Michael Johnson
Associate Editor, 5.0 Mustangs & Super Fords
April 20, 2012
Photos By: Steve Turner

You haven't lived until you blow the tires off at 80 mph. Put it on your bucket list or leap list right now--either ride in or drive a Mustang that is capable of smoking the tires at 80 mph.

When you do, make sure your seat back and tray table are in the upright position. Hopefully, you have on your seatbelt and all carry-on luggage is stowed. Your cell phone doesn't necessarily have to be turned off during the short trip, but pocketing it is recommended.

On this flight, smoking the tires is not only permitted, but encouraged. As a matter of fact, if you don't smoke the tires, go home and make more power, son.

Paul Smith of Oglethorpe, Georgia, is one guy that doesn't have to go back home, his Fox convertible already blows the tires off, even at 80 mph.

One thing you should know: Like Rome, a tire-shredding Mustang isn't built in a day. "I've been working on this car for seven years," Paul says. A lot of project cars take seven years--or more. Many times, progress is slow. In Paul's case, to stay within an ongoing budget, he bought one part at a time. "One turbo, the intercooler, another turbo, the FAST system, the heads, and the like," Paul says. He wasn't able to buy everything in one shot--he had to slowly piece everything together.

First off, don't let the aero nose and airbag steering wheel fool ya'. This car started its life as an '85 LX convertible with a V-6 and an automatic. Paul tore down the car to a bare shell before William Wall from W&R Paint and Body applied the dark green, which resembles Deep Jewel green to our eyes. William sprayed the body and individual panels to make sure no one would know the car's original color, which was red.

Nowadays, you would be hard-pressed to know this is an '85 and not an actual later Fox Mustang. Paul was fortunate enough to work at a Ford dealership when he started on the car, which enabled him to get many of the parts he needed to complete the update. Whenever time and money were available at the same time, he would work on it and spend a little money to get to the next part of the build.

He kept working on it until finally, on Valentine's Day 2011, the car came to life. "Thanks, honey. Love ya'," Paul says. It must have been a memorable Valentine's Day for the Smith family.

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As you know with a turbo car, getting the car running is one thing. Getting it running well is another thing altogether. Tasked with harmonizing the insanity was Paul's tuner, Brian Anderson from AnderFab Racing.

At 23 pounds of boost and 888 rwhp, the engine kept blowing off the boost tube. That obviously prevented the car from performing its best, and Paul has taken steps to prevent it from happening. However, he hasn't been able to make a trip back to the dyno to see the fruits of his labor.

On a couple trips to the dragstrip, finding traction proved futile. He reports a "horrible" 60-foot time, and a quarter-mile time of 12.97 at 130 mph, and that was at low boost. Paul reports anything over 10 pounds of boost and the car is almost unmanageable.

After talking to Paul right before this article went to press, it looks like we'll never know how much the combination is good for. Paul has already yanked the engine, readying it for a coupe with a 'Glide in it to calm it down. He's also in search of respectable quarter-mile numbers.

One thing's for sure--it'll still be sideways at 80 mph.

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Horse Sense: While speaking to Paul on the phone for this feature, at one point I heard his wife, Sabrina, say, "I missed out on many anniversary gifts thanks to the car." To which Paul jokingly added, "She knew who I was before she married me."

5.0 Tech Specs

'85 LX Convertible

Engine and Drivetrain

Block 2001 F-150 5.4
Crankshaft Stock Lightning
Rods Manley
Pistons Manley w/Total Seal piston rings
Camshafts Comp Cams 278
Cylinder heads '03 Cobra w/stock valves, and Comp Cams valve-springs
Intake manifold '99 Cobra w/LFP single-blade throttle body
Power Adder HP Performance twin 67mm turbochargers w/HP Performance intercooler, and 23 pounds of boost
Fuel system Aeromotive A1000 fuel pump w/Aeromotive regulator, CPR fuel rails, and 160-lb/hr injectors
Exhaust Custom forward facing headers w/custom H-pipe, MAC Flowpath mufflers and after-cat exhaust
Transmission Tremec T-56 w/Pro-5.0 shifter
Rearend 8.8-in w/3.55 gears, Eaton differential, Moser axles

Electronics

Engine management FAST XFI
Ignition FAST w/Lethal Performance WeaponX coils, and NGK BR7 spark plugs
Gauges Florida 5.0 gauge cluster w/Auto Meter gauges

Suspension and Chassis

Front Suspension
K-member QA1
A-arms Stock
Struts Stock
Springs UPR Products
Brakes Cobra conversion
Wheels 10th Anniversary Cobra replica, 17x9-in
Tires Nexen 255/40-17
Rear Suspension
Shocks Stock
Springs Stock
Control Arms UPR Products adjustable
Brakes Cobra rear disc conversion
Wheels 10th Anniversary Cobra replica, 17x10-in
Tires Nexen 275/40-17