Pete Epple Technical Editor
July 1, 2009
Photos By: Frank H. Cicerale

As children, our parents introduced us to many things in life. This helps us to forge our own paths and find the things we grow to love.

For Ed Kohler, growing up around cool cars was the thing that drove him to fall in love with our hobby. Ed learned how to turn wrenches with his dad, John ,at the early age of 10, while working on their F-series pickup in the driveway. He learned the automotive basics and his affection for the automobile began to grow. When it came time for Ed to build a new toy, he knew a Mustang was the only way to go.

Ed Kohler came to own his '87 LX while he was working at a Harley-Davidson dealership. A customer sold him his four-cylinder Stang and the $150 price tag is a testament to the condition the car was in when the project started. "The car was a total bomb," Ed explains. "The fenders were dented, the hatch was rotted--it had some sweet spoke hub caps, but the interior was the worst." After a thorough cleaning, the project was underway.

The Ed Quay sheetmetal spoiler adds a racy look and provides a little extra downforce when Ed goes down the track.

Once Ed got his Stang into the driveway, the first order of business was swapping the four-banger for a mild V-8. Over the next few years, Ed slowly made changes and improvements to his Pony, and over time, the need for more power took over. When Ed decided a new mill was in this Fox's future, he set his sights on beefing up the running gear.

Working side-by-side with his father, Ed grew up knowing the importance of a strong transmission and rearend. "My father always taught me to start at the back and build forward," Ed tells us. "If the drivetrain can't hold up to the power, what's the point?" With big power goals in mind, Ed ripped out the stock rearend in favor of a 9-inch unit from Moser Engineering. The housing was fitted with a Detroit Locker and Moser's 35-spline axles. Fully adjustable UPR upper and lower control arms keep the rearend in place, and Strange shocks and Granatelli coilovers cushion the ride on the street and at the track.

Nick's Machine of South River, New Jersey, built the 331ci bullet that powered Ed's Pony to a best e.t. of 11.20 at over 121 mph. A single stage of giggle gas from NOS lays in wait for times when 365 rwhp isn't enough.

Moving forward to the transmission, Ed enlisted the help of erformance Automatics to build the gearbox. After discussing the soon-to-come engine combination, the choice was made and a C4 was built. Performance Automatics put together one of its Super Comp C4s with a 3,500-stall converter to transfer power to the fresh 9-inch out back.

As soon as Ed had the running gear in line, the task of making power became his main focus. After buying a fresh 302 block from another New Jersey-based racer, he now had the base for his Pony's new heart and soul.

Knowing that he had to fill the block with quality parts, Ed went to D.S.S. Racing for one of its 331ci stroker kits. Ed's next stop was to Nick's Machine in South River, New Jersey, where Nick (of Nick's Machine) took started assembling the forged rotating assembly inside the freshly machined 302 block.

A camshaft from Anderson Ford Motorsports controls the valves inside the new Edelbrock Performer 5.0 aluminum cylinder heads. The combination produced a healthy 11:1 compression that would be safe for track and street use. Nick topped off the build with an Edelbrock Victor Jr. intake and Holley carburetor. MAC 1¾-inch full-length headers, an x-pipe system, and Dynatech mufflers were called into action to help the stoker mill exhale, while a K&N air filter helps it breath. When all was said and done, the new mill laid down an impressive 365 rwhp and 410 lb-ft of torque. In the event 365 hp isn't enough, Ed has a backup plan: A single-stage nitrous system from NOS lays in wait for when he needs more power.

Now that his Fox had the power to gallop a little faster, getting out of the gate at the strip and on the street was a concern, and Ed decided it was time to upgrade the front suspension. A UPR K-member cradles the new powerplant, while UPR tubular A-arms and coilovers with Strange struts handle the weight transfer. Center Line Convo Pro wheels sit at all four corners, with Mickey Thompson Front Runners up front and Mickey Thompson ET Street tires out back. Ed also removed the power steering in favor of a manual setup, along with a five-lug conversion using parts from Ford Racing Performance Parts.

A Holley carburetor sits atop the Edelbrock Victor Jr. intake that feeds the Ford mill under the hood.

Getting away from its four-cylinder roots, Ed's Stang still didn't look the part. The next step was the custom two-tone paint that now wraps this '87 LX. The custom PPG red and black hues add a menacing look to this once tame Fox-body. After all of the work Ed has done to his Stang, it has produced a best quarter-mile time of 11.20 seconds at over 121 mph. In the near future, Ed plans to build a big-inch Windsor engine to take the place of his already-stout 331.

Finding satisfaction in each improvement has driven Ed to make more changes. Over the past eight years, Ed has transformed a once dreadful Fox into something he can really be proud of. Although Ed's father passed away before it was finished, we know he would be proud too.