Eric English
August 1, 2004
Photos By: Michael Johnson

For some automotive enthusiasts, interest in the genre is a slow progression into what might be described as an addiction or disease. If the shoe fits, so be it. For Towson, Maryland, resident Adam Browne, the malady was spawned by a single event that's forever etched in his mind.

It was 1996 and Adam was in his senior year of high school. The event was a first ride in Christopher Thomas' lightly modified '87 5.0. The 13-second-capable GT made quite an impression on the obviously impressionable Adam. Said experience came in the rear seat of Christopher's car, where each power shift got Adam's attention as he racked his skull on the unforgiving back glass. "I was hooked," Adam says. Now if you're inclined to think the 18-year-old was knocked senseless by a mild concussion, take a look at the '86 GT shown here. On the contrary, it would seem Adam's cranial insult knocked plenty of good sense into him.

Shortly after that fateful ride, Adam talked his parents into the small loan that made ownership of this GT a reality. No longer relegated to ride-along duty, he wasted no time learning the tricks of the trade at the local dragstrip, turning ho-hum 15s with a high-mile engine and woeful 2.73s out back. It was a start. On the ultracheap, a set of E7TE heads and matching intake soon replaced the sub-par offerings that were original '86 issue. Before installing the heads, Adam took a shot at his first porting effort after some sage pointers from other 5.0 devotees, and the e.t.'s picked up significantly.

By 1998, Adam was attending college, while the '86 served up commuter duty to the tune of some 600 miles a week. Eventually the engine began using large quantities of oil, whereupon it was replaced by a slightly freshened '88 short-block, followed by the fitting of a GT-40 intake, long-tube headers, and a few other bits and pieces that typically wake up our beloved V-8 Mustangs. Still plenty streetable, the mods made track time a real joy now-with high 12s and 108 mph on radials. The intervening years have seen further additions to the same '88 foundation, largely in the form of aluminum GT-40 heads, a B303 cam, and a Holley SysteMAX II intake. Fuel is delivered by a Walbro 190-lph pump to 30-lb/hr injectors, where it merges with the atmosphere delivered through a Pro-M 77mm air meter and BBK 75mm throttle body.

For further enhanced straight-line performance, Adam recently upgraded from 3.55 to 4.10 gears in the 8.8, fitting a new Traction-Lok diff and 31-spline axles at the same time. Similar beefing is found in the tranny tunnel, where a Tremec 3550 now runs the show with input from a Hurst billet shifter. Adam continues to gauge his performance progress at Cecil County Dragway, often accompanied by fellow Mustangers Mike McNew, Bryan Jeunette, Shawn Cooper, and Mary Hryncewich-most of whom have lent a helping hand on more than one occasion. To date, Adam says the GT has run a best of 12.2 at 114 mph on street radials, and 11.77 on slicks-with 1.85 and 1.66 short times, respectively.

Because his car remains daily driven, Adam has seen fit to make sure the chassis can do more than track straight down the 1,320. To that end, a wrecked '93 Cobra was scavenged for a multitude of front-end components, such as spindles, springs, control arms, and sway bar. The spindles were required to fit larger 11-inch front brakes from the '87-'93 cars, which in this case were upgraded to a five-lug configuration using Lincoln Mark VII rotors. Out back, the new axles were ordered with the same bolt pattern and fitted with Ford Racing Performance Parts drums, while the suspension upgrades amount to FRPP springs and Maximum Motorsports lower control arms.

A pleasing visual appearance comes as the result of an inattentive driver who sideswiped the left side of the GT in 1999. Making the best of the mishap, a body-shop acquaintance of Adam's was able to slide in the repair on the side, resulting in a full paint job as well. Many thanks go out to Bob's Complete Autobody for said effort, where a Mitsubishi silver is the basis for the sweet looks, followed by blue pearl and three layers of clearcoat.

While the tone of this feature is rightfully upbeat and positive, there is some sad news to share regarding Adam's journey through ponycar ownership. In 1988 Christopher Thomas, the mentor who first gave Adam a lesson in 5.0 performance, was killed in a non-automotive-related incident. Adam and friends continue to feel the loss of Christopher's spirit and companionship. It's a reminder that the good things in life-the pleasure we derive from our Mustangs being just one example-ought not be taken for granted. Adam has learned this lesson firsthand. He realizes it wasn't just a guy's car that made a lasting impression on him, it was also a friend who will always be honored and remembered.

Block Stock
Displacement 302 ci
Cylinder Heads FRPP {{{GT}}}-40 aluminum
Camshaft FRPP B303
Intake Manifold Holley SysteMAX II
Throttle Body BBK 75mm
Mass Air Meter Pro-{{{M}}} 77mm
Exhaust BBK long-tubes, BBK
H-pipe, MAC after-cat
Fuel System Walbro 190-lph pump,
30-lb injectors, Crane adjustable regulator
Transmission Tremec 3550 w/Hurst
billet shifter
Rearend Traction-Lok–equipped 8.8
w/4.10 gears, 31-spline axles
Engine Management Stock A9L EEC IV
Ignition Stock
Gauges Stock
K-Member Stock
A-Arms ’93 Cobra
Springs ’93 Cobra
Struts ’93 Cobra
Wheels FRPP Bullitt 17x8
Tires Michelin {{{Pilot}}}
Brakes {{{Lincoln Mark VII}}} front rotors
Springs FRPP C
Shocks '93 Cobra
Traction Devices Maximum
Motorsports lower control arms
Wheels FRPP Bullitt 17x8
Tires Michelin Pilot
Brakes Five-lug rear drums
Chassis Stiffening Kenny Brown
subframe connectors, welded torque boxes