Don Roy
April 1, 2007
Photos By: Brad Bowling

Machinery at the back end of the engine includes a CenterForce Dual Friction clutch on a Ford Racing billet flywheel. The Tremec TKO manual transmission is equipped with a Steeda Tri-Ax short throw shifter and hooks into a Ford Racing aluminum driveshaft.

Chris Zajac’s 1991 Mustang LX
Fifteen year olds can be impressionable. To this day, Chris Zajac remembers when a buddy of his got his own 1986 Mustang GT. Those glorious 5-liter days were memorable anyway, but the second coming of Ford performance was led by the early Fox bodies. Chris lusted after his own Mustang and by the time he was 19, he had the means to get one. Finding something suitable was another story, however. In the end, persistence paid off with this 1991 LX coming to both his and has Dad's attention on the same day. Chris had located the car at the Ford dealer in Smithfield, NC and was getting ready to go and see it, when his father called about a green and grey 1991 Mustang in the local Trader newspaper. As they compared details, it turned out that they were talking about the very same car.

Chris went to check it out. The LX had 33,000 miles on it at the time and was in absolutely pristine condition. He bought it without thinking twice. He was still in college, but used some of that time to plan out and acquire future upgrades for the car. Chris told us that, by the time he finished college, he had a "closet full of parts" for the car. Still, there was a problem. Chris confesses that his accumulation of parts wasn't terribly coordinated, so as his Mustang knowledge grew he would figure out that this piece he'd bought before wouldn't work with that piece he recently picked up.


Course Adjustments
Shortly after moving out of college, Chris ran into Melvin Skinner from Fastlane Motorsports, in Benson, NC. The two soon began working on a new plan for the LX, which started with Chris selling off his packrat collection of parts. The funds were turned around and invested in a new rotating assembly from Bennett Racing. When you want to apply the term 'bullet-proof' to the bottom end of an engine, using tough components, such as a Bryant billet steel crankshaft, Oliver billet steel connecting rods and Ross forged pistons is a really good start. Keeping all those tough guys together is a job that falls to the engine block, and there are few better than the Ford Racing R-302 casting.

This is an iron block, having 4-bolt main bearing journals and nodular (high toughness) iron main bearing caps. Ford engineers deliberately eliminated the water passages between adjacent cylinder walls in order to have a solid, high strength casting that could stand up to full race duties. The block is actually supplied only in a semi-finished state. The builder has to finish honing the main bearing bores and lifter bores, for the closest, individual fit to actual parts. That work, along with other engine assembly tasks were taken over by the folks at Fastlane.

As time and resources allowed, more pieces were brought in for the developing 331 cid mill. A custom Comp Cams camshaft and their 1.6 ratio roller rockers were added, along with Edelbrock's aluminum Victor Jr. cylinder heads. A Holley SystemMax intake manifold supports an 80mm Accufab throttle body for air intake. An 8-quart Canton oil pan holds the reserve for the engine. On the fuel side, CPR 83 lb/hr fuel injectors are used, fed by an Aeromotive fuel pump and fuel pressure regulator. Under the hood, you'll also find a Vortech YS-trim supercharger and BBK ceramic-coated long tube headers. Those beauties flow the gas back through a set of 3-chamber Flowmaster mufflers. A Fluidyne aluminum radiator, coupled to the engine using Earl's stainless braided hoses, helps to ensure that this Pony keeps its cool, while an ignition coil and controller box from MSD give this car some spark.