Michael Johnson
Associate Editor, 5.0 Mustangs & Super Fords
June 1, 2005
Photos By: Dale Amy

But, JC found that you can only attend so many cruise nights before you find yourself at a light next to someone wanting to clear the carbon from the chambers, and at your expense. "I could only restrain myself for so long and soon found myself in pursuit of more power," he says. After learning lessons on his '85 GT, JC had a plan to start at the front with a new engine, then work his way back. He purchased a D.S.S. 358ci Windsor short-block, and then added Edelbrock Performer RPM heads with matching intake, a custom-grind Comp Cams camshaft, a C&R Racing aluminum radiator, and all the necessary 351-to-Fox-body conversion parts from Ford Racing Performance Parts. ASSC Racing in Lake Bluff, Illinois, handled the installation of the Windsor into the convertible. "It would not be the last time they [ASSC Racing] would see it in their shop," JC adds.

The list of parts that followed is a who's-who of the Mustang aftermarket. A TTC-Tremec TKO found a home in the tunnel with a McLeod clutch and scattershield. Hooker long-tube headers and Aero Chamber mufflers belch out the Windsor's raucous tunes. A call to Racecraft (Mark Wilkinson) landed a tubular K-member and front control arms. Chassis Engineering subframe connectors, upper and lower control arms, an antiroll bar, and a VRN Welding and Fabrication-installed S&W six-point rollcage makes sure JC's convertible stays tight. An Aeromotive fuel system feeds the hungry Windsor, while MSD, ACCEL, and NGK ignition components work together to light the fire.

Of course, since he is Assistant Sales Manager at Strange Engineering, JC would be remiss to mention all the Strange components on the car. JC's dropper features a Strange 9-inch rear housing with a Detroit Locker, a U.S. Gear 3.89 gearset, and Strange 31-spline axles. A Strange chrome-moly driveshaft connects the TKO to the 9-inch out back, while Strange single-adjustable coilover struts with corresponding shocks out back absorb the bumps. Hypercoil springs reside at each corner, while Strange four-piston calipers at all four corners bring all the madness to a halt.

With the upgraded brakes, JC needed new wheels, too. A phone call to Weld Racing yielded a set of KC Stars for the street and Alumastar wheels (big and littles) for track outings. Dunlop treads encase the KC Stars, while Goodyear Front Runners reside up front with Mickey Thompson E/T Drag slicks out back for maximum traction at the track.

For a power adder, JC talked to his buddy Jim Summers, who easily talked him into adding an ATI-ProCharger D-1SC supercharger with a three-core intercooler. "Since I drive the car using pump gas, the boost is limited to 12 pounds," JC says. After all, with all this work into the car, who would want to blow it up? To ensure that wouldn't happen, he again turned to ASSC and Larry Stauner for the installation and tuning of a FAST engine management system. "He [Larry] witnessed my wiring ability once and made me promise not to touch another wire on the car," JC jokes. "Larry at ASSC has had the car in the shop many times working out the bugs and has done a terrific job of tuning the car as well." At the '04 NMRA Joliet race, JC took advantage of the on-site Dynojet, where the car made 506 hp and 496 lb-ft of torque.

With all the relationships JC has made during the buildup of his convertible, the most important is the one he has with his son, Nick. "He is an important part of this car," JC says. Nick even made JC promise to keep the car until he is old enough to drive it, which will be quite a few years since Nick is only six years old at this writing. "He [Nick] is my assistant when I am working on the car and he has every interest in cars that a gearhead dad could hope for. I could not have dedicated so much of my time into this car if he wasn't interested in it." The car's license plate even reads "NX DADDY," which stands for Nick's daddy.