Muscle Mustangs & Fast Fords
1989 Mustang LX Coupe American Thunder
The Sound Of A Fuel-Injected Generation.
Twist the key to this '89 Mustang LX, and the two-chamber Flowmasters rumble to life. The hot hydraulic-roller camshaft crackles from the stainless steel tailpipes, and as the engine settles into its deep idle, the whistle of the Vortech S-trim supercharger becomes apparent.
It's this combination of high-pressure air and a droning resonance that most of us equate to a modified Fox-Body Mustang, and Brian Baur of Spring Hill, Florida, gets to enjoy this acoustic masterpiece on a regular basis.
A former Chevy enthusiast, Brian opted to trade in his old-school muscle cars for late-model EFI performance. "I had a '72 Nova for a few years with many different engines and transmissions," says Brian. "The car was great, but it wasn't very streetable. My friends have had Stangs; they were very streetable and parts were cheap." With 4.88 gears; a four-speed; and a 12.5:1-compression, 355ci small-block, the Nova definitely wasn't very street-friendly, but at the time, it was what he wanted. A chance encounter with a black notchback would change that.
The black coupe in question is an '89, and it had recently been painted with a metallic-black base/clearcoat. It was a bit different than most, as the owner had installed GT ground effects, a cowl-induction fiberglass hood, a Saleen rear wing, and Weld Draglite wheels. Brian saw it for sale on the side of the road and after checking it out, he spent several agonizing days considering a trade. Eventually he decided to go for it, and as the Nova traveled off into the sunset, the notchback was backed into Brian's garage and a very long journey in Mustang ownership began.
"I decided I liked the look of the lowered, big-rim style better, as that was just coming onto the scene," recalls Brian. The Weld wheels were sold, and a set of Konig Villain 17-inch wheels and tires was bolted to the Pony. A set of Jamex sport coilsprings followed and Brian had the stance he wanted.
Even though the Mustang had a more up to date appearance, the stock 5.0L engine was lacking, especially considering that most of Brian's friends all had modified Stangs that were far faster. Cracking open his first credit card, Brian called Brothers Performance and ordered an Edelbrock top-end package.
Poised to improve the power output of the stock 302 short-block, the Brothers package featured Edelbrock Performer aluminum cylinder heads, with 1.90 intake and 1.60 exhaust valves and an Edelbrock Performer intake manifold. The package also included Crane's 2040 hydraulic-roller camshaft (Crane used to manufacture all of the Ford Racing letter cams and sold the E303 under the 2040 designation), Crane 1.72:1 Cobra roller rockers, a BBK 70mm throttle body and spacer, a Pro-M 75mm mass-air meter, and BBK 15/8-inch equal-length shorty headers.
While most Mustang enthusiasts have strayed from the once-prolific echoes of the Flowmaster American Thunder exhaust system, Brian has kept the signature 5.0L exhaust note for his notchback. Further hollowing out the note is an off-road BBK midpipe, and a 3.55:1-geared rearend allows the more potent 5.0L to rev more freely.
It's no secret that the Fox chassis likes to flex, even in coupe form, so this Mustang was stiffened with a pair of custom subframe connectors from Sac's Racing Products. Brian also upgraded the factory rear control arms with Energy Suspension urethane bushings. During a road trip from Florida to Ohio, it became apparent that the front struts had seized when the front tires started chirping on a bumpy road. After replacing the stock struts and shocks with KYB units, Brian later upgraded to adjustable KYB struts and shocks for more versatility.
A short while after these modifications, Brian scored a deal on a Vortech S-trim. "I bought it because of the whistle," Brian tells us. "I could care less about the power difference." The loud whistle from the old-school compressor certainly garners its share of attention, but we're certain that Brian doesn't mind the extra 100 hp that the 12 psi of boost provides.
Awhile after the power upgrades, the stock T-5 transmission started to show itself as the weak link. Brian pulled it out and replaced it with a G-Force-modified T5 transmission. While he was at it, the stock clutch was swapped out in favor of a McLeod Super Streetpro unit, coupled with a resurfaced stock flywheel and a Pro 5.0 billet shifter.
Over the next few years, Brian spent most of his time detailing the Mustang from top to bottom. It wasn't uncommon to see the car up on jackstands once a month for a thorough cleaning. From the inside of the rims to the polished window moldings, the Mustang has always stood out, no doubt due to Brian's dedication and penchant for spotlessness.
During this time, the cowl hood was traded out in favor of a stock metal hood, and the Konig wheels gave way to a set of ROH ZS hoops, sized 17x8.5. Kumho Ecsta 235/40/17 front tires offer the needed fender clearance for the slammed ride height, and a set of sticky BFGoodrich 275/40/17 drag radials allow the boosted power to be put down to the pavement.
A decade ago, no one really cared about having black-cloth interior. If memory serves us correctly, it was grey leather that was in high demand at the time. Not so anymore, as people buy four-cylinder cars just to get their hands on the black-cloth upholstery. Brian's coupe features the much sought-after black tweed, and the Mustang's interior has received numerous upgrades, including a complement of Auto Meter Phantom Series gauges and billet aluminum interior accents from UPR Products. Though the dash cluster features white-faced gauges, Brianted went a step further by painting the needles to match the Auto Meter dials. When the opportunity arose, he changed out the '89 "batwing" steering wheel for a newer airbag-equipped model.
Last year, after saving a bit and deciding what direction to take, Brian chose to give the Mustang another update and took the coupe back to its notchback roots by removing the GT ground effects and Saleen wing. He pulled the car apart and procured LX front and rear fascias, as well as a new decklid and a 4-inch, fiberglass cowl-induction hood.
Brian called on good friend Mark Johnson to handle the bodywork and spray the BASF base/clearcoat Viper Blue Pearl Coat hue, which gave the Mustang a unique look. Depending on the lighting, the coupe can change from blue to purple-a dynamic-looking paint job that always draws attention. Mark also color-matched the stock aluminum valve covers to the exterior, and he tinted the taillight lenses using a mixture of black paint and clearcoat. Having a slightly red glow through the dark haze gives the lenses a factory look.
His family and friends have all been through multiple Mustangs over the years, but Brian has held onto his and stayed the course. Eleven years later, his persistence has paid off. He has captured the sound of a fuel-injected generation.