By the not-quite-tender age of 28, Alex Mooney has seen about two dozen vehicles pass through his hands. A few off-brand products spent some time in his driveway, such as a 1968 Dodge Charger R/T with a 440 engine and four-speed gearbox, as well as a 1970 Challenger R/T SE with the 383 mill and a four-speed.Beyond this, when you live in the Sunflower State of Kansas, trucks are a matter of life. They wander through your life like nomads among the sand dunes, sometimes making a short-term impression that is soon lost tothe passing winds.
Those winds. most likely, were created by the procession of Mustangs that Alex has seen over the years. Between the GTs, coupes and LXs he's had, the total is something like 10 or 12 according to the robotics automation programmer. We present one of his current holdings - a 1992 ex-police car that has evolved from a mildly modified pony car into a street stallion of wicked capability.
Alex came by this Mustang in a manner that some might think a bit curious, but it's a story similar to many we've told before. After seeing a photo of the car, Alex called the owner and made a deal for his current 1990 GT and some cash. With that, Alex and his buddy, Demetrius, hopped into the his GT and drove three hours out of their home base in Mission, KS, to see the Pony. The deal didn't take long to complete. In Alex's own words, "He opened the garage door and I saw the trunk and rear of the car and said 'Sold'. The car had a stock 302, Powerdyne [supercharger], stock suspension, stock drivetrain with a gear and SSM bars. That was it."
With that, they swapped wheels and tires between the two cars and left. It wasn't until part way home that Alex realized the speedometer topped out at 160 mph - he already loved the car and now found that it was an ex-police car as well. Because of this, it had originally been delivered with what Ford called the 'Special Service Package', or SSP option. That package included a number of heavy duty features, including reinforced floor pans, heavy duty front and rear stabilizer bars, stainless steel factory headers and dual exhaust system with stainless tips, automatic transmission fluid cooler (if so equipped), engine oil cooler, aircraft-type silicone radiator hoses and clamps, 5-liter HO V-8 engine with sequential multi-port fuel injection, roller cam and forged pistons (until 1993). The floor reinforcement and heavy duty components throughout make these SSP vehicles prized finds among performance enthusiasts, particularly road racers. Virtually all police Mustangs built were notchbacks and most were automatics, so the officer could have a hand free to manage other tasks.
One of the nicest things about Mustangs, of course, is the bounty of performance parts available and the open nature of what you can do with them. Certainly, a good number of enthusiasts pursue the 1320 competition route, but others choose the paths less travelled. For Alex, his particular route didn't really have a name. Well, perhaps it was called "...trying to have fun wherever I was driving it." The amazing thing about not putting labels on things, though, is the freedom from the restrictions those labels come with.
So, through the past six years, this car has evolved on an almost continuous basis. Alex says that he has gone through "several engines, two rear ends, two transmissions and a slew of wheel/tire combinations." Even the current engine has evolved over time. For a couple of years after getting the car, it did duty as a daily driver. When another driver appeared at his house, duties were shared for a while, but then the modifications started getting semi-serious. Earlier this year, it was making 313 RWHP and 335 RWTQ. On that basis, Alex was able to crank out 12-second runs, with the best trip showing a 12.40 @ 109 mph.
SSP Mustangs were used as...
SSP Mustangs were used as chase vehicles to help with the challenges in landing the U-2
The stock T-5 gearbox was replaced with a Tremec 3550 to handle more torque. That torque was going to come from another round of engine upgrades that moved the mill into the 496 RWHP, 437 RWTQ world. As it sits right now, "The White Car" sports a DSS-modified iron block that was bored out to 306 cubic inches. Added to that are a Cam Motion bumpstick, Edelbrockcylinder heads, a Holley Systemax intake and 42-pound injectors. On top of that hardware proudly sits an ATI Procharger D1SC supercharger, drawing its air through a 3-core intercooler.
Elsewhere under the hood, you'll find a basket of other go-fast goodies, including an MSD 6AL spark controller, NGK plugs and Ford Racing's 9mm silicone-insulated plug wires. A Flex-a-Lite fan helps everyone keep their cool on hot days. When the combustion process is complete, the by-products are evacuated through a set of BBK long tube headers and their H-pipe. A pair of Spintech 2.5-inch mufflers lend their distinctive growl to this car when it heads down the street.
While many things have been changed, the car's South Side Machine Megabite Jr. rear control arms are still in place. Much of the rest of the suspension, though, has been beaten with the upgrade stick. An Anthony JonesEngineering tubular K-member and coilover conversion now sits proudly at the front end of the chassis, along with Lakewood 90/10 struts. Along with the new Tremec gearbox came a Steeda Tri-Ax shifter and the back end inherited an Auburn ProGear differential for the final stage of power transmission.
Clearly, Alex leans more toward the straight line frenzy. The current rolling stock reflects that bias as well. In the classic big 'n' little configuration, the car sports Centerline Telstar rims and Mickey Thompson tires. The rollers out back are 26 x 11.5-inch classics. The overall result is something that Alex is certainly pleased with. "This car is so much fun to drive, thanks to Nick at MC Racing in Merriam, KS. It's so friendly around town, doesn't buck or idle funny. It's just like a stock car with more power."
Now, you might think that having almost 500 ponies on tap is pretty ambitious for a street car, but Alex isn't of the same mind. "Street car, road car, drag car, daily driver. I didn't ever really have a goal for the car. That's why it's been through so many stages. I think that if I did have a goal for it to begin with, I would have executed and gone even more extreme." He intends to get back to the track this year to see what this new setup can do. "Now that it makes 180 more ponies and has less weight in the chassis, plus the cage and the Tremec? Who knows what it's going to do. I have no predictions for the car," Alex told us.
Well, we've got some predictions and we're not afraid to share them. First, Alex is going to plunge into the 11s without breaking a sweat. Second, he's going to continue to have fun wherever he drives it. Lastly, other cars will continue to come and go through Alex's life, but this one will just keep on going ... faster.
First In Harm's Way
Ford's SSP (Special Service Package) was available on the Mustang from the 1982 through 1993 model years. It provided a lighter weight and faster pursuit vehicle, that was distinctly different from the four-door sedans of the day. Many aspects of the vehicle were upgraded to handle the rigors of public life. One upgrade that makes these cars particularly attractive for enthusiast use was the reinforcement of the floor to make the unit body structure more durable. All police cars of the time were body-on-frame construction, so some attention had to be paid to this area. This accommodation for extreme use also makes the SSP cars suitable for competition duty. The Mustang conversion series that we ran, starting in the June 2006 issue (See "Cop Car Caper") was an ex-police car.
The SSP Mustangs saw wide service during the decade through which they were produced. In addition to municipal and state police use, they were also found in service of a number of federal departments as well. Among these were the Drug Enforcement Agency, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Immigration and Naturalization Service, Border Patrol, Customs Service and the Fish and Wildlife Service. Perhaps the most unusual use of the cars on record is as chase vehicles for the U-2 'spy plane'. Due to challenges associated with landing the aircraft, a second pilot would chase the plane during landing and help guide it onto the runway. The SSP cars saw service from the mid-1980's - when they replaced Chevy El Camino's - until the late 1990's, when Camaros became the favored ride.
The U-2 planes, built by Lockheed, are still in service today. However, they are scheduled to be stood down over a four-year period beginning in 2007. Military reconnaissance duties are expected to be taken up UAV's (unmanned aerial vehicles), commonly called 'drones'.
Alex Mooney's 1992 SSP Mustang LX
Ford 5-liter V8
Edelbrock cylinder heads, modified for valve job and port matching; Cam Motion camshaft; Ford Racing 1.72 roller rocker arms, 42 lb. fuel injectors, 9mm ignition wires; Engine block bored .030 over for 306 cid displacement by DSS Racing; Holley Systemax intake manifold; Aeromotive fuel pressure regulator; ATI Procharger D1SC supercharger, intercooler, 4.25 pulley; BBK 1-5/8" long tube headers, H-pipe; Spintech 2.5" mufflers; MSD 6AL ignition controller, Blaster ignition coil; NGK spark plugs; Cometic head gaskets; Tuning by MC Racing; Flexalite cooling fan
Tremec 3550 5-speed manual transmission; Steeda Tri-Ax shifter; Auburn Pro-Gear differential
Interior / Exterior
Chromoly roll cage by Steel Concepts; Auto Meter Phantom gauges, including monster tach, fuel pressure, boost, water temperature, oil pressure
Saleen body kit, including front and rear fascia and side skirts
AJE front K-member; Megabite Jr. rear lower control arms
AJE front coilover conversion; Lakewood 90/10 front struts
Wheels And Tires
Centerline Telstar wheels, 15 x 8" in rear with M/T 26 x 11.50 tires, skinnies up front
496 RWHP, 437 RWTQ
Best Et To Date: 12.40 @ 109 mph
Special thanks to Dorian for all the help on the car. Also, major thanks to Nick and Matt of MC Racing for helping me out; to Travis Homan for giving me such a hard time that I deserved, and thanks to Irwin for all the help when I first had the car.