Southern Comfort Part 3
C had Fisher's experience with cars has been varied to say the least. Over the years he's driven all kinds of four-wheeled power devices, from Nissan Pulsars and Toyota Celicas, to Mazda RX-7's and, well Mustangs. "I bought a 1996 GT brand new. I got it when there were still new '95t 5-liters sitting on lots. I didn't know at the time, but speed parts were few and far between for my car and what there was, was expensive. I put Flowmasters on it and an H-pipe, though the H-pipe was like almost double the price of one for a 5-liter. I wanted to put spray on it, so I got an SVO intake to replace the factory plastic one - it cost me like 1,500 bucks."
That car stayed in Chad's life for two and a half years. In his search for more speed, he mistakenly traded the '96 in for an LS-1 Camaro. Though he had some good times with the LS-1 - "got it [to] 11.80s on nitrous at 116-118 mph, all for two grand" - the car came to a bad end. Chad takes a speed fix wherever he can, so there was a personal watercraft in the driveway as well. "I was out at one of the local lakes with the Jet-Ski and the Camaro. The boat ramp was a 20 percent grade." With those fast passes in the Camaro, its clutch had started slipping... you see where this is going, of course. "I let the emergency brake go accidently, the trailer and jet-ski jackknifed and the car turned around and went into the lake nose first. I got the nickname Scuba Steve."
Needless to say, the Camaro was a write-off and Chad's search began again. "I could have bought it back, but my friends said don't even think about it. We started to think about coming back to the Mustang side. I had a company car at the time, so I could build something how I wanted it." A deal was coming together for an '88 Fox GT that Chad was prepared to drop some serious coin into, when a friend called to get Chad's email address.
Now, would you buy a car that was seriously out of state and way beyond what you thought was your price range? Chad Fisher did. but as he confesses, 'Ginger' a.k.a. his 1995 Mustang GT, came to him, not the other way around. "I knew about this car. I'd seen it in a magazine and heard stories about it when I was younger. I never thought it would be worth getting, because of the asking price. When a buddy of mine sent me pictures and I found out the car was for sale, I went to St. Louis and brought my girlfriend." Fisher did mention to Kimberley that all he wanted to do was look at the car. Right.
The owner took them on an impressive test drive, but they weren't able to come to an agreement on price and parted company. A few days later, Chad emailed the owner a final offer - he needed to get going on that car or the '88. "Well, he obviously agreed with the final number and I had to find a way to pick up the car in St. Louis and get it back to my home in Austin, TX." When a holiday weekend came along, Chad and Kimberly flew to St. Louis. "I had planned a long weekend, so we could take the car along some of the famous Route 66. The first night in town, I just had to see what she was truly capable of. Out on the freeway, I stabbed it... 3rd, 4th, 5th and POP!!! The car came to a chugging stop in the middle of nowhere."
Eventually, they managed to get the car back to the storage facility and themselves back to the hotel, which "...was close to AutoZone. So, at 7 am, I was buying a cheap 150 piece tool set, determined to fix it before we left. By late morning, I found the intake and outlet pipes had let loose from the supercharger. The blow off value had blown off." A trip back to the parts store and a little creative thinking got everything back to where it should be, including their scenic plans. "The rest of the weekend. I spent as planned - seeing the sites, taking pictures of the car all over town and up and down some of Route 66."
Eventually, Chad paid to have the car picked up and brought to Austin in an enclosed trailer. In the meantime, he'd been busy checking into the past life of Ginger. "I had talked to every one I could that I know was involved with the building of the car and it was clear this horse was ridden hard and put up wet." Once safely in Austin, the rebuilding could begin. The fuel system was first on Chad's list. Aeromotive components, including fuel pump, pressure regulator and filter, brought the car's outdated hardware back into spec. Next came some suspension work and a little love for the ignition system. After that, the issue of cooling had to be addressed, but a hollow feeling was starting to develop.
Chad told us, "I started to learn that all these Band-Aids were not going to fix the true issue of a worn out motor and tired clutch." So, the engine and transmission came out with helping hands from his neighbors, Jim Skiles and Doug Luquette. Chad enlisted Dave Kropp to handle the engine build and, when you check the specs on it, you'll see that Dave's 25 years of experience were fully brought to bear on the problem. The engine came back just a little before Chad was going to move out of his apartment and into a house, so he needed to get Ginger on the road soon. That almost didn't happen. "Eleven days before my move, I started the car up and got an instant milkshake dip stick. Yes, I suck again. What now?"
The dipstick was telling Chad, in no uncertain terms, that coolant was leaking into the crankcase. This is not a situation that can continue for any time without losing the main or rod bearings, so a call to the engine builder was made. Chad got far more than he expected. "He not only offered to fix it, but also to come to my house and fix it in my non-a/c garage." Given the average temperatures in Austin, that is customer service, for sure. After some investigation, they found that a water passage in the lower intake was the problem. Not happy with doing a quick fix, Dave Kropp took the piece back to his shop for welding and resurfacing. The following weekend, with only four days before Chad's move, Dave was back and putting the motor together.
Having been caught out twice by the car, Chad was more than nervous. "I had never been so scared to turn over a car in 15 years." Still, all went well and Ginger was driven to her new residence. Through the entire process of sorting and rebuilding the motor, Chad had lots of help - the neighbors already mentioned, Dave Kropp, John Dinkel from Punisher Automotive and also from Chad's favorite speed shop, Austin Performance. Before the rebuild, Ginger's heart was putting out 867 RWHP and 802 RWTQ, when running 109-octane gas, or 670/663 on pump gas. When we met up with Chad, he and the other Southern Comfort participants had gathered at American Racing Technology in nearby Buda, TX. Chad was looking for pump gas numbers of 770 RWHP and 700 RWTQ. Let's just say that he found them, no problem.
Part of the ability to manage numbers like that on the street comes from tuning the car's electronic processor. Ginger is equipped with the factory EEC-IV processor from a 1991 GT and supplemented by an AutoLogic chip that was tuned by Don Walsh, Jr. at D&D Performance in Wixom, MI. Chad has yet to return to the quarter mile exercise yard since the rebuild, but we can expect that Ginger would beat her previous best of 10.51 seconds @ 141.3 mph before the rebuild.
For the moment, Chad and Kimberley are enjoying the new house and taking Ginger to local car shows. Chad has come to rely on Norman at First Class Auto Detail in Austin to keep this Mustang in tip top shape. "I never paid someone to detail my car before, but I thought I could at least learn something from him." Chad picked up on a couple of things: "I have learned that it truly is best to have a professional do it for you, and you get what you pay for." See, it is a well known fact that nicely polished cars go faster and that's important to feed your Need for Speed.
Chad Fisher's 1995 Mustang GT
Built motor from 351 Block
Novi 2000 centrifugal supercharger; ASP 30-tooth cog; Tial 50mm wastegate; Sonny Bryant crankshaft, polished, 3.9" stroke; JE Forged 'blower' pistons, dished top; 396 cid displacement; 8.5:1 compression; Custom ground .603" lift camshaft, 230 degree intake, 240 degree exhaust duration; Crane 1.6 ratio roller rocker arms; Ferrea 1.60" intake, 2.05" diameter exhaust valves; Comp Cams valve springs; Trick Flow aluminum cylinder hears, CNC ported with bowl and chamber work; Fel Pro head gaskets; ARP main bolts, head studs; Edelbrock intake manifold, narrowed to match 9.2" deck; BBK 75mm throttle body; Custom fabricated cold air intake, using K&N filter; Sieman Deka low impedance 83# fuel injectors; Aeromotive fuel pressure regulator, fuel filter; MSD Ignition 6A ignition control module, ignition coil; Accel 8.5mm plug wires; NGK Power V spark plugs; Canton seven quart oil pan; MAC long tube headers, 3" secondary; Flowmaster 3" mufflers; Griffin aluminum radiator
Tremec T-56 six-speed manual transmission; McLeod 10.5" single disk clutch; PRO 5.0 shifter; 3.55:1 rear axle gears
Chad Fisher's 1995 Mustang GT
Baer Extreme Plus 14" front brake kit, 13" rear kit
American Autosport 2.5" cowl hood; Custom paint: PPG Ultra Violet, White, base/clear, plus pinstripe and checkered flag detail work by Grafik Effects Design, Miami, FL; Cobra Racing leather seats; Auto Meter gauges, including exhaust gas temperature, air/fuel ratio, boost pressure, fuel pressure, water temperature
Eight-point roll cage, with removable driver's side bar;
Tokico Illumina 5-way adjustable struts and shock absorbers; Kenny Brown Drag Link Plus kit, rear control arms; Griggs Racing GR-40 tubular front K-member and front suspension A-arms
Wheels And Tires
Hart Racing 18" wheels, with Michelin Pilot 285/30ZR18 front tires and BF Goodrich Drag Radials, 295/35R18 rear tires
867 RWHP (1023 flywheel HP), 802 RWTQ on 109 octane gas Best ET to date: 10.51 sec @ 141.3 mph