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.
A pair of Air Flow Research 185cc aluminum heads were torqued atop fresh Cometic head gaskets and secured using ARP fasteners. A Lunati bumpstick sporting valve duration of 224 degrees on the intake and 232 for the exhaust (both at 0.050-inch lift) was slipped into place. Crane 1.6-ratio roller rockers were selected to lift the intake valves 0.535 inch and the exhaust valves 0.544 inch before landing them carefully on their seats.
To match the rotating assembly, a zero-balanced Centerforce aluminum flywheel was fastened to the tail of the crank and mated to a Centerforce Dual-Friction clutch. Before nesting the new engine between the strut towers, a Canton windage tray and road-race-spec oil pan were bolted to the bottom of the block.
Steve knew that such an engine must be fed properly, so his 347 sucks through a K&N filter, a 76mm C&L mass airflow meter, and a Ford Racing 65mm throttle body. The air is distributed to each cylinder by the engine compartment's centerpiece-a BBK SSI intake manifold-while 93-octane fuel is transfer-red from the tank by a Walbro 255-lph pump to BBK fuel rails and 30-lb/hr injectors. An MSD 6AL box sends spark through LiveWires 9mm ignition cables to each cylinder. Com-bustion is exhausted through BBK long-tube headers, a matching H-pipe with cats, and three-chamber Flowmasters. In anticipation of future suspension components from Maximum Motorsports, Steve jettisoned the tailpipes in favor of turndowns.
The factory five-speed gearbox was retained to feed power to a Ford Racing aluminum driveshaft, which twists a 3.55 gearset inside the factory-installed 8.8-inch rear axle. Steve shoes the front '03 Cobra wheels with Kumho Ecsta P255/40ZR17 tires. The rears wear 275mm-wide soles, and as you might imagine, are replaced regularly.
After everything was buttoned up, Steve drove to Dynospeed in Memphis to have an SCT chip custom-tuned to ensure the engine purrs smoothly from idle to redline. The folks at Dynospeed found that during tuning, the engine was a little hungrier than Steve thought, since it had a tendency to run lean at wide-open throttle. So they postponed any full-throttle dyno runs until after the fuel system was upgraded. However, Steve estimates the engine makes 400 hp and 450 lb-ft of torque when properly fed. We don't doubt it. The brutal exhaust thumping beneath the floorpan recalls the opening drum beat of Van Halen's "Panama"-with the amps cranked to 11. The engine lights the rear tires with the slightest tickle of the throttle, at any speed. You'll find Steve Longacre's recent artwork displayed in front of his house. It's appropriately titled "Burned Rubber on Pavement."
Steve Longacre's '93 Mustang GT
- Ford 347ci stroker V-8
- Eagle forged H-beam 5.400-inch connecting rods
- Eagle zero-balance forged steel crank
- SRP forged 9.5:1 compression pistons
- Lunati PN 5125 hydraulic roller camshaft
- Crane 1.6:1 roller rockers
- AFR 185cc aluminum cylinder heads
- Cometic head gaskets
- BBK SSI intake
- Ford Racing Performance Parts (FRPP) 65mm throttle body
- C&L 76mm mass airflow meter and aluminum inlet tube
- K&N filter
- Holley 30-lb/hr injectors
- Walbro 255-lph fuel pump
- BBK fuel rails
- MSD 6AL ignition
- LiveWires 9mm spark plug wires
- Canton T-sump road race oil pan and windage tray
- Griffin aluminum radiator
- Flex-a-lite electric cooling fan
- 400 hp, 450 lb-ft of torque (estimated)
- BBK 1-5/8-inch long-tube headers
- BBK H-pipe w/catalytic converters
- Flowmaster three-chamber mufflers w/turndowns
- Borg-Warner World Class T-5 five-speed manual
- Hurst shifter
- Centerforce Dual-Friction clutch
- Centerforce aluminum flywheel
- FRPP aluminum driveshaft
- FRPP 3.55 gears
- Front: FRPP "C" springs, Hotchkis alignment plates
- Rear: Hotchkis rear upper and lower control arms, Kenny Brown subframe connectors
- (Maximum Motorsports "Grip Box" pending)
- Front: FRPP M-2300-K brake kit, 13-inch rotors, PBR two-piston calipers
- Rear: FRPP M-2300-K brake kit, 11.65-inch rotors
Rear: OE '03 Cobra five-spoke, 17x9 inches
- Front: OE '03 Cobra five-spoke, 17x9 inches
- Front: Kumho Ecsta Supra 712, P255/40ZR17
- Rear: Kumho Ecsta Supra 712, P275/40ZR17
- Auto Meter 5-inch tach, 1-5/8-inch water-temperature and oil-pressure gauges
- H.O. Fibertrends 2-1/2-inch cowl-induction hood, custom front, rear, and fender emblems