Michael Johnson
Associate Editor, 5.0 Mustangs & Super Fords
July 25, 2012

When we first saw Steve Hardaway's '86 GT we loved everything about it... except for the wheels. He had some old-school hoops we just couldn't support. Steve agreed the wheels needed an update, so he went on the hunt for a new set of shoes. Steve's choice landed his Jalapeno Red GT on the pages before you.

This GT is not Steve's first hot pepper, though. "In the fall of 1988 I drove my first Fox Mustang," Steve says. Yes, Steve's old like us, and remembers when the Fox cars were new. The Fox he drove that day was only two years old, a Light Regatta Blue automatic '86 GT with Flowmasters. "From that point, I was hooked and had to have one," Steve added.

In the spring of 1989, Steve bought an '87 GT with T-tops. He held on to the car until 1993, when he fell and hit his head, causing him to trade the GT in on a new Probe GT--you know, the car that was supposed to replace the Mustang. How are Probe sales going? Anyway, he quickly realized the error of his ways, but at that time he couldn't afford to do anything about it. "I never lost sight of owning one someday and knew the right opportunity would finally come around," Steve says.

Evidently, right opportunities came along quite a bit for Steve. By 2009 he had already owned a dozen or so Fox Mustangs. Moreover, at that time he owned maybe the pinnacle of Fox Mustang performance with an '88 Saleen with just 19,000 on the clock. Nevertheless, he was ready to move on from the Saleen and posted an ad for the car on the Saleen Club of America's website.

Of course, it didn't take long. Joe Ackerman contacted Steve about the Saleen, asking him if he was interested in trading for an '86 GT. At first, Steve wasn't down with the trade, until he saw pictures of Joe's '86 and a list of the car's modifications. "I was hooked," Steve said.

Steve wasted little time before checking out Joe's '86 and striking a deal. "Finally I have a four-eyed GT," Steve says. "This car was complete and the first one I had owned that you could consider done," Steve added. However, if we have learned anything in this business, it's that Mustangs are never done--no matter what anyone says. True to form, Steve started planning changes for the car to make it what he wanted.

First up, even thought the '86 had a GT-40 crate engine under the hood, Steve felt the GT needed more pop. To make sure that extra pop would just be a pulley change away, Steve went with a Paxton Novi 2000 supercharger. He knew a Novi 2000 would give the car the power he wanted, but also room to grow, as well. "You never know when the bug for more power is going to get you," Steve wisely says. To support the added power, Steve also added ACCEL 48-lb/hr injectors, an SCT BA2400 mass air meter, and an SCT Switch Chip tuned by Dynospeed Racing.

With the power department handled, it was time for the aforementioned wheel upgrade. "I always loved the look of the ARE mesh wheels of the late-'80s Saleen Mustangs," Steve says. He wanted an updated look, but with throwback flair. We'd say he set our camera on fire with his choice of CCW Classics, 18x8 front and 18x10 rear. With a polished lip and grey centers, the wheels are a perfect match for the GT's exterior moldings and trim.

Next up, to make sure the GT's chassis could handle the newfound power and at the same time represent the updated wheels to the fullest, Steve needed to stiffen up a few things. The car already had subframe connectors, but they were installed back in 1986. Those were cut out, and Steve contacted Brian Figg at Stifflers.

"I decided on installing Stifflers' FIT system, K-member brace, spider brace, and transmission crossmember," Steve says. "This setup made the car rock-solid, and eliminated the braking issues and chassis flex that was holding it back." We all know how Fox Mustangs, especially hatchback models, like to flex, but Steve says the Stifflers chassis upgrades made that tendency a thing of the past.

"Now I have to say that this is the most complete Fox Mustang I have ever owned or driven," Steve says. "It has plenty of power, awesome braking, and handles like it's on rails." However, proving that a Mustang is never done, Steve tells us he has a few more plans for the '86 in the future, but right now, "I just enjoy driving it."

While we're sure Steve's wife, Rachel, appreciates those words, here's a heads-up Rachel: Steve says, "I know this isn't the last one." Somehow though, we're sure she already knows. 5.0

Horse Sense: Steve's GT features a Stifflers [(317) 837-2444; www.buystifflers.com] FIT system, which consists of subframe connectors, stiffening rails, and a web brace arrangement. Steve also added Stifflers' trans crossmember, spider brace, K-member brace, and driveshaft safety loop.

5.0 Tech Specs

'86 Mustang GT

Engine and Drivetrain
Block Stock
Crankshaft Stock
Rods Stock forged
Pistons Stock forged
Camshaft FRPP B303
Cylinder Heads FRPP X303 aluminum w/ 1.94/1.54 valves, FRPP 1.6:1 roller rockers
Intake Manifold FRPP GT-40 w/ Accufab 70mm throttle body, and SCT BA2400 mass air
Power Adder Paxton Novi 2000 supercharger w/ 6.87-in crank pulley, 3.5-in supercharger pulley, 10-rib belt, and 10 pounds of boost
Fuel System FRPP fuel pump w/ ACCEL 48-lb/hr fuel injectors, and a Kirban fuel pressure regulator
Exhaust FRPP short-tube headers w/ BBK Performance X-shape crossover pipe, and Dynomax after-cat exhaust
Transmission Ford Racing Z-spec T5 w/ FRPP King Cobra clutch, FRPP aluminum driveshaft, and Steeda Autosports Tri-Ax shifter
Rearend 8.8 w/ Eaton differential, Moser Engineering 31-spline axles, and 3.73 gears

Electronics
Engine Management A9L computer w/ SCT Switch Chip tuned by Dynospeed Racing
Ignition MSD 6AL w/ MSD Blaster coil and spark plug wires, Motorcraft spark plugs
Gauges Stock w/ Auto Meter boost gauge

Suspension and Chassis
Front Suspension
K-Member Maximum Motorsports tubular
A-Arms Maximum Motorsports tubular
Struts Bilstein
Springs Maximum Motorsports coilover
Brakes Baer 13-in Track kit, two-piece rotors
Wheels CCW Classic, 18x8-in
Tires BFG KDW 245/35-18

Rear Suspension
Shocks Bilstein
Springs H&R
Control Arms Maximum Motorsports Weight Jacker w/ Maximum Motorsports rear sway bar
Brakes Baer 12-in Sport two-piece rotors
Wheels CCW Classic, 18x10-in
Tires BFG KDW 275/35-18

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