Dale Amy
May 29, 2011
Photos By: Steve Turner

Horse Sense: James Keown’s powdercoating sideline business goes by the name of JD Custom Coatings.

We all have our reasons for messing with Mustangs. For some, it’s a matter of speed; others have visions of slot-car handling, while still others simply want to possess the coolest, flashiest ride in town. And yeah, there’s usually a little ego thrown into the mix, and that’s OK. The point is that everyone approaches a Mustang project with his or her own goals in mind. Some are more altruistic than others…

Pewee Valley, Kentucky’s James Keown owns this nattily attired Fox ragtop. It may not be the fastest or best handling Mustang in the land, and it certainly isn’t burdened with excess bling, but this ’91 LX has without question achieved the number one goal James had in mind when he started with it.

“Growing up,” says James, “I had always loved the Mustang and always wanted one. I had a good man who taught me a lot about cars: my grandfather. He was everything to me. I knew that one day, if I ever had a son, what I wanted to do was the same thing my grandfather had done for me. That was to teach how to work on and fix up cars. After my first son was born, I knew one day we could do that. When he got a little older, I was looking for a notchback when we came across this little white convertible. It was in pretty good shape, and was white with a white top. Even though I didn’t care for that white top, I knew we could change it (and we did.) We drove it around for about a year or so until we decided to do some little mods to it…”

Before delving into those “little mods,” something you may have noticed about the preceding paragraph is James’ frequent use of the pronoun we. That’s because this whole project has been a team effort with his son Joey, who was just nine years old when the then-white ragtop was acquired back in 2002. James had originally planned to really only use the car to introduce to Joey the basic kinds of repairs and automotive common sense that his grandfather had taught him. However, the convertible project—which ended up taking about seven years to complete—took on a life of its own. It also, apparently, helped cement this father/son bond. In the process, it became a darned tasteful ride.

In the course of our conversations, we asked James about his choice of a turbo as power-adder, instead of one of the many more common supercharger kits. Turns out that was almost a “business decision.” Seems that, as he and Joey worked through the aesthetic portion of their Mustang’s revival, it was decided that some parts would best be powdercoated, so James went out and picked up “a cheap powdercoating kit and a used oven” and started practicing. Word soon got around about his abilities to put a durable coating on bits and pieces.

Meanwhile, an acquaintance had started Quicktime Turbo Systems and soon asked whether James could do some ceramic coating of turbo kit components. Well James was certainly willing to learn the ceramic side of things, and thus eventually became the ceramic coater for Quicktime’s down-pipes and other kit hardware. All of which pretty much explains why there’s a Quicktime T70-based hairdryer warming the stock innards of his 302, and why the handsome ragtop has run as quickly as 7.47 at 92.3 mph in the eighth-mile.

And, yes, it is handsome, detailed in a way almost guaranteed to catch a magazine editor’s jaded eye. When the 302 was out for freshening, James got to staring at the ugly engine bay, with its factory collection of Swiss-cheese holes and wiring harnesses. Luckily, he has some talents with both welder and grinder, and soon set about smoothing the inner fenders and firewall. Look closely and you’ll see that he also found ways to hide most of the wiring, while also taking the opportunity to substitute a lightweight UPR tubular K-member and A-arms, along with the company’s coilovers, in place of the original stuff.

Before Jeremy Dewitt painted the LX a DuPont hue close to factory Dark Shadow Grey, James and Joel rounded up a Boss Inc. Cobra R hood, along with a coupe trunklid in order to get rid of the ragtop’s factory luggage rack. They did any necessary bodywork prep themselves. Among the last components chosen were the replica 10th Anniversary Cobra rims in a finish that certainly complements the paint and goes along with this convertible’s muscular but understated approach.The results of this father and son project go beyond just a great car and enhanced family bonding. James’ encouragement of Joey’s participation has helped foster a new generation of Mustang enthusiasts, as Joey now has his own SN-95 Mustang project which is proceeding nicely—with Dad’s help, of course.

5.0 Tech Specs

’91 LX Convertible

Engine and Drivetrain

Block Stock
Crankshaft Stock
Rods Stock
Pistons Stock
Camshaft Trick Flow Stage 1
Power Adder Quicktime Turbo Systems, T70, 10 psi
Cylinder Heads World Products Windsor
Intake Manifold Professional Products Typhoon, ported
Fuel System Lucas 42-lb/hr injectors w/255-lph fuel pump
Exhaust Custom w/DynoMax Race Bullet mufflers and turndowns
Transmission AOD w/C6 input shaft, Art Carr manual valvebody, and 4,000-stall Bradco converter
Rearend FRPP posi w/3.55 gears and 31-spline Moser axles

Electronics

Engine Management Stock A9L w/SCT tune
Ignition MSD 6AL
Gauges Stock w/FRPP tachometer

Chassis and Suspension

Front Suspension
K-member UPR Products tubular
A-arms UPR Products
Struts UPR Products
Springs UPR Products
Brakes SN-95 discs and spindles
Wheels O.E. Wheel Cobra 10th Anniversary replicas, 17x9-in
Tires Riken Raptor, 245/45R-17

Rear Suspension
Shocks Stock
Springs FRPP M-5300-B springs
Control Arms X2C Motorsports
Brakes Ranger drums
Wheels O.E. Wheel Cobra 10th Anniversary replicas, 17x9-in
Tires Riken Raptor, 275/45R-17