Vinnie The Hitman
August 30, 2007
Photos By: Michael Galimi

Picture this: We're at the True Street race in Bowling Green, Kentucky, doing our usual thing on the starting line as the contenders make their way down the dragstrip. For us, it's another day in paradise as we stand next to the hottest street-legal Mustangs in America as they earn their True Street mettle. Running 30 miles on the track and then hammering the gas for three back-to-back runs is no easy task. Most are 12- and 11-second Mustangs, but the 10-second ones really get our attention-and that of the fans, too. As we continue to watch the True Streeters make their way through the lanes, there's an eerie sound amid the ruckus spewing from the barely muffled V-8s. What we hear is the faint idle of a Mustang that just doesn't sound quite right.

When we glanced at this white '95 Mustang, it appeared to be a Cobra. But once it put some heat into the tires, we were quickly wakened by the unmistakable wail of a V-6 as it grabbed the attention of everyone like a free T-bone at an Atkins convention. As the revs climbed, the unmistakable sound of a honkin'-huge turbo started sucking in atmosphere from the immediate area, taking our breath away in the process. We looked at each other and said, "Now we're talking!" On the Tree, all eyes were on this car, and once the green dropped, its wheels went up and it was gone. What was the e.t., you wonder? How about a staggering 9.83 at 138.6 mph. We've seen V-6 cars run 12s and even solid 11s, but a 9-second V6 car? We needed a closer look.

After grabbing double cheeseburgers, large fries, and Diet Cokes, we pointed our jalopy of a golf cart toward the True Street pits and-lo and behold-there was a crowd surrounding what must be the quickest and fastest V-6 Mustang known to man. We finally made our way through the throng of people, and when owner Matthew Neuharth saw our fancy polo shirts with the magazine's logo on them, he opened up his cooler of beer and offered us some insight as to what makes his car tick. After downing a couple of tasty beverages and the last fistful of fries, we grabbed our cameras and started shooting away.

Forward motivation for this coupe comes from a 260ci V-6 that incredibly uses a factory Ford 3.8L cast-iron block. With a slight 0.030-inch overbore and a factory 4.2L crankshaft (3.74-inch stroke), the combination yields an impressive displacement of 4.3 liters. A wise upgrade to Crower rods and Wiseco pistons was made once the guys at Sexton Racing in White House, Tennessee, balanced and blueprinted the rotating assembly and then buttoned up the short-block with a main girdle and matching stud kit. A custom-ground hydraulic roller now nudges the 12 valves 224/230 degrees at 0.050 at an undisclosed total lift. The Scorpion 1.72 rockers work with LS6 springs and Manley valves that span 1.840 and 1.575 inches across their stainless steel faces.

This plain-vanilla wrapper gives no telltale signs of nine-second timeslips, but those beefy 325/50/15 Mickey Thompson Drag Radials give it away slightly.

Matthew's coworkers at Delk Performance in Lebanon, Tennessee, ported the stock lower intake manifold and built a custom sheetmetal upper plenum to mount the Accufab 75mm throttle body. Mega-mondo 83-pound injectors get stuck with electrons by the original EEC computer with nothing more than a DiabloSport tune and a Pro-M blow-through meter. Centering around a Turbonetics T72, the custom turbo kit features ceramic-coated mild steel pipes that funnel all the exhaust energy into an 0.84 turbine housing. A 3-inch downpipe runs along the passenger side and into a Hooker Max-Flow muffler of equal size. A custom liquid-to-air intercooler, which uses two cores, is located within close proximity to the throttle body for enhanced turbo response and neat underhood appearance. When all these hard parts are called to task, this sucker cranks out 638 rwhp and 648 rwtq on race fuel and 30 pounds of boost. On pump gas and just 20 pounds of boost, the engine still makes 530 hp and 600 lb-ft at the wheels. Yowzer!

To build up boost on the line and to get to the ground as efficiently as possible, Matthew uses a C4 with a 4,000-rpm converter. This helps with driveability and has made his Mustang infinitely more reliable at his power level. We're also happy to report that Matthew still gets good mileage on the highway, considering the car's performance abilities. "I still get 16 mpg with no overdrive," he says. "I hope to put a Gear Venders overdrive in it, so the fuel mileage might go up to 20-ish mpg."

The foundation for this science project is a bored and stroked V-6 that now displaces 260 ci. Ported stock heads and a lower intake sit under a custom sheetmetal plenum that gets its 75mm face fed with 30 pounds of boost from a Turbonetics T72 and a custom liquid-to-air intercooler that sits neatly on the driver side.

The street/strip nature of the car dictates a suspension that can handle the abuse of day-to-day driving and make those quarter-mile sprints as effectively as possible. To accommodate those needs, a QA1 tubular K-member with 175 lb/in coilovers wrapped around a pair of Lakewood 90/10s work wonders to shed weight off the front and to transfer what remains to the 8.8 that's packed with 3.31 gears, 31-spline Mosers, and an Easton diff. UPR double-adjustable upper control arms and solid lowers keep this Pony running straight and true no matter in what direction the steering wheel is pointed.

Matthew says he loves Mustangs, and more importantly, V-6 Mustangs. When we asked what he liked most about his ride, he said, "The sleeper effect. No one expects a V-6 to run nines. It's also quiet, so nobody expects to get rolled by a stock-looking car. The only thing that shows the car is fast is the sumped tank and the cage. One cool part is that I built the cage to still allow my kids to ride in the back in their car seats. I go to all the local cruise-ins with the kids in the car."

Speaking of the kids, he credits them and his fianc, Christie, for making his dream of building one of the most incredible Mustangs a reality, despite the two missing cylinders. His pal Brian Brooks and all the folks at Delk worked from late nights to early mornings, but the end result is certainly worth all the hard work. How else would you explain seeing us frumpy magazine editors so excited over a V-6 Mustang? Normally, we only get wound up by Krispy Kremes.