Wes Duenkel
September 27, 2011

Most Mustangs owners have their cars in a constant state of change. If they don't sell it, many owners continually update and enhance their Mustang to suit their changing tastes or increasing horsepower appetites. This makes cars like Stefan Holder's '85 Mustang GT a rare sight. Modified sparingly since the mid-'90s, Stefan's four-eyed Fox is a trip back to the genesis of late-model Mustang performance.

Stefan purchased the Dark Canyon Red '85 as a high school senior in Little Rock, Arkansas. He recalls a scary moment shortly after he purchased the car. "One day the local police brought drug-sniffing dogs to search cars in our high school parking lot. I got called out of class because the dogs were "interested" in my car. I explained that I just bought it, and luckily there wasn't anything in the car. Apparently the previous owner liked to smoke more than the rear tires."

Over the next couple years, Stefan increased horsepower with bolt-on parts. He added Ford Motorsport (now Ford Racing Performance Parts) 1.7-ratio rocker arms and short-tube headers, Flowmaster mufflers, a Weiand single-plane intake, and a Holley 650 double-pumper carburetor.

The GT rapidly racked up 100,000 miles, so Stefan installed a GT-40 long-block and a World Class T-5 transmission. "I wanted a 351 Windsor but didn't have the money." However, once funds were available, he installed a Paxton ball-drive supercharger kit. The blower pushed a modest 4 pounds of boost through the carburetor, bolstering the Mustang's acceleration--and exposing a weakness. "A few friends and I went out to lunch. We piled in my Mustang and another truck, and had a little drag race while crossing a six-lane bridge. As we rapidly approached the traffic, my friend said, 'You can slow down now!' I told him, 'I'm trying!'"

Luckily, Stefan slowed the car down in time, but the incident convinced him to scrap the Mustang's puny 10-inch front disc and rear drum brakes in favor of FRPP's M-2300-K Cobra brake kit. Stefan also firmed up the Mustang's suspension with a set of FRPP C lowering springs, Koni adjustable dampeners, and a Griggs Racing Panhard bar. Stefan completed the chassis upgrade with a set of three-piece wheels from Complete Custom Wheel, covered in 275mm-wide rubber up front and 315mm out the back.

In the fall of 1995, Stefan bought a new '96 Mustang Cobra from his local dealership. With the Cobra serving as his daily driver while he worked around the country as a mechanical engineering contractor, the '85 Mustang stayed at his parents' house and only saw occasional use.

In 2003, while working at Holley Performance Products, Stefan brought the '85 out of hiding for a fuel injection conversion. The carburetor and intake manifold were replaced with a Holley SysteMAX II unit. A set of ported Trick Flow heads and larger Hooker headers replaced the iron GT-40s and short-tube headers.

In light of the extra power sent through the 302's bottom end, Stefan bolted a D.S.S. stud girdle under a Canton deep-sump oil pan. A complete Aeromotive Renegade fuel system and rear-sump tank were chosen to supply the high-pressure fuel necessary for EFI.

To control his boosted mill, Stefan chose Holley's Commander 950 stand-alone fuel injection system. Holley's auxiliary injector driver was also wired in to work Stefan's 65-lb/hr low-impedance injectors. Running 4 pounds of boost, Stefan's injected 302 generated 400 hp and 400 lb-ft of torque to the wheels.

Stefan retained the Paxton blower--"I didn't have the money to put something bigger on it." Well, we think that's a good thing. Seeing the vintage blower underhood bolsters this GT's back-in-the-day persona. Combined with the old-school three-piece wheels, Harwood cowl hood, and the eager idle of the FRPP E303 cam, this car's character brings back fond memories for early Fox-body owners. Considering the odometer rolled over once, the original Dark Canyon Red paint is still holding up. The look and smell of the original interior is a trip back in time--one that Stefan makes every time he twists the key of his time-warp Mustang.

5.0 Tech Specs

Engine and Drivetrain

  • Block FRPP GT-40 short-block
  • Displacement 302 ci
  • Crankshaft Ford cast
  • Rods Ford steel
  • Pistons Ford forged
  • Camshaft FRPP E303
  • Power Adder Paxton SN ball-drive centrifugal
  • Cylinder Heads Trick Flow Twisted Wedge
  • Intake ManifoldHolley SysteMAX II
  • Throttle Body Holley 75mm
  • Fuel System Aeromotive sumped fuel tank w/Aeromotive Renegade pump and filter, FRPP 65-lb/hr injectors
  • Exhaust Hooker 1-3/4-in ceramic-coated headers w/3-in cross-pipe, Hooker Aero Chamber after-cat
  • Transmission FRPP World-Class T-5 w/Lakewood steel bell housing, FRPP heavy-duty clutch, and FRPP aluminum driveshaft
  • Rearend 8.8-in w/31-spline Moser axels, C-clip eliminators, Auburn Pro differential, TA stud girdle, 3.55 gears
  • Electronics

  • Engine Management Holley Commander 950 programmable EFI w/Holley auxiliary injector driver
  • Ignition MSD 6AL
  • Gauges FRPP 140-mph speed-ometer w/A-pillar-mounted Auto Meter boost and fuel pressure gauges
  • Chassis and Suspension

    Front Suspension

  • K-member Stock
  • Springs FRPP C
  • Struts Koni adjustable
  • Brakes FRPP M-2300-K
  • Wheels Complete Custom Wheel 17x9-in
  • Tires Toyo 275/40-17
  • Rear Suspension

  • Springs FRPP C
  • Shocks Koni adjustable
  • Control Arms Stock with Griggs Racing Panhard bar
  • Brakes FRPP M-2300-K
  • Wheels Complete Custom Wheel 17x10.5-in
  • Tires Toyo 315/35-17
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