Gearheads could be considered artists in many ways: They take an existing medium and add, subtract, and change things until they've created something that expresses their personal vision. Nashville, Tennessee, resident Steve Longacre is an artist too-no, really he is. As a professional graphic designer, it's his job to be creative. So what happens when a right-brain thinker builds a Mustang? Read on to find out.
In the summer of 1993, Steve owned a black '86 GT that his girlfriend (now wife), Sally, drove one weekend while he was away. Steve recalls, "When I came back, she said that she had to have one. At the time, the SN-95s were just coming out, so the dealers were getting rid of the Foxes to make room for the new cars. She got such a good deal on hers that two weeks later, I traded in my '86 for this black GT." It became the blank canvas onto which he would create his personal rolling masterpiece.
Remember, in the early '90s, the Ford performance aftermarket renaissance was just beginning. Items such as a Hurst short-throw shifter, Flowmaster three-chamber mufflers, and Ford Motorsport "C" springs were all the rage for Fox-bodied Mustangs and, naturally, these goodies found their way onto Steve's steed. E303 cam? Check. He even has photos of his Mustang rolling on 17-inch ROH ZR6 wheels. If that doesn't take you back to the day, we don't know what does.
Steve wanted to add some special artistic touches to set his Pony apart from the ordinary foals. He carefully carved out the "5.0" fender emblems to flank a "coiled snake" snagged from the Cobra parts bin. An H.O. Fibertrends 21/2-inch cowl hood was custom-painted and fastened between the front fenders. He even redesigned the Blue Oval emblems to house running ponies instead of the traditional Ford script.
Steve is keenly aware that art must invoke a feeling-preferably in the seat of the pants. He added more speed parts, including a Cobra intake, Holley aluminum heads, and 3.55 gears. Steve rapidly discovered that the stock brakes were "woah-fully" inade-quate, and the remedy was found in Ford Racing PN M-2300-K. Rolling on new Cobra R wheels, the '93 hatch was both functionally and aesthetically pleasing, but as with any project, Steve's car was a work in progress.
Many artists incorporate their life experiences into their creations; Steve's masterpiece is no different. When a police cruiser crashed into the tail of Steve's parked car, destroying the stock GT wing, Steve affixed a Saleen-style whale tail in its place. The factory "cheese grater" taillights were also obliterated and replaced with a pair of LX-style assemblies.
Time For A Makeover
Flip forward a few chapters to 2006. After 14 years of daily driving, open-track events, and autocrosses, the car was a survivor. The original black paint still shone, and even the rear quarter-window moldings appeared new. Steadfast care and maintenance were to thank for this Mustang's immaculate condition. By the time the chassis had logged 117,000 miles, the factory short-block was beginning to puff and wheeze. Thus, the mill was pulled from the engine bay. Something with a bit more gusto would take its place.
Enter friend and engine-builder Brian Baker, who would apply his meticulous attention to detail and thorough knowledge of the small-block Ford to Steve's new powerplant. Another stock block was located and delivered to Shacklett Machine in Nashville. The renowned race-engine builders machined the bores of the block 0.030-inch oversize and trued up all the critical surfaces. Once cleaned and back in Brian's garage, the two filled the block with parts-Eagle H-beam 5.400-inch rods, forged pistons, and a zero-balance 4340 crank, which combined to yield 347 ci and a 9.5:1 compression.