Robin Lawrence
March 19, 2010
Photos By: Courtesy Of Robin Lawrence

Horse Sense:
A little history lesson. The '88 LX coupe that I have raced in the NMRA is getting long in the tooth. 5.0 Mustang & Super Fords Editor Steve Turner has asked several times when I was going to build a new car. I was quite attached to my little red '88 coupe. It has a history. It participated in every NMRA Race from 2000 to 2004. It was the third car in the Factory Stock 11-second club. For 2003, I made the switch to the 5.0 Mustang & Super Fords magazine Real Street class. It was July of that year the red coupe became the first car in the nines. Still Mr. Turner persisted in prodding me to consider a new ride. More on that later.

Have you ever wanted to do something but just couldn't justify it? Well, I had listened to Jim Schenk from Car Shop in Moline, Illinois, talk about how cool it was on the Hot Rod Power Tour. With a full schedule of NMRA races, it wasn't really possible. I talked to Steve Turner and asked, "What would you think if I took my Real Street car on the Hot Rod Power Tour?" Steve said, "Cool, and you can write about your exploits in 5.0 Mustang & Super Fords." Hmm, this ought to be fun. It was looking like I needed a plan.

So, a month before the SEMA show in Las Vegas, I notice a post on the FFW message board about Ford Racing's Body-In-White program. I must admit that I didn't look at the new Mustang when Ford had some at Columbus and then Martin, Michigan. The pictures I had seen in the magazines really didn't do the car justice. It wasn't until Dr. Jamie Meyer made the lap down the track at Martin, that I really took notice. As I stood at the fence watching Jamie's blistering 14.70, I was taken with the retro styling of the '05 Mustang. Hmm, those new Mustangs are hot. Well, at least the looks were. After filling out the application, I thought I would not hear anything. Well, about three weeks later, I got an e-mail notification that we had been approved for a Ford Racing BIW.

As required, we sent the $3,500 to secure our car. Once at the SEMA show, a problem arose. I knew that we could never take the '05 Mustang BIW on the Power Tour as it is a non-VIN car. They are sold for the purpose of racing and are never to be licensed or titled. Once the sponsors learned that I had an '05 Mustang in planning for the NMRA Series for 2005, they were not going to settle for my old '88 coupe on the Power Tour.

To solve the VIN problem, I elected to buy a low-option V-6 Mustang to build our '05 Mustang Real Street car. While it seems costly, it also solved many other problems. First, it gave us the ability to drive the car on the Hot Rod Power Tour. Second, it seems that some parts needed to complete the car would have availability problems since Ford is building the new Mustangs as fast as they can.

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We turned to fellow Real Street racer Bruce Hemminger to locate a suitable Red V-6 Mustang to use as a donor car. We took delivery of the car from Bruce in December two days before the PRI Show. We then commenced with dismantling the car. I must say that it's an uneasy feeling taking apart a brand-new $20,000 car. My wife could not understand why it was necessary to destroy such a nice car.

Prior to removing the drivetrain, I worked out a deal with Mustang Parts Specialties in Winder, Georgia, a nationally recognized outlet for used Mustang parts, to purchase the pieces that we removed from the car. It saved us the time required to list and ship the parts individually. The engine and transmission came out as a unit. It was a change from working on a car with rusty, old bolts. With barely 500 miles on this car's odometer, even its exhaust was easily removed. After the interior was removed, it was off to Racecraft in LaSalle, Illinois, for the rollcage, K-member, and Strange/Motive 9-inch rear axle assembly

This intimate disassembly emphasized that several things are radically different in the new Mustang. One is the location of the fuel tank under the rear seat area. Another is the three-link rear suspension compared to the previous four-link design. But it's the total package that really stands out. My hat is off to the engineers who designed the new Mustang. Taking the car apart was a breeze. It seems they used common sense and considered future modifications in their efforts. The framerails are spread wider apart, the rear overhang is longer while the front is less. The weight bias is the best we have ever seen in a Mustang, something we hoped would be an advantage in our class.

The changes throughout the chassis seemed to have prioritized rigidity while saving weight where possible. The hood is aluminum and weighs about 25 pounds-some aftermarket hoods aren't that light. The K-member is a welded-stamped-steel design and is lighter than the previous stamped-steel units. Our efforts to take weight out of the car were diminished by Ford's focus on saving weight. Before you say the cars are heavy, remember they put the weight where it would do the most good-in the structure.

Next month, we will talk about the unique parts that Racecraft developed to put the '05 Mustang on the racetrack.

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