Marc Christ
Brand Manager, Modified Mustangs & Fords
December 1, 2009
Photos By: Paul Rosner

Since the first horseless carriage took to the road, people have been trying to get their rides to go faster. By 1932, with the introduction of the Ford Model 18, you could buy a V-8-powered two-door right off the lot, with suicide doors to boot.

For it's time, the '32 Ford was a powerful and unique machine. Still, the "Deuce Coupe" has remained one of the most-modified cars, even more than 70 years later.

The same phenomenon occurred with Ford's Mustang. Although the Mustang is quickly approaching 50 years of production, the theme has remained the same. Like the '32, Mustangs are available with an optional healthy V-8, yet almost every Mustang owner spends his/her hard-earned cash on upgrades to make it faster than Joe Schmoe's four-barrel down the street.

This ever-changing, yet familiar competitiveness brings friends, family, neighbors, and complete strangers together to form a culture known as "hot-rodding." Larry Waters Sr. and Larry Waters Jr. have joined this community in a big way with two blue coupes.

Wild-A-Beast, 1988 LX
After searching for months to find the car he wanted, Larry Waters Jr. of Cumming, Georgia, found an '88 LX coupe in Florida, then owned by Steven McClune. Originally a four-cylinder model, McClune began modifying the body for drag racing but didn't finish the project. Larry Jr. purchased it, and father and son spent the next six months building one fine example of a street/strip hot rod.

Larry Jr. works for a Ford dealership, and Larry Sr. owns and operates his own business, Waters Paint and Body (Gainesville, Georgia), which is where the pair worked nights and weekends getting the car ready for action. A Voss Racing Engines (Live Oak, Florida) 408ci short-block came with the purchase of the coupe, and features an Eagle Specialty Products forged 4340 steel crankshaft and H-beam rods, JE flat top pistons, and a DSS Racing stud girdle. The pair added a pair of 58cc Dart Windsor Sr. cylinder heads, a Cam Motion stick, Edelbrock Victor Jr. intake, and an AED Performance 750-cfm carburetor.

To feed the "beast," Panhandle Performance (Panama City, Florida) plumbed the fuel system and installed a Barry Grant 220-lph pump. Larry Jr. then turned to Jeff Prock of Applied Nitrous for a 150-shot of juice. Then Waters added a MSD Ignition 6AL ignition control, a Blaster coil, and a Pro-Billet distributor, as well as Taylor Cable Products wires and NGK plugs.

After breaking the first transmission, Larry Jr. called on Jeff Abbott of Transmission Techniques (Cumming, Georgia), who built a C-4 that could handle full power on the track but behave well on the street. Next, they modified a Ford 8.8-inch rearend with Moser 35-spline axles, a full spool, and C-clip eliminators to redirect the power to the 275/60-15 Mickey Thompson Drag Radials on Welds.

Once the build was complete and Larry Jr. started running the local quarter-mile in the mid-10s, Larry Sr. asked his son if he could attack the 1,320. Since he had put so much work in the car, including the paint job, Larry Jr. felt honored to let his dad drive.

The Fever, 1990 LX SSP
"I made one pass in Larry Jr.'s car, and when I got back to the pits, I said 'Find me one!' I was hooked," Larry Sr. tells us. On a whim, Larry Jr. called McClune to see if he knew anyone else with a coupe like the '88. He knew of one for sale that was quite similar, a '90 LX SSP (Special Service Package), formerly a Florida Highway Patrol cruiser. Larry Sr. bought the coupe, and with his son, began building yet another mid-10-second stallion.

In true Waters fashion, the pair attacked most of the build themselves. The previous owner included a Voss Racing Engines 408ci short-block, almost identical to Larry Jr.'s. Since the formula worked the first time, the pair decided to use similar parts on Larry Sr.'s. The same Dart Windsor Sr. heads, Edelbrock Victor Jr. intake, and AED 750-cfm carburetor sit atop the Voss short-block, and the same modifications were made to the rearend.

"I'm an old man," Larry Sr. tells us, but he still opted for a healthy 150-shot of nitrous oxide, adding that he "will be adding more as we go." The 55-year-old is still young at heart, and enjoys the time spent working on the Mustangs and racing NMRA/Tremec/MM&FF True Street with his son.

On the chassis dyno, Sr.'s Stang made 515 rwhp and 500 rwtq, and Jr.'s laid down 535 rwhp and 505 rwtq. Larry Sr. has run a best of 10.48 at 127 mph, while Larry Jr.'s best is 10.39 at 128 mph in the quarter-mile.

The hard work and competitiveness of drag racing has drawn this father and son closer than ever, and both have been able to experience things neither thought were possible. "I never dreamed I'd be asking my dad if I could borrow his nitrous bottle," Larry Jr. tells us-and Larry Sr. never dreamed he'd have one to lend.

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