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Matt Farah’s Widebody Mustang is the Ideal Blend of Power and Balance
What do you get when you cross a Fox-body Mustang with an independent rear suspension, massive tires, a hard-charging 302, and a purpose-built attitude? Matt Farah's Mustang, of course—and it's brilliant.
Matt is the charismatic host of The Smoking Tire podcast and YouTube show and is a hilariously affable dude who could probably charm the spare change off the vagrant panhandling at your local freeway offramp. He grew up with friends who had Fox-body Mustangs and always wanted one, but the closest he got was a 1995 Mustang his safety-conscious mom steered him towards buying because it had dual airbags and antilock brakes. This is the Mustang he wanted instead.
It's actually morphed into something beyond what the high schooler in his past would have imagined. Though we've taken plenty of shots at fender flares and body kits in the past, understand that they're on this car for a purpose. Matt's Fox-body mustang is basically sitting on the suspension from a 2004 Mustang Cobra; that generation Mustang was about six inches wider than his, so rather than shortening the axles and running wheels with lots of positive offset, Matt doubled down, going wiiiiide on the wheels and housing them in carbon-fiber flares. The riveted-on shabby/chic look is perfect for the car, and the result is a menacing appearance: low-slung, broad-shouldered, and ready to brawl.
This car began life as a California Highway Patrol cruiser; it's a stripper model with crank windows and no air conditioning. Matt bought it from a guy who ran out of funds mid-build. The previous owner had just dropped in a fresh Ford Racing 302 crate engine. With the intention of making it a canyon-carver, Matt tapped Mustang wizards Maximum Motorsports for help in the suspension department. They bid a fond farewell to the solid rear axle and hello to the IRS Cobra components. The front suspension received the full Maximum Motorsports treatment as well, and Cobra disc brakes were added to each corner.
Matt's goal was to have the car he wanted in high school but make it drive like a modern GT, and though the build took several years with more than a few setbacks, he's pleased with the results. You can tell he took a methodical approach in choosing and setting up the chassis. The car was corner-balanced to have equal weight distribution, race ready, with him in the driver's seat. The car's svelte 3,110 pounds (with fluids and a full tank of gas) and massive 295-series tires mean it can really hold a corner, and the relatively soft springs and shocks soak up bumps on the canyon roads, keeping the car poised and planted in tight turns. The willing and revvy 302 sounds amazing zinging up to its redline as Matt rows the gears in the T5 transmission. Speaking from experience, this car rides every bit as good as it looks, digging into corners with the exhaust crackling off the canyon walls. We wish more cars felt as pure and unpretentious as this one does.
Who: Matt Farah
Where: Venice, CA, which is technically a neighborhood in the city of Los Angeles
What: 1988 Ford Mustang
Engine: The original 5.0 was replaced with a Ford Racing crate engine just prior to Matt purchasing the car. It makes 350 hp at the crank, thanks to a set of Ford's efficient GT40 cylinder heads, a hydraulic roller cam, BBK headers, and a free-flowing Flowmaster exhaust system. An Edelbrock water pump, Mishimoto aluminum radiator, and Ford Contour electric fans keep the coolant temperatures in check.
Transmission/Rearend: Tremec's venerable T5 transmission is compact and lightweight, yet more than capable behind the small-block. Maximum Motorsports supplied the quadrant and clutch cable that actuates the Centerforce clutch, and a Ford Racing aluminum driveshaft connects to a Cobra 8.8 centersection with a Torsen limited-slip differential.
Chassis/Suspension: Knowing he wanted a handling machine, Matt collaborated with Maximum Motorsports, installing its front K-member, A-arms, coilovers, and a steering rack from a 2004 Cobra. Maximum Motorsports also converted the car to the Cobra's independent rear suspension, using its Grip Package, sway bars, heim-joint linkages, Eibach springs, and Bilstein shocks. MM's subframe connectors and roll bar help stiffen the chassis. The car will pull around 1.2 g on a skidpad, but in the real world, the resulting ride is utterly sublime through the mountain roads north of Los Angeles.
Brakes: 2004 Mustang Cobra brakes are found on all four corners. The rotors are from Ford Racing and are gripped by Hawk HP Plus performance brake pads. The master cylinder is from a 1994 Mustang Cobra, and the brake hoses are from Maximum Motorsports.
Wheels/Tires: HRE RS105 wheels are on all four corners, wrapped in ultra-grippy 295/30ZR18 Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires.
Interior: Though you'd think it was polarizing, everyone seems to love the custom upholstery on the door panels and Recaro seats. Matt says the material came from Modern Fabrics; it's designed for lawn furniture and was a popular pattern in the 1970s. It was stitched into the car by Exoticar Inc. in West Los Angeles. A full set of AutoMeter gauges monitor the engine's performance, and a Momo Prototipo steering wheel adds a touch of class. The basketball net cupholder is from a Mercedes G-wagon, because Matt needs his daily dose of coffee. To compensate for the lack of air conditioning, he wears a CoolShirt connected to a water tank in the trunk.
Multimedia: Follow Matt in Instagram at thesmokingtire and The Smoking Tire on YouTube. He also contributes to the Drive Network and recently started a new podcast about watches called Watch and Listen.