Vinnie The Hitman
July 27, 2007
Photos By: Steve Baur

Ron Bugarin doesn't have a highly rated TV slot, and he doesn't build custom bikes either. Heck, he doesn't even have a signature line of apparel or an action figure modeled after him. What he does have are savvy mechanical skills and a creative streak that would make Van Gogh and his right ear blush. After years of working as an inspector for Ford Motor Company, Ron has picked up a few tricks, and he knows a little about our fabled ponycar, the Fox Mustang. So when it was time for him to build this '87 GT, he put his talents to work and wasted little time.

With a mere 14,000 miles on the clock, this immaculate GT still sports the original black paint and red stripe combination that Ford thought was cool back in the '80s. While Whitesnake was wondering about love and Wang Chung was busy telling us when to have fun, Ford was minting more than 100,000 of these puppies a year. So finding an example this immaculate is a true surprise in this day and age considering how few are still on the road-especially those packing a stroked and poked mega-inch Windsor.

When it came time to have the engine of his dreams built, Ron went straight to the top and gave Kuntz & Co. a call for one of its rock-solid Windsor motors. Starting with a '94 9.2-inch-deck production block, the Arkadelphians had the casting bored to 4.030 inches and placed an Eagle steel crankshaft into the main saddles with a 4.17-inch stroke. Connecting the custom 10.5:1-compression Venolia pistons to this big arm are Eagle H-beam rods. With a Kuntz main support and windage tray in the Probe oil pan, the bottom end combines real-world streetability with axle-bustin' torque.

The top half consists of TFS' infamous High Port heads ported and prepped by Kuntz. The custom-ground Comp hydraulic roller camshaft works a set of Comp Pro Magnum rockers to let those valves hang loose with 276/290 degrees of advertised duration and 0.544 lift on both sides. A Super Victor on top lets in 750 cfm of air through that honkin' Holley double-pumper prepared by The Carburetor Shop. With the fuel lit by a battery of MSD electronics, the gaseous dinosaurs are pumped into a pair of full-length 131/44-inch JBA headers, and the roar is muffled by a pair of American Thunder Flowmasters.

With the TKO five-speed and Centerforce Dual Friction clutch both begging for mercy as they transmit the incredible torque to the 3.55 gears and 31-spline Mosers, you know that the Ford Racing Performance Parts rear girdle is hanging on for dear life every time Ron nails that loud pedal.

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Doing its best to plant the power to terra firma is a street/strip suspension kit. In front, Koni double-adjustables and UPR's tubular K-member with matching control arms transfer the weight over to the 8.8 that's held into the torque boxes with four Hotchkis control arms. Speaking of tires, we're looking at BFG DRs that say 275/35/17 on their sidewalls. Mounted to 18x9 and 18x10 Saleen replica wheels, the shoes this Pony wears tells us a lot about the car's street-oriented demeanor and dragstrip intention. On the aforementioned DRs, Ron has been able to muster a traction-limited 12.51 at 114 mph. Although it's respectable, the numbers don't reflect the true potential of this ride. We're sure that with slicks bolted up, this car will hustle deep into the 11-second zone without breaking a sweat. Beefy five-lug brakes from an SN-95 (13.0 fronts and 11.65 rears) help bring the fun to a safe stop.

It's hard to make a black car look perfect, but Ron shows that with the proper pain-staking attention to detail, his GT can double as a mirror. The custom paint and bodywork were performed by capable hands at Gil's Body Shop located in the same town that Ron calls home, Kansas City, Missouri. With only a 4-inch cowl as the sole deviation from stock, the immaculate body underneath took to the new paint with incredible ease. The red-flamed pinstripes and paint accents from stem to stern demonstrate how the little things matter to show-judges and onlookers alike. Whether they look in awe or jealousy, they can't deny that Ron's ride is one piece of badass art that can rip the hides with just a tickle of the throttle.

Yes, it has been repainted, but this super-clean body has only 14,000 miles on it, and upon closer inspection, it's apparent in the details. Ron liked the GT's body lines so much that he decided to leave it mostly factory Ford except for the taillights and 4-inch cowl hood.

Ron's GT shows you don't need beaucoup bucks or incredible amounts of fame to build a car that blows away any and all bystanders. A creative mind, a dash of old-fashioned hard work-and in Ron's case, some help from wife, Jen, and friends Jeff Newkirk, Bill Elder, Terry Pederson, and Mark Miles-prove that blood, sweat, and gears will make any mountain move. In this case, the mountain is 7.0 liters, and boy does it move.