March 16, 2010

It was the late '80s, and fuel injected Mustangs were growing in popularity on the street and on the strip. Guys like Lee Rutter and Ed Smith inspired many young people to buy a 5.0L and start hopping it up. Included in that group is David Stauder of Jacksonville, Florida.

David bought his first Mustang, an '88 GT, in 1988. He began modifying and racing it on a regular basis, sticking to the naturally aspirated stock short-block and fuel injection. By 1996, David's GT was propelling him to 11-second quarter-mile e.t.'s, while maintaining full streetability. Naturally, this feat only prompted David to set yet another goal--10s.

Before it was all over, the Fox wielded a naturally aspirated, fuel-injected 347ci bullet pumping out 450 rwhp. David could drive it 60 miles to the dragstrip, swap the rear tires, and run 10s. With the goals achieved using the Fox-body, David had his sights set on a new project--a Three-Valve S197. Though the new S197 platform is much heavier than the old Fox-body, the increased efficiency and durability of the Three-Valve could make up the difference.

By early 2006, guys like Justin Burcham, Jim D'Amore III, and Ron Leonards were leading the pack of naturally aspirated Three-Valves and running 11s. David was determined to build an 11-second Three-Valve of his own, and purchased this Performance White '06 GT, vowing to be the first naturally aspirated Three-Valve in the Southeast with an 11-second timeslip.

With hardly 300 miles on the odometer, David turned to Tony Gonyon of TunersInc and Jason Combs at Hurricane Performance in Orange Park, Florida, for some initial power upgrades. They started with Mac 1 3/4-inch mid-length headers and a Mac Pro Chamber mid-pipe without cats. They also installed a cold-air intake, underdrive pulleys, and CMCV delete plates and tuned the ECM on the chassis dyno. The combination yielded over 300 rwhp, but that wasn't enough to reach his 11-second goal.

Next on the list were heads and cams. Since Rick Anderson had done such a great job for him in the past, David called on Anderson Ford Motorsport for a pair of its N43 cams. Meanwhile, Kris Starnes Racing was working on a custom port job on the heads, and then David called on Al Papitto, who operates Boss 330 Racing in Vero Beach, Florida, for the install. This new combination yielded 365 rwhp and allowed David to break into the 11's with a best of 11.80, while still maintaining the stock shortblock.

Though his 11-second goal was now met, David was still not satisfied. Like the Fox-body project years earlier, David raised the bar and set a 10-second goal for his S197, naturally aspirated of course. Knowing the bottom end of his powerplant was a place for improvement, David turned to Papitto yet again. This time he asked Papitto to build an engine that could make 400 rwhp. "Al is one of the best at building modular engines," David tells us.

Papitto assembled a 302ci Boss 5.0 Three-Valve with a 3.70-inch bore and 3.55-inch stroke. Papitto used CP pistons, Manley H-beam rods, and an internally balanced crankshaft to assemble the short-block. Papitto then installed a new pair of Kris Starnes Racing (Palm Coast, Florida) heads, which feature oversized Manley valves, and a pair of Anderson Ford Motorsport N-73 camshafts. Papitto also installed an FRPP Cobra oil pump and a windage tray under the stock oil pan.

With the new engine complete and delivered to Hurricane Performance, Combs began the transformation. A C&L intake, 39-lb/hr FRPP injectors, Accufab throttle body, and Steeda 90mm mass air meter sit atop Papitto's creation.

Obviously, there were other upgrades necessary to withstand this newfound power. Hurricane Performance started by tossing the stock clutch and installing a Fidanza Aluminum flywheel and an Exedy clutch, which allows use of the stock pressure plate and TR3650 gearbox. A set of FRPP 4.56 gears and a custom driveshaft from The Driveshaft Shop finished off the drivetrain upgrades.

With power maximized, traction and weight reduction were next. Up front, Hurricane Performance installed Cobra Jet springs, BMR tubular K-member and A-arms, and removed the sway bar. Metco uppers and lowers, Cobra Jet springs, and QA1 adjustable shocks sit out back. The stock wheels and tires were swapped for a set of 15-inch Hole Shots and Mickey Thompson tires.

In order to create a unique look, David turned to Certified Collision of Jacksonville, Florida, where Matt Aikens painted and installed a Steeda hood, Saleen ground effects, and a GT500 spoiler, giving David's GT a clean but intimidating look. Aikens also removed the left headlamp and installed a custom ram-air intake in its place.

The same balance of style, function, and weight reduction continues in the interior. Corbeau FX1 Pro buckets replace the stock units, line lock and cooling fan switches are integrated into the console, an air/fuel meter sits on the dash, and an LED shift light takes the place of the power outlet.

TunerInc propietor Tony Gonyon loaded a custom ECM calibration using an HP Tuners programmer, and on the chassis dyno the combination yielded 440 rwhp. (You can see the dyno test elsewhere in this issue). Since the build has been completed, David's steed has run a best of 11.59 at 119 mph on the on the Mickey Thompson ET Streets and pump gas. Though shy of his 10-second aim, David believes that the goal is very possible.

Recently, David had to part with the car, but he's left it in good hands. Josh Klugger, one of the owners of Hurricane Performance, offered to take the car off of David's hands and complete the mission at hand. "I was going to buy a '10 Mustang and do the same thing, but this looked like the better option," says Klugger.

To date, the Mustang has run 5 miles per hour faster to the eighth-mile than on it's best-ever run, but they still haven't improved on the other end of the quarter. More changes are being made to nab that elusive 10-second timeslip.

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