Dale Amy
June 1, 2004

Horse Sense: Jeff likes DuPont's Imron polyurethane enamel (originally concocted for commercial and heavy-duty vehicles) for its gloss, durability, and chemical resistance-all desirable traits for paint on a black street car.

There are two divergent schools of thought on Mustang modification. The visual school will happily spend all available time and resources painting, plating, preening, and polishing, so as to make theirs the most handsome steed in the corral. The other automotive alma mater gives top-grade points to sheer omnipotent power above all else, and if this excess of energy results in some velocity-induced chips in the paint, or burnout rash on the rear quarters, then so be it, because these are badges of horsepower honor. Thankfully, there's some crossover between these two philosophies, else we wouldn't have many feature cars to fill these pages. But you can usually pick out from which thought-school their owners graduated.

By our reckoning, Jeff Zerbst seems to have spent an equal number of years absorbing the teachings of each school, resulting in his '95 GT having enough Hollywood good looks to take First Place at the massive annual Detroit Autorama show, while still being regularly Motown-driven to the tune of a soul-satisfying, 517 rear-wheel horsepower and 535 lb-ft of torque.

Now, taking a monochrome black, road-going Mustang into the unflattering, flaw-magnifying indoor lighting of Autorama and coming out with the tallest trophy in class is no mean feat. It is testimony to the skills Jeff employs daily at Browny's Auto Body Experts-a shop he shamelessly promotes as "the best place to have your hot rods built and painted in the metro Detroit area." Our photos can't do justice to the laser-straight panels and ocean-deep Imron ebony finish that reflect not only his talent with a paint gun, but also his willingness to spend untold hours in surface prep and wet sanding. The fact that his GT's Cobra R-style fiberglass hood is every bit as die-straight as the surrounding metal is further evidence.

This attention to sheetmetal detail continues underhood, where the inner fender aprons have been shaved and likewise treated to multiple coats of DuPont's glossy finest. You can see that even the distributor cap and alternator are matching gloss black, and that virtually everything aluminum has been polished to a near-chrome appearance. But it's the engine those accessories are appended to that demonstrates Jeff is at least as obsessed with power as with appearances.

It's a fairly good clue that a guy's serious when he starts off with a Ford Racing Performance Parts R302 block and then adds a 3.250-inch Scat 4340 steel crank for 331 ci. And topping Scat's steel H-beam rods with JE forged pistons of a mere 8.4:1 compression is a sure sign the cylinders are about to get a boost, in this case from an intercooled ATI-ProCharger D-1SC blower, pullied for about 11 psi. Heads are O-ringed Canfields, ported by Kinetic Racing Engines (which also assembled the engine) to flow 300 cfm on the intake side and 240 cfm on the exhaust, and are teamed with a likewise-ported Holley SysteMAX II intake combo. Teaching good road manners to the monster fell to Lidio Iacobelli at Alternative Auto Performance, and we suspect Lidio had something to do with the choice of a bank-fired FAST engine management system, with wideband oxygen sensor. What the FAST setup couldn't control, however, was the car's AODE automatic, so a Baumann Engineering "Baumannator" transmission control system was called into duty, along with the same firm's Level 5 shift-improvement kit and a 3,500-stall Precision Industries 10-inch converter.