KJ Jonesx
February 15, 2012
Photos By: KJ Jones

Readers who have been with us since 2006 should be plenty familiar with the '86 T-top project Mustang. For our newcomers, the rare coupe is a thrice-resurrected, Paxton-supercharged LX that your author has been working with since 2006. We've chronicled every highlight (every step of its initial Fox Rod resto; running the length of a dragstrip in 9 seconds; winning numerous car-show awards) and lowlight (two catastrophic engine meltdowns) the project has experienced in the last six years.

For the full skinny on T-top Coupe, you'll need to scour your 5.0 Mustang & Super Fords library (the first story, "Raisin' the Roof," appeared in our May '06 issue), or scroll through the Tech Section of our website to find past articles covering the entire saga.

For this effort, recording what we hope will be 1,000-or-more horsepower at T-top Coupe's feet has been our ambition from the moment we realized Engine Two—which pumped out 866 horses and 727 lb-ft of torque—had gone by the wayside during a qualifying pass at the PSCA's Street Car Super Nationals V. To reach that next plateau, major changes to the engine and the Mustang itself were made.

The upgrades, which are detailed in the most recent reports on the project car ("Grand Scheme," Mar. '11; "To the Top," May '11; "Cold Case," Oct. '11), highlight A.R.E. Performance & Machine's design and assembly of a brand-new 353ci powerplant and its installation at Extreme Automotive, and the slick Earl's-based plumbing arrangement (ice tank, water feed/return lines) that we set up for a water-to-air intercooler.

While a lot of critical detail on the latest resurrection has been covered in those past reports, the time has come for us to turn our focus on the higher-profile pieces that comprise T-top Coupe's big-steam package. Power hardware still includes the project's original Paxton Novi 2000 supercharger, which we're using to establish a performance baseline for the new engine. However, the upgrade that really has us over-the-moon excited is Paxton's all-new Novi 2500 head unit, which we're bolting on Couptie's 353 immediately after power and torque peaks with the OG Novi are established.

Yes, that's right—while we've alluded to and hinted about the new Paxton in past reports here and through our blogs and social-media pages, we're finally putting the much-hyped blower to the test. (If you follow or believe Internet buzz, insiders at Paxton are saying the newest Novi has what it takes to possibly end the Vortech YSi's dominance in NMRA's EFI Renegade class.) It's a good-old, back-to-back comparison in the dyno cell at Extreme Automotive in Canoga Park, California.

The following photos and captions include highlights of some of the final modifications that were made before our monumental test, as well as images of and all-important data from the tuning, dyno-, and dragstrip testing that was performed.

Horse Sense: The title for this segment of our six-year, Life-and-Times-of-Project-T-top-Coupe series definitely sums up, in a nutshell, the latest status of the rare '86 LX. We say this because after just about two years of downtime, the Fox coupe with T-tops once again is in a condition that's worth talking about—running, and we have to modestly admit, it's running pretty damn well.

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