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1991 Ford Mustang - Left For Dead
Destined For Dismantling, This Mustang Had One More Chance.
Over the years, four-cylinder Mustangs have provided solid transportation for many people, and when Dallas, Georgia's Jeff Harris rescued his '91 notchback from being dismantled, it was to serve as his daily transport-which it did, for an entire two weeks.
Described by the owner as "awful," the Mustang's little 2.3 four-banger drove Jeff to shoehorn a GT40-headed 302ci powerplant into the engine bay. "I convinced my wife it would get better mileage," he says.
The V-8-Mustang-based parts started the move to the coupe, beginning with the 8.8 and followed by a Tremec TKO and the afore-mentioned 302. Brodix ST5.0R cylinder heads were next, along with a Holley Systemax intake manifold. This combination was good for 7.40s in the eighth-mile on motor and 6.60s on a 150hp shot of nitrous oxide.
Around this time, the Silver Pony got a two-tone paint job with a darker shade of silver gracing the top half. Jeff also decided to install a Paxton Novi 2000 centrifugal supercharger to replace the nitrous bottle he was filling regularly. "It ran the same in the eighth-mile with the blower as it did the juice, but it was 3 mph faster," Jeff says.
Next up was a Powerglide two-speed automatic transmission. Jeff sums up his experience with it like this: "I tried out the Powerglide and absolutely hated it. It was the worst mistake I ever made. I'm a stick-shift guy; I can't have an automatic." A strong opinion for sure and a learning experience as well. From here on out, the Mustang would be manually shifted via its Hurst-stirred, Tremec gearbox, Spec Stage IV Plus clutch, and aluminum driveshaft.
Joey Bell was hired to weld in the eight-point rollbar, and he also handled the mini-tub modifications that were made to the rearend. The 8.8 axle assembly was narrowed 2 inches and stuffed with Moser 4.10 gears and a spool. Ford 9-inch ends were grafted to keep the axles from sliding out in the event of a failure.
After a while, the 302 ci just wasn't cutting it, so Jeff dropped in a 351 Windsor with AFR 225 cylinder heads and a Steve Petty-spec camshaft. That arrangement was good for 6.80s on the engine alone and 6.20s with a 200 shot of the giggle gas.
The silver paint was getting old at this point, so Jeff had Brandon Bressner repaint it in the deep Polo Green hue. Keith Shriver spiced things up with subtle silver flames on the sides of the cowl-induction hood.
As stout as the Windsor motor was, the 351 was pulled out again, and Steve Petty of Proline Race Engines in Woodstock, Georgia, reassembled it after boring and stroking the Sportman block to 418 ci. Steve also spec'd out a solid-roller Cam Motion camshaft that features 272/276 degrees of duration at 0.050 valve lift and 0.686/0.672 inch of valve lift.A Scat crankshaft was selected to swing the Eagle connecting rods and JE pistons, and a 10:1 compression ratio was chosen so Jeff could run the coupe on pump gas.
Jeff utilized an EFI Spyder intake with a FAST 2,000-cfm throttle body, all controlled by the factory electronics. "I like to datalog the engine while we're going down the track," he says, "so we switched the computer to a FAST XFI system. That alone picked up 6 mph." Expelling the combustion remnants is a set of Joey Bell-built custom headers that dump into a custom x pipe-style 3.5-inch exhaust system that Jeff constructed in his Pro Speed Performance shop. The 418 is quite the thumper, pounding out 565 rwhp and 528 lb-ft of torque on motor alone. Jeff installed a single-plate system but never engaged it.
Handling that much power requires serious suspension upgrades, so the front suspension features UPR Products upper and lower tubular control arms that work with a Lakewood/QA1 coil and shock pairing. Out back, a Racetek antiroll bar was installed along with UPR's upper and lower control arms, and QA1 adjustable coilover rear shocks.
With over 600 naturally aspirated horse-power at the flywheel, Jeff never bothered to visit the juice bar even though it was open for business. On slicks, the stallion covered the quarter-mile in a best elapsed time of 10.18 seconds at 138 mph. "It has had a bunch of different combinations; it has definitely been a workhorse," Jeff says.
A few months prior to writing this feature, Jeff came across a buyer for the coupe, sans motor, which went to another person with cash. "I bought a Nova with a 377ci motor and put a stick in it," Jeff says, "but I just had to have a Mustang, so I picked up another four-cylinder coupe." Future plans call for a turbocharged small-block along with a stick shift so Jeff can drive it on the street.