Eric English
July 1, 2005
Photos By: Michael Johnson

You're looking at the last of a breed-the '93 Fox-body 5.0. By the time the '87-'93 run came to an end, we had seven years of experience with a virtually unchanged package, and recognized these cars as something extra-special even on the eve of another Mustang evolution. The years have done little to change our mindset, but whenever we have occasion to critique these car's occasional weaknesses (brakes anybody?), we remind ourselves of just how little they cost to begin with. While the old adage "you don't get something for nothing" is almost universally true, in the case of the '87-'93 Mustang, buyers did get great performance and unlimited potential for a low, low price. Was it the era's best bang for the buck? You'd better believe it.

Eric Rihlmann is a 21-year-old graphic designer with a desire to get an even bigger bang for his buck when it comes to his Mustang. We admire the philosophy of doing more with less no matter the reason-which can range from limited budgets to a simple personal challenge. Eric knows any number of guys whose late-model Mustangs are running 12-second quarters with plenty of bolt-ons-including various power adders. But while "whatever gets it done" may be the motto of many, Eric wanted to nail the number while leaving the engine as stock as possible. Once assured there's nothing hidden within, you can see from our photos that the mission has been accomplished. In reality, the 77,000-mile long-block has never been cracked, and gets only a modest power boost from its underdrive pulleys, equal-length headers, and Pro-M mass air.

While the engine is virtually untouched, the peripherals admittedly feature a number of carefully chosen aftermarket components. Fact is, it would be nearly impossible to tickle the 12s with an all-stock '93, and as the saying goes, "the devil's in the details." In this case, such details include a full exhaust behind the ceramic-coated Bassani short-tubes, including a Flowtech X-pipe, Borla mufflers, and DynoMax 2-1/4-inch tailpipes. Plenty of juice comes from a Walbro 255-lph pump, optimized by nothing more than Aeromotive's adjustable regulator.

With frequent dragstrip launches on sticky tires as an invitation for breakage, Eric has avoided starting line maladies with some prudent beefing. An FRPP clutch and pressure plate direct the power through a stock T5, aided by a slick shifting Pro 5.0 lever. From there, an FRPP aluminum driveshaft connects to the most modified item on the whole car-the 8.8-inch rear. Knowing he'd gain both reliability and performance by gutting the original housing, Eric replaced the internals with an Eaton Posi, Superior 31-spline axles, a 3.73 gearset, and buttoned it up with a Trick Flow girdle/cover. While working underneath, Eric also added Steeda control arms in the form of aluminum lowers and double-adjustable uppers, and ditched the front sway bar.

Running a set of gorgeous Bogart rims and Mickey Thompson ET Streets, the above-mentioned modifications-though prior to the Bassani short-tubes-found Eric knocking on the 12-second door. Finally, the coveted timeslip came after icing the intake and letting the car cool way down, but it wasn't something that could happen round after round. That changed in the past year with a few more pieces that really get the '93 off the dime. Strange 10-way adjustable struts and shocks were fitted at all four corners, the equal-length short-tubes were installed, and a short serpentine belt bypasses the power steering for a few more ponies on the cheap. The reward was a new best of 12.77 at 105 mph with a 1.67 60-foot.

While chronicling the whats and whys of Eric's route to solid 12s, we'd be remiss if we didn't at least briefly mention some of the other attributes of this stellar LX. The one-year-only Reef Blue factory topcoat is one of the owner's favorites, and an admitted big draw when he discovered the car on eBay after a diligent six-month search. Equally attractive were the original paint and body panels, which have been left to be appreciated on their own merit instead of adding scoops, spoilers, or wings. The 77,000 miles at the time of purchase have now been upped to just 83,000 through selected use in a sometimes-abusive Northeast climate, including numerous trips to Englishtown Raceway Park, as well as occasional static displays where the little notchback is consistently well received. In all, the car is an outstanding reminder of the potential lurking within all 5.0 Mustangs with just a little tweaking, and a classic example of doing more with less.

Speaking of less, it should be mentioned that Eric lists the weight of his '93 at a paltry 2,885 pounds, sans driver, with the only lightening being the flyweight Bogarts, Fluidyne radiator, and deleted A/C. Even if Eric stumbled onto a set of slightly optimistic scales, there's no arguing the point that much of the performance realized here has to do with limited mass. It's one of the strongest appeals of the Fox-era cars, and seldom demonstrated in a more convincing way than the car you see right here.

Tech Specs

Engine And Drivetrain
Block Stock
Displacement Stock
Rotating Assembly Stock
Cam Stock
Heads Stock
Intake Stock
Throttle Body Stock
Mass Air Pro-M 77mm
Fuel System Walbro 255 lph, Aeromotive regulator
Exhaust Bassani equal-length short-tubes, Flowtech X-pipe, Borla mufflers, DynoMax tailpipes
Transmission Stock T5 w/Pro-5.0 shifter, FRPP clutch and pressure plate
Rearend 8.8 w/welded axle tubes, Eaton Posi, 3.73 gears, Superior 31-spline axles, Trick Flow girdle/cover

Electronics
Engine ManagementStock EEC IV
Ignition Stock w/FRPP wires
Gauges Speedware white gauge face

Suspension And Chassis
Front Suspension
K-member Stock
Control Arms Stock
Springs Stock
Struts Strange adjustable
Brakes Slotted rotors and Hawk pads
Wheels Bogart 15x3.5
Tires Pep Boys 165R15
Rear Suspension
Springs Stock w/passenger side airbag
Shocks Strange adjustable
Control Arms Steeda double-adjustable uppers, Steeda aluminum lowers
Brakes Stock
Wheels Bogart 15x8, 5.5-inch backspace
Tires Mickey Thompson ET Streets, 26x10.5/15
Chassis Stiffening Labaire subframe connectors andbattle boxes

Photo Gallery

View Photo Gallery