Tom Wilson
June 1, 2005

To match the higher power, the Cobra R wheels, and the Cobra-spec PBR brakes all around, a six-speed (then) Borg-Warner T56 transmission went in the car the same time as the 408. The Traction-Lok was replaced with a Gold Track limited slip inside the 8.8-inch Griggs "hybrid" rear axle (uses 9-inch outer ends) that had been fitted earlier.

While the increasingly racy GT still retained its license plates at this point, Paul was clearly thinking of the track environment when he also added a Griggs six-point rollcage and a Fuel Safe Cobra R fuel cell. Curiously, he could never get more than 16 gallons into this supposedly 22-gallon cell. Later, it was changed to a standard Fuel Safe racing cell which did hold 22 gallons.

With nearly twice the stock power rating at the rear tires, more rubber and brakes were clearly necessary. New AFS wheels, 17x9.5-inch in front and 17x10.5-inch in back, were shod with Yokohama 032R rubber measuring 275/45-17 and 315/40-17, respectively. To help hold on to the new rolling stock, Moser Engineering axles with long studs were fitted too. Braking was increased by adding Brembo four-piston calipers and 13-inch rotors to the front.

With his old street car thus transformed, Paul hit the Shelby club and NASA open-track circuits with a vengeance, along with some SCCA Solo II autocrosses. Obviously, it was a whole new animal, one Paul found much more balanced and controllable, especially with the throttle. The power, which a now thoroughly jaded Paul reported as, "not the most horsepower in the world, but the torque started at 2,000 rpm and went all the way to 5,600 rpm. [It was] a nice powerband to work just kept pulling, pulling, pulling." Referring to competitors with more highly strung small-blocks, Paul pointed out, "Others can't use all their rpm, especially on a track like Sears Point. This car would put it down, and just go. The other great thing was you didn't have so many gear changes."

After running the car a short while, Paul added a Griggs front bumper cap with larger fog and radiator openings, a carbon-fiber Griggs hood, an aluminum rear spoiler, and longer rear lower control arms. The longer "World Challenge" control arms required gas-axe surgery to the torque boxes, but gave an adjustable height pivot point and moved the instant center back a little. This gave Paul even better bite on corner exit, and allowed for adjusting that bite somewhat should power-on understeer be an issue.

Another change was swapping to Hydroboosted brakes, which took some engineering to fit in the '94 chassis. It was expensive, says Paul, and in retrospect he'd go with a manual brake system should he do it again, but at the time it gave the firm pedal necessary for track work.

This was when we first saw Paul's car during a visit to Griggs Racing. Turned loose on the street and even with a couple of open-track sessions in it, we found it easy to drive and hugely powerful-toward the knuckle-dragging end of the spectrum as a street car, but able to positively whip the turbo Porsches and Ferraris we lapped during our memorable open-track sessions. In short, it was an awesome piece for the serious enthusiast.

Next, Paul and Bruce decided to make a statement in the inaugural Open Track Challenge-the "Seven Tracks and Seven Best Westerns" week-long event, as the two dubbed it. Running in the Touring class, the car had to be driven all 2,000-plus miles (no trailering). To ensure success, the big Windsor was upgraded to near racing specs.

Opening the engine, which had always performed beautifully, Bruce decided that pump gas wasn't doing the 11:1 engine any good, so the decision was made to run nearly 13:1 compression and 100 octane for driving around and 110 octane on track. The heads were shaved for the compression gain, port-matched, and given a touch of bowl work. The valvetrain was also freshened.