June 1, 2007

Replacing the factory aluminum intake manifold was a Weiand Stealth piece, and with it, Clark deemed a carb swap absolutely mandatory. "As far as I was concerned, the factory Holley/Motorcraft 4180 on my car was junk. It would take forever to start the car in the morning - at least three cranks on the starter, so it had to go. I eventually replaced it with a Barry Grant Road Demon 625 with electric choke, but being the pack rat I am, I still have the stock carb on a shelf at home." For improved lubing, a Melling high volume oil pump was added, along with a Ford Racing heavy-duty pump driveshaft. Fuel feed was also upgraded and the Demon now drinks from a Carter high volume pump and Summit carburetor feed with an integral fuel pressure gauge. Once the engine was put back together, Clark went to town detailing it and the bay in which it sat. "I installed a polished 3/8-inch aluminum fuel line and added Ford Motorsport polished aluminum valve covers with the insets painted blue and basically polished or painted every external engine accessory I could - stuff like the breathers, wire looms, accessory pulleys and ignition coil, which I relocated to the driver's side shock tower."

So with the engine built and detailed, plus the transmission overhauled, the car was able to run under its own steam once again, but with lots of other projects on the go, including a new house, Darel didn't have a lot of time to play with the '85, and barely drove it. After selling an '86 GT he had and clearing a few of his other things out of the way, Clark finally found some time to get back to finishing the project. "The car ran great with the rebuilt motor and trans, but I was no longer happy with the original paint and the suspension was still all stock and very worn by this point. My first plan of action was deciding to have the car repainted in its original color of Light Regatta Blue Metallic. In order to get it done right, that meant removing every piece of trim from my '85, along with the interior and all the weatherstripping. The whole process led to a 1-1/2 year rebuilding of the car. I had purchased a Cervini's Stacker wing a couple of years before and while I was getting the car painted by good friend Lee Durham, I ordered a Ram Air hood for it. As I'm a stickler for details, I made sure that the wing I'd purchased didn't have a high mounted stop light. The car is an '85, the last year before the Feds mandated center brake lights, so that was important to me." Once the paint was done, the GT looked better than new, but as Darel recalls, one of the hardest tasks was replacing the trim and weatherstripping. "Because it was a T-top car, I had a difficult time locating the correct weatherstrippping pieces and getting it to seal properly - even when these cars were new, the T-tops were notorious for leaking." So the '85 was running good and now on the outside, at least, it was looking the part too - time to tackle the suspension and brakes. "With the motor and driveline work done, the car felt sloppy on the road and the brakes were just terrible. I wanted to retain the Centerline Billet Sabre four lug wheels I'd purchased, so that limited my options a bit when it came to brake upgrades. I decided to use 1987-93 Mustang front spindles, Powerslot discs and got my hands on a pair of SVO calipers. At the back I replaced the weak 9-inch drums with a 10.25-inch rear disc four-lug upgraded kit from Stainless Steel Brake Corporation." Next it was the suspension. Clark turned to Maximum Motorsports and Stang Suspension to get the parts he needed. This included Tokico Illumina front struts and rear shocks, Ford Racing 'B' coils front and back, HP Mega-Bite Jr. rear lower control arms and FRPP heavy-duty uppers. There's also a Maximum Motorsports brace tying the front strut towers together, and one down beneath to keep the frame rails straight. Other bits included polyurethane bushings in just about every place possible, along with a set of Ford Racing lower front control arms. A Maximum Motorsports solid steering shaft and caster/camber plates also aide in cornering agility. Sitting on BFG 245/50-16 radials, Darel's '85 GT looks ready to pounce, even when sitting still and at least now, when he takes it out for a bit of back road bashing, it doesn't feel like he's driving a bowl of soup on wheels - far from it in fact and the best part is, it didn't cost him an arm and leg to bring the dynamics up to a modern performance level.