Bob McClurg
March 1, 2001

We're all poor boys in this neighborhood," smiles Michigander James Williams. "We can't afford to buy a late-model, 5-liter Mustang. We have to start with what we can afford, and that's a 4-cylinder car."

James went on to relate that by comparison to the higher priced Mustang V8s, a 4-cylinder car costs about half to a third as much. "Four-banger cars are a dime-a-dozen," says James. "And if you look hard enough, you can come up with one that isn't rusted all the way up to the roof."

Case in point: The 1988 Mustang LX coupe you're looking at was acquired a couple of years ago through a friend who had purchased the car down in Mississippi. The 4-pot pony had low mileage. The paint was sun-faded, but it had never been wrecked. Best of all was its selling price-would you believe $500? "The only time I drove the car with the 4-cylinder in it was the day I brought it home." Williams immediately swapped in a slightly warmed over-carbureted 302 and Borg Warner T-5. In the process, he also dumped the factory 7.5-inch rear end in favor of an 3.55:1 geared, 8.8-inch from a 1985 Saleen.

That might have been the end of our story, but Williams was far from satisfied. "I wanted more power. After going through a couple of different small-block Ford engine combinations, I decided I wanted more bang for the buck, and settled on an 1982 351-W," said William. But not just any 351 Windsor.

He purchased his 351-W out of an old Detroit cop car. After disassembly, the block was hauled over to Stu Evans Motorsport, a division of Stu Evans Lincoln-Mercury in Livonia, Mich., where the block was overbored .030-inches. The crank was also turned and micro-polished, and all internal engine components, including 12.5:1 compression J&E forged-aluminum "pop up" pistons, and heavy-duty, 351-W truck rods, were fully balanced. Upon re-assembly, Clevite 77 engine bearings, and a complete Competition Cams valvetrain were also installed. A 7-quart Canton Racing oil pan is also used in the engine build.

When it came to the heads, Williams selected a set of D00E 351-W cylinder heads. Spending the money where it counted the most, he had Roush Racing perform a street/strip port and polish job along with adding a set of Manley 1.94-inch intake, and 1.54-inch exhaust stainless-steel valves with the aforementioned Comp Cams valvetrain componentry.

Induction is handled by an Edlebrock Victor Jr. intake, sporting a 750 Holley Double-Pumper with mechanical secondaries. Exhaust is handled by a set of MAC products alumanized 2.5-inch equal-tube headers, sending the spent gases back through a set of Flowmaster 2-chamber mufflers.

In the process of swapping out the 302 for the 351, James also upgraded the stock T-5 to an SVO "World Class" T-5, complete with Centerforce clutch. To be more compatible with the built 351-W's powerband, rear end gearing in the 8.8 was upgraded from 3.55 to 3.73:1.

A few more noteworthy but none-the-less important mechanical changes-the LX's 4-cylinder front crossmember has been changed out for one from a V8, and now employs a Pinto manual rack-and-pinion steering setup and a set of 1-inch lower front springs.

Williams also upgraded the car to 5-lug axles, using polished 17x7-inch, 1994 Mustang GT "six-bar" aluminum wheels with 255/50ZR17-inch BFGoodrich Comp T/A radial rubber.

The owner also upgraded to 4-wheel disc brakes using SVO catalog items. A set of BBK lower control arms replace the stock units, and a pair of Lakewood 50/50 rear shocks have also been installed. All of these upgrades have helped successfully propel James LX to a best of 11.50 in the quarter.

"Finally satisfied with the drivetrain, I contacted a friend name Paul who worked at Larry's Collision in Detroit. Paul painted the coupe in PPG Ford Performance Red as the base color. We then sprayed the black fadeouts with the distinctive '351' on the Harwood fiberglass cowl induction hood, and covered everything with three coats of clear."

As far as the inside was concerned, Williams substituted the standard interior with a factory gray tweed version taken that out of a wrecked 1988 Mustang GT. Also onboard is a removable Grant GT steering wheel, and complete array of Auto Meter instrumentation including a 10-grand tachometer. Whenever James isn't banging gears, he and girlfriend Tina Bruglio listen to a Pioneer/Kenwood audio system. And yes, James prized pony is alarmed. Living in Detroit, where Mustangs are high up on the "TOP-10" auto theft list, it's gotta be.