Frank H. Cicerale
February 8, 2007
Photos By: Nick Alvarado

As the saying goes, good things come to those who wait. For Fort Worth, Texas, resident Keven Kyser, coming home from the dragstrip with a 10-second timeslip took an extremely long time. Forget the seven-year itch to get into the 10s-Keven had the 20-year itch. While others surely would have pulled out their hair waiting two decades to get what they wanted, Keven did it the hard way, slowly adding more and more power to his '86 Mustang GT until the itch was finally scratched.

Keven and his Fox-body have a love affair that might make Keven's wife, Michele, jealous. After all, the Mustang has been around longer than she and Keven have been together.

"I've had the car since I bought it new back in '86," Keven says. "I purchased it when I was a junior at Whitney High School, and drove it on the street right through high school all the way through my college days at Stephen F. Austin State University. I've kept it through my marriage, and after 266,000 miles, I decided to make it a street/strip car."

As you might expect, the first course of action was giving the little Stang some more go-power. With all those miles on the odometer, the factory carbureted 302ci small-block Ford was a bit tired. To help put some ponies to the Pony, Keven called upon his friend Travis Franklin. At Franklin's shop, Gearhead's Automotive Performance (Arlington, Texas), the magic happened. Travis started with a Ford Sportsman block and filled it with a Trick Flow 4340-steel forged stroker crank. He kept the stock bore dimensions, so the cubic-inch figure came in at 342. Swinging on the crank are Eagle H-beam rods, while sliding up and down the cylinder walls are forged J&E slugs. Keeping the bottom-end assembly in check is a Canton main girdle, while a Ford Racing Performance Parts high-volume oil pump and Canton 7-quart oil pan lubricate the rotating parts with Royal Purple 10W-40 oil. Balancing everything out is an FRPP 50-ounce harmonic balancer.

Complementiing the stout bottom end is an all-business top end. Travis stuffed the short-block with an FRPP X-303 hydraulic roller bumpstick featuring 224 degrees of duration at 0.050-inch tappet lift, 117-degree lobe separation, and 0.542-inch lift on both the intake and exhaust sides. Matching the cam with the proper head choice is key to making serious grunt, so Travis ordered a set of Edelbrock Victor Jr. aluminum heads. Showcasing a 210cc intake runner and 2.050-inch intake and 1.600-inch exhaust valves complete with a three-angle valve job, he left the heads alone knowing they were good enough right out of the box. The remaining portion of the valvetrain consists of Comp Cams pushrods and Pro Magnum 1.6 roller rockers, and static compression ration came in at a respectable 10.5:1. Finishing off the stroked Windsor is an Edelbrock Victor Jr. intake manifold topped by a Barry Grant Speed Demon mechanical 750-cfm carburetor, 1-inch carb spacer, and a K&N filter.

With the Speed Demon carb supplying plenty of oxygen, lots of fuel was needed to mix with the air in the combustion chambers. An Aeromotive A-1000 electric fuel pump pushes the Sunoco 112-octane race gas through the braided stainless fuel lines and regulator. Keeping the fuel pump stocked with go juice is a Competition Engineering fuel sump. The air/fuel mixture and the power it helps produce is only as good as the ignition system that lights it, and Keven and Travis took no chances in that area. MSD was called upon to light up the NGK V-Power plugs, supplying a billet distributor, a Digital 6-Plus ignition box, a digital retard, a Blaster 2 coil, and 8.8 mm plug wires.

Keven didn't want his Stang to run on muscle alone, so before the exhaust components made their way onto the Fox-body, he had Scott Hawk install a laughing gas system that puts a smile on Keven's face every time he slams down the loud pedal. The nitrous system is of NOS Big Shot origin, and the plate system gives the muscular Mustang an extra 175hp shot in the arm each time the Jimmy Jams NOS switch is activated. Knowing that keeping the bottle pressure consistent is a key to safely running the 342 on the sauce, Scott wrapped the 10-pound blue bottle with an NOS bottle heater.

With all of that air, fuel, and laughing gas going in, the burnt-up mixture needed to be evacuated quickly. MAC 1 5/8-inch long-tube headers feed into 2 1/2-inch collectors which are mated to a 2 1/2-inch system complete with H-pipe, high-flow mufflers, and tailpipes. Since installing the UPR antiroll bar on the rearend, however, Keven has swapped out the tailpipes for a pair of exhaust dumps.

Backing the potent Ford is a Dynamic Super Comp C4 automatic, a 3,800-stall TCI 9-inch converter, and a J&W flywheel. The tranny is stocked with a manual valvebody, a fully rollerized power drum pack, and a transbrake. Keeping the transmission cool under pressure is an eight-row trans cooler and Perma-Cool electric fan. Actu-ating the gears is a B&M Hammer shifter that fits nicely in the Mustang's console. The three-speed slushbox is linked to the 8.8-inch rear via an FRPP aluminum driveshaft, and the beefy rear is full of heavy-duty parts. The 31-spline Moser axles have their ends contained in a Moser spool, which is spun around by an FRPP 4.10 ring-and-pinion gearset. Keeping pressure on the pumpkin of the 8.8 is a Ford SVO rearend girdle.

Knowing that his Stang was now destined mostly for strip duty, Keven served up four Weld Draglite rims, 15x8s for the rear and 15x3.5s for the front. He wrapped the race-inspired wheels with Mickey Thompson rubbers. The front rims are shod in 24x4.5x15 ET Fronts, while the rear wheels feature 28x11.5x15 ET Streets.

Bolted behind the wheels is the stock disc/drum brake combo the car came equipped with. "I was mainly interested in getting the car to go fast," Keven says. "If it was going to be more of a road car, I would have upgraded the brakes. It was going to spend most of its time on the track, so I said, 'Forget it, let's make it go fast.'"

With the power taken care of, the money Keven saved by not swapping in aftermarket stoppers was better spent sprucing up the chassis and suspension. He dialed up NHRA Division 4 Top Alcohol Funny Car racer Kebin Kinsley (Kinsley Race Cars and Marine, Arlington, Texas) for help. Kebin pulled the Stang into his shop, where Ground Pounder upper and lower control arms found their way onto the front and rear ends along with Lakewood 90/10 shocks and Competition Engineering springs. A pair of subframe connecters and a Wolfe Race Craft six-point rollcage-powdercoated black for looks-help tighten up the chassis.

The factory red paint was still in awesome shape, so Keven skipped the exterior, save for the Dallas Mustang-supplied 4-inch cowl hood, and dove right into upgrading the cabin of the Mustang. Keven and whoever is riding shotgun plant their rear ends into custom bucket seats, and a Simpson five-point harness makes sure they stay there on each quarter-mile blast. He ditched the stock steering wheel for a Grant piece, and then stocked the cabin chock full of aftermarket gauges. An FRPP tach and shift light let him know when to shift, while Auto Meter and Edelbrock gauges help him keep track of the happenings under the hood. Keven relocated the battery to the rear hatch area for better weight transfer.

"With no kids, the coolest wife ever, tons of help from my dad, uncle, lots of friends, and a lot of money, [the Mustang] has come together pretty nicely," Keven says. "On the spray it runs consistent 10.50s, and with the right conditions it dips into the 10.30s. I've run the car at Fun Ford Weekend events and other local Texas events, and I still go to Sonic with my wife and get groceries in it."

With Keven finally scratching that 20-year itch to get into the 10-second zone, what's next for the Mustang?

"The car is too fun to drive on the street to make it a drag-only car," he says. "I figure a stroked 351 and a ProCharger should get her into the 8.90-second zone."

Seeing as how work has already begun on that blown 351, it won't be long before the next itch is scratched. Rest assure this time it won't take longer than 10 seconds.