Dale Amy
November 1, 2008
Tinted glass, a 2.5-inch cowl hood, and a set of 17-inch Centerline billet rims make for the quintessential LX notchback. Add some Wild Strawberry paint and you have Melissa and Brad Viero's "Wildchild."

Horse Sense: Although it takes a horrendous amount of work, a smoothed and gloss-painted engine bay is not only far more impressive, but also much easier to keep clean than the factory's matte-black and oh-so-cluttered inner fenders and firewall.

Because they're trendsetting and a worthwhile read, we obviously tend to run a lot of features on the latest and greatest mega-power, mega-buck Mustangs. Contrary to cynical belief, however, we don't do this because we're jaded snobs who have forgotten about the little guy. Heck, we're just automotive hacks, and if you ever peek at our paychecks, you'd realize we are the little guy. Even so, we usually lean toward features having at least a little mojo going on underhood.

Though neither high-buck nor particularly high-power, there's a certain mojo going on under the cowl hood of Melissa Viero's '91 notch, but not in the form of big cubes or big boost-come to think of it, when was the last time you saw a stock 5.0 intake on one of our features? In this gorgeously detailed engine room is the kind of clean, uncluttered presentation of a small-block Ford that draws the eye, raises the eyebrows, and finally begs the question: Where's all the factory plumbing?

And to think it might never have happened. This is Melissa's second Mustang. Her first, a black 5.0 LX, was stolen two days after she bought it. With that sort of gut-wrenching loss and disappointment being awfully hard to swallow, Melissa swore to never buy a Mustang again. That seemingly firm resolution lasted about eight months, until this Wild Strawberry Metallic '91 LX coupe simply overpowered it-but with wisdom gained. "The first thing we did," Melissa says, "was invest in a top-of-the-line security system." That, of course, was only the beginning.

At that time, Melissa and her now-husband, Brad, lived in British Columbia, Canada's western-most province. They initially planned to hold off on an any modifications until they were more financially stable. Yet, they stumbled across a Mustang specialty shop in Langley, British Columbia, called Creationz Speed and Sound, owned by Brett Halbert. It soon became the Wal-Mart of 5.0 parts and inspiration for Brad.

I sure wish my office, or even my kitchen for that matter, was this clean. Brad smoothed the firewall and fenders and hid as much of the ancillary plumbing/wiring as possible. The cold-air kit is by Creationz Speed and Sound. March underdrive pulleys, an Edelbrock aluminum water pump, a Griffin aluminum radiator, and a Black Magic electric fan complete the front dress.

What allowed the couple to forge ahead with some personalization of their LX was the realization that if they could do most of the work themselves, they would "still be able to eat and live," in Melissa's words. So Brad became the main wrench/engineer/crew chief. They also received enthusiastic help from friends Shane and Tyson-the latter is "an easy-going kid who was always willing to get his hands dirty as long as he got to hear the tires squeal every once in awhile." Brad also signed up for a mechanic's course and ended up doing his apprenticeship at Creationz peed and Sound. It was a plan coming together.

It didn't take long for Brad to get down to business-the complete disassembly of the notchback in the Creationz shop, with Brett acting as mentor and adviser throughout the three-month process of tearing it apart and putting it all back together. Thanks to Brett's buddy Steve, the LX was resprayed in its original Wild Strawberry hue while apart, and soon thereafter earned the nickname "Wildchild."

Brad himself also went wild during the rebuild, powdercoating just about everything he could lay his hands on, including the oil pan, valve covers, intake manifold, cold-air kit, rearend, transmission and transmission crossmember, bellhousing, calipers, spindles, K-member, A-arms, "and even the gas-tank straps." Why go to such trouble? Because the Foxy little coupe was going into service as Melissa's daily driver, and it has fulfilled this summer role ever since. A few seasons later, Wildchild-right down to its squeaky-clean belly-still comes across as a fresh-out-of-the-box resto. Of course, it also helps that Brad appears as obsessive about maintenance as he was about building the notch in the first place.