Eric English
July 27, 2006
Photos By: Michael Johnson

Were I to hazard a guess, I'd place the average age of a Mustang owner from the Fox-era forward to be somewhere in the range of 30-40 years old. Surely, Ford Motor Company could throw out pinpoint data on the average age of a brand-new Mustang buyer, but trying to guess at what is largely termed the "late-model" generation of 'Stangs is admittedly sheer conjecture aided by observation. Whether my guesstimate is spot-on or not, the point of my meanderings is that the owner of this hot red '87 hatch may be a wee bit older than the average Fox-body guy.

Now before angering owner Joe Adam by making him sound like an aging geezer, let me say his 50 years young is just a brief decade greater than yours truly. In the blink of an eye, I too will be facing the mid-century mark, and can assuredly say that just like Joe, fooling around with hot Mustangs will be my passion as long as I'm under the power of my own two feet. No, the reference to Mr. Adam's age shouldn't carry any negative connotations at all, rather the point is this-a large number of car guys of comparable age get their kicks by playing with cars from their youth, chiefly meaning '60s muscle. Great as this stuff is, escalating prices, stone-age driveability, and fear of jeopardizing something irreplaceable, keeps many of the vintage machines in a state of inactivity that really isn't what high-performance cars should be all about. Joe's passionate interest in a horse of a different generation is testimony to his desire to actually mat the pedal, bang some gears, and burn plenty of rubber. It also shows the reed has mass appeal across all age groups.

Of course, 1987 was a significant year in the evolution of the 5.0 Mustang. It was the second year of the 8.8 rearend, likewise for EFI, and the first year of what proved to be the longest running cosmetics of the Fox era. Horsepower was up to a touted 225 thanks to the new E7TE heads and revised intake manifold, and the popularity of the 5.0 LX was just beginning to dawn. We don't know much about the early ownership chain on Joe's '87, other than the previous owner received a hard enough whack that the car ended up in the boneyard by 1990. Joe discovered the car there thanks to a tip from a friend, and the rest of the story is what you see.

As an autobody technician by trade, Joe had no trouble fixing the rear-end damage on the LX, and he had the car back in shape in no time. Unfortunately, this wasn't the only damage he'd have to repair, as just prior to putting the car away for the winter, Joe hit black ice and ended up with more than just bent sheetmetal-try 75 stitches to the head. Fortunately Joe recovered, and as you can see, so did his Mustang.

The wreck turned into a mixed blessing of sorts, as it became the impetus to modify the '87 to a higher level than Joe had previously considered. One of the first decisions regarded paint, and here's where Joe's professional experience led him to a one-off fade job that incorporates the original Medium Scarlet Red hue. A Cervini's 2 1/2-inch cowl hood teams with a '93 Cobra rear wing and deleted emblems to complete the desired look.

Mechanically, the '87 features a rebuilt short-block with predominantly stock reciprocating goods, along with Edelbrock heads and a B303 cam. More FRPP goodies come in the form of Cobra 1.7 roller rockers, a GT-40 intake, and 24-lb/hr injectors, but the aftermarket fairly carries the ball from there. You can't help but notice the high-luster polish on nearly everything under the hood, an obsession Joe attends to first hand as he passes time during Pennsylvania's long and cold winters. The show-car good looks don't equate to entirely static displays, however, as Joe, wife Cheryl, and a close-knit group of fellow enthusiasts take to the road on a regular basis, as well as the occasional track excursion.

Joe's wife has been a particular help in building up this sparkling hatchback, yet not so much in the form of hands-on assistance. Turns out she's used the hobby to guide her gift selection for many years, and Joe reports that Cheryl will pore through the various catalogs, ask questions, and-best of all-listen, in her quest to find the perfect Christmas or birthday gift. Many of the bits and pieces in, out, and under the LX are such gifts, and Joe is quick to be thankful for the extra effort it takes to serve up something truly desired. He also wants to express his appreciation to all the friends who've generously given their thoughts, time, and busted knuckles to the cause. In the end, the car and the friendships do much to maintain a youthful vigor as Joe sums it up like this: "I might not be a kid, but I'm still a kid at heart. Now I have the time to do the things I couldn't do when I was younger, so we like to enjoy life to the fullest and take advantage of it whenever we can-you know, have some fun." Such a philosophy makes the thought of racking up the coming years a little more palatable, doesn't it?

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5.0 Tech Specs
BlockStock w/MSD coil, FRPP wires
DisplacementAuto Meter
StockFront Suspension
FRPP B303Stock
Cylinder HeadsControl Arms
Edelbrock Performer 1.94/1.60 w/Stock
Cobra 1.7 rollersSprings
FRPP {{{GT}}}-40Struts
Throttle BodyLakewood 70/30
Accufab 70mmBrakes
Mass Air01 Bullitt calipers, slotted rotors,
Pro-{{{M}}} 75mmEBC pads
Fuel SystemWheels
190-lph in-tank/Bosch 290-lphChrome Bullitt 17x8
external pump, FRPP 24-lb/hrTires
injectors, Kirban regulator245/45/17 Nitto 555
ExhaustRear Suspension
MAC equal-length short-tubes,Springs
Bassani cross-pipe, 2 1/2-inEibach w/airbags
Flowmaster muffs and tailpipesShocks
Power AdderLakewood 50/50
NOSControl Arms
TransmissionBoxed uppers, Megabite Jr. lowers
Stock T5 w/Hurst shifter, FRPPBrakes
clutch and pressure plate00 GT calipers, slotted rotors,
RearendEBC pads
Stock 8.8 w/ FRPP 3.55 gears,Wheels
girdle/cover, '00 {{{Mustang}}} axlesChrome Bullitt 17x8
ELECTRONICS245/45/17 Nitto 555
Engine ManagementChassis Stiffening
Stock EEC IVKenny Brown subframe connectors,
 S&W four-point cage