If you’re a true hot rodder at heart, you’ll have a hard time disputing Chris’ reasoning for making his notchback ‘Stang as fast as it can be. Chris is no Johnny-come-lately when it comes to making a car perform. His performance education started for him with a 2004 GTO 6-speed that was bought stock and was finally sold making 430rwhp. It had been upgraded to big brakes and utilized a complete performance suspension. It was his first foray into autocrossing, and as such, it was an education in the physics of performance handling. In Chris’ own words, “I quickly learned that the heavier the vehicle, the less nimble it was around cones, no matter the amount of bushings that are replaced, or the spring rates that were increased.”
That said, when Chris began searching for another candidate to make into a capable cone carver, he went with a light body style that had plenty of aftermarket modifications available. Third-generation Mustangs, known as Fox body Mustangs were produced from 1979-1992.
Being a Mustang meant that there was always a thread of performance that wove the car’s fiber together. It was light, economical, and nimble, even if some of the engine options that were offered weren’t very convincing when the tall, skinny pedal was mashed. Also, having that many years of production meant the aftermarket had sufficient time to engineer and design a bevy of products that would capitalize on the car’s nimble demeanor.
Even now, companies are still devoting time and energy into developing products to make this generation even faster than when it was new. Sometimes, bringing in new engineering can also jump not only specific models of vehicles, but can also bring new technologies from competing manufacturers on the other side of town. Such is the case with Chris’ Mustang. He states, “We decided to source a notchback due to its very light chassis, and the availability of LS swap parts.”
Just like having an elephant riding around on a skateboard with super-slippery ceramic bearings, no matter how well the grip and handling might be where the rubber meets the road, there’s still a pachyderm that it needs to maneuver. That in mind, the entire car was stripped down to a shell and methodically rebuilt with light and nimble thoughts at every corner. That is most noted when you peer into the engine bay of Chris’ cruiser. Die-hard Blue-Oval guys, brace yourself.
There’s no doubting the power potential of Chevrolet’s LS-based platform. With everything from aluminum blocks, heads and composite intakes, the power density of this new generation of small-block has taken the world by storm. Many folks have flocked to this platform in search of power for everything from cars, boats, helicopters and even chainsaws.
The aftermarket has focused on making these swaps as simple as possible. In Chris’ case, that was with the addition of Afco’s front K-member and control arms because they are well-known in the industry, they are very strong units in terms of weight and their superior fit with Dynatech swap headers.
The benefits continue to roll in Chris’ favor as this updates the entire front suspension with stronger control arms, a complete QA1 adjustable suspension and a Baer brake package that are sure to bring the Mustang back from speed with authority. It also complements the rear suspension that Chris sourced for his ride, a complete IRS setup (less calipers, and springs) from a local guy. It came out of his 2004 Cobra with 24k miles and already had a Maximum Motorsports bushing kit and toe bars installed, along with a Ford Racing Performance Parts differential cover. The best part is that Chris grabbed it all for a grand.
The power of choice for Chris’ Street ‘Stang is equally performance-minded and fiscally responsible. He scoured salvage yards for a usable engine that would fit with his plans to make this car completely street-able and occasionally will see a dragstrip, autocross event, or road course action. He hit pay-dirt when he picked up a 2011 6L LY6 with factory LS3/L92 heads on it. The motor only has 20k miles on the clock, and the square-port heads will work great for Chris as he is putting an LSA blower with a ZL1 lid atop the engine for a little added giddy-up. Thanks to the LS swap K-member and a two-inch hood scoop, the engine fits into the engine bay quite nicely. In fact, there’s quite a bit more room to work than with the factory four-cylinder and Chris reports that the transmission fits right into the factory opening.
Once completed, Chris plans on driving the car daily, and that includes on weekends when he may be participating in autocross, drag racing or track days. Any way you look at it, this Mustang will certainly be fun and competitive. And that’s been the goal of hot rodders since the very beginning.
What do you think of Chris’ LS-powered Fox body – is it sacrilege or do you think it’s a great swap?? Let us know in the comments below, and if you have a project of your own that you’ve been slaving away at, share it with us! Send us an email and yours could be the next project featured in “What Are You Working On?”.