Marc Christ
Brand Manager, Modified Mustangs & Fords
January 10, 2012
Contributers: John McBride
Here is a rendering of what our coupe will look like when it's finished. John McBride is the artist, and also so happens to be the previous owner of our coupe. He had a similar build planned, but opted to modify his S197 instead after moving north for his career.

Building our own project cars are our way of showing you a plethora of the newest aftermarket parts in one functional package. With our own rolling test bed, you get to see firsthand what parts we picked, and as we move forward with the build process, you get to learn how well the parts worked and how they do on a daily basis. We provide tips that will help you realize your goal in the quickest and most efficient way possible. You also get to see any snags we run into, which will hopefully help you avoid such setbacks when you tackle a build of your own.

Over the years, we've formulated and executed a wide array of projects, ranging from down-and-dirty drag racers to bang-for-your-buck street cars. We've built cars from scratch and modified otherwise perfect, stock vehicles. We even tried our hands at some off-the-wall, extreme builds, which lost their functionality in the name of uniqueness.

Normally, we buy a car first, and then we find a purpose and powertrain combination that fits our upcoming issue themes. System-by-system and piece-by-piece, we change almost everything about the car. We've tried to bring you the newest and most innovative components available, and arrange them in a way that is practical, yet fun to drive, and entertaining to read about. We've done this with decade-old cars and new ones. This time, we're going to do things a little different.

Our choice for this exercise is an '85 LX 5.0 coupe, which we found with under 80,000 miles and already with an 8.8, five-lug conversion, and SN-95 front A-arms and brakes. Gracing the engine bay will be the Ford Racing Performance Parts 5.0L Coyote crate engine. At under $7,000, this is a super choice as it will make over 400 hp and have superior driveability, reliability and even respectable economy. A few shops and Internet forums have completed this swap, but we plan to take it to the next level.

Instead of just taking a plain-Jane Fox-body, dropping in the Coyote, slapping on some wheels and tires, and calling it a project, we're going to give you a detail-oriented build, piece-by-piece, and we're giving it a purpose. It wouldn't do you any service to see just another Fox with a Coyote--we have a theme, and here's how it came about.

When we first received the engine from FRPP earlier this year, we were torn. We wanted to do the obvious swap (into a Fox-body), but knowing others would be doing the same thing, we wanted to make it different. So we asked ourselves: What does this engine offer that we could use to our advantage?

Upon answering the question, we found our theme. This engine offers diverse traits, ranging from the high-rpm power, which is nice for an open track car, combined with the sensibility (driveability and fuel economy) of a production car. Combine that with a less-than-3,000-pound, manual-door-lock, crank-window, '85 coupe, and you have one fun open-track animal that can also be daily-driven or drag raced.

Needless to say, the emphasis is going to be track performance, but we don't want to sacrifice streetability. We are hoping to install A/C, and in the end it will be like nothing you've seen from us, or anyone else that has planted a Coyote in a Fox-body.

Without giving away the whole lot, we'll be using parts that include BBK headers and mid-pipe, restoration parts from NPD, sheetmetal from Scott Rod Fabrication, seats from Corbeau, and bunch of chassis/suspension stuff from Kenny Brown. We'll be adding some huge brakes, sick wheels, a custom front splitter, and a custom wing. We will do most of the work in-house, showing you how to do it yourself every step of the way.

There are a couple of rules we're going to stick to, though. The first will be that everything we do makes the Mustang more fun to have and drive on the track and street. The second (and only other) rule is to do absolutely nothing to it that causes it to sacrifice performance. How do we achieve both maximum performance without sacrificing comfort and driveability? Well, stick around to find out.

We do, however, have a slight problem. We don't yet have a name for this project, and we need your help. Email us your ideas for a project name to mmff@sorc.com.

This month, we're stripping the interior and finishing removal of what's left in the engine compartment. The engine and trans were already removed, as the previous owner, John McBride (who was actually planning this very swap), had started to ready the roller for a complete build. But he had to move suddenly, putting the brakes on the project. He later sold it to Editor Smith in the condition you see here.

Check back next month as we finish smoothing the engine bay with the help of Scott Rod Fabrication, and install the Kenny Brown street cage and chassis-stiffening components.

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