Marc Christ
Brand Manager, Modified Mustangs & Fords
March 13, 2012
Photos By: Steve Baur

Last month, we installed the Kenny Brown Extreme Matrix chassis-stiffening system on our latest project, an '85 LX coupe. We also bolted in the six-point Kenny Brown street cage. The still-unnamed project will feature an FRPP Coyote crate engine and a Tremec T-56 Magnum six-speed transmission from American Powertrain, and will serve as an open track car that will also be assigned street duty.

This month, our goal was to wrap up our pre-paint duties, including smoothing the engine bay and mocking up the drivetrain. In our first installment, we stripped the engine bay of its wiring harness, and last month we cleaned it with a pressure washer. So with a blank slate in hand, we dug in.

The previous owner had begun smoothing the engine bay by welding in a couple of custom-made inner fender panels. To take care of the rest, we contacted Scott Rod Fabrications. SRF is based in Sylvania, Ohio, and caters to racers by manufacturing sheetmetal panels for the interior, exterior, and underhood of Fox-body and SN-95 Mustangs, among others.

We used an SRF rear-seat delete in project Repeat Offender; they fit really well and look awesome. Not only does SRF make rivet-in aluminum panels available in both natural and matte black, but it also offers weld-in steel versions of all of its popular pieces. We ordered up the pieces we needed and began welding them in.

With everything out of the way, the task didn't look too daunting in the beginning. However, stitch welding every piece turned out to be very time consuming. If you're going for a show-car look, it's the only way. But in hindsight, for our application, the rivet-in panels would have been a more efficient way to go. And the rivets would have added a racy look as well.

With all the pieces tacked in and some of the stitch welding complete, we moved on to mocking up the engine and transmission. We plan to send the car to paint soon, and we don't want to run into problems with engine/transmission fitment with fresh paint. We also want to go ahead and weld in the transmission crossmember, and finish any other welding that might be needed.

We broke out our Kenny Brown K-member to fit it first. With a little massaging of the gussets on the frame rails, it bolted right in place. Then we bolted the T-56 Magnum to our new Quick Time bellhousing and mated it to the engine. Our friend Dennis Ramsey of Ramsey's Performance lent us a set of '96-'04 engine mounts to use until our new ones arrive.

As the most exciting moment in this build without a doubt, we dropped the engine and transmission in place for the first time. Next, we had to modify the crossmember to fit. The brackets are made to bolt to the framerails like the '96-'98 Cobra crossmember. But since we welded in our Kenny Brown subframe connectors, the brackets wouldn't work as designed. To remedy this, we simply cut the C-channel off and welded the brackets directly to the framerails and subframe connectors. We then mounted the transmission to the crossmember.

Later, we finished stitch-welding the sheetmetal and smoothed the welds out with an air sander and 180-grit sanding wheels. Again, this is not a show car, so we're going to leave most of the welds visible to add a racy look.

Over the next few months, our coupe will be spending some time in the paint booth. Also, since last month, we found the pinion seal leaking on our rearend. So we'll be tearing into that as well to give it a refresh.

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22. Here is our Coyote in place in the engine bay. Though this is only temporary, it won’t be long before it finds its way here permanently.