Dale Amy
December 1, 2009

When steering the conversation to the odometer in our rides, it's usually to boast about how few digits have been tallied on it. Not so with Jim Buehler, who gleefully points out that his '88 GT has racked up more than 300,000 miles. And he should know: He bought it brand-new in November 1988 after a glancing head-on collision had written off his first Fox-an '80 Mercury Capri RS-a few days prior (on Halloween). At the time, Jim was based at Naval Air Station Kingsville, Texas, where he was in flight training. Now a retired lieutenant commander living in Oconomowoc, Wisconsin, he and his GT have each travelled great distances, no doubt at pretty good velocities, in their respective careers.

It took only a couple of weeks for Jim to start the modifications-gently at first, with headers, throttle body, strut-tower brace, and a conversion to mass airflow. The mass-air sensor obviously required a new computer, which his dealer insisted immediately voided his warranty. Rather than see this as a bad thing, Jim took it as a door swinging open on all the other mods he had in mind, including Extrude Honing the intake and even a D.S.S. 306 short-block. Fast forward to 2001, when his GT sported more than 200k on the clock, it needed freshening inside and out, drivetrain and suspension. That's when the Banshee Performance shaker scoop, and Cervini's Cobra-style front and side ground effects went on. A Tremec TKO went in behind the 306, Classic Soft Trim re-skinned the factory buckets in leather, and a five-lug conversion permitted Cobra brakes and the '01 Bullitt wheels. In 2002 the hatchback hit the paint shop, and then sat waiting for Jim to return from a two-year tour in the Middle East.

By 2005, it was time for new long-block-this time from Ford Racing (PN M-6007-XE3), which Jim bumped the following winter to the present 347 cubes using FRPP's stroker kit. The Wisconsin winter also provided time to fit a Kenny Brown six-point street 'cage, a Fuel Safe 20-gallon cell, Spin Tech side exhaust, and the "first edition" of Air Ride suspension. His approach to mods? "I wanted every part to have a purpose," he said.

With that in mind, it makes sense to let Jim tell more of the details in his own words: "Two thousand seven saw the addition of a Safecraft fire extinguisher and billet fire extinguisher mount, a Year One carbon-fiber shift knob, Steeda Tri-Ax shifter, Auto Meter Triple A pillar gauge pod with Auto Meter Carbon Fiber fuel pressure, air pressure, and air/fuel ratio gauges. In a Florida 5.0 instrument pod we put an Auto Meter Carbon Fiber speedometer, fuel, oil pressure, water temperature, volt gauges, and tachometer with in-dash shift light. At the same time March pulleys were added.

"As the show year went on, a Fluidyne aluminum radiator, Be-Cool twin 11-inch electric fans, a PA Performance 130-amp alternator, Optima battery, Optima billet tray, and Tsunami Elite V10BT battery terminals were added. For 2008, I started with redesigning the Kenny Brown Street Cage to hold a pin-in harness tube, and made a custom mount for the Air Ride tank and had it powdercoated. From there I designed a tank mounting plate, AN bulkhead plate, and video camera mount and had them machined and hard-coat anodized. Safecraft was contacted to work up some custom six-point SFI 16.1 restraints along with a RS-5 Halon 1301 system to protect the entire car. With that done, Pure Choice Motorsports handled the AN fittings and braided lines.

"Next, K-Dezines built up a custom rear seat delete that allowed a fullsize spare to be added. As the year went on and shows were attended, other improvements included titanium ceramic-coated FRPP short-tube headers, black powdercoated FRPP aluminum valve covers were added, and I modified and powdercoated the Kenny Brown strut tower brace to hold the Halon nozzles. During that two-year time the car has taken First in MCA's Modified Class at seven national events, First at two MCA Grand National events, two MCA Pinnacle Awards, (Best Modified in Class for each year), and First in class for both years at Mustang Alley. Through all the mods, one thing has remained constant: working on her is relaxing, almost therapeutic. She is still a driver with now more than 300,000 miles and a never-ending list of ideas for the future."

You can see by the above that the show circuit has become part of Jim's focus-not exactly what you might expect of a 'Stang so far driven nearly a third of a million miles. A trailer queen obviously has no place in his plans, and we admire folks with the tenacity and energy to keep a frequently driven vehicle in show condition. We expect that by the time we meet up at the Mustang's 50th Anniversary bash, Jim's Fox may well be approaching the half-million mile mark. And the modifications still won't be done . . .

Horse Sense: The Momo Jet steering wheel seems appropriate given Jim Buehler's career as a naval aviator.

5.0 Tech Specs

  • 1988 GT
  • Engine And Drivetrain
    Block
  • FRPP Sportsman, two-bolt
    Bore
  • 4.030-in
    Stroke
  • 3.400-in
    Displacement
  • 347ci
    Crankshaft
  • FRPP forged steel
    Rods
  • FRPP forged steel
    Pistons
  • FRPP/KB flat-top
    Camshaft
  • FRPP E303
    Heads
  • FRPP GT-40 X303 aluminum
    Intake
  • Stock, Extrude Honed
    Power Adder
  • N/A
    Throttle Body
  • FRPP 65mm
    Mass Air
  • Pro-Flow
    Injectors
  • FRPP 30-lb/hr
    Fuel Pump
  • Walbro 250-lph
    Headers
  • FRPP stainless short-tube
    Exhaust
  • BBK cat H-pipe; Spin Tech side exhaust
    Transmission
  • Tremec TKO
    Clutch
  • FRPP King Cobra
    Rearend
  • FRPP 3.27:1; Auburn Pro diff; Moser axles

    Electronics
    Engine Management

    • Pro-Flow
      Ignition
    • MSD
      Gauges
    • Auto Meter Carbon Fiber in Florida 5.0 cluster

      Chassis And Suspension

      • Front Suspension
      • K-members
      • Stock
        Control arms
        Stock
        Springs
      • Air Ride CoolRide
        Struts
      • Tokico Illumina struts
        Caster/Camber
      • Steeda
        Brakes
      • FRPP Cobra (five-lug conversion)
        Wheels
      • FRPP Bullitt
        Tires
      • Falken Azenis 245/45R17
        Rear Suspension
      • Springs
      • Air Ride CoolRide
        Shocks
      • Air Ride CoolRide
        Control arms
      • FRPP upper/Steeda lower
        Brakes
      • FRPP Cobra
        Wheels
      • FRPP Bullitt
        Tires
      • Falken Azenis 245/45R17