Miles Cook
January 1, 2004

At first glance, you'd never know Jon Messer built this extra-clean '89 LX coupe from a four-cylinder car. His logic for building a 5.0 out of a four-pot Fox is actually quite sensible. He told us, "Most of the 5.0 Mustangs I found in Washington state were really worn out. One day, I spotted this car at a local dealership and noticed how nice it was. The body was straight and most of the interior was in great shape. While it needed paint, the bare bones were there and, for $1,300, it was the ideal starting point to build the car I wanted."

It's the way we would want to build it, too. Nothing fancy-just all the great basic stuff that can make a Fox-body coupe a nice street machine. That basic stuff includes a '91 5.0L long-block freshened up with new rings and bearings, along with a Ford Racing B-303 cam. To liven things up a little more, Jon had the engine's stock cylinder heads treated to some port work, and fitted them with larger Manley 1.94/1.60 valves. Of course, along with the engine, the donor car's EEC IV processor and wiring harness were also employed. Helping out the breathing is a BBK 65mm throttle body, BBK full-length headers, and Flowmaster mufflers.

In anticipation of possibly adding a stroker engine and/or forced induction in the future, Jon wisely used some of his budget on a Tremec five-speed transmission. Using a Centerforce clutch, it transfers the engine's output to an 8.8-inch rearend from the donor car that's fitted with 3.55:1 gears and 31-spline axles.

To upgrade the LX's suspension to V-8 status, Jon went with BBK springs, Tokico struts/shocks, and a set of Hotchkis upper and lower rear control arms. For the time being, the stock brakes from the 5.0 donor car fill the bill until Jon adds a set of Baer Racing four-wheel disc brakes. Rolling stock consists of '91-'93-style 16x7-inch Star wheels and Falken 245/50ZR16 tires.

Jon didn't skimp with the body either. In fact, that's what originally caught our eye. Beautifully refinished in a factory blue, the car is pretty enough to score First Place in the '74-'02 modified class at last year's Mustang Roundup in Bellevue, Washington.

Lest you think this little 5.0 coupe only looks good, think again. It goes good, too. Jon has had the car on the strip and, with a set of drag radials, his best run is 12.96 at 109 mph.

Built for around 12 grand, a Fox-body 5.0 that looks this good and runs as swiftly as just about any Mustang currently produced is reason enough to believe that turning four into 5.0 is a great idea indeed.