September 1, 2003
John Stubinger (second from left), his son Mike (third from left), and friends.

Horse Sense: According to John, the Titanium Frost Metallic clearcoat paint on this '91 LX notchback was a one-year color. Whether it was or not, it remains one of the most sought-after colors on a used 5.0.

In the summer of 1991, John Stubinger, a tool-and-die repairman from Rochester, New York, walked into his local Ford dealership and did something that would change his life forever. His son Mike was just about ready to start driving, and, as many dads do to get closer to their sons, John was looking for something in which the two could become involved. You've probably already guessed that John bought a brand-new 5.0 Mustang-the titanium beauty you see here. It was the family's first Mustang, and through the years John and Mike have spent time and money improving the performance of the potent notchback.

To this day, John has never driven the Mustang on the track. He's left that up to Mike. John's responsibility is to make the car perform up to its potential.

"Nope, I've never driven it on the racetrack," John says. "In fact, Mike learned to drive in this car. We'd be out in it, and the cops would pull us over just to look at it. He never got a ticket-they just wanted to see the car."

The nice stance of the car comes courtesy of an Eibach Drag Launch spring kit (with the airbag in the right rear spring to account for preload), Lakewood 70/30 struts in the front and 50/50 units at the rear, and boxed FRPP upper control arms and HP Motorsport Mega-Bite Jr. lower control arms. Mickey Thompson front-runners and 26x10.5-inch ET Drag slicks provide the stick for 1.40 short times. The FRPP aluminum driveshaft spins a Strange spool, FRPP 4.10 gears, and Moser 31-spline race axles with C-clip eliminators. John made sure the car would stop within the given shutdown area at their local track (New York International Raceway Park in Leicester, New York) by adding heavy-duty Bendix pads to the stock calipers.

When the LX was bone stock, circa 1991, it was good for 14.30s. That's a fast car in anyone's book, and Mike began competing in high-school bracket races. He won his first attempt, and the father-and-son team began thinking about what they could do to make the car that much more formidable on the track. Of course, reading 5.0&SF helped plot their course to dragstrip immortality.

The parts that soon followed read like a who's-who list of bolt-ons and parts supply houses. Once the peripheral options were exhausted, the Stubingers looked to the inside of the small-block Ford for more performance. They got serious with Edelbrock heads and an intake. When the bottom end needed to be rebuilt from one too many blasts of N2O, they enlisted the help of Jon Bennett to choose the right camshaft for their nitrous application. They soon realized all the parts and hard work were beginning to pay off. By the late '90s, Mike was digging into the coveted 10-second zone. To this day, there are few cars in Rochester that will put up a fight against this LX.

Inside you'll find most of the stock components are still present and functional-nice! John kept his gauge selection to nitrous and fuel-pressure units. Pro Engineering's Joe Musso and Dan Bush bent up the mild-steel, eight-point rollbar. It keeps the car stiff during application of power on the starting line as well as provides a nice margin of safety should the car go "dirty side up." That Winter's shifter poking through the floor was installed by Steve LeFrois and is attached to a Performance Automatic C4 transmission with all the hardened guts. Performance Automatic also supplied the Stubingers with an 8-inch torque converter that stalls to 5,000 rpm on the sauce.

With the five-speed still in the car, Mike crushed the gears to a 10.87, but the consistency just wasn't there. He was competing in the local MOM's Racing Shootout as well as in irregular bracket-race appearances, so it was important the car run well on every pass. With the amount of juice that was slamming through this thing (200 hp worth with an NOS Big Shot system), the car had to be consistent so John could focus on the plugs, the fuel pressure, and the nitrous tune-up in general. So he called Performance Automatic, and a C4 automatic made its way into the family truckster. Mike then blasted off an impressive 10.6-second e.t. at more than 127 mph with the 3,300-pound notch.

These days, all is well with the Stubinger family and their 24,000-mile sedan. John is happy with the performance, and Mike has a killer ride. There is some talk, however, of the next addition to this car. John is leaning toward a 331-inch Sportsman short-block that can take the pounding of a big supercharger. Mike is looking forward to the nine-second zone and an NHRA Competition License. With this father-and-son team, there's no telling how fast they'll go.