Dale Amy
October 1, 2005

Fox Mustangs went through a phase when they were the wheeled equivalent of a BIC lighter-plentiful, cheap, and disposable. Ridden hard and put away bent, too many were wadded up or merely torqued to death by insufferable power and testosterone levels. And, yes, we speak from experience.

Thankfully, not everyone is as shortsighted. Tim Johnston was a junior at Michigan State when he bought this Oxford White '91 GT in the spring of 1998. It wasn't his first Mustang-he had acquired a red '91 GT the previous spring, drove it for the summer, then had to sell it to finance his first year of university studies. Theoretically, the white one was supposed to follow that same quick-and-dirty schedule, but Tim couldn't bear to part with it, and so committed to working his tail off that summer to keep both his Mustang and his date with higher education. Somehow, he even managed to spring for a set of 17x8 OZ Racing Monte Carlo rims and Nittos, BBK short-tube headers, 4.10 gears, and a used nitrous kit. So equipped, the hatchback rewarded Tim with 12.8 at 108 mph performance. All the more reason to keep it.

After graduation he got serious, adding Trick Flow Track Heat heads, an Edelbrock Performer intake, a Vortech S-Trim, and a few more bits to the stock short-block, then threw on a drag suspension and tires, and managed a 10.9 at 128 mph pass. The cost was eight sets of head gaskets and a broken factory AOD. The latter problem was fixed by an Alternative Auto-prepared AOD with a Precision Industries Stallion converter. Alternative's Lidio Iacobelli also came through with a used 349-inch A4-based short-block, with an F303 bumpstick and a Victor 5.0 intake. So, Tim had the heads ported, loosened the converter, added a FAST EFI, long-tube headers and a 3-inch exhaust, and turned up the wick on the S-Trim with a 2.7-inch, 10-rib pulley. The dyno reported 470 hp and 472 lb-ft, and a pass of 10.05 at 135 was documented.

But not before Tim temporarily returned to his Michigan hometown of Port Huron, nestled at the southern tip of Lake Huron, to establish a little street dominance. "I knew this was going to be a great time to introduce all those old-school, carburetor-using Chevy guys to my sleeper Mustang," Tim says, explaining how he wanted to prove that his was simply the fastest ride in town. He swaggered into the busy cruise hangout and announced he would "race anyone in the parking lot." The only taker was a "tubbed-out Gremlin with Plexiglas windows and nitrous" (feeding, one assumes, a carbureted Chevy). Tim accepted the challenge of the clearly race-prepped AMC on the condition that the contest be kept quiet so as not to attract undue attention. Naturally, when the combatants arrived at the agreed interstate location, Tim was dismayed to see "at least 50 cars lining the expressway-so much for keeping it quiet." Just the same, he had a point to prove and got down to business. "I lifted before the finish line with about a 10-car lead. After that, getting a race in town was more difficult."

Ah, but the squeaky-clean GT was also detailed well enough to win its class at the Detroit AutoRama, so when Tim got it into his head to "go to the next level" by stepping up to a race turbo, the thought of cutting his show-winning Fox up to fit a 10-point cage was just a bit too much. "I decided to save this car and build another specifically for racing," Tim says, referring to a red '92 LX he had purchased on eBay, and which he intended to take NMRA Drag Radial racing. "To do this I pulled a lot of parts off the white car, including the FAST, long-block, and some fuel system parts."

So scavenged, the white hatchback sat idle for about a year until Tim got around to installing his original, but freshened, 302 short-block, the Performer intake, and a set of ported '69-vintage closed-chamber heads with 1.94/1.60 valves. And that's the way you see it here, still sporting the Vortech S-Trim now wearing a less boost-crazy 3.1-inch pulley-at least temporarily. It seems Mr. Johnston has "fallen in love with turbos" and plans to fit a 66mm unit from Innovative Turbo, for which he will craft his own plumbing.

As for additional plans, "I'm sure that the car will change combinations many more times over the years," Tim admits. "But there is one thing I can guarantee: I will own this car forever. I remember my father talking about cars he used to own. With a gleam in his eye he used to say 'Man, I wish I still had that car.' I will make sure I never have to say that."

Tech SpecsEngine And DrivetrainBlockStockBoreStockStrokeStockDisplacement302 ciCrankStock , turned 0.010RodsStock w/ARP fastenersPistonsStock Compression Ratio10.5:1CamshaftCrane 2030Rocker ArmsTFS 1.7:1Heads'69 closed-chamber, ported by Philip Johnston PerformanceIntakeEdelbrock Performer, portedThrottle BodyEdelbrock 70mmMass AirC&L 73mmPower AdderVortech S-TrimInjectors42-lb/hrFuel Pump255-lph in-tank, plus T-RexHeadersMAC 131/44-in long-tubeExhaust3-in Flowmaster 3-chamberTransmissionAlternative Auto AOD w/Baumann ValvebodyDriveshaftFRPP aluminumRearend8.8 w/3.73 gears, Auburn Pro, Strange 31-spline axles

ElectronicsEngine ManagementEEC, w/Autologic chipIgnitionMSD 6ALGaugesAuto Meter

Suspension and Chassis Front SuspensionK-memberStockControl armsStockSpringsEibachStrutsLakewood 70/30Caster/CamberStockBrakesCarbon Metallic cross-drilled rotors, Hawk padsWheels17x8 OZ Racing Monte Carlo F1TiresNitto 555R 255/45ZR-17Rear SuspensionSprings BBKShocksCompetition Engineering adjustablesControl armsStock upper, Mega Bite lowerBrakesStockWheels17x8 OZ Racing Monte Carlo F1TiresNitto Drag Radial 275/40x17Chassis StiffeningSix-point by Philip Johnston Performance