Michael Johnson
Associate Editor, 5.0 Mustangs & Super Fords
November 1, 2008
One look at the interior of Jesse's LX and you can see it's not built for comfort, but he didn't put it together to be comfortable-he built it with function in mind. The interior features Jeg's racing bucket seats, several of Auto Meter's finest gauges, UPR Products' billet accessories, and a rear-seat-delete kit. We have fond memories of our own Auto Meter gauge pod like the one Jesse added to the dash of his LX.

"The car ran great for quite a while, but being that it was my daily driver and had more than 138,000 miles on it, the engine was wearing out," Jesse says. So the engine came out for a rebuild, but not just a regular redo. Jesse wanted more power. He sent the short-block to Shively Speed Machine to machine the block 0.030-inch over and add an Eagle stroker crankshaft and connecting rods, as well as JE pistons. Before the short-block left Shivley's, a Comp Extreme Energy camshaft was also added. Jesse topped the new short-block with a pair of AFR 185cc, aluminum cylinder heads with upgraded valvesprings and an Edelbrock Performer RPM II intake. The car's T5 transmission was also rebuilt while out of the car.

While the engine was getting rejuvenated, Jesse put time in underhood to spruce up an otherwise-neglected area. He swapped out the factory K-member for a ProFab unit featuring tubular A-arms and QA1 coilover struts with Strange Engineering 10-way-adjustable dampers. To take some weight off of the car, Jesse ditched the power steering in favor of a Flaming River manual rack-and-pinion system. "While the engine was out, I painted the engine compartment, tucked the wiring in the fenderwells, and relocated the battery to the rear," Jesse adds.

"When everything was back together, I took the car back to the track to make some passes with the new engine," he says. "After the first pass, I realized the rear suspension wasn't going to handle the new engine combo." Back to the drawing board for the rearend, Jesse went with UPR Products' adjustable upper and lower control arms and antiroll bar. The upper control arms featured spherical bushings, and welding up the torque boxes added even more rigidity. He finished it off with a pair of Lakewood 50/50 shocks.

The rearend grabbed Jesse's attention when he went back to the track, but not in a good way. On his second pass, he broke an axle, so it was time to bolster the 8.8. "I added Strange Engineering's 33-spline axles and spool, C-clip eliminators, a Trick Flow rearend girdle, and changed to a 4.30 gear," Jesse says. Back at the track, his changes yielded 7.20s in the eighth-mile, which is usually good for mid-11.30s in the quarter-mile. And that time was made without any engine or updated rear-suspension tuning. "I had a horrible 1.89 60-foot time on that pass," Jesse says.

Like we said at the outset, Jesse built his LX one piece at a time, and like our Mustangs, Jesse says there's more to come.

When a Mustang is actually driven and its engine has to be fully operational, this is most often how it looks. Jesse tried hiding as many wires as he could, but he had to make a few concessions in return for street worthiness. However, the Shively Speed Machine-built 347 mill is equally at home at the track. With eighth-mile times in the 7.20s and a terrible 60-foot time, the power and suspension can go quicker, and Jesse will get there. He's just shy of running 10s in the quarter-mile, and for a street car, that's still respectable, even today. On a Mustang dyno, Jesse's hatch made 411 hp and 403 lb-ft of torque. Just in case that's not enough, Jesse may reinstall the nitrous kit.