K.J. Jones
February 24, 2008

Horse Sense: Our esteemed editor, Steve Turner, says a project car is never really finished until it's sold. Fear not! The Fox-Rodded '86 T-top coupe that has been one of this magazine's main attractions for the last year won't be going to the highest bidder any time soon. We'll continue to make cutting-edge street/strip mods on it and bring you all the details right here.

Now that we're a few issues beyond the report on our T-top coupe's street and dragstrip debut ("Final Exam," Aug. '07, p. 164), some people may be under the impression we've exhausted all the story possibilities for this Fox-Rodded project.

Not a chance.

The saga of our T-top coupe isn't finished yet. While stories focusing on the car's future upgrades and mods may be more infrequent than the monthly installments we gave you during its build period, it's important that you know we're still adding to and using this rare 'Stang to install, test, and showcase hard-core street/strip equipment for '79-'93 Foxes.

If you're scratching your head trying to figure out what we're talking about, for the past year, we've been deep in the throes of putting together a rare '86 Mustang LX coupe with T-tops. We acquired this special 'Stang in October 2005, and in a timeframe of just shy of a year, proceeded to resurrect our find, transforming it from near hopeless to an award-winning street cruiser/dragstrip brawler that came together on the pages of 5.0&SF.

At the outset of the project, we stated our intent to build a 'Stang that represents the old and new, as '86 Mustangs are considered by many enthusiasts to be the Ponies that started 'Stangbanging madness as we know it. We also wanted the car to be capable of driving on local streets and freeways and quick enough to click off 10-second e.t.'s on pump fuel whenever we were in the mood to do so. The project car serves as a live model for development of items that represent new-school technology for '79-'93 Mustangs. It features parts and improved accessories that were unheard of years ago.

While we enjoy cruising the streets of SoCal, hearing the sweet sound of the coupe's Rocco Accerio 350 and whistle of its Paxton Novi 2000 supercharger, we're of broad-enough scope to acknowledge the fact that street cars aren't made of muscle alone. The way we see it, a good street 'Stang's total package includes a killer exterior appearance and a clean interior that features either a fair share of cool, custom personalization or is bone-stock and unblemished to the point of absurdness. Acceptable ride quality is also important, although it's understandable that drag-inspired cars may not ride as smoothly as other street 'Stangs.

The coupe's trunk space was far from being considered show quality before K Dezines went to work. Keith creates enclosures and panels for Mustangs' trunk or hatch areas that can make these kinds of nightmares look as though they never happened.

Based on reader feedback, we think the bases are covered fairly well with our T-top coupe. However, one piece of this Mustang's puzzle has been missing for a while and it's finally time to add it. As promised, we're installing Sony's MEX-1GP Giga-Panel head unit and a full array of Scoshe's eFX Hyper-Drive amps, speakers, wires, and accessories to the coupe's cockpit-and more importantly, the trunk. The project car originally came to us void of any stereo equipment, although there were signs that some sort of audio components were once installed. It's only right that we treat it to a killer audio system that features the latest in cutting-edge hardware, for our listening pleasure when we're getting our cruise on or to pump the latest psyche sounds while we're waiting in the lanes to make another blast down the dragstrip.

Naturally, when a boatload of cash has been spent on equipment that's light years beyond the Ford Premium Sound or Mach Audio that 'Stangs are equipped with from the factory, each piece should certainly look good and function well. To ensure our 'Stang's audioworks won't have any appearance or operational issues, we're fortunate enough to have the installation expertise of Keith Doughty of K Dezines Audio in Tucson, Arizona. If the company's name sounds familiar, it's probably because of our Tech Inspection review of the company's rear-seat-delete system (Aug. '06, p. 212), which we installed on a Fox 'Stang.

Keith is the braintrust behind the popular bolt-in back-seat eliminator kits for Fox, SN-95, and S197 Mustangs; a New Edge seat delete is currently in the works. His creative wizardry has also been applied to the design and layout of award-winning stereo systems found in numerous 'Stangs throughout the course of his 20-year career. K Dezines created the stereo system in Dan Nicholson's '92 GT, which is featured elsewhere in this issue ("Street Fightin' Man").

With this report, we're taking a deeper look at an ultra-specialized area of the Mustang hobby that we're not too familiar with by following along as Keith installs our T-top coupe's new stereo system (well, Editor Turner keeps tabs on the latest happenings in car audio, but that's because he's a confessed electronics geek).

As shown in the photos and captions during the five days Keith used to design and install the T-top coupe's audio setup, we learned there's a huge amount of planning, fabricating, and painstaking trial-and-error that goes into outfitting a 'Stang with a great-looking, sinister-sounding audio setup. "Anybody can say they do stereos, but it really takes time to do it properly," says Keith. We wholeheartedly agree. That said, let the music play.