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1985 Ford Mustang GT - Finders Keepers
After A Fruitless Search For The Right LX Coupe, Jarret Ralton Hit Pay Dirt When He Came Across This Tasty '85 GT.
When Jarret contacted us about his Mustang, he mentioned that if we were to run it, that he'd really like to write the story himself. After having put him through one of the most rigorous grammar and spelling tests known to man, with Jarret living through the ordeal, we thought, why not? So here's Jarret's story about his 1985 Mustang - drum roll please...
Jarret Ralton’s 1985 Mustang GT
I searched for a very a long time to find the "four eyed" Mustang I now own. The '85 Mustang's styling still reflects the era when the modified Fox bodied craze started. Recently, I bought my first home and I finally have a garage! With this newly acquired workspace, I will be improving the performance as much as I can, however, I love the '80s styling so I'm adamant on retaining the car's current look, which, is almost, factory stock.
My journey into the world of four-eyed Mustangs began in early in 2000. Back then, I was living right outside New York City and my everyday beater was a high mileage Mercury Capri. While this cat was parked on the street, it was broken into twice, constantly got scratched and the infamous potholes of New York's urban jungle took its toll on the chassis and suspension. Still, the 5.0 Mercury proved to be a great car. It was reliable and I loved it, but my life would soon be changing. I was making the move from bachelor pad to shacking up with my then girlfriend (now wife). Because of the type of apartment, moving meant selling the Capri and taking the train to work instead. So with the money I got from the sale and now being able to save on gas and tolls, I set out to find a nicer Fox chassis machine to use just on the weekends. Even though I didn't need a car, I convinced my girlfriend that I had to do this. She understood my passion for cars and knew that I had to have a Mustang.
Like many other Stang nuts, I ideally wanted the mother of all Foxes, a notchback. For the money I was going to spend, it couldn't be some backyard project either. It had to be moderately optioned, 5 speed, low mileage, unmolested... and if that criteria wasn't enough, it had to be owned by an adult. So after several months, I of course was unsuccessful in this hunt, but one day, came across an '85 GT in the local classifieds. The second owner was claiming it had 31k original miles and an extensive list of modifications. The mileage on the car was intriguing, but the add-on's made me wary of its true condition. Regardless, I loved the early '80s carbureted Stangs, and the guy didn't sound like some punk kid, so I felt, this was one pony worth checking out.
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When I arrived at the house, it was as if time had stopped and it was still the late '80s. Steve, the owner, was an older guy and when he took the cover off the car, viola! ... a set of silver BBS mesh wheels befell me. In the year 2000, not too many performance cars were still sporting rims like these, especially 15-inchers. Upon opening the hood, I was expecting to see the signature dual snorkel intake, specific to the 1982-85 Mustang 5.0s. Instead there was a 13-inch Ford Motorsport chrome air cleaner in its place, with the snorkels having being cut off at both fenders. Underneath the air cleaner, there was a Holley 650 double pumper, sitting on top of an aluminum intake which seemed to have a higher rise than a stock manifold. A chromed fuel line with a Summit pressure gauge was plumbed to the carb. There were a pair of JBA chrome shorty headers that looked shiny and overall, the entire engine looked extremely clean. It turned out, that the original owner did all this work early on, so I was a little suspicious about the abuse this thing might've endured over the years. It also had an aftermarket cam made by a California based company called Madden. I'd never heard of this camshaft and the cam card revealed mild specs which were almost stock numbers. Other documentation showed that the car had received FRPP 1.6 roller rockers, a stock 2.25-inch catted H-pipe and Borla mufflers. The Motorsport rear disc conversion was already done but the original 10-inch rotors and calipers were still sitting up front. The rare components - engine wise, were a pair of J302 heads. I could see these were aluminum and I assumed they were Ford Motorsport GT40's until later, when somebody pointed out the diagonal bolt pattern on the exhaust ports. These heads are seldom seen anymore and historically, have proven to make good power.
While I was looking over the car, a neighbor named Larry walked up the driveway. This guy was the original owner and was responsible for the majority of the work performed early on. Steve impulsively bought the car from Larry a couple of years prior. Fortunately, I was able to talk extensively about the car with these two. There was a large folder, documenting the maintenance and modifications. Most of the work dated back to the late '80s through the early '90s. Many of the receipts showed the mileage of when the work was actually performed. I have to confesses that I was almost sold at this point but wanted to maintain a good poker face for negotiation time and of course, had to drive the car first.
Yeah, yeah, enough small talk, let's go for a ride! Even though I'd had a 5.0 before, this car took off with just a moderate push of the pedal. The original owner had put in a 8.8 rear with 3:73 Motorsport gears. After taking a couple of hard turns and bumps, I realized it wasn't the stock suspension as it felt tight. This car absorbed bumps well and unlike my old Capri, it didn't sound like the dashboard was going to fall apart. There were Koni red adjustable shocks and FRPP sub frame connectors installed but still, the car sported factory stock springs.
Even though the rear disc conversion was done, the brakes felt weak. There was no lock up, even with a full pedal push. Damn 10-inch front rotors I thought! What was impressive was the Ford Racing heavy-duty clutch, installed when some of the motor mods were done. This guy Larry didn't thoughtlessly bolt on some "go fast" parts, he seemed to have taken a far more proactive approach. The medium canyon red paint was claimed to be the original and it looked it but there was evidence that the hood had been resprayed. The stock hood had a cut in it to accommodate a functional 1983 cowl scoop. The interior was immaculate in comparison to the stained carpets and worn seat bolsters typically found in the early Foxes by that stage. In my opinion, the 1985-86 Mustang GT seats are arguably the nicest Ford ever put in a Mustang and unlike my Capri, the red piping was still vibrant and the bolsters had no tears. The dash had no cracks and it was evident that this car was well taken care of. That afternoon I gave up the quest for the ultimate notch and bought this '85 GT the very next morning.
A year later, I considered painting the spokes of the BBS wheels in black. Although they were in excellent condition, I wanted to simulate the Saleen look from that era. In the end, I wound up finding a decent set of 16-inch black mesh Riken wheels and that took care of that. I traded the BBS rims for an 1989 11-inch front brake setup and some stereo equipment. Replacing those miniscule brakes with Russell steel braided lines and adding the wheels dramatically changed both the look and feel of the car.
The suspension was improved with the addition of Eibach springs, a strut tower brace and Maximum Motorsport lower control arms. Installing the arms and a pair of Nitto 555 R's resulted in some crazy grip in the rear. While doing this, I also decided to install an aluminum driveshaft. My only regret was not replacing the upper arms at the same time, as today, there's still some noticeable rear body movement when going around corners.
A K&N air filter was added to free up the breathing and the air/fuel cocktail now gets mixed in via an Edlebrock 650 Thunder Series carb. At the time, the 650 Holley Double Pumper seemed to be too much of a carburetor or just simply not compatible for my setup. It would constantly bog and flood during a hard brake. I tried my luck with the Edlebrock. Many Mustang owners seem to prefer the Holley carbs, but back then I was driving the car more often. Installing the E-brock gave me better gas mileage than the double pumper and the engine now felt almost as smooth as a fuel injected five-oh. I also replaced the original fuel hoses with some steel braids, colored AN fittings and a couple of new filters were added to the fuel path.
Just recently I added an X-type mid pipe, an MSD ignition and finally replaced the tired old Madden cam with a Steeda # 19, which makes great power in the mid to higher rpms. The entire air conditioning system was removed, the heads were milled slightly and a few other small details were addressed. I'd really like to thank Realspeed Automotive on Long Island for the installation and pointing out a few things that needed attention.
The new mods unleashed a lot of power, but that low end bog still remains. Don't get me wrong, the Edlebrock is a good carb but with the new additions, it will soon be replaced with either a 670 Street Avenger or a 750. The car was dynoed before and after all this work. It turns out, even with the extensive list of modifications, the old cam was robbing me of about 60 horses.
I've owned this car for six years now and the odometer shows 58,000 miles on the clock. My '85 has brought me a few show trophies during the course of that time, but for me, one of the best aspects of owning this car is hanging out with people at shows, cruise nights and online, which makes this hobby most enjoyable. Along the way, I've made some good friends who share the same obsessive passion. With some late nights in my new garage and an understanding wife, I hope to take my "85 GT to take the next performance level. Long live the four-eyes!
Jarret Ralton's 1985 Mustang GT
Ford 5.0-liter V8
Ford Motorsport J302 cylinder heads; Ford Motorsport 1.6 roller rockers; Steeda #19 camshaft; Ford Racing aluminum intake manifold; Edelbrock 650 Thunder Series four-barrel carburetor; K&N air filter; A/C delete kit, MSD 6AL ignition control box, MSD Blaster 2 coil; JBA 1 3/4" shorty headers. UPR 2 1/2" X-type mid-pipe, Borla 2 1/2" mufflers and tips
Ford Racing 10.5" King Cobra clutch, pressure plate and aluminum flywheel; Hurst Competition short-throw shifter; UPR shift stem and Cobra knob 8.8" rear with Ford Racing 3.73 final drive
Subframe connectors;strut tower brace
Repainted in original shade of Medium Canyon Red Metallic, functional 1983 Mustang hoodscoop
Drilled aluminum foot pedals
Maximum Motorsports lower control arms; Koni Red adjustable front struts and rear shocks; Eibach Pro springs; 1989 Ford Mustang V8 10.84" front disc brakes and single piston calipers; rear disc brake conversion and bias valve
Wheels And Tires
Riken 16 x7" alloy wheels; Nitto 245/50/16 rear tires