Steve Baur
Former Editor, Modified Mustangs & Fords
July 6, 2010

If you're a loyal Muscle Mustangs & Fast Fords magazine reader, you already know that we love project cars, and judging from the responses we get from you, most of them are well received. Most of our projects are street cars that our average reader can relate to, and we live with them and race them just as hard, if not harder, than the next guy. This month marks the debut of our latest project, one that we aim to run in the NMRA True Street class, as well as local test and tune nights. Given its street-legal status, we will probably hit some cruises and car shows, too.

For those who aren't familiar with the True Street concept, the original idea was conceived by former MM&FF tech editor John Hunkins and Harry Wojciechowski. Dubbed True Street 5.0, the class debuted at the Fun Ford Weekend event at Norwalk Raceway Park (now Summit Motorsports Park) in 1993. The class was open to all '79 and newer Fox-body-based vehicles with a Windsor engine, and tubbed-out or tube-chassis cars were not allowed. Further requirements included a valid registration and insurance card, functioning wipers, lights, horn, odometer, and a closed exhaust. DOT-approved tires were also specified, and after completing the safety inspection, each vehicle had to endure a 50-mile street cruise before heading back to the track for a tire change, followed by three back-to-back runs.

Eric Coleman and his '82 Mustang, driven by Kevin Sampson, won that first True Street event. The team averaged 10.94 seconds using nothing more than an automatic transmission, a stock '88 block with 351W heads, a Holley 700-cfm carburetor, a solid-lifter Erson camshaft, and an NOS 175hp Cheater plate. Two other competitors, Rick Anderson and Lidio Iacobelli, went on to cement their names in the 5.0L history books with their companies, Anderson Ford Motorsport and Alternative Auto Performance, both continuing to tweak modern Mustangs to this day.

True Street eventually turned into a regular draw at every Fun Ford event, with other racing sanctions adopting the format. Further rules changes were made, but the concept remains much the same today. Eventually, Muscle Mustangs & Fast Fords and Tremec Transmission Corporation put their support behind the True Street class in the NMRA, and what started out as a little 20-car field turned into a fast fleet of 50 to 120 cars, many of which use the latest technologies to put down 8-second e.t.'s and still make the required 30-mile tour and three back-to-back runs.

While we've often had project vehicles that were suitable to run in this class, we've never really had anything that we considered to be a fast street car that could repeatedly lay down a stout number-until now.

Our latest project-which we have dubbed project Repeat Offender for its required ability to repeatedly beat down the quarter-mile clocks-should fill this niche nicely. After deciding on the venerable Fox-body platform for its lightweight and general flexibility with regard to powerplant choices, we set out on a search, hitting the message boards and Craigslist for potential candidates. We were hoping to score a notchback body, but when you're looking for something in particular, the pickings are pretty thin, especially when you have but $500-$600 to spend on a car.

After a few weeks of searching, we started to consider hatchbacks. Then a break came in the form of a '85 Mustang coupe for $1,000. The advertisement stated the car had a 5.0L engine, Holley four-barrel carburetor, and it started and ran great. The C4 transmission was in less than good shape, with only one functioning gear. After seeing the car, we struck a deal and brought our Sand Beige notchback home for just $600.

Surveying the car, we noted the body was fairly straight and original. The interior was very clean for an '85 model, and someone had gone to the trouble of recovering a set of late-model seats in beige upholstery. Even the factory woodgrain dash trim was in good shape. Let the four-eyed fans rejoice.

A few minutes later, we had the later-model GT ground effects and aftermarket spoiler pulled off; a few days after that, we excised the drivetrain to make way for our new, more potent, engine. In addition to the engine and transmission, we also sold the exhaust system, ground effects, hoodscoop, and front and rear seats, making all but $30 of our initial investment.

Our desire to construct a car for the True Street class peaked during the '09 Spring Break Shootout at the NMRA season opener. Inspired by the turbocharged notchbacks of Jason Borum and Chris Lancaster, we wanted to build a modular-based powerplant just like theirs. As time went on, we opted to simplify the formula. Once the guys at Ford Racing Performance Parts told us about their new short-block, our pushrod-based engine program was sealed.

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