Mike Paruleski's 1986 Mustang SVO
Dedication is a word that's bandied about a lot in the automotive hobby, but when you meet people like Mike 'Gator' Paruleski, it takes on an entirely different meaning. Mike likes Mustangs, but has a hankering for certain kind of Mustang - the SVO. Whereas many of us are blessed with the ability to go out and order up every part under the sun for our steeds - the SVO crowd has it different. The very last one rolled out of River Rouge plant over 20 years go. Throw in the fact that FoMoCo tends to discontinue parts for a vehicle once it reaches its 10th birthday and then add the element that the SVO has largely been forgotten by the masses, and you begin to understand the level of dedication required if you're nuts about these cars.
"This is my second SVO," says Mike "and I have to say that being part of the SVO Owner's Association has been a big help to me over the last number of years - you probably won't find a more dedicated and hardcore enthusiast bunch than these guys." He's right. For most SVO owners, the search for parts often means scouring the internet for used or NOS bits, contacting fellow enthusiasts, or occasional trips to specialist swap meets or salvage yards - it probably comes as no surprise then that many owners, including Mike have garages with enough parts to build another complete SVO. "One of the mandates of nearly all SVO owners, is to keep our cars on the road, so in order to that, we need to stash away as many parts as we can." And that in a nutshell is how this particular feature came to be what it is today.
"I found it in a field in 2003. It had been sitting in the same spot for a least five years, probably more. The guy who had it wanted rid of it, he wanted it out of the way. The problem with many of these cars is that they are either sold for scrap or parted out and I knew I didn't want that to happen to this one so, cutting a long story short and a couple of insults later I got my hands on this SVO.
My original plan was to just clean it up and make it a driver, with an eye to selling it so I could buy my girlfriend a ring, I still had my first SVO which I'd torn down and completely rebuilt about eight years previously as a full-on, track-ready performance car that can run with the best on the road course and make 12-second passes at the drags, so I figured I didn't really need two of them.
But when the field queen came back from the bodyshop looking all polished and nice Paruleski changed his mind. "I couldn't sell it at that point - unfortunately for my girlfriend - but being the nice guy that I am I went and bought her that ring anyway. She knows that I probably won't be selling this car anytime soon now, but let's just leave it at that."
Although Mike had spent a great deal of time and effort building up his first SVO with a plan from the beginning, it wasn't the same with number two. "I didn't really have a 'direction' for this car - basically all I wanted to do was build this one into something that my other SVO wasn't and do it on a budget."
As you'll have no doubt gathered from the first few lines of this story, building an SVO on a budget isn't as easy as it sounds. "It requires a lot of patience and that isn't one thing I'm noted for," laughs Paruleski. You'd never have guessed from looking at the results.
This '86 may appear to be nothing more than an ol' Mustang with a set of rims on it, but that was Mike's intention all along. "The average Joe will look at this and think, nah, moving on to something that's blinged out with spoilers and big wheels. Me, I kinda like it the way it is - understated. It's not a very pleasant color - there's 10-shades of gray paint on this car, but those who know about SVOs will take a closer look and see the work that's gone into it. Now that, I get a kick out of. Thought about painting it like this halfway through the build."
Budget it may have been, but the effort and ingenuity to be found under that gray sheetmetal is hardly what most of us think of when it comes to a budget build. There's still the stock 2.3 liter four-banger under the hood, cast-iron head and all, but beneath that top cover is a Ford Motorsport A-237 camshaft, Ferrea intake and exhaust valves (1.59s and 1.89s respectively), plus you'll find a modified 60mm 1994 Mustang GT throttle body bolted up to the stock intake. Paruleski still runs the stock 35 lb injectors (all four of them), but there's a Walbro 255 lph pump that feeds the juice up from the stock tank up to the rail. The real fun stuff however concerns forced induction. Being an SVO, the '86 naturally still gets its kick from a turbocharger, but in this case, a T3/T4 hybrid, built by Reed at Turbo Specialities in Birmingham, AL. "It's nothin' special," exclaims Mike, "but let's just say Reed is the master at shoving five gallons of anything into a one gallon bucket." Naturally this beast is still intercooled, but all Mike will say is that it's "homebrew stuff. I know the [intercooler] piping is 2.3-inches but couldn't tell ya about the intercooler itself - never measured it."
The World Class T-5 five-speed is a stock Ford unit, complete with stock gearing, but Paruleski has fitted a S.P.E.C. Stage 3 clutch and flywheel for a little edge in the durability department. However, probably the real treat on this car; concerns the rear end. In place of a 7.5-inch axle, damped by Konis, you'll find a complete 2003 Cobra independent rear suspension - all largely stock hardware, including the stock rear brakes, but there are Kenny Brown bits here and there, along with Eibach 2003-04 Cobra springs. Up front Mike has retained most of the original SVO hardware and even installed red Konis, but there are also Eibach springs, Kenny Brown caster camber plates and K-B subframe connectors to stiffen up the Fox unibody.
You can have all the best suspension hardware in the world, but it ain't no good unless your car is connected to the asphalt with some decent rubber. Paruleski got that licked with some Nitto NT 555s - 235/35-17s at all four corners. Those 'flashy' rims they're mounted on, are Weds Sport SA-90s - 17 x 8-inchers. And that, ladies and gentleman more or less rounds out the mods on this puppy - oh, maybe we should mention the H.O Fibertrends hood, and the full complement of Autometer gauges inside the cabin (fuel, oil, boost, vacuum and coolant temperature) but then that's it - done.
Paruleski says he doesn't know how much time he has into the car apart from "a lot" and when it come to funds he says, "apart from the hood and the wheels and tires, there wasn't a whole lot of cash forked out to build this car, if you know what I mean."
So apparently the girlfriend still has the ring, and Mike has yet another 'built' SVO to go and play with and play with it he does. "My other car is on stands right now so I make the most driving the snot out of this one." Most recently, well as you read this at least, Paruleski had just returned from the Mustang Club of America 30th Anniversary Grand Stampede at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, AL. "It was awesome - I drove it down there, and went open tracking. SVOs were well represented, there were like, 50 cars and I went out there and tore up the track. At the beginning not many guys were giving me a whole lotta respect, but when I got out on the track and spanked a brand new 2006 GT with a 20-year-old car, after that, people started paying attention. For me it was totally priceless." And that is what the SVO is all about. "It's a true American underdog," says Mike. "These cars were great performers in their day, but just under appreciated, even more so now and it's important that people recognise these cars for what they are and what they can be. I've collected tons of literature on SVOs over the years and just love 'em." Any mention of a V8? "Look, there's a real myth out there that says it takes V8 displacement to make power," he says, "but I'll tell ya, these little 2.3 four-cylinder motors are tough. With the stock bottom end and a few adjustments here and there, like a replacement turbo and stand alone engine management you can make over 300 horsepower to the tires and it will hook up. Hey, look what happened at Barber!" But he says, "you have to look at it from an integral standpoint, not a bolt-on mentality like a lot of guys have. That's the key - once you figure that out you'll probably have more fun driving an SVO than doing anything else with your clothes on, there's no other Fox Mustang and not many cars that come close to these in my book." So clearly this guy has an infatuation with SVOs. Can't say we blame him really. What about you?
Interior / Exterior
Mike Paruleski's 1986 Mustang SVO
Hurst shifter, Ford Motorsport aluminum driveshaft, 3.73 rear gears
HO Fibertrends fiberglass hood
Independent rear suspension from a 1999 SVT Cobra, updated to 2003 specs; poly bushings throughout, Kenny Brown caster/camber plates, subframe connectors
Wheels And Tires
Weds Sport SA-90 wheels, 17 x 8" all around; Nitto 555 tires, 235/45-17 all around
Mike Paruleski's 1986 Mustang SVO
1986 Ford 2.3-liter Turbocharged I-4
Ford Motorsport A-237 camshaft, roller cam followers, lifters; Ferrea 1.59" intake valves, 1.89" exhaust valves, triple coil valve springs; Fully ported stock intake manifold, 1994 Mustang GT throttle body, Forced4 60mm Body adapter, Walbro 255 lph fuel pump, Accufab fuel pressure regulator, Garrett T3/4 turbocharger from Turbo Specialties, Homemade custom intercooler, S.P.E.C. aluminum flywheel, Stage 3 clutch
Daren Kravec, Craig Nolty, Ray Blatnik, Lewis Lukanic, Nick Zazzi, SVO Club of America