It's a long way from a used Honda Civic to a modified 5-liter Mustang, but Phil Holman isn't complaining. He's now hooked on American muscle and this black 1995 Mustang GT convertible has quite a lot to do with that. Yes, Phil's first car was indeed a Civic and while it no doubt served the purpose of getting him from one place to another, from talking to Phil it's doubtful that it provided anything more. Holman's first foray into playing around with cars (and trucks), came via another imported vehicle, well, if we're being honest a captive import - a Chevy LUV pickup (remember those?). However, Phil decided things would be a little more interesting if he stuffed a Chevy 327 V8 between the tiny framerails, so that's what he did. Talk about power to weight ratio. At this point a train of events had been set in motion, one that would lead up to this modified, 1995 Mustang GT convertible. Phil hooked up with local master mechanic Lynn Peterson. Having wrenched for years, with a particular penchant for Pontiacs, Lynn had built this nasty sounding GTO. Phil's Girlfriend, Terri, really liked the exhaust note of this car, so Phil kept it in mind for his next project, which as it turned out, came, unusually, via a rental car.
Catching The Feeling
Yes, Mustangs first had an impact on Holman when he rented a SN95 convertible one time in Texas. "I liked the feel of that car - the way it drove, the fact that it was a convertible - it was just a nice car." So when he got back home to Virginia, the search was on. When he stumbled across an original, 1995 Mustang GT ragtop with just 64,000 miles on the clock, that was it, he just had to have this particular foal. With the title changed over to his name, Holman enjoyed the spoils that came with owning such a car. "People say that the 1994-95 cars were slower and heavier than their predecessors, but this one ran strong, it did have underdrive pulleys, but other than that it was all-stock. Every time I drove it, the car felt like it had a lot of bottom end grunt." Still, the words Mustang and modified seemingly go hand-in-hand (check out the title of this magazine for instance), so it didn't take long for Holman to start playing here and there. The engine proved to be first on the list. "The GTO that Lynn owned, man that thing just sounded bad.I figured it would be neat to get that kind of aggressive idle in a newer, computer controlled V8, like that in the Mustang, but it was a little challenging." The biggest hurdle, naturally concerned the Mustang's electronic brain. "The 1994-95 cars have more powerful and restrictive computers. They don't like aggressive camshafts, in fact they don't really like very many changes at all." Still, Holman was undeterred. With help from Lynn, the stock 302 was lifted out of the GT's engine bay and work began. "It can be tough when you're doing this first time around, but I have to say that Bob at D&D Automotive in Pennsylvania was instrumental on this project. He spent a lot of time with me going over things. He helped me pick the right combination of parts to help me achieve my goal of decent driveability with an aggressive sounding engine and old-school lopey idle. I can't thank him enough." One thing that did come to light during the part picking process was junking the stock EEC-IV computer entirely. "No matter what we tried, it just didn't work. Bob suggested changing it for a 1993 Fox computer.I got my hands on one and had Dynotech in Woodbridge, VA calibrate it for use in my car."
Let 'Er Rip
Although the '95 still retains quite a few stock engine parts, including the bottom end, to achieve his aggressive idle objective, a custom ground cam was deemed necessary and Holman had a Comp Cams stick built to order. Further breathing improvements include the adoption of Edelbrock Performer RPM II aluminum cylinder heads, Edelbrock upper and lower intake manifold assembly, BBK 70mm throttle-body and Ford Racing 24 lb injectors. MAC equal length (and ceramic coated exhaust headers), plus MSD ignition upgrades - a distributor and Blaster coil also went in, so with better fuel and spark delivery, at least our Phil was now on the right track to make more power. Together with Peterson, Holman installed the new parts on his stock shortblock and dropped the completed engine back in. "We finally got it finished one night at about 3am, but the thing was, when we hooked up the battery and turned the key, it started first time." Talk about luck. But there was still work to be done on the engine front. "We needed to tune it. The car was taken down to Dynotech and they strapped it onto the rollers. It took a couple of tries to get things right, but we recorded 305 horsepower to the tires, I was happy, considering that the bottom end was stock and we didn't have a whole lot of mods, but again, Bob at D&D was such a help in making it happen." Although the 302 has been fortified, this GT still retains its factory T-5 five-speed manual gearbox, though Holman opted to replace the stock clutch with a Ford Racing King Cobra in view of the torque the motor now churns out. There's also a Hurst short throw shifter and a set of 3.73 gears in the 8.8 but that really is the extent of the driveline mods so far. In stock form, the SN95 GT handled quite well and was a huge improvement over the Fox, thanks to a wider track, added chassis bracing, steering and front and rear suspension alterations. As we went to press, the rolling stock (save the wheels and tires), remains just that on this car, but don't be surprised if something happens down under in the near future. Speaking of down under, Holman elected to perform some interior upgrades, as the stock fabric just wasn't cutting it. "Terri and I decided on Australian Soft leather for the seats - two tone. I contacted Dave's Upholstery in Orange, VA and they did a great job. It really gives the cabin a richer feel and the seats are really comfortable." While he was at it, Phil also sprung for some sound upgrades, including a Kenwood X969, some MB quarter speakers, Phoenix Gold Amp and a pair of Phoenix gold 12-inch subwoofers. Other plans include a repaint down the road - "Terri gave it the nickname Blue Thunder and although I want to get the car painted, right now it's going to have to wait. We had scheduled to have it done right after the photoshoot, but it's looking like it'll have to wait a little longer." The reason? Work commitments. Being self-employed, Phil has to put a lot of hours in, but even though the Mustang hasn't been painted, he makes the most of every opportunity he can to enjoy driving it. "With the power, sound and handling it's just great. Terri and I go up on the mountain roads and with the top down it's a feeling like no other." That last statement right there is proof, if any that Holman's long hours on the job are worth every cent when he gets behind the wheel of this Pony. Yee-haw!
Phil Holman's 1995 Mustang GT
Ford Cast-iron OHV 5.0-liter V8
Comp Cams custom ground camshaft; Edelbrock Performer RPM II cylinder heads; Fel-Pro gaskets; Edelbrock intake manifold; BBK 70 mm throttle-body; K&N air filter; Ford Racing 24 lb/hr injectors; Auto Gauge fuel pressure regulator, MAC 1 5/8" equal length ceramic coated exhaust headers; 2 1/2" off-road H-pipe and mufflers; MSD Blaster coil; MSD 6AL ignition control box
Borg-Warner T-5 five-speed manual gearbox; Ford Racing 10.5" King Cobra clutch; aluminum flywheel; Hurst shifter; Ford Racing 3.73:1 final drive
Cervini's SN95 Ram Air hood
Australian leather custom stitched seats by Dave's Upholstery; Kenwood X 969; MB Quarter Speakers; Phoenix Gold amp; Phoenix Gold Titanium 12" subs
Wheels And Tires
Ford Racing Bullitt 17" x 8" replica wheels; Michelin Pilot XGT 245/45/ZR17 tires