July 31, 2007

Jacob Littrell wasn't a famous race-car driver or builder, but the support and sponsorship his Mustang received would make you think twice. Manufacturers, racers, and friends (led by Jeff Stealy) combined their efforts to build Jacob's dream, a nine-second Mustang.

This story began when Jacob brought his broken engine to Stealy Performance in Moline, Illinois, for repairs. Little did he know that this specialty performance shop would eventually become a racing sponsor and one of his greatest supporters. Shop owner Jeff Stealy is a well-versed racer who is a standout in the NHRA Stock and Super Stock ranks, and an excellent engine builder. His kindness and dedication led to the fabulous '85 Mustang LX featured here.

Stealy Performance was given the task of rebuilding Jacob's 347ci engine, which had a burnt piston and toasted thrust bearing. Then, through the owners of Cordova Dragway, Jeff learned of Jacob's bone cancer. He felt compelled to help Jacob complete his dream of building a fast and fun Mustang. "I took it upon myself to start contacting the manufacturers that I dealt with on a regular basis," Jeff says. "I asked if we could get some parts at no charge to help Jacob."

The project began in November 2005. Jacob, unfortunately, left us too soon in March 2006, before the project could be completed. The passing of his friend fueled Jeff to continue his efforts and finish the Stang. Upon completion, the car would be raffled off and the proceeds donated to the Littrell family to help pay medical bills.

As word spread through the tight-knit racing community, the response was overwhelming. Plans were put in place to build an engine capable of running high nines in naturally aspirated trim, and a little sprinkle of juice would push the Mustang into the low nines or even the high-eight-second zone. The combination is a stout 8.2-deck Ford small-block engine that was punched out to 367 cubes.

Dart supplied a Sportsman block with billet main caps that was more than capable of handling over 1,000 hp-a number much greater than the planned output. Jeff dropped in a Scat stroker kit for the rotating assembly. The 4340 steel crank measures 3.400 inches, while the H-beam connecting rods are the common length of 5.400 inches. CP provided the pistons that percolate the air/fuel mixture at a compression ratio of around 11.5:1. The bottom end was fortified and ready for a serious dose of air and fuel. All the moving parts are kept lubricated thanks to a custom oil pan from Charlie's Custom Oil Pans.