Sharad Raldiris
October 22, 2013

Horse Sense: Loyal readers may remember that we haven't published an update on our Project Shocker for several years. We learned the hard way that sometimes projects don't go as planned. In our case, a couple of extended shop stays, along with various minor mechanical glitches, conspired to delay the release of this sixth installment far longer than we had intended. A wise man once said "If building a fast car was easy, everyone would have one."

Project Shocker, our 1989 Mustang LX, has been in the 5.0 Mustang & Super Fords stable for several years. Purchased from its original owner in February 2008 it was almost completely stock, with only 42,000 miles showing on the odometer. Before the first wrench was turned, we formulated a plan to build an 8-second street car, using mostly bolt-on parts, which could make 1,000 hp yet still be driven on the street; and it had to be pretty. It was a bold plan.

The project started out smoothly enough. We put the LX in the 12s using minor bolt-on parts. Later, we ran low 11s on the stock motor with boost provided by an ATI-ProCharger F-1R. Sure, the ProCharger was comically oversized for the little 302, but it fit into the long range 8-second plan. While building a monstrous 428ci Windsor, we installed the requisite suspension, rearend, and braking system upgrades. However, two decisions we agonized over which transmission and roll cage to use. Although a 10-point rollcage would meet the NHRA-mandated safety requirements for our projected high-8-second e.t.'s, we played it safe and chose an SFI 25.2 cage from Rogue Race Cars. Viewed objectively, the decision to install a full Funny-Car cage added a significant amount of build time, cost more, and sacrificed some streetability. Still, the elaborate chrome-moly chassis provides a greater measure of safety on the dragstrip, which is priceless.

Choosing a trans for Shocker also proved difficult. The car originally sported a manual transmission and your author loves banging gears, but an automatic is more conducive to big-power racing on radial tires. With that in mind, we decided to install a Mighty Mite X6 from Dynamic Racing Transmissions. Choosing the three-speed M2-X6, which is based on Ford's C4, meant that we were sacrificing the use of an overdrive gear. However, the M2-X6 is ideal for running 8-second e.t.'s with our particular combo, so the lack of an overdrive gear was a necessary concession in our pursuit of speed.

In the interest of full disclosure, we'll confess that Project Shocker was fully assembled over a year ago. Unfortunately, we encountered several new-car bugs which conspired to delay the Shocker's completion. First, there was a tire clearance issue which resulted in the decision to mini-tub the car. Next, our Windsor-swap exhaust did not match up with our combo, which necessitated the use of a custom-fabricated exhaust system. Worse yet, an electrical problem during our first start up attempts actually damaged the brand-new engine and forced us to rebuild it. To be sure, Project Shocker has been full of surprises, some of them quite costly, but surprises like these are common with a project of this magnitude. So as painful as it was, we spent the time and money required to properly resolve these issues and the LX is running again, meaner than ever.

Follow the captions to see how Project Shocker was taken from a stripped shell to a mean machine over the last couple of years. But don't touch that dial, because we'll be spinning the dyno rollers in the next installment of Project Shocker when we highlight its impressive new EFI system!


After a long period of upgrades, Project Shocker is back together and running strong! Seen here in street mode, it could almost pass as just another 13-second 5.0 if the windows were tinted. It has an innocent-looking profile with the stock-appearing Aeromotive Stealth fuel tank and the parachute removed. However, the Shocker’s Tig-Vision-tweaked UPR Products suspension hunkered down on these beautiful Holeshot Performance Wheels and Mickey Thompson tires would probably give away the car’s sinister intent even if the windows were blacked out. Speaking of “street mode,” we special-ordered the Holeshot Holestar wheels with 5⁄8-inch centers which are thicker than standard centers so they will withstand the abuse our car might encounter while street driving. The 15x10-inch, three-piece rear wheels wear 275/60-15 Mickey Thompson ET Street Radials, while two-piece 15x4-inch wheels wrapped with 26x6R-15 Mickey Thompson Sportsman S/R skinnies reduce rolling resistance up front and provide proper handling characterist

Recent polling has indicated that your author’s friends’ opinions range from “skinny front tires make any car a race car” to “slap a license plate on a top fuel dragster and it’s a street car.” One thing we can all agree on is that driver safety is important. With that in mind, we sent our little show car to Rob Lewis at Rogue Race Cars for a transformation from a pony into a thoroughbred. After he fabricated the tubular chrome-moly SFI 25.2 Spec roll cage which is certified down to 6.00 in the quarter mile, we brought it home and began the process of reassembly. First, we painted the roll cage and floor panels satin-black and used seam sealer to seal the sheetmetal floor panels to the tubular chassis.

We are attempting to hook up 1,000 horsepower on 275/60-15 drag radials, so a good torque converter is absolutely critical to the success of our project. Our 9-inch T.C.T. Renegade converter has a stall speed of 4,000 rpm. T.C.T. converters are furnace-brazed and feature a hardened pump hub, anti-ballooning plates, triple-bearing package, billet stator, chrome-moly turbine hub with bushings, and a 360-degree mounting ring. In addition to a one-year warranty, T.C.T. converters carry an added benefit that any necessary stall speed adjustment will be performed at no cost, excluding shipping, after test runs have been performed. Here, we added one quart of Dynamic Racing automatic transmission fluid to the torque converter before sliding it onto the Mighty Mite X6 transmission’s input shaft. Dynamic’s synthetic transmission fluid reduces power-robbing friction without sacrificing grip between the clutches.

Next we used ARP hardware to bolt the SFI-certified 157-tooth JW flywheel to our 428-inch stroker.