Michael Johnson Associate Editor
July 19, 2007
Photos By: Dale Amy
We don't see many yellow square-light Mustangs, but Jason's '82 LX coupe is Chrome Yellow with an H.O. Fibertrends 2 1/2-inch cowl hood and Weld Racing Draglites in big 'n' little fashion. Jason's LX is a simple yet effective package. To bring the body back to life before the Chrome Yellow paint, it received new fenders, doors, a hood, and a trunk. A family friend employed at Village Ford in Dearborn, Michigan, applied the new paint.

Horse Sense: Jason's big brother Jeff owns his own shop called Oval Repair, and Jason is quick to thank him for his time and patience while building the '82 notch. "Without him I wouldn't have been able to do this," Jason says. He adds his thanks to his supportive wife as well.

No matter where you grow up, if you have older siblings, imitation is inevitable. You follow them around. You try to get into their rooms to see what they're doing or who they're talking to. You get involved with what they're into just to be one of the cool kids. Whether it's playing sandlot football, listening to music, or working on cars, it's natural for younger siblings to be attached to the older ones because that's all they know. Besides, who wants to emulate parents?

Growing up in Livonia, Michigan, Jason Schembri not only had his older brother to look up to for mechanical enthusiasm, but he also didn't have a say in the matter. "As part of growing up in the suburbs of Detroit," Jason says, "it's hard to drive anywhere without pulling up to a stoplight and seeing modified Detroit muscle. There's just something about the sound, the look, and the smell of a musclecar."

Though not really a musclecar in the truest sense, the '67 Mustang fastback owned by Jason's older brother Jeff was built thanks to Jeff's own mechanical knowledge and thirst for speed. "When he was working on his car," Jason says, "I was there watching and learning, knowing someday I also would have a fast street car-and wouldn't it be cool when that day came where we could race each other side by side."

Jason would have to wait until 1994 to start down that road. "I already knew that I loved the look of the notchback," he says, "so I set my goal on finding one." At the time, Jason worked in a bakery-and his bank account was half-baked. Luckily, he was living off Mom and Dad, so all monies could be devoted to the Mustang search. "One gorgeous day in March 1994," Jason says, "I was driving around and spotted a tan '82 Mustang GLX notchback for sale." The $1,000 price was right, and the GLX was his.

Even though the GLX model was available with the 5.0 engine, Jason wasn't lucky enough to score one of those. His was burdened with the final-year offering: a 3.3 straight six-cylinder engine, a C5 automatic transmission, and a "dinky" 7.5 rearend. "That meant it needed a lot of work for what I wanted to do with it. I closed my eyes and began to dream."

Since Jason's mechanical abilities were a bit green, Jeff stepped in and took his little brother under his wing. A total restoration was the result with a 5.0 underhood, a C4 in the tunnel, an 8.8 rear out back, and new body panels lathered in Chrome Yellow paint. Power-wise, the initial 5.0 featured stock heads, a Ford Racing Performance Parts B303 camshaft, and a 750-cfm four-barrel carburetor. This combo yielded 13.30s in the quarter-mile, and the car stayed in that form for a few years.

It's a good thing Jason didn't always listen to his big brother, as Jeff told him he would never amount to anything by going to school. In 1998, Jason got a real gig at Ford Motor Company. Making a little more bread than he did at the bakery, Jason saved for more serious modifications. This time around, he wanted to do the work himself.

He removed the engine and sent it to HeadWinds in Westland, Michigan, to be opened up to 306 cubes and filled with Eagle connecting rods and JE pistons. A Cam Motion solid-roller cam went inside, while a pair of Edelbrock Victor Jr. heads act as mechanical lungs. A corresponding Victor Jr. intake was topped with a Barry Grant Demon 650-cfm carburetor.

Likewise, the C4 was taken out to receive a Dynamic Racing Transmissions/TCT torque converter, a reverse-manual valvebody, a Vasco input shaft, a TCI billet servo cover, a Hughes aluminum pan, and a B&M Hammer shifter. The 8.8 rear was fitted with Moser 31-spline axles, an Eaton differential, a TA rearend girdle, and 4.30 gears. While the 8.8 was out of the car, UPR Products' double-adjustable upper control arms made their way on to supplement the Southside Machine lowers.

With this combo, Jason says shifting the car at 7,500 rpm is no issue, but he yearned for the day he could line up against his brother. He finally got that chance last year. Jeff's '67 fastback runs 11.70s, but at the '06 NMRA race in Martin, Michigan, Jason was able to lay down an 11.62 at 117 mph. Since the two are so close in elapsed times, heads-up runs are a toss-up, but Jason is ahead of big brother by a tenth. Maybe Jeff should stop handing out brotherly advice.