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."

Once the car was running again, Jimmy and Jay Harrell helped Tim set up and tune the car. Another friend, Dave Gielow, helped Tim add a Hipster transbrake, a reverse manual valvebody, an Art Carr 5,500-stall converter, and a Performance Automatic C4 upgrade kit. With its new combination, the car came off the trailer to the tune of consistent 6.60s in the eighth-mile and 10.60s in the quarter.

The car was still ugly, however. Because Tim wanted the car to look as good as it ran, he approached John Dempsey of JD's Paint and Body in Mulberry, Florida. Tim and John worked together on a scheme to really make the car stand out. The two-stage paint consists of a Mineral Gray over black with a spider web-type treatment to break up the two colors. "The result turned out better than I ever imagined," Tim says.

Being that Tim is a Lakeland local, the 5.0&SF staff see him and his car all the time. We know firsthand it turns heads and garners a lot of attention, especially when he cranks it up.

Block 351W
Displacement 362 ci
Rotating Assembly Stock crankshaft,
shot-peened and polished truck rods,
Keith Black hypereutectic pistons,
Total Seal rings
Camshaft Doug Herbert solid-roller cam
and lifters
Heads Edelbrock Victor Jr,
2.05/1.60 valves, Trick Flow 1.7 roller
rockers, Doug Herbert valvesprings
Intake Edelbrock Super Victor
Carburetor Holley 1050 Dominator
Fuel System Holley Blue fuel pump,
1¼2-in lines, Holley regulator
Exhaust BBK 17¼8-in long-tube headers
Transmission Performance Automatic C4,
Art Carr 5,500-stall converter, Hipster
transbrake, Cheetah reverse-pattern shifter
Rearend 8.8, Moser spool and
31-spline axles, Ford Racing Performance Parts 4.88 gears

Ignition MSD 7AL-2, MSD
billet distributor, MSD Blaster coil and
plug wires, Autolite plugs
Gauges Auto Meter

Front Suspension
K-Member Stock
Control Arms Stock
Springs Steeda coilover
Struts Lakewood 70/30
Caster/Camber UPR
Brakes ’88 {{{GT}}}, Raybestos pads
Wheels Weld Racing Draglite 15x3.5
Tires Mickey Thompson Sportsman
Rear Suspension
Springs Eibach Drag
Shocks Lakewood 50/50
Control Arms Southside Machine upper
and lower control arms
Brakes Stock
Wheels Weld Racing Draglites
Tires Mickey Thompson E/T Drags 28x10.5
Cage Chassis Engineering eight-point
Chassis Stiffening Chassis Engineering
subframe connectors and motor plate