Muscle Mustangs & Fast Fords
Tennessee Thunder - 1993 Ford Thunderbird
We're not talking moonshine here, but rather good ol' fashioned, four-barrel, barn-burnin' horsepower.
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Muscle Mustangs & Fast Fords has the benefit of the broadest reader demographic in the Ford-magazine industry, and our subject here lives at one end of the bell curve.
In fact, at 62 years of age, Bruce Richards falls in the 55-64 age bracket that constitutes about 10 percent of our readership. What does his age have to do with the price of rice in China, one might ask? Well, nothing-but Bruce repre-sents a portion of our readership that falls back on what they've learned over the past 40 or so years: their knowledge of how to tune a thing called the carburetor.
With the fuel-injected 5-liter Mustang lighting the fuse on the late-model Mustang hobby's explosive nature, it's easy to get lost in the EFI technology that continues to make life better for enthusiasts. Carburetors, however, remain great at making brute horsepower, and Bruce, of Clarksville, Tennessee, came to a crossroads when modifying his '93 Thunderbird.
He could learn all of the new tricks of the fuel-injected trade or he could go with what he's invested decades of his life learning: how to make a carburetor produce prodigious amounts of power. It also helped that Bruce's brother-in-law is Marvin Benoit, who happens to own Quick Fuel Technology Inc., a company that specializes in carbureted applications.
Coming home from the war in Vietnam, Bruce did what many GIs returning to the States did-go out and buy a new car. "I got back from Vietnam and bought a '67 Mustang GT brand new, and didn't have it for three months before I bought a 427ci Tunnel Port motor for it," says Bruce. He ran A/Super Stock with the car at the strip, but when his military service took him over to Germany, the quarter-mile horse proved to be a bit untrained for Autobahn abuse.
Once back stateside, family life took precedence, and a stint with Top Fuel drag bikes in the '80s kept Bruce away from performance cars. Eventually his love of living would convince him to step off the motorcycles for good, but his love of drag racing never diminished, and he was reacquainted with it a few years after purchasing the Thunderbird you see here.
When most hear the name "Thunderbird," the terms agile and high performance don't spring to mind, but Bruce has turned his T-bird into quite the performer at the track. Bought new as a "sporty" daily driver back in 1992, the Thunderbird's 5-liter engine was a step up in performance compared with his previous four-door people-mover and would later prove to be a great foundation for a fast car.
While the "Thunder" in the 'Bird had consisted of a K&N filter, a removed air silencer, and DynoMax Turbo mufflers until this point, Bruce didn't even bother modifying the engine. Instead, he hit up the Ford Racing catalog for a 351 block and stuffed it with a DSS forged rotating assembly.
The stroker crankshaft pumped up the displacement to 393 cubes, and the Ford Racing Z303 aluminum heads, which were barely out of the molds at the time, combined with the forged pistons to produce a pump-gas-friendly compression ratio of 10:1. Moving the air and fuel through the engine is the job of a Comp Cams XFI stroker bumpstick. The 284HR-14 cam sports a 248/258 split duration at 0.050, and a valve lift of 0.608 inch.