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1993 Ford Mustang LX - Rope-A-Dope
Terry and Julie Allen's turbocharged '93 Mustang LX knows when to unload a flurry of punches.
There was a lot going on in 1974. Richard Nixon resigned from the presidency. Flying hero Charles Lindbergh died from cancer. Hank Aaron blasted home run number 715 and broke the long-standing career home-run mark set by New York Yankee Babe Ruth. The Oakland As, stocked with such stars as Catfish Hunter and Reggie Jackson, took out the Los Angeles Dodgers in five games to win the '74 Series. And a flashy, flamboyant, and at times abrasive, boxing promoter by the name of Don King booked two of the biggest heavyweight boxers to square off, toe-to-toe, in a televised fight held in the Zaire, Africa.
The fight pitted boxing-legend Muhammad Ali against the up and coming George Foreman. Ali, long known for his poetic speeches before a fight, unveiled a tactic in the ring that not only confused Foreman, but won Ali the bout and a reclamation of the heavyweight belt. Using his now famous "rope-a-dope" strategy, Ali spent eight rounds hanging on the ropes, letting the then unbeaten Foreman pound away with fists of fury. After more than seven rounds of patiently wearing down Foreman, Ali landed the knockout punch in the eighth, putting Foreman on the canvas and out of the fight.
Although Terry and Julie Allen were around in 1974, their '93 Mustang LX was nearly 20 years away from rolling off the assembly line. They must have had the "rope-a-dope" strategy in mind when they put together the last-edition Fox-body notchback, though. Having already gone through blower vehicles and a semiradical, naturally aspirated car, the Allens wanted a car that would dupe others into thinking it could be beaten easily, all the while having the ability to unload a knockout punch with precision and deadly accuracy. The result of their wants and desires was the forging of their turbocharged LX. "I already had a supercharged vehicle and a modded-out, naturally aspirated car," Terry says. "I just wanted to see what the difference was in having a turbo car and if I could put it together myself." The result? "I would never invest in a supercharger again after having a turbo," he says.
Knowing that the increased cylinder pressure and boost from the turbo would put a high amount of strain on the internals of the stock 302, Terry decided to build a short-block worthy of standing in the ring for 15 rounds. He took a machined D.S.S. Level 20 race block, and, matching the cylinders with the longer stroke from the 4340 forged stroker crank, requisitioned a displacement figure of 331 ci. Pumping up and down the eight cylinder walls are D.S.S. forged Pro-lite max quench reverse-dome pistons, while 4340 forged H-beam rods rotate around the crank's mains. The final squeeze number checks in at a turbo-friendly 9:1. Down below, a D.S.S. 8-quart pan complete with a windage tray seals up the bottom end, while a Ford oil pump squirts lubricant to the rotating masses.
The top half of the stroker small-block is where it gets interesting. A set of Trick Flow Track Heat aluminum heads, showcasing 2.02-inch intake and 1.60-inch exhaust valves, were taken out of the box and promptly lowered onto the block. The valves are opened thanks to Harland Sharp rockers, which work in conjunction with a Comp Cams Xtreme Energy bumpstick that was milled to HP Performance specs. The incoming air charge hits the speed bag when the 60mm turbo from an HP Performance T60 Stage 1 turbocharger kit spools up. Metering the 10 pounds of boosted oxygen is a C&L 76mm mass air meter, which funnels the atmosphere though a Professional Products 75mm throttle body and down the intake runners of the Hogan intake manifold. Adding fuel to the fire is an Aeromotive A1000 pump and a set of 42-pound injectors that direct the fuel into the cylinders. The bomb is kicked off each time the MSD Digital 6 box sends a high-voltage spark through the Blaster coil. Getting this 511-rwhp powerhouse to live and breathe was handled by Terry himself. The exhaust system consists of the 1 3/4-inch shorty headers and tubing supplied in the HP kit, which is then mated to a 3-inch exhaust system that exits the rear of the car.
Big power requires a large amount of fortified components in the rest of the drivetrain. Having previously smoked three clutches, Terry mated a Centerforce dual-friction clutch to a Spec aluminum flywheel and pressure plate. The T5 manual gearbox that backs it up was beefed up with G-Force internals. Depending on who feels like taking the controls, Terry or Julie slams the gears with help from a Pro-5.0 shifter. Covering the distance from end to end out back is the 8.8-inch rear, though the stock components were tossed aside in favor of a Detroit Locker, Superior 31-spline axles, and a set of 3.55 gears.
With the turbocharged powerplant laying down 622 lb-ft of torque, a suspension system capable of handling all that grunt was a necessity. To that end, Terry threw in a set of UPR arms, along with one of the company's chromoly tubular K-members. He kept the factory sway bar and shocks but converted the front suspension over to a UPR coilover setup. Out back, homemade upper control arms work hand-in-hand with a set of Metco lowers, as well as the stock springs and shocks, to the keep the rear in check. Tightening up the whole mess of things is a pair of Jeg's Jegster subframe connectors. Speaking of connections, mating the car to the asphalt is a set of Weld Draglite wheels. Sized 15x6 up front and 15x9.5 in the rear, the racing-inspired rims are wrapped in Mickey Thompson ET Streets out back and bargain tires up front.
Terry not only assembled the engine but shined it up and made it look pretty, so it was only natural that he and Julie tackled the exterior and interior portions of the car. A Cervini's 4-inch cowl hood and accompanying trunk lid were bolted on. The Mustang was then hauled over to Harborvette Performance Restorations, where painter Phil Palmer mixed up a special blend of black and red coloring for the Stang's sheetmetal. Once the primer and base coats were on, the Pony was hit with a few shots of clear to make the paint shine. With the red complementing the mile-deep black, it was a no-brainer that the red-on-black color combination would be carried over into the cabin. A Kenny Brown rollcage was installed, and a pair of Arizen Racing seats were stitched in red and black leather and put in place of the factory chairs. Completing the look is the custom red and black rear seat, also made to order by Arizen Racing, along with the custom console and Auto Meter gauges.
"The car drives like a Fox-body on steroids," Terry says. "You need to have respect for it on the street because of the torque and power this thing has. It took a little getting used to because at 3,200 rpm, this thing is almost in full boost."
"The streetability of a high-horsepower, killer-torque car that's extremely driveable is one of the things we like the best," Julie says. "We've driven the car from Atlanta to St. Louis and everywhere in between, and if you stay out of the boost, it can get 21 mpg."
Staying out of the boost is a perfect way for the Allens to rope in an unsuspecting opponent. But just when that poor soul thinks he or she has the upper hand, this little Fox-body unleashes a torrent of jabs, right hooks, and uppercuts-all of which are guaranteed to get the knockout.