Frank H. Cicerale
February 1, 2008

Turn on Fox at 8:00 p.m. on a Sunday, and for half an hour you'll be transported to the town of Springfield, where Homer, Marge, Lisa, Bart, and Maggie Simpson will have you saying "Eat my shorts," "Dude," and "Doh" in no time. The show has been on the air since December 1987, racking up more than a few awards during the course of its 19-season, 404-episode lifespan.

While Dave Stinson isn't a Simpson, he does live in Springfield-Massachusetts, that is. And while his '92 GT may be just a few years younger than the popular animated sitcom, it makes everyone who looks at it say, "Dude, what a ride!"

What ended up a looker started out as a regular old beater. "I bought my Mustang with the original intent of it being my daily driver to replace a beaten-up '87 four-cylinder LX convertible," Dave says. "I was 18 at the time and had no interest in the car-enthusiast hobby whatsoever."

That soon changed. "I had made some good friends in the Mustang scene, and about a year later, I started modifying the car," Dave says. "Throughout the years, I got more and more into the scene and kicked the car up a notch every chance I got."

Dave started with the looks and under-pinnings of the Fox-body before contemplating adding power to the nimble Pony. He left the stock front upper and lower control arms on the car, but swapped in a set of Bilstein shocks that work in conjunction with the MAC progressive-rate lowering springs. Steeda bushings and a caster/camber kit from Maximum Motorsports made sure the alignment was spot on and the wheels pointed in the right direction. The 8.8-inch rear was beefed up with a set of axles from a '95 Cobra and the installation of a set of 3.73 cogs. The chassis was tied together with a set of custom full-length subframe connectors and the same Bilstein shock/MAC spring combo out back.

Dave then moved on to the outside of the car, where he threw a host of body components and a set of shiny shoes at it. The stock headlights and bumper were tossed for a set of Diamond clear lamps and a Cervini's Stalker front bumper. The factory hood was replaced with an ABC Exclusive 2½-inch Mach 1 model lid, while out back, the decklid received a Design Concepts Cobra-style wing, as well as the installation of a Cobra rear bumper and a pair of '93 Cobra taillights. Once the body components were on, Dave sprayed the sheetmetal with numerous layers of DuPont Vibrant Red paint, followed by an appropriate amount of clear. Rounding out the stunning good looks of the topless Stang were the chrome 17x8-inch Cobra rims. The front wheels were shod in Yokohama ES 100 rubbers, while the rears were wrapped with a pair of Goodyear Eagle hoops. Adding a bit more visual flavor was the custom fiberglass cowl cover.

With the foundation for big power laid down and the outside fascia built up, it was time for Dave to move into the interior and drivetrain areas of the Mustang. The factory chairs made way for a set of Cerullo XR seats fashioned in white vinyl. Dave then recovered the rear seats in white leather before installing a custom in-dash gauge pod whipped up by Al Lindgren of Speed and Sound (Memphis, Tennessee). Add in the count-less billet accessories and the custom door panels, floor mats, doorsills, and radio panel, and anyone can see the amount of love Dave put into his pride and joy. A thumping sound system showcases an aftermarket head unit and a trunk filled with a couple of subwoofers.

Dave was finally ready to tackle the chore of giving his Mustang more power. He kept the stock 5.0 in as-cast condition, leaving the crank, rods, and pistons in place. He lowered the compression ratio from the factory 9:1 to a blower-friendly 8.5:1, then added a set of Edelbrock's Performer aluminum heads featuring 1.90-inch intake and 1.60-inch exhaust valves. The stock camshaft runs the valvetrain geometry up the pushrods, through the lifters, and to a set of Ford Racing Performance Parts 1.6 roller rockers.

Dave wanted a good amount of power under the hood of his Stang, so he turned to Edelbrock and Vortech for the go-fast goodies. The stock-displacement 5.0 powerplant sports a set of Edelbrock Performer heads and a Vortech blower to make an estimated 425 rwhp.

The powerful punch of this Pony comes in the form of a Vortech S-Trim centrifugal supercharger that blows in 12-14 pounds of boost through an Anderson Ford Motorsports Power Pipe. The air is funneled into the Professional Products Typhoon intake manifold via an SCT 90mm Big Air 2600 mass air meter and Accufab 70mm throttle body. The nastiness is piped out of the combustion chambers via a pair of BBK 1 5/8-inch shorty headers linked up to a BBK 2½-inch exhaust system showcasing a set of the company's high-flow cats and a pair of MAC mufflers.

The combustion process doesn't happen unless you have fuel and fire, so Dave made sure that both were adequate to cover the expected big power of the stock-displacement, small-block Ford. An SCT chip and tune, as well as some help from XX Tuning in Hartford, Connecticut, made sure that the tune for the pushrod powerplant would be spot on. A Crane Fireball ignition coil and a set of Taylor plug wires and Autolite plugs ensure the spark is present. As for the fuel side of things, a 255-lph fuel pump supplies the needed go-juice, which is regulated to 39 pounds of pressure with a Kirban fuel-pressure regulator. Spraying the flammable fuel into the runners of the intake manifold are a set of 42-pound injectors, courtesy of FRPP.

When it came time for the transmission, Dave knew an upgrade would be needed. "With the new tune and engine, the car was running like a beast," he says. "The transmission was another story, though. It was definitely not able to hang with the new combination anymore." He gave it some thought and decided his only two choices were to rip out the AOD that was in the Mustang and build it to bulletproof specs, or swap to a T5 stick. "I used to own a Thunderbird Super Coupe with a built AOD, which I absolutely loved to drive, so the auto bug was in me," he says. With that in mind, Dave decided to do something different, and that was to retrofit a 4R70W into the Fox-body.

Jay Broader of Broader Performance (Weathersford, Texas) handled the assembly of the 4R70W, which sports cryogenic internals, high-energy clutches, and a fully manual valvebody. Before the trans was installed, Dave threw in a 3,000-stall converter. He then tackled the 4R70W swap, which he said went fairly easy. "Aside from the custom wiring harnesses and the realization of new sensors being needed upon install, my Mustang club member Dan Hyland and I were able to perform the swap with relative ease," he says.

Of course, once the mechanical aspect of the convertible was completed, Dave polished and shined everything under and on the car to perfection before heading to the car shows around his home. His polishing efforts were so good, he offered his services to others on various Mustang Web sites, eventually branching out to sell stock-to-polished parts on eBay. Each time he cruises in the drop-top Stang, though, he's reminded of how much fun he has with this car-crafting hobby.

"I've never had this much enjoyment out of a car," Dave says. "It's still surprising how docile this car is. One second I can drive it like it's the stock AOD-equipped Mustang I started with, and the next moment I can blow the tires off and create a smoke show in Third gear."

He says the best part, though, is the looks his car gets each time he takes it for a spin. "It's a unique build, and the recognition it gets every-where is awesome. I can't take it down the street without people going crazy."

Bart Simpson better put some power to his skateboard. Dave Stinson's Mustang is liable to make him say "Doh!"