Jeff Ford
February 1, 2001
Contributers: Jeff Ford, Chuck James Photos By: Chuck James

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P80232_large 1986_Ford_Mustang_GT_Convertible Front_Driver_SideP80233_large 1986_Ford_Mustang_GT_Convertible Rear_Passenger_SideP80234_large 1986_Ford_Mustang_GT_Convertible EngineP80235_large 1986_Ford_Mustang_GT_Convertible Interior

Incognito. When you look at this '86 GT convertible--and know about the stock engine setup--you just might pooh-pooh the car as another survivor of the beginning of the mid-'80s Ford performance wars. Sure, Rick Tousley of Indian Rocks Beach, Florida, added a lightbar recently and a set of MSW five-spoke wheels about 12 years ago--but outside of that, the average passerby would have no idea that this GT is packing some powerful punches. How powerful? Try 450 rear wheel ponies pounding the pavement. Obviously, this is not stock.

Obviously, this thing rocks. Rick came to the corporate offices to get his GT350 clone photographed by sister publication Mustang & Fords, and lo and behold, who did we spot but our friend, John Pfanstiehl, piloting this wild stallion. As everybody else ogled the GT350, we slid alongside the GT and took in a 23,000-mile warrior. The car was nice and sedate-looking, in its Oxford White topcoat. The charcoal interior bore few of the scars that seem to proliferate in a GT with some miles.

As we gazed at the GT and reflected on our misspent youth, Rick sidled up to us, "I'm still waiting to get used to the 450 hp--but it hasn't happened yet." He quickly popped open the hood for us and recited a laundry list that sounded more like a motorsports dealer than a car.

At first, the upgrades to the GT were minor, as is usually the case. Rick opted for some DynoMax Turbo mufflers, a 3.73 rear gear, and the wheels back in 1988. Prior to that, he'd left well enough alone. Then in 1989 he tackled the suspension, adding SVO springs and Koni shocks. The car was now nimble, but it needed a knockout punch. That project started in 1991--in a big way. First on the list was dumping the Speed Density breathing for a 65mm Mass Air kit. Next came a 110-lph fuel pump, the H.O. 351 heads with bigger valves and more stout springs, and SVO roller rockers and headers. Rick also tossed in a B303 cam for good measure. From there, an '89 intake was added and massaged. At this point in the project, Rick took a breather for two years and enjoyed the car. Then in 1993 he hit the project again with a vengeance. The biggest addition at that time was the Paxton supercharger, pumping 6 psi. He also threw in some 24-pound injectors. Another two years pass, and Rick gets the Joneses for more, so he plops down the bills for the 10-psi upgrade to his Paxton and adds an oil cooler to it--just to keep it safe. He also throws in a 70mm throttle body and some 30-pound injectors--ergo the 450hp street fighter.

We opt for the ride (he offered to let us drive) in the car, following the GT350 clone over to the photo shoot site. As we round a corner, he nails it, and the rear end gets super happy--sending gouts of white smoke skyward. As we arrive, we step away from the GT and just shake our heads in amazement--a plain, white wrapper indeed.