November 1, 2007

It's a long way from a used Honda Civic to a modified 5-liter Mustang, but Phil Holman isn't complaining. He's now hooked on American muscle and this black 1995 Mustang GT convertible has quite a lot to do with that. Yes, Phil's first car was indeed a Civic and while it no doubt served the purpose of getting him from one place to another, from talking to Phil it's doubtful that it provided anything more. Holman's first foray into playing around with cars (and trucks), came via another imported vehicle, well, if we're being honest a captive import - a Chevy LUV pickup (remember those?). However, Phil decided things would be a little more interesting if he stuffed a Chevy 327 V8 between the tiny framerails, so that's what he did. Talk about power to weight ratio. At this point a train of events had been set in motion, one that would lead up to this modified, 1995 Mustang GT convertible. Phil hooked up with local master mechanic Lynn Peterson. Having wrenched for years, with a particular penchant for Pontiacs, Lynn had built this nasty sounding GTO. Phil's Girlfriend, Terri, really liked the exhaust note of this car, so Phil kept it in mind for his next project, which as it turned out, came, unusually, via a rental car.

Catching The Feeling
Yes, Mustangs first had an impact on Holman when he rented a SN95 convertible one time in Texas. "I liked the feel of that car - the way it drove, the fact that it was a convertible - it was just a nice car." So when he got back home to Virginia, the search was on. When he stumbled across an original, 1995 Mustang GT ragtop with just 64,000 miles on the clock, that was it, he just had to have this particular foal. With the title changed over to his name, Holman enjoyed the spoils that came with owning such a car. "People say that the 1994-95 cars were slower and heavier than their predecessors, but this one ran strong, it did have underdrive pulleys, but other than that it was all-stock. Every time I drove it, the car felt like it had a lot of bottom end grunt." Still, the words Mustang and modified seemingly go hand-in-hand (check out the title of this magazine for instance), so it didn't take long for Holman to start playing here and there. The engine proved to be first on the list. "The GTO that Lynn owned, man that thing just sounded bad.I figured it would be neat to get that kind of aggressive idle in a newer, computer controlled V8, like that in the Mustang, but it was a little challenging." The biggest hurdle, naturally concerned the Mustang's electronic brain. "The 1994-95 cars have more powerful and restrictive computers. They don't like aggressive camshafts, in fact they don't really like very many changes at all." Still, Holman was undeterred. With help from Lynn, the stock 302 was lifted out of the GT's engine bay and work began. "It can be tough when you're doing this first time around, but I have to say that Bob at D&D Automotive in Pennsylvania was instrumental on this project. He spent a lot of time with me going over things. He helped me pick the right combination of parts to help me achieve my goal of decent driveability with an aggressive sounding engine and old-school lopey idle. I can't thank him enough." One thing that did come to light during the part picking process was junking the stock EEC-IV computer entirely. "No matter what we tried, it just didn't work. Bob suggested changing it for a 1993 Fox computer.I got my hands on one and had Dynotech in Woodbridge, VA calibrate it for use in my car."

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