Muscle Mustangs & Fast Fords
1989 Ford LX Mustang - Trial, Error, And The Occasional Trend
This '89 LX Mustang has come a long way...
With that rather large life change out of the way, Archie started on his next engine--an A4 block with a forged crank, connecting rods, and pistons that would complete the Mustang's transition from street car to full-on drag machine. With power now his overarching concern, Archie installed a cog-drive belt setup for the blower. "I bolted it on, went to the dyno, and it ripped the balancer off the end of the crank on the second pull after making over 600 rwhp. I was so mad, I came home and sold the blower as well as the Mondo intake manifold." It was turbo time for Archie and he went all-out, purchasing a Precision 101mm turbo, a FAST EFI system, and 160-lb/hr injectors. (He had been using a Ford Extender up to that point.)
Since the C4 was out of its league, Archie went to Ed Taal of Trans Are Us (Palm Harbor, Florida) for a two-speed automatic. Other artifacts from the Mustang's street-driven past remained, including its drum brakes and MSD 6AL ignition. Having spent all his available funds on the big-ticket items, Archie had to fabricate the hot side of the turbo system from a pair of BBK shorty headers. They worked fairly well, though, as the Mustang ran a best of 8.47 still with a hydraulic roller cam.
Still, more changes ensued. Tiring of the checkerboard graphics that separated the outside colors, Archie enlisted street-rod painter Tim Donton to re-color the car. The result was a new shade of purple with "true fire" flames licking the front end. At the next event--the Snowbird Nationals in Bradenton--Archie's freshly painted ride grabbed the runner-up spot with a best e.t. of 8.27. No matter how quick the car ran, though, it topped out at 163 mph through the traps. A switch to a solid-roller cam and ported heads led to a final round visit at the '09 U.S. Nationals in Bradenton the following January, where the Mustang went 7.88 at 188 mph.
While the Mustang was running its best e.t.'s to date, it wasn't quite competitive enough, so Archie sold the engine and spent 2010 upgrading the car with lightweight Aerospace brakes, fresh MSD ignition hardware, and Painless Performance wiring. With eighth-mile racing becoming more popular, Archie focused more on short-track events and assembled the current 427ci Windsor using a Dart block, a Lunati crank, Ross pistons, Lightning aluminum connecting rods, and Yates C3 cylinder heads. A Chiseled Performance air-to-water intercooler and AMS1000 boost controller were employed to maintain the boost pressure and temperature, while the hot side of the turbo system was fabricated in-house at Real Speed. The rollcage was also upgraded in-house to 25.5 SFI specifications, and the car's glass was replaced with lightweight Lexan. Twin Garrett GT47 88mm hairdryers were plumbed in, and Van from V&M Racing Cylinder Heads (Tarpon Springs, Florida) ported the SC1 intake manifold.
During this time, the Mustang's exterior took on its current look. Jim Veenstra was once again called to the front; he smoothed out the engine bay, modified the front bumper cover for the twin turbos, and covered the entire chassis in vibrant Atomic Orange. A black-powdercoated set of Holeshot wheels rounded out the latest appearance. During the Outlaw Radial Championship at Bradenton in October of 2010, Archie ran a 5.03 and a 4.99 at 152 mph with the new combination, and a couple of 5-teens followed. Archie qualified in the top 10 at the Orlando World Street Nationals that year, but torched a cylinder head in the third round.
With the Outlaw Radial class evolving faster than his racing program's funding, Archie decided to change his combination altogether and head to the X275 drag radial class. The twin-turbos were replaced with a single Precision Turbo large-frame 88mm turbocharger, and after logging a couple of 5.30s with the new setup, the Mustang eventually ran a 5.14 at 144 mph with a 1.26 60-foot.
Following this performance, Archie and crew entered the 2012 NMRA season-opener in Bradenton to make some test runs. They found themselves largely outgunned in the Pro Outlaw 10.5 class, which was populated with much faster cars. The field was only four cars, and while Archie managed to get past Mike Murillo in the first round, the turbo checked out in the process. You never know what can happen, so he elected to take the light against Tim Essick in the final. "He came by me on the wheelie bars and I decided to lift. I knew it was hurt and I didn't want to oil the track," Archie says. After the turbo was repaired, Archie went three rounds at an X275 event before the engine sacrificed a number of bearings under the stress. While he goes through the bottom end again, Archie plans to have Harold Engine & Dyno (Denton, North Carolina) modify the turbo.
It should be clear that Archie is quite a dedicated individual. But he's also been blessed with a lot of help and support over the years. Real Speed Racing's Walter Drakeford, Jeff Gibbud, Jon Anderson, Jim Veenstra, and Chris "Cornfed" Campbell are all parts in the performance equation, as is Archie's family--crew chief A.J.; daughters, Haley and Makayla; and girlfriend, Bonnie Sass. Somewhere between all the modifications and race-to-race rebuilds, Archie finds time to race RC cars with A.J., turn the occasional wrench on his dad's Boss 302, and spend time with the family.
Despite operating on an average Joe's budget, Archie's Mustang has evolved through numerous styles, trends, and paint jobs. The late-model enthusiasts probably cringe at its early iterations, and the classic Mustang fans may see a car too far gone now to be valuable down the road, but it's not unthinkable that Archie might someday restore the car to its original configuration. For now, he's content to race. What's important is the dedication. With that, anything is possible.