Eric English
March 12, 2007
Brian added the H.O. Fibertrends cowl hood and Bogart Fly Stars after purchasing this original-paint LX from across the continent. In one fell swoop, the appearance went from utilitarian to subtly outrageous.

Without a doubt, one of the biggest challenges for any writer is the age-old game of separating fact from fiction. At this magazine, we face it every day, as modified automobiles are obviously a hotbed for competition, bragging rights, and the more than occasional ego boost. We'd like to believe every owner is completely forthright with us as they relate their show accolades, race results, and performance numbers, and we're convinced most do just that. We'd be plain stupid to believe everything we hear, however, so we work hard to sort through the chaff to bring you the straightest scoop possible. Of course whenever feasible, we like to witness a car's accomplishments firsthand and when we do, we usually let our readers know. We've also developed a sense for when we're being sold a bill of goods, but at the end of the day it often comes down to the honesty of the owner.

Now along comes Brian Murray, owner of the killer '89 LX you see here. This is the kind of guy we like to deal with because he's up front and tells it like it is. More to the point is the fact that the cookie hasn't always crumbled the way Brian would've liked when it comes to building his Mustang, and he's not too afraid to say so. His experience isn't so different from legions of performance-car owners across the nation-it's just that most are too proud to admit it, as if a lower number than expected is an irreversible slam against one's manhood.

A scant 317 cubes may sound like a small engine these days, but with big boost from a J-Trim Vortech, it's plenty for a dual-purpose street machine. Thanks to an A4 block and a billet steel crank, this one is built to take a pounding for the foreseeable future.

Fortunately, Brian's story is far from all bad-he's ended up with a ride many would gladly call their own, and he obviously scored the full feature spread before you. The ownership tale begins several years ago as Brian searched far and wide for what he feels is the best-looking street/strip Mustang going-an '87-'93 notch. Typical of this day and age, the quest included use of nationwide resources, where Brian admits to a big mistake-buying the car sight unseen. Purchased out of Georgia, the LX was presented as a ready-to-go mid-500-horse street/strip rocket, yet when it arrived at his Snohomish, Washington, digs, it was something less than expected. Not only were the modifications done in a decidedly mediocre manner, but a trip to the dyno also revealed far less power than advertised. Looking for the silver lining revealed a car with no sign of accident damage and pristine original paint that indicated a pattern of overall good care. With no real recourse, Brian simply rolled up his sleeves and dug in.

The interior was one of the easier places to set right, with a nicely installed 10-point rollbar already in place. Brian repainted the chrome-moly 'cage, had Ron Pircey bend up some well-executed tinwork, and eliminated the center console in favor of fresh carpet and a B&M Pro Stick. Not as visible is Brian's rewire of the underdash area, where he cleaned up items such as wood screws trying to ground accessories to plastic trim. Now you're getting the picture.

Similar rewiring occurred under the hood, yet the biggest effort was farmed out to Smooth Performance in Vancouver, British Columbia, where main man Rashpal Dhaliwal disassembled the stout 317-inch mill in an effort to correct the underwhelming performance. A fresh hone on the cylinders and new file-fit rings were a good start, as was a completely new Comp Cams valvetrain, including the hydraulic-roller bumpstick, lifters, valvesprings, and pushrods. The basics of the engine were one area where Brian wouldn't be disappointed-with everything necessary to make a hard-running street/strip warrior, including an A4 block, 3.100-inch billet crank, Eagle rods, Venolia pistons, and the obvious Vortech J-Trim making as much as 16 psi in its current state. The previous owner chose to back the potentially potent Windsor with an Art Carr 200-4R trans, a 9-inch converter, and a Detroit Locker/Moser-equipped 8.8-inch rear-all of which was left virtually as is. Likewise, the 100-horse NOS system was a prior addition and, though plumbed with the necessary fuel system including a dedicated fuel cell, Brian doesn't foresee dual-power-adder use.