Muscle Mustangs & Fast Fords
1991 Mustang LX Coupe - Street Manners
David Salardino's 825 RWHP '91 Coupe Runs Low 9s, While Still Minding Its
Look in David Salardino's garage and you'll find two cars: a mild street car that performs well for daily driving, and a low 9-second race car that pumps out 825 rwhp and 698 lb-ft of torque. The first is a street cruiser that logs at least 150 miles a week, and the latter has run the quarter in 9.27 seconds at over 147 mph.
What is most remarkable is that both cars are actually one in the same: a clean sleeper in the form of a '91 coupe. It's an extraordinary accomplishment considering this notch does it all on 93-octane pump gas and a single tune.
This clean coupe isn't the first sick street car that David has owned. Previously, he drove a low-10-second '93 coupe onto the pages of MM&FF (Dec. '99/Jan. '01). It was built and tuned by Jim Chahalis at the now-defunct LaRocca's Performance and featured a Vortech-supercharged stock-block 5.0L with Twisted Wedge heads. It even ran as low as 10.007 seconds at 134 mph on slicks. The Reef Blue coupe produced over 650 hp, but unfortunately, he sold the car to focus on his new house and his career as a police officer.
Fast forward to 2008: David's need for a clean Mustang returned and the plan was to build a similar machine-one that could run strong and look extremely sharp on the street.
For his latest creation, David wanted a high-9-second street car that looked like a 12-second car. He definitely pulled off the look, but got a little carried away in the performance department. Starting with an original, unmodified 50,000-mile 5.0L Louisiana LX, Dave turned once again to Jim Chahalis for the mechanicals. Starting with a Ford Racing Performance Parts R-302 block, Coast High Performance (CHP) built a 347ci short-block assembly to withstand over 1,000 hp. Inside, it utilized a Probe Industries forged crankshaft, 8.5:1 pistons and SCAT forged H-beam connecting rods.
Meanwhile, Total Engine Airflow of Tallmadge, Ohio, was busy assembling a pair of its Edelbrock Victor Jr. 225 Renegade aluminum heads with 2.05-inch intake valves and 1.60-inch exhaust valves. TEA also ported a Holley Systemax intake manifold to match. "I wanted a cam that could make tons of power and yet have good driveability," says David, so he turned to Brian "Freezy" Friedentag, a friend of Chahalis who is a whiz with cams. Freezy designed a one-off camshaft profile that fit David's requirements, but David wouldn't give us the specs.
"I originally wanted a turbo car, but Jim (Chahalis) talked me out of it. I'm glad he did." What Chahalis had in mind was a Vortech Renegade YSI kit. Making a whopping 24 pounds of boost, the supercharger sports a 3.12-inch pulley and an Anderson Motorsports Mr. Freeze methanol-injection system. Massive 83-lb/hr injectors and a 95mm MAF sensor controls fuel delivery when David mashes the skinny pedal. An MSD 6AL ignition box, coil, and wires allow the Accel spark plugs to light the fire. Exhaust fumes escape rapidly through Accufab long-tube headers, then out a completely custom 3-inch exhaust by Stan Bachonski. Bachonski created a system that could handle over 800 hp and still appear stock. Artistic Metal Polishing of Somerset, New Jersey, polished the supercharger, intake manifold, and miscellaneous components to give the engine compartment a bright, clean look.
David's previous coupe housed a five-speed manual gearbox, but it was hit or miss-literally. Being an officer of the law who is used to being on target, David wanted all his gear changes to count, so he opted for an FB Performance (Long Island, New York) AOD built to handle 1,200 hp. A variable stall converter by Fred Brown of FB Performance allows David to select a stall speed of either 4,000 or 5,000 with the flip of a switch.
The 8.8-inch rearend housing is packed with 3.73s, a spool, and 35-spline Moser axles, along with modified four-cylinder springs and Steeda upper and lower control arms to keep things in line. The Wild Rides rear swaybar and subframe connectors seemingly eliminate body roll, and QA1 shocks soften the ride. Up front lies an AJE tubular K-member and control arms, and QA1 adjustable coilovers
Inside the all-black cockpit, a Wild Rides 10-point rollcage, Recaro race seats, and Simpson harnesses keep David and company safe. A Hurst pistol-grip shifter (customized by Chahalis) houses the transmission brake release button, and just below the radio are two toggle switches: The blue one is the control for the variable stall speed, and the red one turns on the line lock.
The instrument panel may look stock, but it's tricked out, too. An air/fuel gauge resides where the oil pressure gauge once sat, and the red parking brake light comes on when the line lock is engaged. To keep the driver informed, coolant temperature, transmission temperature, and oil pressure gauges replace the center A/C vents. Boost and fuel pressure gauges are mounted in the A-pillar, and a new tachometer is mounted on the dash, all from Auto Meter.
To keep the stock appearance, David opted for a factory flat hood and a simple-yet-perfect paint job. Ultimate Collision of Edison, New Jersey, prepped and painted the coupe in Lincoln Navigator Laser Red using factory-quality Sikkens premium paint. Bogart D-10s sit at all four corners with radial rubber, but David also has a set of less suspicious Bullitt-style wheels for cruising to the Jersey Shore with his wife, Stephanie, for the weekend.
There's no doubt that David and Jim Chahalis were better prepared and more knowledgeable this time around. The car has better street manners than his other LX, but this one is about a second quicker. In fact, with a few minor changes, he's got his sights set on 9.0s at 150 mph. This LX has ripped into the low 9s with a best e.t. of 9.27, which came with a 1.44 60-foot time.
We don't know of many truly streetable cars that can run low 9s on Saturday, cruise to the mall on Sunday, then to work on Monday without raising the hood or changing the tune or fuel. Keep an eye on David Salardino and his sneaky little coupe. He just might have an NMRA True Street victory in the near future.
Editor's note: MM&FF would like to send a special thanks to the Edison Police Department, officers Brian Freund and Fred Brown, and Chief Tom Bryan.