Modified Mustangs & FordsFeatured Vehicles
1987 Ford Mustang GT - Way 2 Fast
Most Of His Friends Don't Agree, But A Couple Think That This Fox Is...
Early influences can be long lasting. That's why our ponycar's 40-plus years of history has such a profound impact. Here's an example. When the owner of this particular Mustang was just a youngster, his best friend's father had - and actually still has - a 1966 Mustang fastback. Don Mills fell in love with that legend and grew determined to buy his own Mustang just as soon as he was old enough to drive. And so, he did. "This is my first car. I purchased it in March of 1997 when I was a senior in high school and have had it ever since," Don told us.
Since then, other Mustangs have come and gone, but this one isn't going anywhere without its current owner. "I love this car and have no plans of replacing or selling it. This one will stay with me forever." That's not to say the competition hasn't been intense. Don has built five other Mustangs in the last 10 years, including some all-engine, a couple of supercharged and one turbo version. Each of them, in turn, has moved on, but not the '87. When this car and Mills were first developing their relationship, some of his friends were also into the Mustang scene. They had all investigated and played with the basic bolt-on components, until one of the group discovered nitrous oxide. Escalation and friendly rivalry began to surface.
"I was determined to build my car all normally aspirated to keep up with, or beat, his car." First came an FRPP GT-40 upper and lower intake and fuel system developments. The hit from that was satisfying, but short-lived as you might expect. "I needed more, so I purchased a brand new set of GT-40X heads and a B-303 camshaft. In combination with long tube headers and EEC tuning, that made the difference I was looking for with the car to beat my buddy's nitrous car."
Naturally, the rivalries continued for a time, but then something strange happened. "The car became my pride and joy and I was done 'competing' with my friends for speed and I wanted to keep it super clean and make it stand out." All of the work that had been lavished on the hatch up to this point was done by Don himself, but when it came time for a new paint job, a friend of his, Brice, helped out. The original colors of Medium Cabernet on top and Titanium below the belt line were retained, but first there were some body lines that Don wanted to update. A Cervini's Stormin' Norman 2.5-inch cowl hood was installed, along with their Cobra grille. Don was impressed with the quality of the parts that Cervini's delivered. "I would definitely like to mention them as the fit, finish and quality of their hood and grille are amazing. There was very minimal prep and fitting work that needed to be done."
Let The Fun Begin
With a background in Information Systems, the Internet is no stranger to our Mr. Mills. So, you might understand why he ended up buying a used ATI Procharger via that big, online auction site. See, even though he was done competing with his friends, part of making the hatch stand out still revolved around performance. As is sometimes the case with Internet auctions, the goods delivered were not 100 per cent complete. A phone discussion with the good people at ATI filled in the bits missing from the parts list. At the same time, Don added the Renegade discharge tube to his order. And that is where things started to get interesting.
With the supercharger installed, Don soon found that the new discharge tube, which sits between the huffer's outlet and the throttle body, didn't allow the hood to close properly. Since he wasn't willing to give up the hood, out came the Renegade. "I decided to make some cuts in the tube and start fabricating the small sections of tube to fit under the hood. I ended up buying some stainless steel tubing to reroute the upper radiator hose, as well. I started fabricating the discharge tube to have the blow off valve immediately after the supercharger, so that it wouldn't create turbulence in the MAF." His work wasn't over with just that, of course. To get that tube just the way he wanted it, the piece would also have to route around the blower itself and the A/C bracket, then go around the front of the distributor, behind the alternator and around the oil filler cap. The desired routing of the upper rad hose came next - likely a simple job by comparison - and finally, adapting the three-inch Pro-M MAF. Finishing metal work was handled by another friend, who also painted the work of art to match the body color. An Anderson Power Pipe was also installed with much less drama, along with their low restriction conical air filter.
Additional mods were needed to support the supercharger's performance ways. A pair of 255 lph fuel pumps were added, along with a basket of Aeromotive hardware and Ford Racing's 42 lb/hr fuel injectors. With the supercharger project complete, Don had a few months to enjoy the results, but for the following year, suspension and brake revisions made it on to his list.
Now, you might have figured out by now that Don Mills isn't one to do things by halves. We think that the delivery guy also knew that pretty quickly. Arriving in short order were Tokico Illumina 5-way adjustable shocks and struts, Eibach springs, UPR caster/camber plates and bump steer kit, Steeda X2 ball joints, a Maximum Motorsports' strut tower brace, Kenny Brown Pro Series panhard rod, as well as examples of most everything from the Energy Suspension catalog. The list of pieces for brake upgrades was easily as long, and then there was work to be done on the rear axle as well.
In a previous suspension upgrade, Don had installed some other brand of rear control arms - both upper and lower. They had proven to be very hard on the car and the torque boxes had suffered as a result. A call to Wild Rides netted a set of their 'Battle Boxes' to reinforce the LCA attachment points. Don was upgrading the control arms again, this time with Pro3i product, but noticed that spider cracks had set in and there was a piece of metal now missing from the vicinity of where the control arm mounts to the torque box. Not good. In true MacGyver fashion, he started cutting, welding and fabricating in order to replace the missing metal, as well as to reinforce the internal structure of the torque box. Some cutting down of the control arm bushings was also needed, but everything went together nicely and continues working well to this day.
Getting the brakes together was a rather simpler job, but in Don's world, that still doesn't imply a straightforward bolt-on job. Installing 2003 Cobra front brakes on a Fox Mustang means first replacing the front suspension's spindles and hubs with more modern parts - those from a 1994 GT, in this case. Out came the brake booster and master cylinder, to be replaced with those from a 1995 V6 Pony. These moves allowed the dual 40mm piston calipers and a set of Brembo slotted front rotors to be put in service. A 3-2 port brake line conversion kit was installed for the new master cylinder, while a Biondo line lock was added, while Russel brake lines and Hawk Performance HP Plus pads rounded out the install. The 8.8" back end was coming apart for new 3.55 gears, axles and a trac-loc differential, so the rear brakes would get 'the treatment' as well. Ford Racing supplied the 11.65" rear brake rotors, 1995 GT rear calipers, brake lines, brackets and other needed bits.
Lack of ambition is not something that Mr. Mills is known for. This Fox was originally built without speed control. When adding the line lock and building in a couple of stages of rev limiter, he changed out the steering column and wheel for a cruise control version. Actually, Don wasn't looking for highway convenience. He wired both the line lock and rev controls into the wheel-mounted cruise control switches - slick! Mr. Mills has standards and these also show nicely in the interior upgrades. When he planned to add a plethora of Auto Meter gauges, Don also thought about the problem of the resulting 'dead' gauges in the cluster. His solution? Get rid of them. His instrument cluster has been modified by adding a 140-mph speedometer from a 1993 Mustang and removal of the tach, water temperature and oil pressure gauges. In place of the tach, he's installed an original 1965 Mustang running horse emblem.
Don's car continues to evolve, though not at the previous pace. Recent additions include the 1999 SVT Cobra wheels you see here and adding an adjustable BOV, which required additional fabrication and welding. A Wolfe Racecraft 6-point roll bar has been ordered but hadn't arrived before our photo shoot.
How fast is it?
In spite of all the modifications, this Pony remains fully streetable and Don can often be seen cruising Woodward Avenue in the summer, or other popular cruise routes in the Detroit area. One time, while taking a close friend out for a ride, Don exceeded his friend's expectations ... by a lot. Apparently the friend had a lot of previous exposure to fast cars and he found this one beyond his comfort level. By the time they returned home, the friend was mumbling over and over that the car was "way too fast".
Interior / Exterior
Don Mills' 1987 Mustang GT
Wild Rides' Battle Box reinforcements for lower control arms; Kenny Brown subframe connectors; UPR battery relocation kit; Maximum Motorsports strut tower brace; 2004 SVT Cobra 40mm dual piston calipers; Brembo slotted 13" front brake rotors; Hawk Racing HP Plus brake pads; Ford Racing rear Cobra brake conversion, including 11.65" vented rear disks, parking bake conversion; Ford 1995 GT rear calipers, brake booster and master cylinder; Biondo Racing custom line lock; Wilwood billet proportioning valve; Russel SS braided brake lines
Cervini's Stormin' Norman hood, Cobra grill insert; Ford Racing stainless hood pins; Shaved emblems; Mustang LX tail lights
Pro 5.0 shifter with custom shifter arm; Custom guage cluster, including 140 mph speedometer, other in-dash gauges deleted; Autometer 5" monster tach, Air/fuel gauge, water temperature, fuel pressure, oil pressure, boost gauges; Steeda billet alumium pedal covers; 1998 Cobra leather wrapped steering wheel, E-brake handle; TwEECer real time datalogging tuning chip, custom hidden switch plate and access panel
Tokico Illumina 5-way struts and shock absorbers; Eibach Race springs; UPR billet caster/camber plates, bump steer kit; Energy Suspension polyurethane bushings; Steeda X2 ball joints, boxed upper control arms, polyurethane axle bushings; Ford 1994 GT spindles and hubs; Pro3i tubular lower control arms; Kenny Brown Pro series Panhard Bar
Wheels And Tires
Ford Racing 1999 Cobra 17 x 8" aluminum wheels, SVT center caps; Bridgestone Potenza 245/45-17 RE50 tires all around
Don Mills' 1987 Mustang GT engine
Ford 5.0-liter V8, now 306 cid
Eagle forged crankshaft, forged H-beam connecting rods; TRW forged, flat top pistons, hardened push rods, lifters; ARP forged oversize piston pins, main bolts, heads studs and other hardware throughout; Probe Industries billet block girdle, custom fitted; Canton 7-qt oil pan; Pro-M mass air conversion, 3" ATI Tube MAF; Holley billet throttle body; BBK EGR spacer, long tube headers; Ford Racing GT-40X aluminum cylinder heads, GT-40 upper and lower intake manifolds, 42 lb/hr fuel injectors, GT-40 valves and valve springs, B-303 camshaft, silicone coolant hoses, 9mm spark plug wires, chromed valve covers, high torque Mini-starter, billet flywheel, clutch pressure plate; ATI P1-SC supercharger, custom non-intercooled driver's side mount; AFM Power Pipe, conical high flow air filter; Crane adjustable fuel pressure regulator; Flowmaster two chamber, 3" mufflers; Be-Cool aluminum radiator, slim high flow fan; Edelbrock Victor high flow water pump; UPR A/C eliminator kit; March engine pulley covers; MSD Blaster ignition coil, 6AL controller, 2-step rev limiter; Centerforce dual friction clutch disk
Lakewood aluminum bell housing; Ford Racing aluminum driveshaft, 3.55-ratio rear axle gears, 31-spline axles, traction lock differential; HPM driveshaft safety loop; Ground Pounder true rear end cap girdle system, rear axle cover; Energy Suspension motor mounts
Best ET To Date: 12.60 @ 113.8 mph