Dale Amy
November 1, 2008
Photos By: Courtesy Of Summit Racing
Starting with a well-preserved '95 GT, Summit Racing Equipment's 5.0 Revival project is now sharply dressed for the 21st century without being over the top. The period-correct Cobra fascia and cowl hood were already in place when Summit acquired the coupe. The 18-inch American Racing Killer rims nicely fit the budget-buildup theme and work well with the black Le Mans striping.

Horse Sense: For a complete list of project 5.0 Revival's part numbers, visit Summit Racing's Web site (www.summitracing.com).

If you haven't heard of Summit Racing Equipment, odds are you haven't been a gearhead for long.

Opening its doors four decades ago in 1968, this Ohio-based firm was one of the original mail-order monsters of aftermarket speed parts. Now it has an equally monstrous and successful online presence-with parts distribution facilities in Ohio, Georgia, and Nevada. When Summit recently decided to do a project Mustang, it could easily have blown the proverbial wad and built a mega-dollar, no-holds-barred S197 show-stunner. But that would have flown in the face of Summit's basic business tenet, which has always been to serve the budget-conscious, do-it-yourselfer-a philosophy that should resonate well with the average Mustang enthusiast.

For the company's 5.0 Revival project, the starting point was a used-but-not-abused '95 GT that was apparently utterly stock save for a Cobra front fascia and cowl-induction hood. Summit's rationale for this particular choice: "The last of Ford's famous 5.0-liter ponycars is ideal for a budget rocket: It's inexpensive to buy, easy to work on, and has more hop-up parts available for it than a politician has excuses."

The plan was to improve the aging GT-personalize and liven it up, as any enthusiast worth his busted knuckles might do-without breaking the bank, and do it using the company's own branded line of products, as well as some hardware from a couple of the familiar, nationally advertised brands that Summit distributes. To make the project more meaningful for prospective customers, it was decided to do the buildup in stages, faithfully documenting the rear-wheel power gains each step of the way.

The GT baselined at 196.8 rwhp and 283.1 lb-ft-figures typical of that vintage of 5.0-liter, which doesn't rev high enough to produce much horsepower but is blessed with decent torque thanks to displacement and cam design.

The heads and intake combo, headers, a cold-air kit, and upgraded ignition are simple, effective, and relatively affordable bolt-ons. We may be living in the era of the modular motor, but a well-dressed 5.0-liter is still an attention grabber. Summit's now displaces 347 cubes.

The initial upgrades were basic bolt-ons that add power while also laying a foundation for the subsequent mods. All are of Summit's own private-label brand. Let's be clear that the company doesn't manufacture these parts itself but carefully selects them from other manufacturers for their bang-for-the-buck value.

The Stage One list includes a Voltmax Extreme distributor cap, wire kit, and TFI coil; billet-aluminum underdrive pulleys; a cold-air kit with a 75mm mass air sensor; a mandrel-bent, 2 1/2-inch after-cat exhaust with turbo mufflers; a short-throw shifter; and an adjustable clutch quadrant. Again, these are all Summit-branded bits. When rolled onto the Dynojet at BigShot Dyno and Performance (www.bigshotdyno.com), the gains were 11.7 hp and 5.5 lb-ft for totals of 208.5 hp and 288.6 lb-ft.

By then, the Summit crew was tired of looking at the GT's tired factory finish, so they shipped it off to Tallmadge Collision (www.tallmadgecollision.com) to have the dents and dings hammered out, and an eye-catching skin of PPG Orange Atlas base/clear applied, complete with ghost flames and black Le Mans stripes. That and a set of black 18-inch American Racing Killer rims wrapped in BFGoodrich g-Force KDW rubber were enough to bring the GT's looks into the new millennium without being over the top. The new rolling stock would be out of place without the addition of Summit lowering springs (1.5-inch). The company's rear tubular control arms were added, as were its Extreme Performance cross-drilled and slotted brake rotors. The exhaust path was wrapped up with Summit's 1 5/8-inch short-tube headers and a 2 1/2-inch H-pipe.

Underhood, a Trick Flow Track Max cam came onboard, along with Summit's roller lifters and roller timing chain set. The mass air was bumped up to 80mm, and 30-lb/hr injectors and a 75mm throttle body joined the roster. The result was 232.4 hp and 289.5 lb-ft.