Huw Evans
August 1, 2006
Photos By: Tracy Stocker

"The front air dam was one of the most difficult things to replace. You can only get new-old stock or used ones and I needed to replace the original - luckily the Marchal fog lights in it were undamaged - but the center section was busted up." Another issue concerned the rear bumper, but this ultimately became a case of a silk purse from sow's ear if there ever was one. "I was at a stoplight on my street. I'd just washed the car and I was on my way to the dyno. This '02 Cavalier comes over the crest of the hill and straight into the back of me. I was doing about 30 mph at the time, he was doing about 50. The damage wasn't too bad - my car was a bit bent, his was totalled. Thank god for aluminum bumpers." But the mishap had left Steve in a bit of a dilemma. "I needed a new rear bumper cover. My car wasn't worth much according to mainstream value guides and rear bumpers are almost impossible to find. I thought I was screwed, but ... the adjuster from the insurance company was great. He was a big fan of '79 Pace Cars and his wife owned one. He said, 'I'm not going to let this car get taken off the road, I'll get you what you need.'" So Chirico received a check for $4,300 and that covered the cost of finding a NOS rear bumper and repaint. "It was awesome - he was so good about it. My dad and I found a guy who had three NOS rear bumpers and got one for the car. I also managed to get a NOS front air dam too." Talk about lady luck shining down. And with the car back together, Steve finally managed to get it on the dyno too. And with the mods mentioned, along with 10 degrees of timing BBK 1 5/8" shortie headers and Magnaflow mufflers the result was (drum roll please)...

... 250 horsepower and 295 lb/ft of torque at the wheels. "It really likes the timing. It picked up tremendously and now it's running 15 degrees." So that just about brings us up to date, but Chirico still has a few things he wants to do. "I'd like to convert it to Mass Air as soon as I have the money and play with the air/fuel a bit. I'd also like to have the original Recaro seats re-upholstered. They're up in my attic now - I've got some Hunsaker race buckets in the front and I've installed a Kenwood head unit and Blaupunkt speakers and some autometer gauges (tach, water temp and voltage btw), but I still have a lot of the original stuff, aside from the engine (well, we can understand that Steve). If I wanted to restore it I could probably do it." But right now young Chirico is just having too much fun driving his '79 just the way it is. "I really, really like this car now and it would take me a great deal of thinking before I'd even consider selling it and a lot of money. It's gotten to a point that I'd like to find another car to drive daily as this one deserves better now." And this from a guy who thought it was an ugly piece of $@%! four years ago. Shows you what happens when a Mustang comes into your life now doesn't it?

Steve chirico's 1979 Mustang
Indy Pace car

1988 Ford 5-liter V8

Engine Modifications
Crane 1.7 ratio Roller Rocker Arms; Ford E7TE Iron cylinder heads, ported with 5-angle valve job by Thumper Performance; ARP head studs; Trick Flow Track Heat intake manifold; Professional Products 65 mm throttle body; Ford Racing valve covers, radiator, cooling fan; K&N air filter; Accel fuel pressure regulator; BBK 155 lph fuel pump, 1-5/8" shorty headers; Magnaflow 2.5" exhaust

Hurst Billet Plus shifter; Ford 3.55 ratio rear axle gears; 1988 T-5 manual transmission

250 RWHP, 295 RWTQ

Steve Chirico's 1979 Mustang Indy Pace Car

Xenon front bumper fascia; Graphics by Phoenix Graphics

Hunsaker Sports race seats; Autometer gauges, including water temperature, oil pressure, voltage, fuel level, tachometer, speedometer; Kenwood stereo head unit; Blaupunkt speakers, 6" x 9" rear, 3.5" front

Ford Racing 'C' springs; Monroe SensaTrac struts and shock absorbers; Pro 3i lower control arms

Wheels And Tires
AFS Cobra R wheels,17" x 9" with Hankook 255/45R17 tires all around