February 1, 2005

We find the majority of 5.0 Mustang & Super Fords feature cars at events all across America and, periodically, across the pond. This requires us to get on any number of planes to our intended destination, eat our pretzels and drink Cokes en route, hop in a piece of crap rental car, and hope we don't make a wrong turn in Philly or some other possibly dangerous locale. We do all this so we can cover the latest NMRA event and track down the baddest Mustangs on the planet. Of course, we love doing it, but when we're able to find a feature car right around the corner from our Lakeland, Florida, offices, it makes it that much easier to stay on top of our daily deadline requirements (or not-shut it, Turner, and you, too, Houlahan).

The feature car in question is Tim Melnick's '79 Mustang, which as you can see has been transformed into an '87-up GT. Tim lives so close to our offices that if we walked outside we could probably hear his car.

In the late '90s, Tim and his family moved from Pennsylvania to Florida. Have you seen those classified ads that read "Moving, must sell"? Well, in order to afford the move, that became the fate of Tim's '86 GT. "We agreed that when we were financially able, we would purchase another Mustang," he says.

Once settled in to his new locale, it didn't take long for Tim to feel the need for speed. "We began watching the classified ads in the local newspaper," he says. "We came upon one for an '87 LX hatch for sale, and I purchased the car." But as quick as Tim was to snag the Mustang, it turned out the lady sold the car unbeknownst to her husband-so guess what, Tim had to sell the car back. Well, he probably didn't have to, but Tim's a good guy, so he did what was right.

Hoping to track down another Mustang, Tim and his wife, Tammy, took a jaunt out to the local eighth-mile dragstrip, Lakeland Motorsports Park. Back in the day, it was a quarter-mile track raced by the likes of Big Daddy Don Garlits, but due to property issues, it was shortened to eighth-mile-only competition. (If you wanna know where all the Fox coupes went, just go to Lakeland's Thursday night test-and-tune session. It seems as if all of them are there.)

It was there that Tim and Tammy met Adam and Cindy Coppersmith, who were racing a Mustang. Tim told Adam the difficulty he was having in tracking down a nice project car. "[Adam] told me about a '79 rolling chassis that he had," Tim says. The roller had new wheels, tires, and a cage. Tim scarfed up the car, and Adam volunteered to help track down the parts necessary to get the car running, which took the boys a year to do.

The first 351 Windsor engine and C4 transmission fired up on September 11, 2001-obviously a day Tim, and all of America, will never forget. But thanks to regular trips to Lakeland Motorsports Park, that engine lasted about as long as it took to find out who was responsible for bringing terrorism to American soil.

To make sure the second engine would last longer, Tim went back to the drawing board for the next, and current, engine combo. He stayed the Windsor course, but this time the block was bored 0.060 over for a total of 362 ci. Tim used the stock crank, but he utilized a set of shot-peened, then polished, truck connecting rods. He finished the rotating assembly with Keith Black hypereutectic pistons with Total Seal rings. To cap off the short-block, Tim slid in a Doug Herbert solid-roller cam with matching lifters and valvetrain.

As a present for the short-block, Tim topped it off with ported Edelbrock Victor Jr. heads and a Super Victor intake. "The only thing we needed was a carburetor," Tim says. "We took a trip to the local swap meet and found an almost new Holley Dominator 1050 for an incredible price."