Michael Johnson
Associate Editor, 5.0 Mustangs & Super Fords
August 1, 2004
Photos By: Steve Turner

The story of Tim Matherly's NMRA Real Street Mustang is not an uncommon tale. A shop performs upgrades on a customer's Mustang. Then the owner of the car runs into some sort of financial trouble and needs to sell said car quickly. Familiar with the car's mechanical background and knowing the upgrades performed, the shop owner buys said Mustang and finishes the work. If you've been around Mustangs for any length of time, you've heard this scenario before.

Tim's NMRA Real Street '01 Bullitt Mustang started out as a body-in-white. Originally, Parkway Ford performance parts specialist Joe Charles purchased the car from Roush for a turbo-charged Two-Valve project destined for modular competition. Joe, already an MV Performance customer, took the car to co-owner Tim Matherly's Statham, Georgia, shop for the transformation. There, Tim's business partner, Kainnon Vilminot, installed a rollcage and subframe connectors. But shortly after beginning the car's ride to modular glory, Joe needed to downsize his automotive occupation. Guess who stepped up to help Joe out of his predicament? You got it-Tim.

Tim immediately sent the body to Cook's Custom Paint in Chilhowie, Virginia, for the signature Tim Matherly scallop-type paint scheme. Tim's old coupe that he raced back in the day served as the template for the paint scheme.

With the body and paint done, it was time for Tim to decide what to do with the car. "I found interest in the NMRA's Real Street class because it related pretty much to what we do for our customers on a daily basis," Tim says. And since 5.0 Mustang & Super Fords sponsors Real Street, Tim knew he would receive a lot of press with the car. From the outset, Tim thought he would be at a disadvantage compared to the pushrod cars with which he would be competing. "Considering the rules and the lack of aftermarket Two-Valve modular parts," Tim says, "I knew I would have to rely on my knowledge of the modular engine and my tuning ability."

Tim began putting together the combination he felt would be competitive with the pushrod cars. Drawing from his modular experience, he started with an aluminum 4.6 block, added a Cobra crank, and sourced ModMax Racing for its rods, pistons, and piston rings. With the only heads available and legal for modular applications being OEM and Ford Racing Performance Parts pieces, Tim chose '99-up PI heads with stock cams, ModMax valvesprings and valves, and a Bullitt intake. The ModMax valvetrain allows Tim to rev the Two-Valve into the stratosphere to get the most out of the ATI-ProCharger P-1SC2 supercharger. To get the air out of the engine as fast as it entered, Tim chose FRPP headers, a Bassani X-pipe, and Magna-Flow mufflers with dumps.

Tim made his Real Street debut at the '03 NMRA World Finals at Beech Bend Raceway in Bowling Green, Kentucky. Although he didn't make it out of qualifying before hurting vital parts and ending his day, a 10.14 at 133 mph might as well have been the shot heard 'round the world. Adding fuel to the fire prior to the '04 NMRA Bradenton opener was a rumor that Tim had run 9.60s at 140 mph in testing. Adding even more hype was that prior to the race many an Internet rambling had Tim qualifying at the top and winning Real Street at Bradenton. Tim knows nothing about those numbers, but he did have a set of Four-Valve heads he tested on his Real Street short-block, and he didn't even run those numbers with those heads on the car. The Four-Valve-head test session was to help show the NMRA how to make the modular cars more competitive with the pushrod cars.