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1993 Ford Mustang LX - Tool Time
Willie Johnson scripts his own version of Home Improvement.
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If you've ever watched the TV show Home Improvement, you know that just about every time Tim Allen came in from the garage, it was after he got done wrenching on his street rod. While those who viewed the show never got a good look at the car, its presence was unmistakable.
Willie Johnson also has a love affair with his car, a '93 Mustang LX. Unlike the hit sitcom, however, everyone around St. Louis, Missouri, sees the blue devil. At 56 years of age, Willie has seen the musclecar era, along with the decline into the gas crunch of the mid-'70s. He has lived through the horsepower debacle that was the early '80s, and now resides in a world where 11- and 10-second street cars are more common. Throughout those years, where he held the pink slips to a number of vehicles, including both vintage iron and new-age Mustangs, it was a fateful day in 1995 that set the tone for his impeding conquest.
"I saw the car in 1995, when it was owned by a young lady," Willie says. "She was tired of her baby rolling off of the front seat, so I was more than happy to take the car off of her hands." With the deal struck, the young girl went her way and Willie went his. While we can surmise that the mother bought something a bit more suitable to drive, we know for sure the path Willie chose. He drummed up a horsepower-induced script that would make even Tim Allen jealous. "A friend of mine talked me into buying the car and building it up," Willie says.
As is the norm, Willie started out under the hood looking for more power. He ditched the 302, and while cleaning the engine bay for the new powerplant, he enlisted Woody's Machine to put together one heck of a stout engine. A Dart Iron Eagle block was procured and promptly punched out 0.030 inch over. After an Eagle 3.75-inch crank was laid down in the main web, the foundation of the 383 stroker small-block was firm with the addition of a set of Eagle rods and Diamond pistons. A Melling oil pump sprays the lubricant throughout the powerplant, while a Canton pan seals the bottom end.
With a blower in the works, a low compression ratio and lots of airflow were needed to take advantage of all that incoming oxygen. To allow for maximum power, a custom hydraulic roller camshaft from Brian Friedentas was slipped into the short-block. Next, a set of Trick Flow Twisted Wedge heads were massaged by Mike Dake Cylinder Heads, before the aluminum pieces were laid upon their respective cylinder banks. With the heads sealing up the combustion chambers, a squeeze figure of 8.8:1 was just perfect for the supercharger to come.
The blower was only one part of the induction equation, however. A Trick Flow R intake manifold promptly made its way topside, followed by an Accufab 95mm throttle body and a 92mm mass air meter. Only then did the Vortech YSi make its way into the engine compartment, where it was set up to blow in 26 pounds of boost. Feeding the beast fuel is a Weldon 2025 fuel pump that has its fuel pressure set at 60 psi thanks to an Aeromotive regulator. As for tuning the stock EEC IV for the new combination, Willie enlisted the help of Bob Kurgan of Kurgan Motorsports, who twiddled the keys and made sure that each time the MSD Digital 7 box sent the spark to the NGK plugs by way of an MSD coil, distributor, and Taylor wires, things would be spot on. The muscular tone of the Mustang comes from the Kook's 2-inch primary custom long-tube headers that mate up with DynoMax Bullet mufflers and a sewer-pipe-sized 3 1/2-inch exhaust system.