Frank H. Cicerale
October 1, 2007

They say Memphis is the home of the blues and the birthplace of rock and roll. If you're a musician, one thing's for sure: You can't put out the same old record time and again; you have to spice things up every time you go into the recording studio.

The same can be said for putting together a Mustang. There are tried-and-true combinations, but every now and then you hear of someone who's willing to step outside of the box and come up with something different. Case in point is Bill and Tanya Tumas and their righteous '88 Mustang LX.

What started out as a normal Fox-body quickly transformed into a mix of old and new.

If you open the hood, between the framerails you will see a monster Four-Valve modular motor nestled in all snug and tight. "I bought the car from my friend, Matt Balazs," Bill says. "I've known Matt and the blue LX since it was a 14-second stocker."

The time came, though, when Matt wanted to sell the Mustang. Coincidentally, Bill was looking for a Mustang for himself and Tanya. "I had just sold my '88 Saleen and was looking for a new car," Bill says. "Matt mentioned that he was selling the LX to finance the restoration of his father's '69 Mach 1, so we struck a deal."

With the new ride in his possession, Bill worked to make the car strike a chord like no other. Once equipped with a 393ci pushrod engine backed by a TKO tranny, Bill and Matt embarked on creating their own record label. They started by yanking the old 393 Windsor-based powerplant. The pair then dropped in an honest-to-goodness Four-Valve mod motor between the shock towers. The powerplant is mostly stock, though a few bolt-ons were added to give the 4.6 a bit more go. Enriching the fuel system is an Aeromotive regulator getting go juice from a Walbro 255-lph fuel pump, while matching the fuel with the appropriate amount of air is a Pro-M 80mm mass air meter and a custom-built cold-air kit. The EGR was removed and the upper intake manifold smoothed.

Open the hood on Bill and Tanya Tumas' '88 Mustang LX and you see (gasp!) a monstrous Four-Valve modular engine. The switch makes this Fox-body their personal commitment to being different.

A good-running engine needs to have a good-sounding exhaust system, so they chucked the stock exhaust manifolds in favor of a pair of Hooker Super Comp long-tube headers. The exhaust is funneled down to a Dr. Gas x pipe system and MagnaFlow mufflers. Keeping the engine cool under fire is a Griffin four-core aluminum radiator, which receives help from a Black Magic electric fan.

The TKO trans that was in the car just wouldn't do, so a T56 six-speed manual transmission was installed. The trans, originally from an '03 Cobra, contains a Fidanza clutch and an aluminum flywheel in the bellhousing. Changes from gear to gear are made by a Pro-5.0 shifter, and mating the tailshaft of the tranny to the pinion gear of the 8.8-inch rear is a Performance Shaft Technologies aluminum driveshaft. Speaking of the rear, the hind leg of this Pony was beefed up considerably. Moser 31-spline axles were stuffed in from each end and link up with a set of Ford Racing Performance Parts 4.10 gears through an FRPP 31-spline Traction-Lok differential. Keeping the gearset centralized is a MAC aluminum rearend girdle.

With enough power on tap to turn this wild filly into a bucking bronco, Bill needed to tame down the background vocals so the lead singer could be heard. To do that, he put the Fox-body on a lift and reworked the suspension. Maximum Motorsports got the call to supply a majority of the front and rear suspension components. Up front, an MM K-member, tubular A-arms, and a Bilstein coilover kit complete with Hypercoil springs get the nose of the Mustang down for winding action. A Ground Pounder bumpsteer kit and MM caster/camber plates keep the tires in check, while steering input is taken care of by a Flaming River steering shaft. Out back, MM sent over a heavy-duty torque arm, Panhard rod, and lower control arms. Completing the makeover of the rear suspension are Bilstein shocks and H&R springs. Tightening it all up and adding safety to the interior aspect of the car is an S&W eight-point rollcage with door swing-outs.

The Steeda spoiler is quite apparent. Matched with the Moonlight Blue paint and white stripes, this road rocket sings more than the blues.

All of that suspension work would be for naught if the right wheel-and-tire combination was not picked, along with hooking up an adequate braking system. American Racing Rebel rims are shod in Dunlops up front and Firestones out back. The front whoa comes in the form of Brembo 13-inch rotors and PBR 42mm twin-piston calipers, while Cobra rear calipers and rotors are found residing behind the rear wheels.

Attention was then turned to the cover of this particular record. The stock steel hood was taken off and replaced with a Cervini's 2½-inch cowl hood. A Steeda rear spoiler then made its way onto the Stang's hatch. Next, a '93 Cobra grille insert was put on before the entire body was washed in Moonlight Blue paint. The finishing touches come in the form of white stripes that run from stem to stern.

With the 'cage giving a race-car feel, the interior was touched up with some purpose-built appointments. The stock buckets made way for a pair of Recaro Speed seats. A Crowe five-point harness keeps Bill in place when winding around corners, while a Schroth three-point harness keeps the willing (and crazy) passenger firmly in place. A Florida 5.0 gauge cluster now resides where the stock gauges used to be. Speaking of gauges, the cluster was filled with Auto Meter Ultra-Lite pieces. The tunes thump from an Alpine head unit that feeds amperage to Boston Acoustics components up front and coaxial speakers in the rear. Finalizing the look of the interior is a MAC billet shifter knob.

"The car is like a 3,000-pound go-kart," Bill says. "The handling is unreal. It's the complete package. She handles, is fast, stops on a dime, and looks great."

Lay down a couple of good tracks, mate it with a great album cover, and you have a record that will go gold, or in Bill and Tanya Tumas' case-blue.