June 11, 2007

John Richichi has what some would say is a problem. We've come to know him fairly well, and like us, he has an idea of the perfect Mustang. Also like us, that idea keeps going from Mustang to Mustang almost on a daily basis. Even with the "perfect" Mustang in his garage, if he's on the Corral (www.corral.net) or eBay (www.ebay.com) Web sites for the casual surf, a more-than-perfect Mustang is liable to turn up. John's wife, Ann-E, is probably really upset with Al Gore for "inventing" the Internet, because once John gets a certain Mustang in his head, she knows an adventure will ensue.

He had what we would call close to perfection with his former '84 GT. We liked it so much, we featured it in the April '02 issue ("Mirror, Mirror," p. 154). With the power on board the '84, it kept tearing up stuff, and it had reached the point where there wasn't much left to do on the car. John wanted something more docile, but he also wanted another square-light to match the '84 because he liked their noses and the fact that they're hardly seen anymore. John wanted something he could hop in and drive, but also something he could show.

Once again, John checked on eBay. He found what he was looking for from a user in North Carolina, the Jalapeo Red '85 GT you see here. With only 26,000 miles on it, the car was nearly perfect in John's eyes. It featured original paint-with the exception of a few touch-ups-and the original engine. Even better, the engine received some choice mods to increase the car's performance without hurting its daily driver personality.

Once in John's garage, the red GT shared space with the '84, but not for long. An expensive household project meant one of the cars had to go, so the '84 was sold. Once back on his feet, John was able to get the '85 a suitable garage mate in a supercharged Fox coupe, but that car was sold to complete another household project. Next up was a Fox GT, but that car just didn't do it for John so it was also sold.

In 2006, John began to miss his '84 GT, so he set about tracking it down. The good news was, he was able to find the car's owners. The bad news was that the car lived in Puerto Rico. It didn't matter-John wanted it back, so he inquired about buying the car and bringing it home.The asking price of the car didn't match John's budget. He also heard the car's condition wasn't as good as when he owned it, and that it had been raced during its Caribbean stint. Not only did John have to worry about affording the car in the first place, he also worried about the expense of getting it back to New Jersey. When he really thought about it, purchasing the '84 didn't make a lot of sense. He set about finding an acceptable replacement closer to home.

This time, John wanted a serious Mustang. He wanted one with all the hard work out of the way. He wanted a street ripper, complete with supercharged power, but with the looks to go with it. Another eBay search turned up the gray '85 GT seen alongside the red GT. The gray GT was basically new: it was rebuilt from the ground up featuring new paint, 500-plus supercharged horsepower, and the Weld big 'n' littles John desired. "The fact that it's an '85 made it even more attractive to me," he says.

The gray car was more race-oriented than what John was used to with manual brakes and steering and a spool out back, but he liked the overall package, and those other things could either be changed or easily dealt with. What sold him on the car was the fact that respected NMRA racer and tuner Mike Post did a lot of the work on it. John called him to get more info, and once Mike gave the car his full blessing, John wrote the check and waited patiently for the delivery truck to arrive. The car was everything and more once he received it. He could now vouch for what Mike said. "The car is mean," John says. Should we say the car was mean? Just before we shot his '85s, John was on eBay again and found a teal-over-black '93 Cobra. He couldn't justify having three Mustangs, so the gray '85 became dispensable.

You'll notice the red '85 outlasted all the Mustangs mentioned in this story. The '93 Cobra remains, but it's unbelievably clean, and it's the latest Mustang to take up residence at Casa Richichi. The Jalapeo Red '85 has lasted as long as it has thanks to John's son, John Jr., who was 2 years old when it entered Dad's garage. "He went nuts about it," John says. John Jr. always wanted to help wash, wax, and tinker with it. One day, he proclaimed the red car "his." Who could resist their child uttering those words?

As of this writing, the red '85 has 28,500 miles, so you know the car is sparingly driven on nice days and to local cruise-ins. That number probably won't grow too much until March 24, 2016. That's the day John Jr. turns 16. Then there will be a new problem: keeping tires on the car.

5.0 Tech Specs'85 Jalapeo Red GTEngine And DrivetrainBlock StockDisplacement 302ciRotating AssemblyStock '85 GTCylinder Heads J302 aluminum, 1.6 roller rockerCamFRPP E303Intake Manifold Edelbrock Performer RPM Air Gap Carburetor Holley 650-cfmFuel System Stock '85 GT Exhaust FRPP short-tube headers, Bassani Xhaust X-shape crossover, Flowmaster two-chamber mufflersTransmission Stock T-5, FRPP King Cobra clutch, Hurst Competition Plus shifterRearend Ford 8.8 w/3.73 gears

ElectronicsIgnition MSD 6AL w/Blaster coil, FRPP spark plug wiresGauges Stock

Suspension And ChassisFront SuspensionK-member StockControl Arms StockStrutsStockSprings StockBrakes StockWheelsStock 10-holeTires BFGoodrich Comp T/ARear SuspensionShocksStockSprings StockControl Arms StockBrakes Stock Wheels Stock 10-holeTires BFGoodrich 255/60 drag radial

5.0 Tech Specs'85 Gray GTEngine And DrivetrainBlockStockDisplacement 331ciRotating AssemblyCoast High PerformanceCylinder Heads J302 aluminum heads, ported and polished, FRPP 1.6 roller rockersCamAnderson Ford Motorsport B4 Intake Manifold Trick Flow StreetThrottle Body Accufab 75mmMass Air Pro-M 83mmPower Adder Vortech T-Trim w/Race Bypass, 15 pounds of boost, custom intercooler, Anderson Ford Motorsport Power PipeFuel System Aeromotive pump, tank, rails; 72-lb/hr injectorsExhaust Kooks 131/44-inch long-tube headers, custom H-pipe, Flowmaster mufflers w/dumpsTransmission Tremec 3550, FRPP King Cobra clutch, Pro-5.0 shifterRearend Ford 8.8 w/4.10 gears, Auburn Pro differential, Moser Engineering 31-spline axles and spool

ElectronicsEngine Management Anderson Ford Motor-sport PMSIgnition MSD 6AL w/Blaster coil, FRPP spark plug wires Gauges Auto Meter

Suspension And ChassisFront SuspensionK-member D&D tubularControl Arms D&D tubularStrutsLakewood 90/10Springs CoiloverBrakes Aerospace ComponentsWheelsWeld Racing Draglite 15x3-inTires 165R/15Rear SuspensionShocksLakewood 50/50Springs EibachControl Arms TRZ MotorsportsBrakes StockWheels Weld Racing 15x8-inTires Mickey Thompson 275/50Chassis StiffeningBehind Bars Race Cars six-point rollbar, subframe connectors