5.0 Mustang & Super FordsFeatured Vehicles
1989 Ford Mustang LX - Dark Shadow Boost
Watch out for the quiet ones, as Maury Moynihan's discreet '89 LX packs a home-built twin-turbo wallop
Horse Sense: Maury's LX hatchback came with the optional GT high-back buckets. Sadly, these weren't available in the notchback. I lamented this fact when I ordered my own '89 LX notch.
A properly engineered turbo setup huffing into a Ford small-block is a wondrous thing. It provides all the boost anyone would ever want without parasitic drag, while acting as an effective upstream muffler to keep things discreet-or sneaky, depending on the intended mission profile. As a trackside photographer still in possession of some hearing, I've come to appreciate the near-silent launches of turbo drag 'Stangs. After riding shotgun in Maury Moynihan's oh-so-discreet '89 LX-with not just one, but a pair of horsepower hair dryers onboard-we're happy to report that his self-engineered setup not only hits with all the force of Thor's own hammer, but it's also well-mannered while stalking the pavement of southern Ontario in the role of Maury's daily summer driver.
Maury bought the Dark Shadow Blue hatchback new when he was a mere 18 years old. Like any good gearhead, he has since put it through many permutations of displacement and power adders, yet has steadfastly maintained its innocent outward appearance. Apparently, it's not innocent enough, as testosterone-induced early antics in the LX cost him a four-year license suspension. While those days of road-going insanity are now firmly behind him (we think), Maury is still obsessed with horsepower and good ol' torque. They're both available at the mere nudge of the throttle on his stoutly underpinned 306 ci engine, that is, of course, effectively expanded to much greater displacement by the hulking turbo duet.
Let's talk about those turbos and what it took to persuade them-along with a custom intercooler and its associated plumbing-to peacefully cohabitate with the bored and beefy small-block in the limited confines of a Fox engine bay. In brief, this exercise took: 1) Maury, 2) his small home garage, and 3) a lot of time and patience. He did all the duct/exhaust fabrication in support of the pair of Garrett T3 60/63s himself.
To keep things cool, he fitted a pair of 12-inch blow-through electric fans-one of the few blow-through setups we've ever seen on a Mustang-on a Ford Racing Performance Parts aluminum radiator, mounted on a slight angle to a custom, relocated rad support in order to make everything fit. On another aspect of keeping the cool, the turbo piping is all thoroughly heat wrapped.
To deal with the resulting 579 hp and 658 lb-ft of torque at the wheels (recorded on a conservative Mustang dyno), the stock block was rebuilt with D.S.S. 8.8:1 pistons with valve reliefs for the Trick Flow Twisted Wedge heads. The rods are stock, but they're secured with ARP Wave-Loc fasteners. The cam is also stock, but it operates through Trick Flow 1.7:1 roller rockers. The old T5 is long gone, replaced by a D&D Performance T56 six-speed, feeding a rearend upgraded with Moser axles and carbon-fiber clutch packs in the otherwise stock Traction-Lok diff.
Resulting from Mega-Bite Jrs., Wild Rides torque-box reinforcements, boxed upper control arms, and an airbag in the right rear spring are 1.79-second 60-foot times. Though drag racing is low on its priority list, Maury's daily commuter has run 11.04 seconds at 129.2 mph, and that trap speed gives good indication of the little 306's Hoover Dam power output.
Since this is a daily driver-we keep mentioning that, don't we?-Maury paid attention to other critical areas such as an upgraded four-wheel disc-brake setup and a kick-butt sound system, some of which shares hatch room with the car's stainless steel, water/methanol injection storage tank. In other words, he sweated the details and continues to do so every winter once the car comes off the road.
In any event, Maury's impressive exercise was clearly worth the effort, as the end result is a quiet and tractable commuter. The car, with its current 3.27 gears (Maury is thinking of dropping to 3.08s), has the wonderful combination of reliable driveability and berserk throttle response that can break the sticky Nitto Drag Radials loose virtually at will, quite likely in every gear. Afterward, a pair of black tire tracks and the sound of excess boost purging through the Bosch blow-off valves are the only clues that something politically incorrect has been committed. That, and the smile on the author's face.