Mark Houlahan
Brand Manager, Mustang Monthly
December 8, 2006
Photos By: Steve Turner
The Paxton-supercharged D.S.S. 306 is ready to give life to our project Real Street so it can breathe Florida's 100-percent humidity for the first time. Can you see the hairs raised on the back of our necks?

Our Project Real Street has moved along more quickly than many other project cars around our offices (my own '66 Mustang restoration is going on 3 1/2 years). The '89 notch debuted in the July '01 issue ("Getting Real," p. 39), and it has been under construction for about 17 months, not including the five months it sat in "paint jail," as Editor Turner calls it. Sometimes I think he hired me just so I could build this car, which, if true, means I'm almost out of a job!

By now many of you have seen Project Real Street in person. Its last outing in 2002 was at the NMRA World Finals in Bowling Green, Kentucky. We brought the 3g GT (amazingly, Associate Editor Johnson didn't hit anything this time) without realizing we had room for only one vehicle at our subscription tent, but we were graciously offered room at the Bassani display to present the car. Darryl Bassani and his crew even ran to the local mega-mart and bought a set of ramps and a full-length mirror to put under the car while on display to show off the Bassani exhaust system.

This installment of Project Real Street's buildup sees us rounding third base and heading for home with the drivetrain installation. After the plethora of wiring we installed recently ("All Tied Up," Jan. '03, p. 167), we can finally nestle the D.S.S.-built 306 onto the AJE Y2K-member, bolt up the Tremec five-speed, and hang the Bassani exhaust. We ran into a few minor snags but nothing worth jumping off a bridge for. The problems that snuck up were usually associated with missing or incorrect parts that necessitated a delay while we ordered the right stuff.

Before the engine can be lowered into the engine bay, Energy Suspension urethane engine mounts are attached to the block. We've been happy with these mounts on other project cars and gladly use them on our Real Street project.

Except for tuning, testing, and an audio system, we're just about "finished." You'll be able to see the completed project at the NMRA '03 season opener in Bradenton, Florida. Who knows-maybe Joffre Lafontaine or Uncle Robin Lawrence will get one of those exhibition runs they've been bugging us about.

Horse Sense: We installed a few Auto Meter gauges with datalogging capabilities in our Real Street exhibition car, but you can't do that for competition. This is what the '03 NMRA rule book has to say: "External data recorders & data loggers are prohibited. Exhaust gas temperature sensors and air-fuel ratio sensors prohibited. Wide band oxygen sensors for the purpose of data recording prohibited. EFI systems if standard equipped may be permitted to record engine functions only of the vehicle. Playback tachometers permitted including those that record driveshaft RPM. Any wiring monitoring engine or drive train functions other than those specifically permitted are prohibited. Laptops prohibited in vehicle during competition."

With the engine compartment carefully masked off like a surgical operation, Editor Turner mans the engine lift, while we get some help holding the hood back to drop the engine into place.

Since there isn't a transmission in place yet, the engine will tend to lean back toward the firewall. While temporarily propping up the engine with a section of 2x4, the Energy Suspension mounts are tightened to the K-member to secure the engine.

Not only are we dressing up the engine compartment with SPA Technique silicone hoses, but we're also giving our cooling system an extra measure of safety. These super-strong hoses come in kit form with nonmarking clamps, and they're available in several colors.

The MSD 5.0 distributor features a CNC billet housing and a 1/2-inch distributor shaft. With the 306 still on top dead center, we line up the number-one cylinder mark on the cap and slide the distributor into place.