Muscle Mustangs & Fast FordsFeatured Vehicles
1989 Ford Mustang LX - Dr. Pepper
Gary Brandt's '89 Mustang LX Does More Than Pop.
Depending upon where you live in the United States, soft drinks are called different names. In the South and the Midwest it's "pop," in the Northeast it's "soda," and in some places it's "soda-pop." However you refer to it, these carbonated beverages have been a part of American culture for more than a century.
One of the first soft drinks to hit the shelves was Dr. Pepper in its burgundy can. Originating in Waco, Texas, in the late 1800s, the soda had a unique flavor.
The same can be said about Gary Brandt's '89 Mustang LX-it's unique, it's burgundy, and it really pops if you shake it hard enough. Much like Dr. Pepper, which was first formulated in a drug store, Gary's Fox-body was brought to life in his shop, Brandt Racing Enterprises, with help from just about everyone in his family. "This car was built from the ground up, with virtually every part being replaced," he says.
What started out as a run-of-the-mill LX Mustang was quickly transformed into a barn-stormer. Gary added carbonation to the mix by working some serious magic under the hood of the Pony. The stock 5.0L small-block Ford was yanked and sent off to QMP Racing Engines, where the crew bored the cylinders an extra 0.030 inch over before taking the Scat forged stroker crank and entire rotating assembly and balancing it.
Once everything was in check, the parts and pieces were sent back to Gary, who promptly dropped the crank in the block before filling the cylinders with a strong combination of Scat H-beam rods and JE pistons. Once the bottom end was buttoned up with a Canton oil pan and a Melling high-volume oil pump, Gary went topside. He stuck in a custom hydraulic bumpstick, then slapped on a pair of ported Ford Racing Performance Parts aluminum cylinder heads. Actuating the valves on the 347 stroker are FRPP lifters and rockers, topped by FRPP chrome valve covers. Filling the combustion chambers with outside oxygen is a task handled by a ported Trick Flow intake manifold, a 75mm Accufab throttle body, and a 76mm mass air meter. The thumping small-block ingests fuel sent from a dual-sump tank built by Gary, through a set of FRPP 30-pound injectors. Supplying the fire is a full-on MSD 6AL ignition system that gets its signal from a custom tune. The depleted air/fuel mixture is piped out of the engine thanks to MAC 1-5/8-inch long-tube headers that are linked to a 2-1/2-inch stainless steel exhaust system of the same origin. Adding a bit more spice to the already tasty beverage is a 150 shot of go-juice.
With all of this power on tap, a fortified glass is needed to contain the drink and make sure it gets to the proper recipient. Gary took the stock T5 transmission and rebuilt it with stronger internals before mating it to the 347's flywheel. A Pro-5.0 shifter is now the gear selector of choice, as is an FRPP aluminum driveshaft. The 8.8-inch rear is beefed up with Moser 31-spline axles with accompanying C-clip eliminators, while an Auburn Pro differential makes sure the 3.73 gears get power to both rear tires.
While the car would still see its fair share of public roadways, Gary knew he wanted it to deliver the goods at the strip, too. He enlisted his sons, Evan and Ryan, to help revamp the happenings of the front and rear suspension. After welding in a pair of subframe connectors, the Brandt trio installed a Flaming River manual rack along with a bumpsteer kit. D&D caster/camber plates were installed next, as were Brandt Racing Enterprises' solid motor mounts and a D&D coilover kit stocked with Strange 10-way adjustable drag struts. The rear suspen-sion mods consisted of swapping out the stock shocks for a pair of Lakewood 50/50s. Gary reins in his Pony with SN-95 brakes on all four corners. Mating the car to the ground are Holeshot Mod Star wheels, 15x4s in front and 15x9s in the rear. The fronts showcase skinnies, while the rear rims are wrapped in 275/60/15-inch BFGoodrich Drag Radials.
Gary wanted to make sure that when he matted his right foot, he could do it in style and comfort. To that end, a Kaenen 4-inch cowl hood was bolted on along with a pair of clear headlights. With those being the only body modifications Gary would make, the Pony was promptly shipped to Tim Bostwick, who lathered the sheetmetal with Black Cherry paint. He then lit up the front end with burgundy flames before setting off the look of the car with purple pin-striping. "I picked this color combination because I knew it would turn out like it did," Gary says.
Inside the Fox-body, improvements were made for both looks and function. Since this Stang is a street car, a rollcage is nonexistent, but style certainly isn't. Gary's wife, Christine, and his mother-in-law, Judy Ness, broke out the needle and thread and redid a pair of '02 Mustang GT seats in black leather, as well as performed other interior enhancements.
Clueing Gary in to the well-being of the puppy under the hood are a host of Auto Meter gauges. The Ultra-Lite Monster tach, oil, and water gauges are contained in a custom-made, carbon-fiber gauge cage, while the A-pillar holds the volt and fuel-pressure gauges in place. A Kenwood head unit and MTX speakers pump out the tunes in case Gary gets tired of listening to the estimated 450hp small-block sing.
Like the soft drink, Gary's Mustang is a staple in American culture. It will also mess you up if you shake it. Just ask those who've tried.