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.


Moving Ahead
While Chris likes power in his Mustang, he also knows that being able to control it is not overrated. He has paid due attention to the suspension and structure of the car so that it will hold up well. A Wild Rides 6-point roll cage adds to the chassis and safety priorities, while HPM Megabite Jr. lower control arms and UPR double adjustable uppers help to keep the rear axle where it should be. The original front and rear binders have been replaced by 1998 Cobra brakes for more stopping power. A set of Steeda Sport springs were used to drop the car for an improved stance and the Tokico four-way adjustable shock absorbers and struts can be used to dial in the desired handling and ride qualities, along with the Steeda front sway bar. Also helping to keep the shiny side up are a set of SSR wheels, 17 x 8-inches up front and 17 x 9-inches out back, shod with 245/45-17 Nitto 555 radials for steering and 275/40-17 555R drag radials at the stern.

When he first bought this LX, it was green on the outside and grey on the inside. With more than 100,000 miles on the clock, Chris decided that it was time for a change. Another visit to Fastlane Motorsports resulted in a plan that included a Cervini's 3-inch cowl hood replacement and a respray in the Iris Blue you see in our photos. As well, the interior was going to see an extreme makeover. Rather than continue taking checks from Chris, Melvin Skinner suggested that Chris work on dyeing the interior fabrics. Several nights of participation ensued and you can see that the results are great.

An Auto Meter Pro Comp replacement instrument cluster started the remake of the dashboard and ensured that visual harmony would be maintained as the rest of the gauges were installed. Additional electronics included an Alpine head unit and V12 amplifier, for delivering the best in tunes. Infinity speakers replaced all of the originals to ensure total fidelity. Then, all of the interior plastic panels were sprayed in Dupont interior vinyl paint. The cloth Recaro front seats were used as a pattern for the folks at Fastlane to build a rear seat replacement using matching fabric and stitching. A Grant leather steering wheel provides the finishing touch on an interior that we're sure you'll agree is both spectacular and fully functional.

Fine tuning of the engine work is enabled by a complete FAST engine management system. Caleb Skinner at Fastlane did the tuning and when using 100-octane go juice, the mighty mill rewarded them with 662 RWHP and 495 RWTQ outputs. Feeling rather like a second son to Melvin Skinner these days, Chris told us "I've known the Skinners for years and I would not have anyone else take care of my car." The end result was worth the two years required in completely remodelling every aspect of this Fox beauty. Chris said that he invested every spare penny he had to do it right the first time around.

As Chris looks to the future, his new wife and upcoming baby are going to have an impact, so it's probably good that the Mustang's reconstruction is now complete. While it may be time to move on, Chris knows that these new influences in his life are going to be keepers as well.

Specifications
Chris Zajac's 1991 Mustang LX

Engine
Ford 5.0-liter V8

Engine Modifications
Ford Racing Performance Parts R-302 engine block; Block machining by Bennett Racing, AL; Bryant billet steel crankshaft, 3.25" stroke; Ross forged aluminum pistos, dish top, .030" oversize; 331 cid displacement, 8.7:1 compression ratio; Oliver billet steel connecting rods, 5.4" length; ARP main bolts, head studs; Comp Cams custom ground camshaft, lifters. 1.6 ratio roller rocker arms; Edelbrock Victor Jr. aluminum cylinder heads; Canton 8-quart oil pan; Holley Systemax intake manifold; Accufab 80mm throttle body; Vortech YS-trim supercharger; CPR 83 lb/hr fuel injectors; Aeromotive 1000 fuel pressure regulator, fuel pump; MSD 6AL ignition controller; EFI ignition coil; NGK spark plugs; Taylor 10.4mm ingition wires; BBK ceramic-coated long tube headers, 1.75"; Flowmaster 2.5" 3-chamber mufflers; Earl's stainless braided engine hoses; Fluidyne aluminum radiator; FAST engine management system, tuning by Fastlane Motorsports

Driveline
Tremec TKO manual transmission; Ford Racing aluminum flywheel, aluminum driveshaft; Centerforce dual friction clutch; Steeda Tri-Ax short throw shifter; Metco driveshaft safety loop

Numbers
662 RWHP, 495 RWTQ

Chassis
Optima battery, relocated to trunk; 1998 SVT Cobra brake conversion

Exterior
Cervini's 3" cowl hood; Dupont Chromabase paint, Porsche Iris Blue, with Dupont 7500S clear coat by Fastlane Motorsports

Interior
Wild Rides' 6-point roll bar; Recaro seats; RCI 3-point restraints; Custom rear seat, by Fastlane, upholstered to match the Recaro fronts; Grant leather steering wheel; Auto Meter Pro Comp gauges, including boost pressure, fuel ressure, water temperature, oil pressure, volts, fuel level and speedometer; Alpine CD head unit, amplifier; Infinity tweeters, door and rear speakers

Suspension
HPM Mega Bite Jr. rear lower control arms; UPR double adjustable upper control arms; Steeda Sport springs; Tokico adjustable shock absorbers and struts; Steeda front sway bar

Wheels And Tires
SSR wheels, 17 x 8" front, 17 x 9" rear; Nitto 555 245/35-17 front tires, 555R 275/45R17 rear