Dale Amy
March 1, 2013

When we first noticed Brandon Gibson's '93 hatchback at last summer's Carlisle All Ford Nationals, our first thought was that it was something of a Fox time capsule--you know, a mostly stock 5.0 LX accented with a period-correct Vortech and some Bullitt wheels. It was, in other words, old-school cool.

Well, we were half right. It is cool, but beneath that almost nostalgic facade are many more mods than immediately meet the eye. (Oh man, now I know I'm old--I just called a Fox hatch nostalgic.)

Based on Brandon's explanation, it all started innocently enough: "I had an '84 Mustang GT that was an automatic. I wanted to upgrade to a fuel-injected car that was a five-speed, so I looked until I found this red-with-black-interior LX... The car was bone-stock, which at the time, I wanted and liked." That was back in 1997 when Brandon was 20 years old.

You read that correctly. He apparently liked it just fine in bone-stock form, but yet... "After a couple months," says Brandon, "I wanted the car to have a little better sound, so I bought a two-chamber Flowmaster kit, which was going to be the car's only modification."

Ah, the dreaded Only-Modification Syndrome. Anyone else out there in reader-land suffer from that? Brandon continues: "That lasted a short time before I had to have gears and short-tube headers. That was good for a year or so, then I started saving for the Vortech blower..."

The story continues along a familiar plot line. Once Brandon had the centrifugal onboard, he started visiting an eighth-mile strip close to his Troy, Virginia, home -- probably not the wisest move for someone wanting to ward off the modification bug. Inevitably, the more he ran, the faster he wanted to go. "Soon," he tells us, "I was upgrading the stock heads and intake. I installed Edelbrock Performer heads, a Performer RPM intake and an Anderson B3 cam. Finally, the car was at a good stage: it had a ton of power, and could be driven anywhere."

Then he hit a large snag: "Running a True Street event, I put a huge hole in one of the pistons. The stock short-block had finally given up." But rather than source just another production 5.0 block, Brandon got serious, ordering up a top-dog Ford Racing R302 casting, and having Keith Craft Racing assemble from it a 331-inch short-block, using an Eagle 4340 stroker crank, JE forged 8.5:1 pistons, and Scat 4340 H-beam rods. He sold his Performer heads and RPM intake and replaced them himself with AFR 205 aluminum castings and a Victor 5.0 manifold.

Wisely, he also upgraded the fuel system at the same time, opting for an Aeromotive A1000 pump, -8AN feed lines, -6AN return lines, and a set of Aeromotive rails feeding Siemens 60-lb/hr injectors. Even with all this, he had tuning issues that limited the combo to "only" 450 rwhp at 5,000 rpm. Brandon has since discovered that the stock mass air meter was the tuning culprit, and tossed it in favor of a Professional Mass Air Systems 95mm unit, but he hasn't yet returned to the dyno for updated power figures. But we feel safe in assuming the 450hp mark has been readily surpassed.

While all this was going on, Brandon also found the time, will, and money to do plenty of other drivetrain, suspension and brake mods, the details of which are set out in our 5.0 Tech Specs box. Though hidden from casual glance, these well-thought-out mods add up to a pretty stout package. On that note, while the hatchback is not caged, its structure has been stiffened and strengthened with Wild Rides upper and lower Battle Boxes, along with a pair of Kenny Brown's legendary subframe connectors.

On drag radials, Brandon's LX has run 7.60 at 100 mph in the eighth mile--not bad for a car whose owner was at first determined to keep it bone-stock. And, despite still appearing deceptively unmolested, it seems there's more to come for this handsome hatchback: Brandon's final comment to us? "I would like to upgrade the blower next..."

Horse Sense: Seeing red? This code-EP hue seems to go by two names on the LX, with some Ford sources referring to it as Bright Red, others as Vermillion Red--neither the same as the '93 GT's Vibrant Red.

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5.0 Tech Specs

  • Engine and Drivetrain

  • Block
  • Ford Racing R302
  • Crankshaft
  • Eagle 4340 steel w/ 3.250-in stroke
  • Rods
  • Scat 4340 H-beam
  • Pistons
  • JE forged w/ 8.5:1 compression
  • Camshafts
  • Comp Cams w/ 0.566/0.576 lift, 232/240 duration, and 114-degree lobe center
  • Cylinder heads
  • AFR 205
  • Intake manifold
  • Edelbrock Victor 5.0
  • Power Adder
  • Vortech S-Trim w/ 2.95-inch pulley, 12 psi
  • Fuel system
  • Aeromotive A100 pump w/ Aeromotive rails, upgraded lines, and 60-lb/hr injectors
  • Exhaust
  • BBK long-tubes w/ Dr. Gas X-pipe, and Flowmaster two-chamber mufflers
  • Transmission
  • Tremec 3550 w/ SPEC Stage 3, SPEC aluminum flywheel
  • Rearend
  • 8.8 w/ Moser 9-inch ends, 3.73 gears, and a Detroit Locker differential

Electronics

  • Engine management
  • Anderson PMS with InterACQ
  • Ignition
  • MSD 6AL box w/ MSD distributor
  • Gauges
  • Auto Meter Ultra-Lite boost, fuel pressure, A/F, temp and oil pressure

Suspension and Chassis

  • Front suspension
  • K-member
  • Stock
  • A-arms
  • Stock
  • Struts
  • Tokico five-way adjustable
  • Springs
  • BBK Performance
  • Brakes
  • '03 Cobra
  • Wheels
  • Bullitt, 17x8-in
  • Tires
  • BFG KDW, 245/45R-17

Rear suspension

  • Shocks
  • Tokico five-way adjustable
  • Springs
  • BBK Performance
  • Control Arms
  • Stock
  • Brakes
  • '03 Cobra
  • Wheels
  • Bullitt, 17x8-in
  • Tires
  • M/T ET Street, 275/40R-17