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Brian Wolfe 1986 Ford Mustang GT - Revolution
Brian Wolfe pushed the boundaries of 5.0 performance and laid the groundwork for today's modern era of Mustang performance.
The 5.0 engine can arguably be called the most popular and easily modified fuel-injected engine of this performance era.
The proliferation of the 5.0 craze continues to flourish today, 21 years after fuel injection was added to the Mustang. Success and popularity of the Mustang helped launch our industry into a new golden era of performance.
If it wasn't for the go-fast junkies pushing the envelope of the Mustang in the late '80s/early '90s, we probably wouldn't be sitting here today with a 300hp base-model GT and a booming aftermarket. This magazine, and many others, grew and prospered thanks to the 5.0 craze. During this time, one of the men who stood at the dawn of 5.0L performance craze was Brian Wolfe, a Ford engineer who was privileged to have picked through the specialty-parts bin at big Blue and make history.
A Ford engineer by trade and drag-racing enthusiast by choice, Wolfe was instrumental in bringing many Ford Racing performance parts to the market. He had grown up a hot rodder-his dad and brother are responsible for his automotive passion. His '86 Mustang GT was purchased off the showroom floor, and it didn't take long for him to modify it. "I had raced my first car, a 428CJ Fairlane," Wolfe says, "but once I ran 12.40s at will with my Mustang, I shoved my FE in the corner and focused on my small-block."
Being a Ford engineer has its advan-tages, and Wolfe's business and personal friendships led him into the history books of high-performance Mustangs. His desire to run quicker brought him to the Ford Motorsport (now Ford Racing Performance Parts) division. His car would become a test mule for products such as the GT-40 intake and GT-40 cylinder heads. "The GT-40 heads and intake were designed for production Mustangs," Wolfe says, "but the program was scrapped when Ford started to design the mod motors [though the GT-40 parts did make it onto the '93 Cobra-Ed]. My friends in Ford Motorsport asked if I wanted to try out the heads and intake. If they worked well, Ford Motorsport was going to add them to the catalog." His naturally aspirated '86 GT flew to a best of 11.66 at 115 mph-the quickest and fastest pass for a 5.0L Mustang at the time. It escalated from there.
In 1989, Wolfe's popularity with the ever-growing 5.0 crowd of Mustang enthusiasts was set in stone as he was featured in the now-defunct Super Ford magazine as owner of one of the three quickest Fox-body Mustangs. It was Wolfe, Stormin' Norman Gray, and Tom Hartell who were really pushing the 5.0 performance. Wolfe's car was naturally aspirated and ran high-11s, while Stormin' Norman used juice to also run high-11s, and Hartell had a Paxton supercharger in his Stang and ran low-12s. That story sparked an arms race amongst Mustang racers. Super Ford threw a 5.0 Shootout the following year to see who had the quickest Mustang in the land.
During that time, Stormin' Norman was credited with pushing the envelope further than anyone else. He had the Roush Racing crew (led by the late Steve Grebeck) build his car to run low-10s. Wolfe continued to rely on naturally aspirated combinations despite others running quicker than him on the bottle. "I have always been more of a naturally aspirated kind of guy," Wolfe says. A new engine combination was built using Allen Root (aka J302 aluminum) heads. It was enough to push Wolfe into the 10s, still without a power adder. In fact, he had the first 5.0 Mustang to run 11s, 10s, and 9s in naturally aspirated trim.
Not only was Wolfe a natural kind of guy, but he's also a fuel-injection enthusiast, and we aren't surprised given his engineering background. While many people with a fast Mustang turned to carbureted induction systems, Wolfe continued to push the Ford EEC IV computer system. He switched to a mass airflow sensor setup and began testing with computer add-ons offered through Ford Motorsport and built by GSR Electronics.