July 1, 2006
Mad Max Gross sprayed a combination of PPG Orange, Probe Yellow, Barbie Bike Pink, and Purple on the flanks of Ed "Fluffy" Imhoff's '89 notchback. Airbrush work is by Gary Anderson.

We first introduced you to Ed "Fluffy" Imhoff in our June '99 issue. At the time, Ed had transformed his wife's daily driven '86 notchback into a serious small-tire Mustang capable of 8.80s at close to 160 mph with the help of a 347 small-block Ford, a Vortech J-Trim, a batch-fire DFI fuel-injection system, a stock suspension, and 28x10.5-inch tires. Those were pretty good times for a turn-of-the-millennium Outlaw Mustang, but by '05 standards, that's a mid-pack Renegade car. But, like everything else, Fluffy has evolved with the sport, and his latest creation is the vibrant '89 coupe you see before you. Along the way, he's become a regular in the NMRA Super Street Outlaw class and a four-time champion at his local MOM's Racing heads-up Mustang shootout.

Now about the '86 notchback that garnered Fluffy so much attention-after a few upstate New York winters, complete with salty slush-covered roads and sub-zero temperatures, the structure of the '86 was in question. Once Fluffy subjected the car to several hundred dragstrip passes, the aging Pony really started to look a little rough. The notch had survived a couple of brushes with the wall, a number of 300-foot-long wheelstands (and landings), and the constant pounding of a 1,000-plus-hp motor. It was said the interior was so bad that the only thing Fluffy could do to make it look better was to have the windows tinted.

Fluffy has always been one of the most talented do-it-yourselfers in the hot-rod Mustang world. He's known for making things work (such as tractor tires for front runners) that may not be the best, but they are what he has at hand. And, as the abuse began to add up on the '86 notch, even Fluffy had to admit it was time to send it out to greener pastures.

"The old car was rotted out," Fluffy admits. "It shouldn't have been going 15.60s much less 8.00s. The car ran a best of 8.05 at 170 mph on 10.5W tires before the new car was built."

"Look, I don't want people to think Fluffy bought himself a car that was ready to go," Fluffy told us. "The chassis guy had put a 25.1C chassis together, which meant the transmission couldn't be pulled. Max [Gross] and I had to do a lot of work to get this car where we wanted it!"

More specifically, the "X" between the two main framerails running under the car interfered with removing the transmission for even routine between-race maintenance. Ed welded in a front crossmember that could legally arch as long as it was gusseted. Now, the transmission tailshaft clears the front of the "X" for transmission servicing. Besides that little setback, Fluffy and Max soon discovered that the ladder-bar crossmember was of mild steel (all bars have to be of chrome-moly to meet SFI spec), and the arms of the ladder bars were welded in 1-inch out of square (the right side was one inch in front of the left). While Ed says this is great for "roundy-round car," it's the kiss of death to a drag race car that is already going to have a tough time going straight.

"The chassis works," he says of the final product. "It's not a violent chassis at all. If you're looking for big wheelies-like what I used to do-you're not going to see it."

The final car is truly a state-of-the-art car even if it is a Fox body. With it, Fluffy has continued his pursuit of excellence in the SSO class at the NMRA. With only 22 psi, he's already gone an 8.00 at 173 mph (1.260 second short time), and with his newly acquired F3R ProCharger, look for Ed to be right in the hunt with 7.80-7.90s right from the start. Ed believes it will take 7.60-7.70s to be competitive this year, so that is where he's set his sights with the small tires. He's also got the option to go to 31x10.5Ws if the race calls for it. But, he admits that to be competitive with that, it takes more than just a tire change. This includes a gear and converter change, especially if it's an eighth-mile race. For 2006, Ed wants to get back in the hunt at the NMRA. Watch for the Fluff-mobile at a track near you.