Eric English
July 1, 2008

Horse Sense: While the SSP package was primarily intended for police work, other government agencies also got in on the act. We've heard of SSP Mustangs that officially served in local fire departments, the U.S. Air Force, and the U.S. Border Patrol, to name a few.

Among favored Mustangs of the Fox-chassis era, the Special Service Package units are some of the most unique. Such law enforcement specials were short on accoutrements and long on performance, befitting a car that was destined for frequent-and legal-high-speed running. With virtually stock drivetrains, most with 225 horses and a five-speed, the SSP cars got by just fine. The real meat came in the form of the more rigid and svelte two-door bodystyle, the weight savings of the common manual windows and door locks, and less obvious upgrades such as reinforced floorpans and an engine-oil cooler. The mystique of a police pursuit vehicle seems to have a special draw-each one has a unique history of chasing down bad guys.

Mystique is definitely one of the draws for Ed Allen, the current owner of this former Washington State Patrol Mustang. The allure goes well beyond that component, as it's important to understand that this former reserve police officer knew the trooper who was assigned this car when it served with the WSP. Ed periodically asked the trooper how the car was treating him, how he liked it, and what interesting escapades the two had recently experienced. Ed recalls a story about a chase that lasted well over 100 miles, finally ending at the Canadian border. He also remembers when the trooper told him the car was at the end of its service life and about to be auctioned to the public. The rest is history, as they say, for Ed obviously took the information to heart and made a winning bid for the '89 cop car.

Beyond the legendary chases, Ed enjoys his ride for the bare-bones Fox Mustang that it is-and, of course, for the end result of its most recent build. Who wouldn't appreciate what this near sleeper has to offer? It's an impressive performer if not an impressive looker.

From the start, Ed knew he wanted to keep the exterior virtually stock-well, at least in its pre-WSP form. To that end, there's nary a scoop, spoiler, or cowl-induction bulge to be seen, though the hunkered-down look and 10th Anniversary Cobra wheels should be clues to its true intent. The perfectionist in Ed has him complaining about the PPG paint he personally laid down a number of years back, but it looks good in both pictures and the flesh-particularly for a car that he plans to thrash on the track. Significant touch-ups occurred recently as part of an extreme makeover, and we think you'll agree that the cosmetics are magazine worthy.

As is so often the case, Ed's early modifications were all motor, and super trooper or not, the SSP bits and pieces weren't enough to contain the new-found enthusiasm. A visit to Brad's Custom Auto in Seattle was the cure, where Scott Hicks and Brian Holsten fitted the '89 with a chassis-and-brake setup to handle a then-potent 347. A full array of Maximum Motorsports suspension pieces makes for far more capability than the State Patrol could have imagined, and includes a tubular K-member, control arms, coilovers, a Panhard bar, a torque arm, and much more-in short, just about everything in the book. The brakes are Baer's ever-popular and effective front Track kit and rear Sport kit. In layman's terms, this means 13-inch rotors and twin-piston PBR calipers up front, with 12-inch rotors and PBR single-piston calipers in the rear. While not exotic these days, this particular production-based Baer setup is wholly capable, particularly considering the notch's nearly 3,000-pound curb weight.