Michael Johnson
Associate Editor, 5.0 Mustangs & Super Fords
June 1, 2005

There's probably not a person reading this magazine who thinks his Mustang is strictly a point A to point B vehicle. You'll probably never hear the words Mustang and appliance in the same sentence. Yet, many people think of their vehicle as exactly that, just an appliance to get them through life like it was made by Maytag or something. When we buy a Mustang, it's because we want to modify it. We want to add gears, pulleys, exhaust, and then heads, a cam, and an intake. Then, if we're so inclined a blower, turbo, or nitrous wouldn't hurt, either. When it comes to Mustangs, we don't see an appliance, we see goals of what we want to accomplish with the car. Most of the goals we set for our Mustangs are performance-related, and Summerhill, Pennsylvania's, Mike Riva definitely speaks the language.

Mike wasn't always reading the right book, though. He used to own a '77 Corvette. As editors of 5.0&SF, we've never really fallen into the trap of dissin' other makes, but like the Mustang, the Corvette wasn't exactly setting the world on fire during the mid-'70s. However, it definitely deserves a ton of respect for weathering the storm to arrive at the excellent car that it is today. Even so, the Vette was what got Mike into drag racing, if you want to call running 15.8s at 88 mph racing. Mike thought that was pretty good, but many a Mustang were handing him his tail, including that of his son Paul. "I told my wife and son that I was going to get a Mustang," Mike says.

Coming to his senses, Mike first started looking at '93 Cobras because he admired the looks and performance of the car. "Our search was fruitless," Mike says. His son Paul did find a potential candidate in a '91 GT. "Who can resist taking a Mustang for a test drive," Mike says. Mike purchased the car immediately. "That's when all the fun and headaches began," Mike adds. When Mike bought the car he just about drove himself crazy deciding what to do first and how to do it correctly.

First things first, Mike took the car to the track where he ran a 14.6 at 94 mph. "That was faster than my hero-car Corvette," Mike says. At that moment, Mike's love for Mustangs set in. Obviously, the 14.6s were just the beginning. "It felt great, but that just wasn't fast enough, and you all know the need for more speed," Mike says. Closely following the car's track debut, Mike outfitted the car with 3.55 gears, a Bassani X-pipe, Borla mufflers with turndowns, ASP underdrive pulleys, a MAC cold-air induction, Competition Engineering subframe connectors, and Mickey Thompson Sportsman Pro tires out back. Oh yeah, he also bumped the timing, as well.

Those improvements dropped the GT into the 13-second zone with a 13.6 at 99 mph. Sure, Mike thought the car still felt great going down the track, but he wondered what it would feel like to run 11s so from there on out, that was the goal.

Wanting to use a different combination than that of his son Paul and nephew Matt, Mike decided to go with Holley's SysteMAX II heads, cam, and intake package. To go along with the SysteMAX kit, Mike also added a C&L Performance 76mm throttle body, 30-lb/hr injectors, and a Walbro 255-lph in-tank fuel pump. Mike also swapped out the 3.55 gears for 3.73s, and he improved shifting duties by adding a Ford Racing Performance Parts heavy-duty clutch and a Pro-5.0 shifter. Mike also added the second love of his life, Mickey Thompson ET Streets for even more traction than offered by the Sportsman Pros. These additions knocked a full second off Mike's quarter-mile times, along with 8 mph. For those around our Central Florida region and those in Tennessee and Kentucky, that means Mike's GT was running 12.6s at 107 mph.