Michael Johnson
Associate Editor, 5.0 Mustangs & Super Fords
April 1, 2008

Horse Sense: At a July '06 track outing, Brian blew a front tire right at the finish line. "It was kind of scary," Brian says. "I was lucky I didn't crash." Going through the traps at 136-137 mph, we're not sure we could say the same thing. Surely a new pair of shorts would be in order.

Commonality is critical to a lasting relationship. With nothing in common, you end up sitting quietly at the dinner table with nothing to say, and that gets old in a hurry. We think Brian and Michelle Cantrell will always have something in common, but society wouldn't judge their shared interest to be the norm. Once they've exchanged the trials and tribulations of each other's day, they can always discuss how to make each other's Mustang faster.

Brian and Michelle attended middle school and high school together, graduating in 1990, but they didn't begin dating until March 1991. Could it be coincidental that Brian purchased his black LX hatch shortly after graduation? We think not.

When Brian bought the LX, his only prior automotive experience was a water pump swap. As we all know, it's only a matter of time before it's time to get out the tools and learn how to use them when you own a Mustang. For Brian, that happened when he added headers, an H-pipe, a ported throttle body, roller rockers, and underdrive pulleys. "With each upgrade to the car," Brian says, "I was able to build my mechanical skills."

Brian and Michelle Cantrell are from Maryland, so they call Michelle's car a coupe, but it's a notch above the rest thanks to its 10-second capabilities. The coupe wears Admiral Blue paint, a Harwood 2 1/2-inch cowl hood, and Weld Racing Draglites.

Brian's initial display of skills rewarded him and his hatch with mid-13s at the track. After a few years, the miles started to rack up and he wanted a fresh start. Once he hit 137,000 miles, Brian got out his tools to replace the tired stocker with a Ford dealer- purchased RHO 306 with a Ford Racing Performance Parts B303 camshaft in it. "With the help of some friends, I swapped out the engine with the new one in a weekend," Brian says. The new engine couldn't find sand in the desert (thanks, Charlie), but it provided a solid base for future upgrades.

The amazing thing was that Brian's LX was still running around with 2.73 gears out back and 10-holes at each corner. Finally, the 2.73s gave way to 3.73s, and the 10-holes were pushed aside for a set of Weld Draglites. To give a sense of when Brian was modifying his LX, he says, "When the Trick Flow Twisted Wedge heads came out, I jumped on a pair and bought a Cobra intake off of a wrecked car." At the time, Brian says the Cobra intakes weren't readily available through the aftermarket. With the aforementioned performance goodies and Mickey Thompson E/T Drag slicks, Brian lowered his quarter-mile times to 12.0s at 112 mph.

The cabin of Michelle's coupe is more comfortable, thanks to stock LX couches and power steering, but it features the same safety additions, such as an S&W rollcage and five-point harness. Michelle uses a Winters shifter attached to a Transmission Specialties C4 with a manual valvebody and a Pat's Converters 3,500-stall converter.

As with just about every Mustang owner, the power-adder bug bit Brian in the mid '90s, so he purchased a used Vortech A-Trim setup from his friend Will Buckworth. Anticipating 11s and with the mandated 11.99 (now 11.49) rollbar elapsed time, Brian and his friend Tim Ward installed an eight-point bar. Good thing they did, too, because in the cool Cecil County air, Brian ripped off a best of 10.9 at 127 mph. Shortly thereafter, Brian grenaded another T5, so he decided to go the automatic route with an ATI C4. With a click-click in the tunnel, e.t.'s dropped to 10.6s at 124 mph.

More carnage followed when a fuel pump went south, causing large holes in a couple of pistons. This mishap expedited the building of the current 408, but it hasn't stayed the same since he dropped it in. When Brian originally built the 408, he used the 306's Trick Flow heads, 10.5:1 pistons, and a custom hydraulic cam. "I used an Edelbrock Victor Jr. carbureted intake that I modified to accept injectors," he says. Using the mechanical fabrication he's become known for in his circle of friends, he also made a custom elbow to match up with the discharge tube. This time, the discharge tube was attached to a Vortech S-Trim supercharger. These upgrades lowered the e.t. to a best of 10.2 at 132 mph-oh-so-close to the magical 9-second zone.

As with his own LX hatch, Brian also built the engine in Michelle's coupe once Accurate Machine was done with the prep work. Using a stock 302 block, Accurate punched it out to a 306, and Brian used the stock crankshaft and connecting rods, Speed Pro pistons, and a Ford Racing Performance Parts B303 camshaft. Box-stock Edelbrock Victor Jr. heads feature Harland Sharp 1.6-ratio roller rockers and Comp Cams valvesprings to make the most of the B-cam. Unlike the naturally aspirated/carbureted combo in his car, Brian went with a fuel-injected/supercharged combo in Michelle's coupe with a ported Cobra intake, a Vortech SQ S-Trim, and an Anderson Ford Motorsport Power Pipe. The S-Trim pumps in 13 pounds of boost with a 3-inch pulley, helping the coupe run in the mid 10s. Air/fuel adjustments are made via a Vortech 4:1 FMU and a JMS computer chip.