73:1, and the driveshaft is a custom aluminum unit to accommodate the 1-inch engine setback.

The rigors of road racing require keeping close tabs on vital temps and pressures. A suite of Auto Meter gear helps do just that.

Toss in a few safety items, such as an electrically activated Halon fire system, and account for the American Iron power-to-weight requirement (9.5 lb/hp) and Brian's car passes the scales at just over 3,200 pounds.

So, there you have another eight-year showroom-to-race-track story. Brian did the deed in fine style, and as the car continues to develop BBK parts (look this spring for a new BBK 5.0 EFI intake manifold with air-gap styling, built-in nitrous bosses, and dedicated upper castings for both Fox and SN-95 applications-all at competitive prices), we're more than happy to report the trend.

5.0 Tech Specs

ENGINE AND DRIVETRAIN
Block FRPP 5.0
Cylinder Heads Edelbrock Victor Jr.
Intake Manifold Performer RPM
Camshaft FRPP X303
Power Adder None
Exhaust BBK side-exit X-pipe
Fuel Pump BBK 255 lb/hr
Fuel Injectors 30 lb/hr
Transmission Tremec TKO-II
Rearend 8.8-in, 3.73:1

ELECTRONICS
Engine Management {{{Ford}}} EEC IV, w/chip
Ignition MSD 6A, 10.4mm
  Thundervolt wires
Gauge Auto Meter
SUSPENSION AND CHASSIS
FRONT SUSPENSION
Springs Maximum Motorsports
Struts Koni
Wheels Speedware 17x8-in
Tires Toyo 275/40-17
Brakes Baer Braking Track Kit,
  13-in rotors, two-piston PBR calipers
REAR SUSPENSION
Traction Device Maximum Motorsports, torque arm, Panhard bar
Springs Maximum Motorsports
Shocks Koni
Wheels Speedware 17x8-in
Tires Toyo 275/40-17
Brakes Baer Braking Systems