Steve Baur
Former Editor, Modified Mustangs & Fords
June 1, 2007

When it comes to late-model Mustangs, the Fox-body coupe-or notchback-model has to be one of the most popular. More four-cylinder trunk models have given up their bodies for V-8 conversions than any other body style, and if you check the classifieds, 5.0-liter-powered notchbacks bring in big money.

Matt Guida of Land O' Lakes, Florida, knew right from the get-go that the coupe was the hot model to have, so he picked up a brand-new one on May 1, 1992. The black beauty was equipped with a 5.0-liter engine, a five-speed manual gearbox, and Pony wheels. Matt was there when it rolled off the car carrier.

"I was about to graduate [high school] and convinced my Mom to co-sign the loan," Matt says. "I went to college right after that, and it stayed stock for about 10,000 miles." The following summer, Matt went to work for his brother at a local dealership in the body shop. "Every time I got paid I went to the speed shops for parts," he says.

Matt's first purchases were the obligatory K&N high-flow filter and a pair of three-chamber Flowmaster mufflers-and, of course, it snowballed from there. While performance mods like Edelbrock's Performer intake manifold and PN 6025 cylinder heads, E303 camshaft, and 3.55 gears were making his Pony gallop faster and upping the fun factor, Matt took advantage of his summer employment in the paint and body department to add custom stripes to the car. "It started with House of Kolor blue-to-purple fade stripes," he says. "It has had three different hoods, different sets of rims, tires, and stereos."

As Matt's experience with tuner shops grew, unreliable work led him to start doing many of his mods at home. "When I graduated college, I got a job and soon after bought a house," Matt says. "I was fed up with the substandard work that some of the shops I had been going to were doing. Now that I had a garage, I decided to do the entire car over myself." Everything except the paint, that is, which Matt's brother Frank handled at his auto body shop. The factory black hue was duplicated with PPG base and clearcoats, and Matt changed the Le Mans-style racing stripes to silver. As polished as the outside looked, things were starting to get serious under the hood.

Matt purchased an assembled 351 Windsor short-block of '71 vintage. The stock bore and stroke were disregarded, as the Eagle forged crankshaft and H-beam connecting rods took the stroke to 3.75 inches and the JE pistons knocked the bore out to 4.030 inches for a total displacement of 383 ci. A Crane Cams roller valvetrain conversion was installed along with a custom hydraulic roller camshaft from said grinder. Duration checks in at 228/234 degrees while lift is 0.558/0.564 inch, and the lobe separation spans 114 degrees.

The bumpstick is charged with actuating the valves in a set of Canfield aluminum cylinder heads, which breathe through a Trick Flow TFS-R intake manifold, a 70mm Accufab throttle body, and an 83mm Pro-M mass air meter.

If the extra cubes from the Windsor weren't enough to fulfill the seat-of-the-pants thrill, then the Vortech supercharger would do the trick. The S-Trim unit was set up for 10 psi of boost. Supplying the ample airflow with an appropriate amount of fuel is a modified Cartech Renegade fuel system that consists of twin Pierburg 255-lph fuel pumps, a 12-gallon fuel cell, two -8 braided stainless steel supply lines, and 50-lb/hr injectors.

An MSD 6AL and Blaster coil, as well as an Accel EFI distributor, were chosen to light off the combustible mixture. Once the pistons have been forced downward, the exhaust exits through MAC 1.75-inch long-tube headers, a 3-inch ProChamber midpipe, and finally out a MAC 3-inch after-cat system.

While the notchback's engine was being built, it was also getting a new suspension. On recommendation from a friend, Matt called Griggs Racing in Sonoma, California, and ordered one of its tubular K-member and A-arm kits to help offset the weight of the Windsor. Koni Yellow adjustable coilover shocks are used with 400-pound front springs, and SN-95 spindles and hubs provide a mounting place for Baer Brakes' 13-inch Track kit with two-piston calipers and Eradispeed rotors.

Matt had a drag-oriented rear suspension setup for a while, but he eventually removed it and installed Griggs Lower control arms, adjustable upper arms, and a Griggs coilover setup with matching Yellow Koni shocks. The 8.8 axle was fortified with Moser 31-spline axles and an Auburn Pro differential. While the aforementioned 3.55 gears were replaced with 3.73s, the addition of a supercharger necessitated a switch back to 3.55s so Matt wouldn't run out of gear at the end of the quarter-mile.

This stout combination was good for 580 hp and 572 lb-ft of torque at the wheels, and that kind of leverage made a mess of the T5 trans-mission. Though the Mustang's odometer hasn't cracked 51,000, it has seen its share of severe duty, and the T5 manual gearbox needed to be rebuilt while it still had the 302 in it. "I broke the rebuilt T5 right after the 383 install," Matt says. "After grenading two T5s, I put in the Tremec 3550." Matt also installed a Spec Stage III clutch and a Centerforce billet-steel flywheel.

Though the transmission problem was solved, head gasket issues plagued this Pony. Despite not being able to rev past 5,500 rpm without breaking up, the 383 motor pushed the coupe to a best quarter-mile elapsed time of 11.1 seconds at 125 mph. "I would drive it two or three times and it would spit out the head gasket," Matt says. Eventually, the Canfield heads were replaced with a pair of Edelbrock Victor Jrs. ported by Total Engine Airflow, and that has seemingly cured the head-gasket problem so far, though Matt hasn't put enough miles on the colt to keep him from worrying about it.

Sam Lippincott at Coastal Chassis Dyno in Tampa, Florida, has been dialing in the new combo, but he and Matt have come to the con-clusion that the S-Trim isn't enough to feed the 383-cube motor. "It's like throwing a hot dog down a hallway," Matt says. A Vortech T-Trim is next on the list and with that blower, he expects the Mustang to pound out at least 650 hp to the tires.

Now that's a Mustang we'd all love to have, but Matt has had some other cars in his stable that have provided a high bar of excellence to strive for. In addition to the coupe, he has also had a Terminator Cobra, a ZO6 Corvette, a BMW M3, and a Porsche 911 Carrera 4S; the latter two he still owns. "It's [the Mustang] a bit nose heavy and not the best tool for road courses, but with the horsepower, there's no comparison in a straight line," Matt says. "I've had nine other Mustangs besides this one, and they've all come and gone. They can bury me in this one."

That's a strong commitment, one that Matt tells us might not have lasted if it weren't for the help and support from family and friends like Ryan Sessums and Jim Frank. "If it weren't for my brother Frank, I might not have stayed with it that long," Matt says. "Whenever I got down about the car, he would always help me out and get me back on track. My wife, Heather, has put up with a lot, especially the boxes of parts that overran our living room. She also helped me adjust the rocker arms." That kind of support will get one through the darkest of wrench-turning hours, and if you see it through to the end, you might just end up with a Mustang that represents the Blue Oval standard.