September 1, 2007

So a date was set and Francisco brought the white ragtop up to Nelson's shop for the work to begin. It was shortly after this however, that fate took a slightly cruel turn. "The first plan was to just install a Vortech blower on the stock motor - the car had only 14,000 miles on it when I bought it and was basically brand new, so neither of us figured there would be a problem." Not with the engine, but the supercharger itself it turned out. "I don't know what happened, but we bolted everything on and we were tuning the car on the dyno after the installation, the supercharger made a strange sound and before I knew it, the stock engine had cooked." Ouch. Life does take some interesting turns sometimes, but despite this outcome, neither Francisco nor Dave were deterred. "We had discussions. We talked about a new engine for the car. Dave suggested that we build something a lot stronger and I eventually settled on a 331 stroker." Taking his time, Francisco figured decided to build the car up in one fell swoop. Although that would require considerable time and expenditure, he figured it was the best plan of action. Nelson agreed. "We began working on it in July 2005 and it took until December to have everything ready."

The stroker motor features tons of good stuff like a forged 4340 crank and rods, Trick Flow Twisted Wedge Heads (CNC'd of course), a Holley Systemax intake assembly (port-matched), eight 42 lb Ford Racing injectors that get fed via the stock gas tank and Aeromotive A1000 external electric pump, MSD coil and control box, plus a good ol' centrifugal blower, in this case a Vortech S-trim with a 3.3-inch pulley. MAC 1 5/8-inch shorty headers and a 2.5-inch off-road pipe and mufflers get rid of the spent fumes. A Canton oil pan was installed down below for a more than adequate bath for the crank and 10W30 ensures every internal crevice is lubed as it should be - after the first blower incident, no chances were taken the second time around. A gearbox able to handle this power was of prime consideration, so out came the T-5 and in went a Tremec TKO 600. One of Fidanza's lightweight 16 lb aluminum flywheels and a McCleod Street twin disc clutch help Martinez put power to the pavement in his fortified convertible. A Steeda Tri-Ax is the tool of choice for rowing the gears, while the 8.8 has been improved with an Eaton posi and a set of Moser 31-spline axles, plus the obligatory 3.73:1 gears, courtesy of Ford Racing in this case. When Francisco actually had the car dyno'ed on the rollers, it pulled 551 horsepower and 484 lb-ft of torque to the Mickey Thompson 275/40-17 drag radials. Bearing in mind this is a convertible and a Fox one at that, those kind of numbers meant that a few chassis stiffening upgrades were par for the course (ever driven a Fox ragtop over railroad tracks?). Exactly.

For Martinez, frame reinforcements ultimately meant going with a roll cage - a four-point Steeda piece that added some backbone to the notoriously flexible frame. Steeda bits were also employed to take care of another of this car's shortcomings - the suspension - including replacing the rear control arms, while Tokico Illumina shocks and struts were employed to improve damping. Francisco also took the liberty of converting the car to all-disc brakes, employing Stainless Steel's 13-inch front and 11-inch rear disc brake conversion kit. With a custom SCT tune mastered by Dave Nelson, employed on the car's original EEC-IV processor, along with a Fluidyne aluminum radiator and Flex-a-lite fan, this is one gnarly five-oh beast that can run hard and fast all day long if need be. Although it took a number of months for the little Mustang to get done the way he wanted, as the saying goes, the best things truly come to those who wait.