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1990 Ford Mustang GT Turbo - A Strong Urge To Speed
We all have it, some more than others.
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We all want to go fast. Some of us like to do it more often than not. Obviously, the MM&FF staff consists of pedal-to-the-metal personalities, and Midland, Texas, resident Tony Strong is cut from the same cloth.
Back in 1991, Tony's father bought this clean, barely used '90 Mustang GT for his son to tool around in, and it's led a life of full-throttle fun for the last 16 years.
"The car had 20,000 miles on it when my dad bought it," Tony says. "About a year later, he gave me his old work truck, and the Mustang sat beneath a car cover in the garage until about 1995."
While the Pony got out of the stable for the occasional romp, it wasn't until Tony started his mechanical engineering internship where it made good on the influx of college-educated cash coming in.
A bit of money helps when you're hot rodding your car, and Tony's new salary afforded a Vortech supercharger and Trick Flow Specialties Twisted Wedge cylinder heads. This combo lasted a little over a year until the factory internals expired.
While Tony got a bit sidetracked with some Nissan Z cars and a Toyota twin-turbo Supra (all of which he still owns), the Mustang sat in disrepair until mid-1998, when an A4 block was summoned and Jeff Spears at Crankshaft Balancing Service in Midland, Texas, stuffed it with 347 stroker internals.
A Scat forged steel crankshaft swings Eagle H-beam connecting rods and JE pistons, which when combined with the mildly ported Trick Flow heads, produce a boost-friendly compression ratio of just 8.0:1.
A Cam Motion solid roller camshaft features a duration of 242 degrees intake/236 degrees exhaust at 0.050, and lift figures of 0.605 inch intake/0.593 inch exhaust with a lobe centerline of 113 degrees.
A T-Trim Vortech was chosen to pressurize the TFS-R intake manifold, while a C4 automatic transmission replaced the five-speed manual gearbox. This combination was good for a best pass of 10.03 seconds.
In 2003, and at the advice of drag radial racer Shane Hill, Tony pulled off the supercharger and converted the Stang to turbo power, employing a 76mm hairdryer, a Vortech Igloo/Holley intake setup, and a FAST engine-management system.
Elapsed times dropped to the 9.60s. As a result, in 2003 Tony won the Clash of the Titans True Street points championship. During this time, the slick, black GT was also taking it to the streets and taking down LS1s with alarming regularity.
The Mustang's 8.8 rear was chucked in favor of a Strange Engineering 9-inch assembly with 35-spline axles, a 3.50:1 ring-and-pinion set, and a Detroit Locker differential. Metco got the call for control-arm duty, while Strange adjustable shocks work with the stock GT coil springs and a Wolfe Race Craft antiroll bar. Custom subframe connectors and an eight-point chromoly rollcage stiffen the unibody chassis and transfer power to the ground rather than twist up the shell.
After a while, 9.60s got old, so Tony stepped up to an Innovative Turbo 91.5mm turbocharger with an 88mm inducer. With the Pro Turbo Systems hot parts funneling exhaust gases to the turbine, the medium-frame turbo set at 20 pounds of boost has propelled the GT to a best elapsed time of 9.21 seconds at 154 mph, with a somewhat sleepy 1.51-second 60-foot time.
The C4 was traded out for a Chris McIntosh-built Powerglide transmission/PTC converter combo, and the front suspension got the tubular treatment from D&D Motorsports, with new control arms and coilover shocks pulling weight from the front end. Still, Tony has more suspension mods planned for Spring 2006 along with a few horsepower parts.
By the time you read this, Tony will have swapped the Trick Flow heads for Brodix/Neal pieces and pulled off the Igloo in favor of a Reichard Racing billet upper intake and interior-mounted Reichard air-to-water intercooler. Larger 150-lb/hr injectors fueled by a Weldon 2025 pump will offer plenty of C16 race fuel to complement the pressurized atmosphere.
While Tony's Mustang sounds quite radical, he reports it is actually quite civilized. "It's geared more toward the street than anything," he says. "It still has the full interior, power accessories, and stereo, and it's quieter than a lot of the F-bodies around here."
An Innovative Turbo boost controller allows Tony to turn down the wick when he's cruising around with pump gas in the holding cell, and extensive cooling system mods make sure this quick ride doesn't overheat in the hot Texas sun. "We shrouded the front end in aluminum and created a new core support for the bigger radiator," Tony says. "We reversed the coolant flow so it comes out the back of the manifold, which remedied the hot temperatures we saw in cylinders 4 and 8."
Tony claims his cool colt rarely runs above 180 degrees, even in summer traffic. It rose only to 183 after his True Street runs at the '05 Fun Ford Weekend finals, which is where we caught up with him and some family and friends who help make things happen at the track.
Tony is quick to give credit to his wife, Latisha, who's been nothing but supportive of his speed hobby, his parents, as well as Shane Hill, Jerod Strickland, Jimmy Yanacek, Rick Dyer, and Donny and Mitch Boykin.
Having taken First Place in MM&FF True Street at Fun Ford Ennis last year (he averaged 9.528, with a best of 9.331) as well as the coveted Editor's Choice award, we had to get the lowdown on this relatively ordinary-looking Mustang. Short of the parachute, it's the very definition of what a sleeper should be. With the upcoming mods this spring, the Mustang should pick up a few more ponies, and with Tony's strong urge to speed, he'll need them.