Bob Motta’s 1986 Mustang GT
Yikes! How many times have we heard this story? Bob Motta's lament about his first Mustang is a familiar one. His first ever car was a 1964-1/2 Mustang. He'd bought it around 1970 for the princely sum of $580 - quite the bargain considering that it came with the Pony interior and a 289 Hi-Po V8 under the hood. Following that car was a 1965Mustang and, later, a 1966 version but then he got married and had a family, so ending the Motta Mustang legacy until 1999. Lest anyone think that we're knocking the family life, that's not the case. It's far more fun to think about the carthat got away, than the girl that did the same.
In fact, the girl that didn't get away was the one that brought Bob back into the Mustang scene a scant seven years ago. Believe it or not, the silver four-eyed hatchback gracing these pages was as bone stock as could be when the Mottas first picked it up. The saintly Mrs. Motta was interested in cleaning it up and taking it to car shows. Before moving to their current home near Charlotte, NC, the Motta family were regular participants at Mustang Car Club of NewEngland events. But, Bob told us that there was an ulterior motive to his zeal.
"For about a year, I booked us in to every car show I could find. My wife wanted to show the car, but I prefer driving it." Eventually, the Mrs. grew less enchanted with the 'up at sunrise, drive an hour or two, sit in a parking lot for eight hours' routine that is part and parcel of the show circuit. And so came Bob's emancipation, because he had plans for this car. First on the list of modifications was to look after the engine. The stock 1986 5-liter mill was actually down on horsepower, compared to the previous year. This was mostly due to a change in cylinder heads for the introduction of sequential electronic fuel injection. The more restrictive heads cut back some horsepower, but did compensate with mounds of additional torque.
To get started on the motor, Bob enlisted the help of LaFerriere Racing in Johnston, RI. The shop's owner, Eric LaFerriere, worked with Bob to define goals and ambitions and, only then, to specify the kinds of components and work the engine would need. That list included a forged Scat crankshaft, TFS flat top forged pistons, a TFS Stage II camshaft, Comp Cams' roller lifters and 1.6 ratio rocker arms. TFS' aluminum Track Heat cylinder heads were O-ringed and added to the mix, after porting and polishing by LaFerriere. A BBK cold air kit, Pro-M 75mm MAF,Accufab 70mm throttle body, TFS Track Heat intake manifold and Ford Racing 24 lb/hr fuel injectors look after the whole air-fuel thing, fed by Ford Racing's 190 lph fuel pump and a pair of fuel pressure regulators.
ARP hardware is liberally sprinkled throughout the engine to help make sure that everything stays exactly where it should. A Melling high volume oil pump helps make that task easier, particularly after sending the Mobil 1 10W30 juice through a Griffin aluminum radiator with integral oil cooler. Once the pistons push spent gases out, they are conducted through a set of Ford Motorsports shorty stainless steel headers to a Bassani stainless, catted X-pipe and exit via a Flowmaster catback system using their landmark 2-chamber mufflers.
Bob's ambition for the car was to handle with aplomb and to participate in high performance driving events. Getting the engine work done at LaFerriere Racing was really only the first step. As the car continued to develop, he relied more and more on Eric LaFerriere, about whom Bob says he "couldn't have done it without him." After the engine work, Bob knew that the brakes were mandatory to look after next. Baer brake kits were called up for duty. Their Track Kit, with its 4-piston aluminum calipers and 13-inch brake rotors, found a home at the front of the Mustang, while a Touring (2-piston, 12-inch) kit was found more than sufficient for the back. Russell stainless steel braided brake linesand a Wilwood brake proportioning valve were also added.
While Bob intended the car to be set up for driving on the twisties, he did make a couple of visits to New England Dragway after the motor was done. The dyno ratings for the completed mill were 309 RWHP and 326 RWTQ, which rewarded him by breaking into the twelves, with a 12.86 second trip, passing through thetraps at 108 mph.
However, these motor mods fueled Bob's ambitions for more open track excitement, the most recent of which was a local SVT club event at Carolina Motorsports Park. Central to his approach, though, was to maintain the car in a broadly usable form. When it came time to upgrade the suspension, his approach was pretty simple. Just about everything from the Maximum Motorsports' catalog went into the car. That means panhard rod, torque arm and all. The only thing missing from making his car a rolling catalog for the company, is a tubular K-member. Bob told us that the K-member "makes it necessary to convert to coilovers and I don't want to go that route, at least at this time."
The route Bob has taken has loaded the car up with MM's full length subframe connectors, strut tower brace, 4-point K-member brace, solid steering shaft and solid rack bushings. Those bushings support a rack and pinion steering gear transplanted from an SN95 Pony. For other parts, Bob has largely followed Maximum's explicit recommendations, which include adding H&R lowering springs, Bilstein's sport-valved struts and shocks, as well as Factory Five lower control arms. Other suspension related contributions come via Global West caster/camber plates, Steeda front and rear tubular sway bars and PST polyurethane suspension bushings.
The result, in Bob's words is a car that is "still quite streetable, has fairly good ride quality and yet it literally handles like a go kart. Unfortunately, I did sacrifice quite a bit of ground clearance... Oh, well, can't have everything."
Some of that go kart capability comes from the fact that Bob now keeps separate wheels and tires for street and track use. When running around town, this Pony is shod with the 16 x 8-inch Centerline Champs you see here. Those shiny rims are wrapped in Avon ZZ-series 245/45R16 radials, which can look after just about anything that Massachusetts roads might throw at them. Once past the gates to the open track, his car wears a set of 17 x 9.5-inch Cobra R rims with Kumho VictoRacer V-710 tires - 245/45R17 up front and 255/40R17 out back.
Much of the exterior work on this car is subtle, but the overall effect is staggering. A 1993 Cobra rear wing is the most obvious addition. However, changing the charcoal belt moldings over to body color, as well as the headlight surrounds, makes a big difference in the car's appearance. That silver metallic base/clear coat work was ably conducted by Rui Cordiero from Distinctive Autobody from Westport. MA. Coupled with the stance imparted by the lowering springs, there's no doubt that this is a serious and capable car.
The most recent target of Bob's attention was the interior. Here, an Auto Power 4-point road race roll bar was added, along with Flo-Fit seats and two sets of G-Force's 5-point, cam lock race harnesses. Prior cabin enhancements had included a brace of gauges from Auto Meter, including their Quick Shift Lite, a 2-gauge pillar pod with water temperature and oil pressure reporting added, and a 140-mph speedometer. On cool-down laps, Bob often likes to turn on the still functional air conditioning, butaround town, he'll often crank up the in-car entertainment. Cranking out the tunes falls to an Eclipse head unit with Alpine tweeters, Eclipse mid-range speakers and four 10-inch Xtant subs - all in their own custom enclosures. An Orion competition amp and Xtant sub-amp work together to raise the roof when necessary.
Given the amount of work already lavished on this car, we asked Bob if he was finished the modifications. He told us, "I don't think it's ever done." Despite all the fun he's having on the open track, Bob would still like a little more grunt coming out of the corners. To that end, there could be a Kenne Bell blower in the future. Should that upgrade come to pass, he'll certainly be glad of Eric LaFerriere's past guidance, because his motor was born ready. There's no doubt that a bunch more power will make this corner carver even more fun to drive... and, yes, of course, even more streetable.
Interior / Exterior
Bob Motta's 1986 Mustang GT
93 Cobra rear wing
Auto Power road race roll bar, G-Force 5 Point cam lock race harnesses, Flo-Fit seats, Auto Meter Quick Lite shift light, 2-gauge Pillar Pod, 2 5/8" Auto Meter water temperature and oil pressure gauges, 140 MPH speedometer, Eclipse AM/FM/CD tuner, all component speakers in custom enclosures, Alpine 1 7/8" tweeters, Eclipse 5 1/2" mid-range speakers, 4 - 10" Xtant subwoofers, Orion Competition amplifier W/crossovers, Xtant Sub-Amplifier
Wheels And Tires
Street - 16" X 8" Centerline Champ stainless steel wheels with Avon ZZ-series 245/45R16 tires; Track - 17" X 9.5" Silver Cobra R's with Kumho VictoRacer V-710 tires, 245/45R17 in front and 255/40R17 out back
Baer Brakes 'Track kit front, Touring kit rear; Russel Stainless Steel Brake Lines; Wilwood Brake Proportioning Valve
Bob Motta's 1986 Mustang GT
Ford 5-liter V8
Built by LaFerriere Racing; TFS Track Heat cylinder heads, Track Heat intake manifold, custom ground camshaft, hardened steel pushrods; Scat forged crankshaft; Comp Cams Pro Magnum 1.6 roller rockers; AccuFab 70MM throttle body; ProM 75MM mass air meter; MSD 6AL ingition controller, RPM modulator; Melling high volume oil pump; Ford MotorSports 190 lph fuel pump, stainless steel HPC headers; Griffin aluminum racing radiator with built-in oil cooler; Edelbrock Victor high flow water pump; BBK cold air intake; Energy Suspension motor mounts; Bassani stainless steel X-Pipe w/converters; FlowMaster CatBack exhaust, 2-chamber mufflers, stainless tail pipes
Ford Racing Aluminum driveshaft; World
Class T-5 transmission; Hurst Competition Plus shifter; 3.73 Richmond Gears
Bilstein Sport Valved Shocks & Struts H&R Race Springs, Factory Five Lower Control Arms, Maximum Motorsports/All - [Full Length Sub-Frame Connectors, Strut Tower Brace, PanHard Bar, TorqueArm, 4 Point K Member Brace, Solid Steering Shaft & Center Drilled Aluminum Rack Bushings] & SN-95 Rack, Global West Caster Camber Plates, Steeda HD Tubular Front & Rear Sway Bars, All PST Polyurethane Bushings
309 RWHP, 326 RWTQ
Best ET to date: 12.86 sec @ 108 mph