Jerry Heasley
April 20, 2007
With a Cobra motor underhood, this LX was worthy of a set of '03 Cobra 10th Anniversary wheels, which look sharp with SVT center caps. Aftermarket 4.6 emblems replace the stock 5.0 badges. Otherwise, the black and white theme is the main attraction for the exterior. For street driving, Jonathan says, "I can crawl in it in the morning, drive it to work, drive it around, and the A/C blows cold. I take it on road trips and set the cruise control, drive it to my home town of Victoria, Texas-about a 500-mile round trip-and it will get 21-23 mpg."

Horse Sense: Jonathan McDonald, like many enthusiasts, couldn't build such a car on his own, so he had a lot of thanks to give. "I want to thank Scott Springer and Shannon Guderian for letting me practice the mod-motor conversion on their cars so I could get mine right the first time," he says. "I'm also thankful for their donations of time and parts to complete my car. I want to thank my Mexican-brother-from-another-mother Gabe Arevalo for his much-needed moral support and motivation during the three years it took to get this car together. And, of course, thanks to my parents for not killing me when I showed up with my first Mustang in high school. I think I managed to morph my speed obsession into a rewarding career."

If there was a Texas Department Of Restoration, what would you arrest someone for? A lousy rebuild?

"Euro taillights, Lambo doors-that type of thing," Jonathan McDonald says. "They go against everything a good restoration should be. Good restorations should be nice, tasteful modifications, stuff that can be undone so the car can return to stock if necessary."

Actually, Jonathan's version of restoration isn't putting the car back to factory stock, it's making it better than when it was new. He bought this real LX cop car in 1999. When he bought the car, it had already been taken out of its cop clothes. It was still a police car, ordered new with the Special Service Package. The package included floorpan reinforcement; a 130-amp alternator; blue silicone hoses; a 160-mph, certified-calibration speedometer; an engine oil cooler; and a single-key lock system. It once stopped speeders in McLennan County, which includes the Waco and Hewitt areas.

Inside, the cop gear is gone. None of the original electronics survived the decommission, and Jonathan had no desire to round them up. The upholstery, headliner, dash, console, and remainder of the interior is '93 LX stock.

These features made the 215hp 5.0 LX a sweet ride, but Jonathan wanted more power and improved handling. He does the research and development of new parts at Latemodel Restoration Supply in Hewitt, Texas. Just as LRS outfits '79-to-present Mustangs with the correct parts, Jonathan's car covers the same model years.

Jonathan certainly couldn't break his own laws when he built the car. Nobody could fault him for going back to the black-and-white color scheme. His job gave him the inspiration for the logo. From afar-even from up close-the writing on the door tricks most people. They assume he's a state trooper. Upon closer inspection, even cops see the light. It's illegal to script "Texas Department Of Public Safety" or to add "State Trooper" anywhere on the car. "That would be impersonating a police officer," Jonathan says. "I've been pulled over a couple of times, and every time they walk up to the window and say, 'Please don't get mad. You haven't done anything wrong, but I want to look at your car.' I end up talking to them for 10 to 15 minutes. Other than that, I haven't had any trouble."

Jonathan had no trouble pushing the envelope with the drivetrain, either. Opening the hood reveals an '01 DOHC 4.6 Cobra motor, but don't worry-Jonathan made plans in case he wants to go back. "If one weekend I decide I want to put the 5.0 back in, I'll drop everything out of the bottom, bolt in a 5.0 K-member, and install it. All the factory harnesses will plug back in."

The simplicity of the engine swap is inspiring. Jonathan replaced the stock K-member with an Anthony Jones tubular unit in order to fit the motor into the chassis. Then he used a '98 GT wiring harness and a custom computer tune to make the electronics work. This work is straightforward, and after about 80 hours of wiring modifications and creations, it became plug and play.

Mainly Jonathan enjoys driving the LX to work every day and on the track. He drag races and goes to places like Hallett Motor Speedway outside Tulsa, where we found the car. Jonathan and his boss, Shannon Guderian, were there to have fun running their Mustangs. Jonathan still hasn't lived down his incident: we were taking pictures, and he got too frisky with the throttle. The rearend came around to the front and the 4.6 cruiser left the track.

It sounds like a moving violation to us, but he's free of any guilt about the restoration.