Muscle Mustangs & Fast FordsProject Vehicles
1985 Mustang - Repeat Offender
NMRA True Street Project
Two years ago, we introduced a new project car, Repeat Offender. This awkward-looking Sand Beige '85 coupe had received a few updates over the years, most of which were mismatched '90s-era mods. We didn't care because the price was right, and we planned to give the lightweight, four-eyed coupe a complete overhaul. Destined for the NMRA's Tremec True Street since its inception, Repeat Offender would be purpose-built, street-legal, and most importantly, fun to drive.
We chose Ford Racing Performance Parts' 427 Windsor crate engine as the foundation, backed by a new TCI 6X six-speed automatic transmission and a Drive Train Specialists-built 8.8-inch rearend. On the engine dyno, the Quick Fuel-carbed 427 made 609 hp and 561 lb-ft torque on 110-octane fuel.
Once in the car, we used a UPR Products drop-in pickup so we could hide the potent Aeromotive A1000 pump in front of the non-sumped, factory fuel tank. Yes, Repeat Offender wears a very racy set of Weld RT-S S71 wheels that hide a trick quartet of anodized Aerospace Components brakes, but the sumped-tank look is mundane and often adds to the impression that the car is overly fast. Why not go for a slightly more sleepy look?
Cooling duties were assigned to a Flex-a-lite radiator/fan assembly. The trick setup is designed just for Fox-body Mustangs, fits perfectly, and works fantastic in conjunction with our Meziere electric water pump. We also ditched the suspect stock wiring harness for a Painless Performance Muscle Car harness to provide exactly what the car needed electrically and reliably.
Inside, we left the stock beige dash, but tricked out with Auto Meter instrumentation. Real Speed Racing (Clearwater, Florida) welded in an S&W Race Cars 10-point rollcage, and we followed that with Corbeau GTS seats, Simpson belts, and a really trick rear-seat delete from Scott Rod Fabrication. The TCI Outlaw shifter put a polished finish to the interior, and allows us to make quick wire-controlled up- and down-shifts as needed.
It was a long and tedious road to get the project up and running, and our first outing to the dragstrip netted a 10.99 at 118 mph. The transmission had an upshift problem, so we knew we weren't getting the most out of it. Our guy at TCI informed us that the company made some revisions to the 6X, so we sent ours back for the upgrades. Once we got it back, we couldn't wait to put it back together for testing. Problem was, the NMRA season opener in Bradenton was rapidly approaching, and we didn't want to miss the race.
After tying up some loose ends, mechanically, everything was now in shape. The only department we really hadn't touched was safety. Yeah, we installed a 'cage and harnesses, but we were still missing a bunch of stuff. Our friends at Summit Racing Equipment have everything we needed, and one phone call yielded us a proper battery box, driveshaft loop, rollbar padding, and some new threads.
Finally, everything was in order. We insured the car, registered it with the DMV, filled up the tank, and headed to Bradenton. To save time and hassle, we trailered it there--still untested on the street or track. But we weren't worried. We made a few jaunts around the parking lot to make sure the trans was shifting to our liking, and it was shifting nice and firm all the way to Fifth gear (which is direct drive [1:1] on this trans).
At the race, we pitted with the other True Street competitors. Passersby recognized it, and some even stopped to take photos. By now we were really excited. The entire purpose of this build was to run True Street, and all of our hard work was either going to pay off with a solid three-run average, or result in a mild case of shame and embarrassment if we couldn't assemble and campaign a simple carbureted Mustang for one race weekend--that was not going to happen on our watch.
Former MM&FF tech editor Steve Baur, who dreamed up and still owns Repeat Offender, called Friday morning of the race weekend to say he was under the weather and wouldn't be able to drive. Since we're usually busy covering the event, we scrambled to reach our reserve test driver and good friend Tony Gonyon of TunersInc. When we asked him if he could drive for us, he happily accommodated our request. Tony's years of drag racing experience proved priceless, as we spent the first few runs ironing out everything during Friday's test and tune session.
Driver in-hand, we passed tech with flying colors. On the first run during time trials, Tony familiarized himself with the car, the transmission, and our pushbutton-shifting situation. Back in the pits after the low-11-second run, Tony said that the engine seemed to be misfiring. Puzzled, we began pulling spark plugs, only to find all of them fouled--presumably from only running the engine long enough to drive in and out of the shop and onto the trailer over the past months.
On Tony's pit cart, we searched out spark plugs and stumbled upon the Emmett Head Performance crew. The Georgia-based company had plenty of plugs to choose from, and spared a set of Autolites for our not-running-so-good notchback. The guys even let us use a gapper and antiseize. We popped the plugs in and it was back to the staging lanes.
A few passes in the 10.90s and 10.80s helped build our confidence, but Tony informed us that the 4-5 up-shift was lazy. With the help of our guy at TCI, Scott Miller, we used the FAST 6X EZ-TCU to adjust the “6X Overlap” function, thus eliminating the shift flare. Tony requested a shift light, so we simply programmed the tachometer to light up red at 6,500 rpm, a feature of the Auto Meter Competition Series.
Another problem we were having was crankcase pressure. Since we don't have a PCV (positive crankcase ventilation) system, pressure in the crankcase was pushing the dipstick out about 4 inches and forcing oil out of our breather caps. Back on the cart, we went straight to the UPR Products display on the manufacturers' midway. There, we found a billet oil catch can to which we could attach two hoses. We installed the can, solving all of our problems--or so we thought.
On Saturday, before the True Street meeting and subsequent cruise, Tony had the chance to make another time trial. On this run, a nut fell onto Tony's foot from under the dash. We took a quick look, but couldn't determine its origin. Unalarmed, we continued. We later found (after the competition) that the nut held the brake pedal pivot bolt to the brake pedal assembly. Thankfully, it stayed in place. Sorry for the scare, Tony.
On the street, Repeat Offender did wonderfully. Everything stayed cool, fuel consumption was low, and it was even quiet enough for Tony to carry on a conversation with his wife, Sherry, who rode with him on the cruise. Remember, this was its first time on the street, and it made its way back without a hitch.
During the competition, the weather was hot and humid. There was a slight headwind, but we didn't really care--our car was making its debut. Runs one and two yielded a 10.96 and a 10.95, respectively. But instead of backing it off a little to try for the 11-second win, we told Tony to go all out and try for a spot in the Spring Break Shootout set for the following day. Unfortunately, the trans was starting to get hot and flared on the 3-4 upshift. The run wasn't wasted, though, and resulted in a 12.59, making our average 11.50. Not bad for its first time in competition, and certainly a good place to start its racing career.
To fix our transmission issue, TCI sent us a larger transmission cooler to keep our 6X cool when hot-lapping during True Street competition. For street use or typical drag racing, our smaller cooler would suffice, but the extreme demand of a 30-mile cruise coupled with three back-to-back passes on the dragstrip was too much to ask of our smaller transmission cooler.
Despite the minor transmission issues during the event, Repeat Offender faired rather well. On Sunday as part of the True Street class, Tony was allowed to enter Repeat Offender in the B3 bracket class. Sunday's weather was nearly 20 degrees cooler, and even brought a significant tailwind. A 10.59 at 130.22 mph during the test-and-tune session was promising.
In the first round, Tony dialed in a 10.58 and won on a double breakout while running 10.48 at 130.81 mph--the 60-foot time coming in at just 1.50 seconds. Repeat Offender won Rounds 2 and 3 after the opposition redlit.
At the hit in Round 4, Tony knew Repeat Offender was on a good run--the timeslip would later show a 1.45-second 60-foot time, our best ever. Having dialed in a 10.48, Tony let off right before the finish line so as not to break out. He lost the round but ran a 10.41 at 121 mph!
We're happy with the results, and hope to let the Repeat Offender live up to its name at future NMRA events. There's room to grow with the current normally aspirated engine combination, and there's always the possibility of a power adder to easily put us in the 9s or faster should we choose that route. In any case, we have a legit all-motor, 10-second street car, and that's pretty cool.
After a 10.96 and a 10.95 during True Street competition, a flare on the 3-4 upshift yielded a slower 12.59. According to Scott Miller at TCI, it was caused by the transmission getting too hot (30-mile cruise combined with three back-to-back dragstrip runs). This is the cooler we were running (11- x 9.5-inch), which is great for street cars and cars that dont get hot-lapped, like during True Street.