5.0 Mustang & Super Fords
1986 T-Top Coupe LX - Plan Beast
Our '86 T-Top Coupe Is Back In Action With Bigger Steam And Lower 9-Second Potential
Horse Sense: "Sometimes, Kaje, it's all about saving face," said Tech Editor KJ Jones' wife, Crystal Jones, when asked whether our street/strip '86 T-top coupe LX should be called into service as our backup race car for the Street Car Super Nationals V, when it became clear that Boss 340 would not be finished in time for the event. Seriously, guys, there really is a lot to be said about a woman's intuition.
For more than a year now, the bulk of our project-car reports have centered on Project Vapor Trail, Editor Steve Turner's radical '08 Shelby GT500; Project Fox 500, Big Steve's even-more-radical '88 T-top LX hatchback; and Project Boss 340, Tech Editor KJ Jones' mega-radical Cleveland-headed, nitrous-injected 343ci, four-speed drag-racer '90 LX hatchback Mustang.
As timelines go, any new project-car updates we publish should technically focus on one of the three aforementioned Mustangs, as they're all ongoing works in progress-PVT is probably the most "finished" Pony in the group. Things are a bit different with this report, as it highlights details on our recent escapades with Project T-top Coupe, our rare '86 notchback Mustang with T-tops. At this point, it's a blast from the not-so-distant past. The coupe hasn't been featured in a 5.0 Mustang & Super Fords tech report since our Aug. '08 issue.
Right now, we actually should be reporting on what we had hoped would be the Boss 340's triumphant debut at the PSCA's Street Car Super Nationals V. SCSN is a high-profile, large-payout event that's held in November at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. The Pro Street class pays $20,000 to the winner.
Our goal was to complete Boss 340 in time for the race and enter it in the Ford Racing Performance Parts Mustang Maddness class. However, one of the guaranteed truisms about projects is that some things simply don't go according to plan despite all good intentions. Unfortunately, such was the case with Boss 340.
As we explained in "Graphic Detail" (Apr. '10, p. 88), delays in the body shop made it clear that Boss 340 would not be ready for SCSN V. Despite the setback and after lots of deliberating over what move to make (with the prophetic wisdom of Mrs. Jones), we decided to keep our commitment to run in SCSN V, calling our street-driven, T-top car into service as a more-than-suitable replacement for the incomplete Boss.
It's important to note that prior to making the decision, the coupe maintained a peaceful existence as a quasi-regularly driven street car. It had not been on a chassis dyno or a dragstrip since 2007, when we cut it loose on Extreme Automotive's Dynapack Evolution 4000 chassis dyno and then took it to the track. At that time, the coupe's Paxton Novi 2000-blown, A.R.E. Performance & Machine 350ci Ford made 830 horses worth of steam and 727 lb-ft of torque, which easily carried the 3,500-pound Pony down the quarter-mile in 9.79 seconds at 141.98 mph.
Naturally, we didn't believe there was any reason why the project car's past performance would not be duplicated (or improved on) in Las Vegas. Before taking the coupe to the strip, we first had to correct a few issues that had come up since the last time it was dragstrip tested, such as fuel delivery, brake adjustment, recertifying the safety harness and window net, chassis certification and tuning. The sincerely appreciated thrashing and efforts of A.R.E. Performance & Machine, Extreme Automotive, Orme Brothers, and Josh Deeds of Deeds Performance had our 'Stang ready for action with two days to spare before the Street Car Super Nationals.
In this story, we document the preparatory activity that went on during the thrash, including the phenomenal results from the all-important dyno session and dragstrip run. These results make it clear that the coupe's supercharged small-block is a lot more potent than we imagined.
Now we're back on track with Project Boss 340, and the T-top coupe will be going into surgery for another engine rebuild. The new plan is to take our registered, insured rare Mustang beyond the 1,000-rwhp boundary with more cubes and more boost, and possibly run 8s-all with a Mustang that we still can take to the streets whenever we want, and drive 'til the wheels fall off with the stereo cranked way up.
On The Dyno
The crew at Extreme Automotive and Josh Deeds of Deeds Performance were kind enough to make time to give our coupe a checkout on the chassis dyno before going out to race. With a new fuel pump installed, tuning changes were necessary to achieve a safe air/fuel ratio of 11.7 at wide-open throttle. Josh reduced fuel by nearly 11 percent.
No one expected to see major horsepower or torque gains, as we really didn't make any changes to the engine or blower, save for adding a new belt and making sure it was tight. The results, however, surprised everyone in the dyno cell. With 20 psi of boost, the retuned A.R.E. Performance & Machine small-block Ford slammed 866 hp and 734 lb-ft of torque to the rear wheels.
On the Dragstrip
We made it to The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Thursday, one day before qualifying for SCSN V began. After spending the day registering to run in the Ford Racing Performance Parts Mustang Maddness class, getting our 'Stang tech'd, setting up the pit area, and mounting new slicks on the T-top coupe's Weld Alumastar rear wheels, we were confident the race weekend would be successful. As the saying goes, "So much for the best-laid plans."
During the first round of qualifying on Friday, a freak engine mishap put an end to our hopes of reaching the winner's circle at SCSN V. However, there are highlights to the ill-fated pass. It was the first time we used the transbrake in the coupe's Performance Automatic Super Comp AODE transmission, and it performed flawlessly, launching the 3,500-pound Mustang like a bullet from a gun. Also important, the timeslip data indicates an improvement on our previous best e.t. and mph had the car made it through the quarter-mile under full power.
Street Car Super Nationals V
Each November, the PSCA's founder and president, Mel Roth, brings big-time, high-dollar, heads-up drag racing to the West-the Street Car Super Nationals.
The race, held at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, features the quickest, fastest West Coast doorslammers (of all makes) from California, Arizona, New Mexico, Oregon, Washington, and Canada. They compete with counterparts from points as far east as Oklahoma, New Jersey, Connecticut, and South Carolina, all vying for a shot at the $20,000 prize.
While there are several other exciting, heads-up categories-such as 10.5 Outlaw and two drag radial classes, which all include badass 'Stangs-we're partial to the Ford Racing Performance Parts' Mustang Maddness eliminator. It's an Open Comp-format class for Ford-powered Ponies only. Kirk Bouchard took top honors this year in Mustang Maddness, but you can bet we'll be back out there next season trying to capture the prestigious win with Boss 340.