Muscle Mustangs & Fast Fords
1985 Ford Mustang Coupe Full Restoration Project
MM&FF Starts A New Project Aimed At True Street Competition.
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.
The foundation for our True Street terror is the all-new 427-cid short-block from Ford Racing Performance Parts (FRPP). Much like the new Boss 302 block, the Boss 351 block (PN M-6010-Boss35195) was designed from a clean sheet of paper, and the specifications started with a traditional 9.5-inch Windsor deck height. From there, bore capacity was opened to 4.125 inches, and the maximum recommended stroke length is 4.250 inches. There are splayed, four-bolt caps on the No. 2, 3, and 4 main bearings, as well as revised oiling and coolant passages, Siamese bores with drilled coolant crossovers, and increased bulkhead material.
The lifter bores come finished, and the block is ready to accept the factory roller lifter guides and the lifter retainer, as well as a hydraulic-roller camshaft. The folks at Ford Racing also threaded the oil galley and freeze plugs, and set up the camshaft tunnel for common-OD cam bearings. All of this comes in a 205-pound package that should provide a solid foundation for copious amounts of horsepower.
As a complete short-block (PN M-6009-427F), FRPP's 427 takes the Boss 351 block to bigger and better dimensions, using the available 4.125-inch bore combined with a 4-inch stroke. Said stroke comes from the throw of the Scat forged-steel crankshaft that swings Scat forged H-beam connecting rods. Attached to the end of the rods via full-floating wrist pins are forged-aluminum Mahle pistons that reside 0.005 inches in the cylinder bores. They feature valve reliefs for the majority of in-line valve aftermarket Windsor cylinder heads. The rotating assembly features a neutral balance, and accepts most aftermarket zero or neutral balance dampeners. The 427 short-block also comes with cylinder head and timing cover dowels, which is one less thing you have to chase down.
Ford Racing Performance Parts' Jesse Kershaw also provided us with a set of the company's newly minted Z304 cylinder heads (PN M-6049-Z304PA), which feature a hefty CNC milling all around. With the 2.08-inch-intake/1.60-exhaust valves moving the mixtures through the 427, the FRPP crate engines that use these heads are knocking out a healthy 535 hp with a relatively mild hydraulic-roller camshaft.
The CNC work on the Z304 heads improves airflow from 277-cfm intake/218-cfm exhaust on the as-cast, 2.02/1.60-valved versions to 319-cfm intake and 227-cfm on the exhaust, all at 0.550 inches of valve lift. The combustion chambers are 63 cc in size, and the heads are set up for 7/16-inch rocker studs with guideplates for 5/16-inch pushrods.
On Kershaw's recommendation, we ordered one of Edelbrock's Super Victor intake manifolds (PN 2924) to provide the foundation for our Quick Fuel Technology Race Q 850-cfm carburetor. The Race Q is an all-new fuel mixer from Quick Fuel Technology (QFT) that starts with all-aluminum construction, and includes several components that are optional on many out-of-the-box race carburetors.
The Race Q's cast-aluminum, lightweight main body and fuel bowls are tumble-polished to provide a bright, long-lasting protective finish, and the dual inlet fuel bowls are equipped with quick-change ports that allow jet changes without the hassle of removing the fuel bowl. The black-anodized billet metering blocks are engineered with five emulsion channels and screw-in restrictions to help optimize the air/fuel ratio; changing these restrictions are as easy as changing jets. The dual-flange throttle body is also cut from billet and anodized black, and allows the carburetor to fit 4150- or 4500-style intake manifolds
QFT says the Race Q carburetors are designed for drag racing, include the correct jet extensions and notched floats, and every Race Q carb is hand-assembled and engine-tested before shipping. A jet driver tool is included in every box. Race Q carbs range in size from 750 to 1,050 cfm; Quick Fuel recommended the 850-cfm unit for our application.
Our engine build is largely based on the complete 427 crate engines that FRPP offers, with a few small changes. Ford Racing offers the CNC-ported heads separately or on the all-aluminum Boss427 crate engine, whereas we are mounting them on the iron-block-in crate form, the iron-block gets the as-cast Z304 heads. The CNC Z304PA heads require a special set of rocker arms (PN M-6564-F351) that move the intake-valve pushrods over 0.150 inch to clear the enlarged ports. These are similar to the rockers used on the N351 Ford Racing heads and feature a 1.65:1 ratio. FRPP also specifies an 8.100-inch pushrod length if you use all of its parts. Check www.fordracingparts.com for more info on head bolts, studs, and recommended head gaskets.
On our 427, we are using a custom hydraulic-roller camshaft similar in specifications to the one FRPP uses in its crate engines, just a little larger. The FRPP crate engine camshaft offers a split duration 242/248 at 0.050, with valve lifts of 0.576-inch on the intake and 0.600-inch on the exhaust. The custom grind that Comp Cams supplied starts with a split 248/254 duration at 0.050 and ends with a single-pattern 0.609-inch valve lift on a 110-degree lobe separation angle. It's a healthy hydraulic-roller profile that should raise the power level above the FRPP crate engine.
We cover a lot of ground this month, and now that we've formulated a plan, we expect to have a project Repeat Offender installment every month, starting with this issue and continuing until the project is finished.
Next month, we'll have the 427 parked on the engine dyno for some pulls, followed by chassis mods, suspension, rear end, braking and fuel systems, and so on. When you're done reading all about it, feel free to jump on our website at www.musclemustangfastfords.com or visit MM&FF on Facebook to tell us what you think.