Frank H. Cicerale
September 1, 2008

Imagine you just bought a house (minus a garage), and while moving in, you park your prized possession, an '86 Mustang GT equipped with the rare T-top option, in the attached carport. Then, while your baby sits under its semi-sheltered home, Mother Nature turns the hair-dryer on full blast, and a nasty windstorm collapses that carport on your pride and joy.

Such was the case with Mark Weiner's '86 Mustang GT. "The car almost didn't make it this far," Mark says. "During a bad windstorm, the carport collapsed and ended up on top of it." Having just moved into his new house, Mark was beside himself, as he and wife, Stacey, didn't have the money to fix the car. Thanks to Mark's dad, the Mustang's inauspicious start was overcome with an ending forged by hard work and a vision of triumph over setback. "My dad had the car painted for me, since, at the time I'd just moved into my house, and $4,000 for a paint job wasn't in the budget.

A 306ci small-block Ford is the motivation for Mark's '86 Mustang GT. Based around a D.S.S. Sportsman block, the Edelbrock-headed powerplant thumps out 318 ponies at the rear hides-not bad for a summertime cruiser.

"The car is looking good as new," Mark says. "Since that paint job, it has just taken off." Jay McHush handled the repair work and resulting coloration of the Pony's sheetmetal. Mark and Jay decided to replace the factory hood with a Cervini's Mach 1 piece, and followed up the part replacement with the removal and shaving of the engine bay and trunk latch. Jay then broke out the paint gun, loaded it with PPG Jalapeno Red, and lit up the flanks of the car with the vibrant hue. After throwing on some clear to bring out the shine, the bodywork was complete, and the car was ready for the rest of its makeover.

"I'm an automotive tech by trade, so that made working on the car much easier," Mark says. To complement the car's newfound good looks, he decided to shore up the Mustang's foundation before adding a copious amount of power. Up front, the stock springs and shocks made way for a set of stock '95 Mustang GT struts and a pair of Steeda sport springs. The stock front sway bar was retained, as well as the stock 8.8-inch rear, though its innards were worked over with the addition of a set of 3.73 gears. Mark then welded the torque boxes and a pair of Steeda full-length subframe connectors, and replaced the flimsy rear control arms with a set of uppers and lowers from Steeda. Add in the same spring/shock combo featured on the frontend, and this four-eyed Fox-body was ready to hug the corners.

Knowing that a whole lot of go was coming shortly, Mark updated the whoa aspect of the Pony by junking the stock braking system. In its place went a set of Ford Racing Performance Parts Cobra brakes featuring 13-inch rotors up front, while stock '95 GT brakes were rigged up aft. Wanting a look that would contrast the car's red hue, yet still achieve the handling and ride quality he was looking for, Mark bolted up a set of black-painted 17x9 FR500 rims on all four corners. The sexy-looking wheels are dressed in 245/45/17 Bridgestone RE01Rs.

Mark's Mustang is his dedicated summertime car, and he doesn't hesitate to pull her out of the garage, pop the tops, and go for a spin. Freedom of the open road is enhanced by the music of the 306ci powerplant singing through the BBK headers, H-pipe, and MagnaFlow mufflers.

"With the car looking and stopping good, it was only natural that I find some power for it," Mark says. "It started as every other Stang out there does-a nice, bone-stock car. Like all things, though, that ended quickly." Originally equipped with a stock 5.0 small-block Ford, the pushrod powerplant was yanked out of the engine bay. In its place would be a poked small-block Ford based around a 0.030-over D.S.S. Sportsman block. Once the cylinders were bored, Jimmy Chahalis of East Brunswick, New Jersey, filled the block with a forged crank. A set of forged pistons swinging on the requisite forged rods went in next, and the whole deal was set up to bring the squeeze to a pump gas-friendly 8.6:1. Once the rotating assembly was installed, the stock oil pump and pan completed the short-block assembly. Before the powerplant was laid in between the shock towers, the final pieces of the puzzle needed to be put in place, starting with the custom-ground Anderson Ford Motorsport camshaft that Jimmy stuffed in. On went a set of Edelbrock Performer RPM aluminum heads showcasing 2.02-inch intake valves next. The lobes of the cam bump open the valves via FRPP 1.7 roller rockers.

The front buckets didn't hang around for long, as they made way for a pair of Corbeau Legacy chairs.

Once the powerplant made its way into the car, the long-block was finished off with the addition of a GT-40 intake manifold, which feeds the engine air via a BBK cold-air kit, a K&N filter, a C&L 73mm mass air meter, and an Edelbrock 70mm throttle body. Feeding fuel to the fire is a BBK 255-lph fuel pump that injects the go juice into the motor via a BBK regulator and 24-pound FRPP injectors. Lighting things off each time the cylinders hit their respective power strokes is the stock ECM that has been loaded with a custom tune via an SCT tuner. The signal makes its way from the computer to the stock ignition box, then through an FRPP coil and MSD plug wires before coming to an electrifying halt at the tip of the Autolite plugs. Evacuating the exhaust sewage is a pair of BBK 15/8-inch long-tube headers that funnel into a BBK H-pipe and a 21/2-inch exhaust system that's quieted down by a pair of MagnaFlow mufflers. The dyno-proven 318 rwhp and 341 lb-ft of torque that the 306ci mill produces to the aforementioned 8.8-inch rear is transferred via a T-5 five-speed trans that was rebuilt with all '95 Cobra internals and rowed via a Pro-5.0 shifter. Sandwiched between the flywheel and the trans is a King Cobra clutch.

With everything else on the car shaping up nicely, it was only right that Mark improve the car's interior digs before calling it quits. The factory door panels made way for a pair of SVO pieces; likewise, all of the Mustangs seats were set aside as well. The rear seats were forgone altogether and replaced with a rear-seat delete kit, while the front chairs were swapped for a set of Corbeau Legacy buckets. A Pioneer head unit thumps out the tunes, while steering inputs are stylishly made via a Grant steering wheel. Throw in the requisite Auto Meter A-pillar gauge pod, and Mark is ready to cruise in style with the tops off and his right foot poised to crack her wide open any time he chooses.

"The car runs strong and is very reliable," Mark says. "I drive it all summer-she isn't a trailer queen. Plus, there aren't many clean '85 or '86 GTs around."

Just think, this all started quite inauspiciously. If only everything in life turned out as well as Mark's Mustang.