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1991 Ford Mustang LX Hatchback - Bombs Away
Angel and Chris Francis' devilish Mustang really is the bomb.
In World War II, the U.S. Air Force was called the Army Air Forces, and that branch of the military was responsible for the bombing attacks carried out on Germany and Japan during the war. Flying out of the Air Force hangars were legendary bombers such as the B-29 SuperFortress, the B-24 Liberator, and the B-17 Flying Fortress. While all of those planes were heavy bombers, the Air Force also had a few planes that could handle the medium bombing tasks. One given that job was the B-25 Mitchell. While known as the Mitchell bomber by the Air Force, for the few Marine pilots who flew the plane, it was designated the PBJ and referred to by its nickname: The Devil Dog.
So why the history lesson, and how does a World War II bomber relate to Angel and Chris Francis' '91 Mustang LX hatchback? Well, besides the obvious play on words between the plane's nickname and Angel's first name, her husband, Chris, is in the Air Force. While Angel works for a Ford/Lincoln/Mercury dealer in the parts department, Chris is at Langley Air Force Base in Virginia serving his country. Though their Stang isn't a B-25 bomber, like the plane, it drops quite a bomb with its large-displacement piston engine.
Normally when talking about a Fox-body 5.0 Mustang, large displacement would be somewhere in the neighborhood of 347-408 ci, which for a small-block Ford is mighty big. Angel wasn't satisfied with a stroked-out 5.0 or a Windsor powerplant, however. For her, the payload in the bomb bay of the Mustang had to be extraordinarily large.
"The car started out as a battered and bruised four-cylinder LX that I picked up for $600," Angel says. "We dropped in a 429 big-block engine, but eventually I wanted more power. Chris opened up the Ford Racing Performance Parts catalog and asked me which [engine] I wanted. I went for the biggest big-block they made."
The bomb size of choice happened to be the 521ci monster that appeared on Angel's doorstep on Valentine's Day. Featuring an FRPP crank swinging Eagle rods and forged pistons, the fat-block can handle copious amounts of power. The bottom of the block is buttoned up with a Canton oil pan, while the top end showcases FRPP Super Cobra Jet aluminum heads. Actuating the 2.20-inch intake and 1.76-inch exhaust valves are 1.7:1 Crane rockers lifted by a Crane cam. A Holley 1,050-cfm Dominator carb with 91 jets front and back feed the air and fuel into the combustion chambers via a Victor Jr. intake manifold. A Holley fuel pump supplies the gasoline at 6-1/2 pounds of pressure, and when in the cylinders, the piston squeezes the mix together with a 9.8:1 compression ratio. While all of this is going on, an MSD 6AL ignition box, in conjunction with an Accel distributor, sends the voltage through an MSD Blaster 2 coil and wires to the Autolite spark plugs. After the bomb is lit in each cylinder, evacuation of the spent fumes is funneled through Hooker headers mated to a 3-inch exhaust system complete with Flowmaster mufflers and a custom-made x pipe system. All told, the combination is good for 650 hp.
Backing the crate monster is an Edge Racing 3,600-stall converter and Performance Automatic Super Comp C4. Making the gear changes is a B&M Pro Stick shifter, while cooling the tranny fluid and keeping the transmission alive is a Transcool trans cooler. Connecting the tranny to the 8.8-inch rear is a Motorsports driveshaft. Inside the 8.8 spins 3.55 cogs, a Strange spool, and 33-spline axles.
Handling the extra weight and power of the big-block isn't easy, but it needs to be done in order to go down the track straight and true. UPR adjustable upper and lower control arms, Eibach springs, and Strange shocks support the extra weight of the engine, while the back end is planted down hard on the pavement thanks to another pair of upper and lower adjustable control arms from UPR and an additional pair of Strange shocks. FRPP was called upon for a set of springs, and the job of tightening up the chassis is taken care of by S&W subframe connectors, welded torque boxes, and a UPR antiroll bar. Since the Pony would spend most of its time going straight, Angel installed a Flaming River manual steering rack for a more precise feel while going down the quarter-mile. Hauling the Mustang back to the hanger after each pass is a set of transplanted '00 Mustang GT stoppers.
With the mechanical area of the car covered, Angel and Chris turned their attention to the visual aspect of the Stang. Helping to set off any paint job is the wheel and tire combination. Angel went the racing-theme route, choosing Weld Racing's Draglite wheels for looks and function. The fronts are shod in skinnies while 325/50/15 Mickey Thompson drag radials fill the rear quarter-panels.
With the rolling stock handled, it came time for the paint and bodywork. Originally a mish-mash of red, green, and orange flavors, the devilish little Fox-body's sheetmetal had seen better days.
"The paint was chosen from a paint chip given out by DuPont when it was promoting its Hot Hues line," Angel says. The color of choice ended up being Fuscia Kiss, which was sprayed on the flanks of the Mustang by family friend Johnny Joseph after a Cervini's hood and rear spoiler were installed. "Once all the parts and mods were ordered and delivered, the car went into the paint booth for a fresh look," Angel says. "The completion of the car was accomplished in two weeks, just in time to make our first Fun Ford event."
After the three coats were buffed out, it came time to address the interior portion of the car. Safety was first and foremost on Angel's mind, so in went an S&W eight-point rollcage. The stock seats came out next, and in their place went a pair of charcoal grey seats from an '00 Mustang GT. Keeping Angel strapped into the Mustang is a set of RJS five-point belts, and helping her keep an eye on the big-block is a custom-made dash stocked with Auto Meter gauges.
"It's always fun to watch the expressions on people's faces when the car is launched at a dead idle while pulling 1.47-second 60-foot times," Angel says with a smile. Those killer short times equate to a best elapsed time of 10.32 seconds at 132 miles per hour. That's on all muscle, folks. No power adder is found on this Mustang.
"Racing has been such a blast, and it's something for us to do together. The car is not just for racing. We drive to the local hangouts and car shows. Looking back on all the long hours, days of research, and sleepless nights wrenching in the garage has made us proud owners of a big-block Mustang."
Rest assured every time the light turns green on the starting line, it's bombs away.