Pete Epple Technical Editor
June 8, 2011
Photos By: Marc Christ

The Mustang world is full of performance shops. All across the country, there are places you can take your Pony to gain massive horsepower, tighter handling, and improved aesthetics.

With that, there are racers and performance tuners/builders who have literally made a name for themselves on the tracks of America and thusly turned that skill into a profitable business building parts and cars. Two of those guys are Bob Kurgan and Bart Tobener. Both have been champion Mustang racers, and they've recently teamed up to open a shop in the Atlanta (actually, Braselton) area of Georgia. Since Kurgan has been tuning cars for 8-plus years, and made a name for himself with his shop in Illinois, they are sticking with the Kurgan Motorsports name. The LX you see here is one of the first examples of what they are capable of.

"I bought the car with my father-in-law as a way to help promote the business," Tobener tells us. "It was a clean '93 coupe that needed paint. The original plan was to put an '01 Cobra engine in it and paint it. When Robbie at MPS Auto Salvage told me he had a 5.0-liter from an '11 GT coming in, the plan quickly changed." The car was then stripped and prepped for paint. Brown & Brown Pro Custom Paint and Body in Winder, Georgia handled laying fresh coats of PPG Envirobase (water-based) Performance Red paint on Tobener's LX. When the car was returned, the black interior was reinstalled and the stock seats were ditched for a set of '03 Cobra buckets.

When it came time for the running gear, the front suspension was upgraded with tubular components from UPR. The 5.0-liter was dropped in and was backed by a T45 out of a '98 Cobra. "We went with the T45 to keep the swap simple," Tobener adds. "With the T45, the stock gauges work and there isn't a lot of extra custom work to be done."

Although Kurgan Motorsports isn't a new name in the Mustang world, its new 6,500-foot facility next to Road Atlanta is a one-stop shop for everything from simple bolt-on performance parts, to custom tuning, to full racecar builds. With over 40 years of experience, Bob Kurgan and Bart Tobener's partnership is a collaboration that simply makes sense. Bob and Bart met in '98 when they both ran the Street Renegade class at Fun Ford Weekend, and the knowledge and experience they have amassed during their individual racing careers is now what drives the business.

Bob's racing career started at the same weekend he met Bart. He became very competitive in Fun Ford Weekend's Street Renegade class, where No. 1 qualifier honors were the norm, and he routinely found the winner's circle. As the NMRA approached its inaugural season, Bob was heavily involved with writing the rulebook for its EFI Renegade class. Bob's first full season running in the NMRA's EFI Renegade class was in 2000 and he took home the class championship. With over 30 wins between NOPI, NMRA, NMCA, Fun Ford Weekend, and World Ford Challenge, Bob Kurgan has solidified his name as a serious Mustang racing powerhouse. Today, he runs in the NMRA Xtreme Drag Radial class as well as NMCA, Outlaw Radial Tire Championship, and local X275 races.

Bart's racing career started in 1992 when he road raced motorcycles, all the while working for UPR. His travels for the suspension company brought him to the Fun Ford Weekend where he would eventually compete himself. Bart also ran with the NMRA and NMCA, and has tallied 35 event wins, 11 of which came in 2001, where he also won the World Ford Challenge. Both Bob and Bart have taken what they've learned on the racetrack and given that knowledge to the Mustang fanatics who come to the shop. "Over the years, Bart and I have always joked about opening a shop together," explains Kurgan. "I wanted him to move to Illinois and he wanted me to move south. When I went to a race in Georgia in 2009, my wife and I stayed with Bart, and we ended up looking at houses."

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"After working at UPR for 14 years, I went out and opened my own shop," Tobener tells us. "I owned and operated Speedzone for five years, then went to work at MV Performance. My relationship with Bob started when we raced Fun Ford Weekend together in 1998. Our friendship has grown, and our partnership in Kurgan Motorsports is a great thing for everyone involved."

The business structure is simple--Bob handles most of the day-to-day business, as well as all of the tuning, while Bart runs the shop, taking care of the larger projects and custom fabrication. Mitch Hobson works with Bart in the shop and made the move to Georgia from Illinois with Kurgan. As a way to showcase the talents and capabilities of Kurgan Motorsports, Kurgan and Tobener decided to build a project car. Enter the red '93 Fox coupe.

With the engine and trans in place, the next obstacle became wiring. Fortunately for Kurgan Motorsports, Ford Racing Performance Parts already had a Control Pack for this swap available. The FRPP wiring harness takes all of the headaches and hassles out of the wiring. From there, the car was taken to Kook's Custom Headers in Statesville, North Carolina, where the Kook's crew fabricated a set of long-tube headers and an X-style midpipe, and finished the exhaust off with a set of Kook's mufflers and turndowns.

This car has been instrumental for Kook's and anyone looking to stuff a Coyote between the fenders of a Fox. Bart's coupe was used as the guinea pig for Kook's to design and test-fit headers specifically for this swap. After returning from North Carolina, Tobener added an R2C Performance cold-air kit to add a few extra ponies under the hood.

"The car drives like a stock car," states Tobener. "When you roll on the throttle in Third, it just roasts the tires for as long as you stay in it! It's pretty awesome." The partnership of Kurgan and Tobener has resulted in a new shop for Mustang enthusiasts in Georgia and a sick Coyote-powered coupe. The LX Fox's classic good look with Ford's cutting edge power is truly a combination worth talking about. It'll be exciting to see what else will come out of Kurgan Motorsports. This car has been instrumental for Kook's and anyone looking to stuff a Coyote between the fenders of a Fox.

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