Travis Thompson
October 24, 2006

Dustin Milbrandt first noticed this Rio Red '98 GT in 2001 while hard at work studying in Ford's Asset training program. He'd been keeping his eye out for a nice Fox-body when this particular trade-in caught his attention. "The first thing I noticed was the color, and when I found it had a five-speed, I was hooked."

Working as a Ford technician doing front-end and drivetrain work, Dustin planned to add only a set of lowering springs and an exhaust, "but things took an evil turn." After getting burned for a set of PI heads and $1,000 for porting in an online scam, Dustin came across a set of ported Ford Racing Performance Parts SVO heads for a great price. FRPP offers these heads, along with a matching intake, as an upgrade for '96-'98 Two-Valve engines. Dustin found the FRPP intake, twin-blade throttle-body, a set of PI cams, and he was in business.

Fellow Ford man John Duerscherl volunteered to help with the install, but it didn't go as smoothly as planned. The idler pulley was too long, causing it to be forced into the timing cover. The timing cover cracked and broke, sending pieces of metal down among the timing chains and sprockets. Some debris became wedged between the driver-side chain and cam sprocket, altering the timing just enough to send the driver-side intake valves into the pistons. After a set of new, straighter intake valves, Dustin and his upgraded Two-Valve were ready to roll. This setup, untuned and through factory manifolds, put down 279 hp to the wheels.

When that power level got old, Dustin took things to the next level with a set of Sean Hyland Motorsport 2730 cams. These cams, meant for non-PI heads, feature only 0.500-inch intake and exhaust lift. But the 230 degrees of intake and exhaust duration at 0.050 ensure the cylinders are filled to capacity. Dustin rounded out the package with a set of MAC long-tube headers and a DiabloSport chip dyno-tuned at HiTech Motorsport [(763) 712-9088; www.hitechmotorsport.com]. The new setup put down 305 hp and 300 lb-ft of torque to the wheels-impressive for a naturally aspirated, non-PI Two-Valve.

Besides intimidating other drivers with his GT's idle, Dustin enjoys showing his car. He and friend Landon Hoffbeck keep the Rio Red paint sparkling with frequent detailing and waxing. In fact, Dustin brought along Landon when we shot some of these photos, just in case. To better his chances with the show judges, Dustin added a Cobra front nose, 10th Anniversary Cobra wheels, and smoked headlights and corner lights for a menacing look.

In addition to taking that look to local shows and messing around with the Twin Cities Mustangs Club [www.tcstangs.com], Dustin and his GT have made the drive to the World Ford Challenge at Gateway International Raceway in St. Louis four times. For those of you who believe a car's worth is defined by its best timeslip, Dustin has raced this GT only twice, running a best of 13.7 at 108 mph with a lackluster 2.3-second 60-foot time. He hopes to improve and plans to try again next year with some stickier tires. With that mph and some slicks, a 12-second run isn't far out of reach. If that doesn't work, Dustin's next power mod will be a Paxton Novi 2000 centrifugal blower. Don't worry, Dustin, you'll love the blower.

Tech SpecsEngine And DrivetrainBlockStockDisplacementStockRotating AssemblyStockCamsSean Hyland Motorsport 2730s (0.500-in lift and 230-deg duration intake and exhaust)HeadsPorted Ford Racing Performance Parts Two-ValveIntakePorted FRPPThrottle BodyCobra twin-boreMass AirLightning 90mmExhaustMAC long-tube headers and off-road H-pipe, Flowmaster two-chamber mufflersand dumpsTransmissionFactory T45, Ford Racing King Cobra clutch, B&M Ripper shifterRearendStock with FRPP 3.73 gears

ElectronicsEngine ManagementStock with DiabloSport chipIgnitionStockGaugesStock

Suspension and ChassisFront SuspensionK-memberStockControl armsStockSpringsH&R SupersportStrutsTokico (Bullitt)Caster/CamberSteedaBrakesStockWheels17x9-in Argent 10th Anniversary '03 CobraTires275/40-17-in BFG KDWsRear SuspensionSpringsH&R SupersportShocksTokico (Bullitt)Control armsUPR Products chrome-moly upper and lowerBrakesStockWheels17x9-in Argent 10th Anniversary '03 CobraTires275/40-17-in Nitto Drag RadialsChassis StiffeningMaximum MotorsportsSubframe Connectors