Steve Turner
Former Editor, 5.0 Mustang & Super Fords
January 1, 2008
Photos By: E. John Thawley III
Some Melvin purists claim that our esteemed tech editor ruined a rare T-top coupe-the nerve of him! He took a basket case coupe and turned it into an incredible street/strip Fox Rod that sets a standard for future projects in these pages and beyond. If you think this Mustang is ruined, you might want to find a new hobby. In case you're wondering, the cowl hood is from Cervini's Auto Designs. When KJ parks the coupe at Bob's Big Boy, there's no ugly prop rod in the way of all that engine, thanks to Redline Tuning hood struts.

Horse Sense: KJ likes to tell us that his car was finished-as you see it here-in less than 11 months. It's an impressive feat, no doubt. But we all know that you're never really done with a project car until you sell it. That said, expect to see further stories on KJ's coupe. Next on the horizon is a custom installation by K Dezines Audio of a Sony Giga-Panel head unit with Scosche amps and speakers. Even big-power street cars need tunes.

We've heard it all before. Everyone wants to get his or her project car featured in a magazine. This one's different though. Tech Editor KJ Jones was getting close to wrapping up the saga of his T-top coupe project and asked when we could shoot the finished product for the magazine. At first I bristled: This was unheard of. We'd had our project cars on the cover, but we never really featured them in the magazine. As I thought about it longer, it seemed a lot less like bragging and much more of a natural progression of the project car thread, so thank KJ for knocking me out of a rut.

Even more than making us think about finished project cars in a different way, KJ made us think about finishing project cars. True, they're never completely finished, but getting project cars to a stage that could be called "finished" is a relatively unheard of concept in magazine land. Between the constant deadlines, the inevitable fitment issues that come with a custom car, and those parts you forgot you needed, it can take a while to put one of these radical rides together, even if it's your job. Just ask Associate Editor Johnson.

It didn't take KJ long to get in the game. Even he knows that any tech editor worth his toolbox has to have a project car. After coming into the 5.0&SF fold, it didn't take long for him to find one. It wasn't just any car, however. He found an '86 5.0 LX coupe with T-tops. Now, '86 5.0 LXs are hard to find, but one with T-tops? That has to be off the charts. I'd never actually seen one until KJ found his, and I've been around a lot of Fox Mustangs in my years-I didn't believe it existed. KJ stumbled across it on an Internet message board, and after a few e-mails, he had an empty trailer in tow on the way to pick up what would we would call "The T-top Coupe." "I really dig the fact that before I started building this car, there was little awareness that T-top coupes even existed," KJ says.

Once he took possession of the car, KJ was a man possessed. He formed a plan to build a street/strip monster that could compete in the grueling Hot Rod Drag Week competition. That gave him about 10 months to take a rough Fox and turn it into a drop-dead Fox Rod. This is a ridiculous timetable for a magazine project. Only SEMA display cars and Overhaulin' participants are built quicker-but they don't go on Drag Week. Sadly, KJ got down to crunch time and decided to finish the car without cutting any corners, missing last year's competition. Hope springs eternal for a future appearance.

Still, KJ got the car to this level in 11 months, and it wasn't just a bolt-on project. If you followed along, you know several parts used on the T-top coupe were created specifically for Fox 'Stangs. "Many friends have said this T-top coupe is my 'dream Mustang' that has become a reality," KJ says. "It is in a way, but it's more so a 'Stang that I built with other hard-core, old-school Fox Mustang enthusiasts in mind. This project pioneered new technology for '79-'93 Mustangs, namely the FAB9 rearend and JBA 131/44-inch headers for AFR 205s. It was really cool to have major companies believe in it and support it in such ways."

From the response the car received at its Knott's Berry Farm public unveiling and the "Best in Class ('79-'93 coupe/hatchback)" first-place award it received at another SoCal all-Ford show, we'd say the hardcore Fox fans KJ had in mind appreciate his efforts. It's time for him to begin a new project and see if he can top this one.