Wes Duenkel
April 20, 2007
To firm the convertible's handling, Jae opted for Eibach springs and Tokico five-way adjustable dampers at all four corners. UPR caster/camber plates, polyurethane sway bar bushings, and Granatelli upper and lower control arms locate the vital suspension hardware. An Autopower rollbar and HPM subframe connectors ensure Jae and the chassis remain in one piece.

Horse Sense: While mass airflow engine management hit California in 1988, mass air Mustangs didn't hit showrooms across the nation until 1989. Though the sensor in the car's air inlet was initially viewed as a restriction that hurt power, the adaptability of mass air electronics opened the door to the impressive horsepower and driveability we take for granted today.

When I began driving, I was rowdy," Jae Waters says. "My parents were concerned. So they bought me my dream car-a Mustang GT convertible." While that may seem like strange logic, there were strings attached. "If I didn't straighten up, I'd lose it."

Beware of the fine print.

"The car is an '89 and had around 20,000 miles when it was purchased in late 1990. My parents worked extremely hard to afford it and the insurance. Considering what the car meant to me, I straightened up and managed to drive it through college and graduate school."

Torque from the boosted 331 is multiplied by an Art Carr 3,200-stall converter in a Performance Automatic AOD. A 3.55:1 rear gearset transfers power to the Moser four-lug axles.

That's what we call positive reinforcement. After working a few years, Jae married, bought a house, and began running out of garage room. Considering the sentimental value of the car, Jae knew he couldn't part with it. "If I was going to keep it, I might as well make it more fun to drive," he says.

Similar to all builds, everything began innocently enough. The first mod added Trick Flow Twisted Wedge aluminum heads and a polished Edelbrock Performer rpm intake. Unfortunately, a head gasket blew shortly thereafter, so Jae upgraded both head gaskets. Adding insult to injury, he over-torqued a head bolt during reassembly. Jae made lemonade from the proverbial lemon and upgraded to a Ford Racing Performance Parts Sportsman block and prepped it with boost in mind.

The engine internals are cool and slippery thanks to the electric fan, an aluminum radiator, and a Moroso deep-sump oil pan. A dash of underhood pizzazz comes in the form of a polished turbo compressor housing and an alternator is spun by bright March pulleys.

Enter the HP Performance single-turbo kit. Starting with a 66mm hybrid turbo, HP adds a huge front-mount intercooler; Jet Hot-coated tubular headers; a Tial 44mm wastegate; a manual boost controller; 42-lb/hr injectors and a matching 76mm mass air meter; Bosch blow-off valve; an electric fan; and all the necessary clamps, fittings, and numerous lengths of Jet Hot-coated tubing. To make room for the exhaust-fed hairdryer, the battery must be moved to the trunk, so the relocation kit is included. Jae was impressed with the installation guide, as he did everything himself. "The only thing I couldn't do was install the exhaust system-my jackstands didn't go high enough."

Since he didn't want to rebuild the engine again, he filled the Sportsman block with forged internals to yield 331 ci and a boost-friendly 9:1 compression. To complement the 12 pounds of boost Jae expected from the 66mm HP turbo, he called the cam wizards at Comp and ordered a turbo-friendly bumpstick. An MSD ignition sends sparks through Ford Racing wires to light the boosted air/fuel mixture. After the turbine is finished with the exhaust gasses, MAC mufflers handle the rest.

The power, combined with the composed ride of the Eibach/Tokico combination, makes for giddy wind-in-the-hair driving on warm summer nights.

Control of this combination required a custom-tuned chip, so the folks at Delk Performance in Lebanon, Tennessee, were called upon to handle the EEC-IV calibration duties. To make sure nothing goes awry with the combustion, Jae monitors the air/fuel ratio with an Innovate wideband O2 meter.

What's it all worth? On a conservative tune and 93-octane pump gas, Jae's turbofied car spun Delk's hamster wheel with 460 hp and 465 lb-ft torque. That's not a bad way to fix a leaky head gasket.

Perhaps when Jae's daughter begins driving, she will enjoy her father's boosted Pony-that is, if she behaves herself.