5.0 Mustang & Super Fords
1988 Mustang T-Top LX - Project Fox 500
The Fox 500 Finally Hits The Pavement-Hard!
Those of you with particularly good long-term memory may recall our Fox 500 project. Yes, Editor Turner's "baby" has had a rather prolonged gestation period, long enough that were this birthing part of the animal kingdom, its species would be extinct by now. And of course we're nowhere near finished yet. But we're thrilled to report that this comprehensive merging of old-school T-top Fox and 21st century technology has finally seen the light of day and has burnt off more than a few rubber molecules in the name of foolishness and photography. It may not be pretty (yet), but our hoodless hatchback is now endowed with Olympic-quality power, reflexes, and agility.
Because this epic has been so long in the making, a brief recap is probably in order. We started off a couple years back with a tired '88 T-top LX and a plan to stuff it with a modern Shelby GT500 crate motor (PN M-6007-C54) from Ford Racing-thus the Fox 500 moniker. Figuring it would be irresponsible or just plain insane to inject those supercharged steroids into a flaccid stock Fox platform, we first needed to line up some serious supporting hardware in the form of suspension, rollcage, braking, fuel system, electrical, cooling, and other upgrades that we've documented in previous installments. Thankfully, the build project landed in the oh-so capable hands of Paul Svinicki and crew at Paul's High Performance, without whom this whole harebrained scheme could never, ever have come to fruition. When problems arise-as they inevitably do-these guys find a solution.
To suit the theme of the project, boss-man Turner decided the Fox 500 should wear a GT500's platter-sized front brakes (FRPP's M-2300-S kit.) After modifying a set of SN-95-style spindles, the PHP team bolted these to our Maximum Motorsports tubular K-member (made specifically to mount a Modular in a Fox platform) and A-arms, but the 14-inch rotors and huge Brembo calipers caused some real head scratching when it came to front wheel offset. Likewise, our torque arm-suspended, shortened Strange 8.8-inch rear axle presented its own wheel offset issues out back (we may have goofed a bit on our width specifications). So instead of using the factory GT500 wheels we had originally envisioned, we had to turn to True Forged Wheels for some ultra-custom 18-inch hoops with extreme positive offset up front and deep-dish negative offset for the rear. This back-and-forth process took time until they were just right, but as you can see, the results were well worth the wait. We wrapped them in sticky Nitto NT555 rubber (and Turner may have to order new rear examples soon after our photo-shoot foolishness).
Since our last installment wherein we looked at the unique electrical and electronic solutions now available for Frankenstein projects like this, the PHP team has been busily wrapping up a number of details to get the Fox 500 ready for the road and dyno. The most recent to-do list included swapping out the "regular" T56 gearbox they had temporarily installed, and replacing it with Tremec's new T56 Magnum edition ("Magnum Opus," Sept. '09, p. 94) behind a QuickTime SFI-certified steel bellhousing. We also had to source an A/C evaporator and heater core from Latemodel Restoration Supply, and an HVAC case from Mustang Parts Specialties, while Brothers Performance shipped us out a new steering rack to replace the comatose original.
Lastly, with everything working together in mechanical harmony, we sent the multi-hued LX to the alignment shop to get its high-tech and adjustable Maximum Motorsports suspension pointed in the right direction. Note that we won't bother messing with exact ride height and coilover setup until we reach final vehicle weight with a full interior and other currently AWOL accouterments.
Finally, the reborn Fox was ready for the PHP dyno (see sidebar) and some quick driving impressions-and those impressions are that Editor Turner's patience will be amply rewarded once he eventually gets his hands on this thing.
Now that our Fox 500 is capable of tearing around under its own considerable power (just like a real car!), we'd like to think that the hard part is behind us, but there's still that rough old exterior and crusty, gutted cabin to be addressed. So as the project now says goodbye to Paul's High Performance shops in Jackson, Michigan. It will head about an hour east to Detroit, where the ailing body and paint will be tackled. Stay tuned ...