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'85 Mustang GT - Oversimplified
Ken Hupf's '85 Mustang GT is as simple as they come.
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In a world dominated by fuel injection, modular engines, and vehicle-management systems that tell you when tire pressure is low, it's rare to see something as simple as Ken Hupf's car. There's no ECM in this ride, just a tried-and-true, high-capacity ignition system complete with a distributor. Fuel injection? Ken laughs at the concept. Sitting on top of this poked Windsor motor is a fuel-mixing device considered to be of ancient proportions--the carburetor. Adding even more allure is the fact that there's no nitrous bottle, supercharger, or turbocharger in sight. All that moves this Pony is cubic inches.
In Ken's '85 Mustang GT, the simply engineered driveline combination, black paint, few interior upgrades, and even the wheel and tire choice, elicit only a casual glance--that is, until the clutch is dropped, the gears are pulled, and this four-eyed freak screams through the lights in 10 seconds.
This is just one of many Fords Ken has owned. As a matter of fact, he has held the pink slip to more than 12 of them before picking up this Mustang in 1994. "I've owned 12 5.0L cars and have had every model--LX hatchbacks, sedans, GTs, convertibles, AODs, five-speeds, and even an '85 Mercury Capri GS," he says. After learning a friend needed to purge his driveway of the '85 GT, Ken promptly took the Fox-body home.
Wanting a car that was simple to work on but able to rip up the track and the street, Ken set about turning the car into a version not usually seen. "My wife and I are both career Air Force veterans, and our jobs have been a bit overwhelming the past several years," Ken says. For that reason, he went with a simple induction setup as well as a proven engine combination. "Most of the cars I previously owned were fuel-injected," he says, "but I switched back to a carb car in 1994 since I wanted to build a street/strip car, and I liked the ease and added power they offer for less money."
Ken began by pulling the venerable 302 small-block out of the engine bay. He planned on throwing in a bored-over 351 in its place, but first he needed to tackle the assembly of said engine with go-fast goodies. He sourced a '94 351 Windsor block that was originally part of a Ford Racing Performance Parts crate engine. The block was drilled 0.030-inch over, and was decked and honed by SD Concepts of Warwick, Rhode Island. After ARP studs were installed, the cylinder case was filled with a nodular iron crank, Eagle H-beam rods, and Diamond custom flat-top pistons, all of which were blueprinted and balanced. Lubrication of the newly created 356 is handled by a Melling oil pump. Keeping oil off the crank at high revolution is a Canton Pro Drag Race oil pan, complete with side kickouts, a windage tray, and a baffle.
Next to go in was the camshaft, which was straight out of the Comp Cams lineup. The specific bumpstick Ken picked out is the XR286R, which features a 248/254 intake/exhaust duration split, with lift numbers of 0.614 for the intake and 0.621 for the exhaust. Knowing the cam would open the intake and exhaust valves wide, Ken realized that an appropriate set of cylinder heads had to be chosen to match. With that in mind, his pick of a set of Canfield 192cc aluminum heads was a no-brainer. After the crew at SD Concepts opened up the heads, a set of 2.08-inch intake and 1.60-inch exhaust valves, courtesy of REV, were installed. The rest of the valvetrain consists of Crane dual valvesprings, Smith Brothers hardened pushrods, and Comp Cams 1.6 ratio roller rockers. Thanks to the Canfields' 58cc combustion chamber, the compression ratio checks in at a stout 10.62:1.
Ken wanted something simple, so he went with a custom Edelbrock Super Victor manifold that has had its runners fully balanced and flowed. Once the intake was bolted down, a Barry Grant Mighty Demon 850 mechanical double-pumper carb showcasing annular boosters was laid on. The exhaust pulses are shuffled out through a pair of MAC 1-3/4-inch long-tube headers mated to a Dr. Gas x pipe system, DynoMax Ultra Flo mufflers, and a MAC 2-1/2-inch exhaust system with polished tips. Keeping the bullet cool under fire is an Edelbrock Victor Series water pump, SPAL dual 11-inch electric fans, and a Griffin aluminum radiator. Lighting off the air/fuel mixture is a chore easily checked off the to-do list by an MSD Digital 6 ignition box, HVC II coil, billet distributor, and plug wires. Screwed into the eight spark holes are NGK Iridium plugs.
A Tremec 3550 five-speed do-it-yourself transmission backs the potent pushrod motor, while a Lakewood bellhousing envelops a Ford Racing Performance Parts billet-steel flywheel and a Centerforce dual-friction clutch. Ken makes each gear change via a Pro-5.0 shifter topped with an old-school Hurst shifter ball, while an FRPP aluminum driveshaft runs the power down the line to the rear.
Speaking of the third-member, the hind legs of this Pony are a near-bulletproof Currie Enterprises 9-inch rear filled with Moser 35-spline axles, a nodular-iron centersection, 4.30 cogs, and a Detroit Locker Tru-Trac differential. Power meets the pavement via a set of Weld Draglite wheels. The front 15x3.5-inch 10-holes are wrapped in generic tires, while the 15x8-inch rear wheels are graced with M&H Racemaster DOTs when on the street, and 27x10 M&H Racemaster slicks when the dragstrip calls.
With the car predominately set up to see action a quarter-mile at a time, the suspension is geared more toward rearward weight transfer as opposed to corner-carving stiffness. A pair of Koni adjustable drag shocks are found on all four corners of the Mustang, as are Eibach drag springs. Most of the suspension work was done to the rear, however, as an airbag helps soften the shock of the launch. Also aiding in traction are Pro-Mustang adjustable upper control arms, Mega Bite Jr. lower control arms, custom frame connectors, and fully welded torque boxes and upper control arm mounts.
Ken decided to leave the Mustang in the menacing black hue it has worn since its inception. The only change he made was the addition of a fiberglass cowl hood hit with Chromabase urethane black paint. As for the interior, it was left well enough alone, minus the installation of an Auto Meter Monster tach and a triple set of gauges mounted in the far end of the dash. When all was said and done, Ken's car may look like a 12-second ride, but a 10.82/126-mph timeslip says otherwise.
"Due to our jobs and family life, the car rarely gets driven, except to an occasional cruise night or late-night get-together at a local speed shop," Ken says. "This time, I built a basic, streetable combo that puts out great power. The numbers prove the results are all in the details of the combination, not based on how much money you spend."
Now that's a simple assessment.