Back in '94, Chris scored...
Back in '94, Chris scored an almost new HO 302 from a wrecked '93 Cobra Mustang. With only 2,000 miles on it, the Windsor only needed a head, cam, and intake swap to get it up to a healthy 360 hp. And as for all the chrome? Chris says: "My dad polished the timing chain cover, and we ended up making the rest of the motor match. Doh!"
Chris made his first major upgrade when he scored a low-miles long-block from a wrecked '93 Mustang Cobra. A B303 cam, GT-40 intake, and a set of aluminum GT-40X heads bumped the power meter on the 302-inch Windsor from 240 to 360 hp. That bullet shortly found a home in front of a World Class T5 five-speed manual box he had laying around from a previous '84 SVO Mustang project.
While we take tricked-out suspension systems for granted these days, back in the mid-'90s complete subframe systems for early model Mustangs were nonexistent. As luck would have it, a friend of Chris' father ran a now-defunct street rod shop (Willys Unlimited), which needed a first-gen Mustang to develop a complete suspension system. Chris volunteered his fastback for the project, which took yet another two years to complete. Harry Phillips at Willys Unlimited used a combination of Heidts control arms and crossmember, along with a custom boxed subframe, Aldan coilovers, and a Flaming River rack-and-pinion system to create a thoroughly modern front suspension. The rear subframe was equally impressive, with a custom four-link conversion and boxed subframe, Panhard bar, and more Aldan coilovers.
Up until this point, with the exception of the engine, Chris' fastback was largely built elsewhere, but that was about to change as he began beefing up his mechanical and wiring skills for the final push. One of the most difficult jobs Chris tackled was the complete wiring of his 'Stang. With a generic 12-circuit Painless kit in hand, he added power windows, power door locks, keyless entry, a kicking stereo system, and Dakota Digital gauges. He also spent many hours decoding the factory engine ECM and getting the fuel-injected engine up and running. A new Vintage Air A/C system pushed Chris into new wrenching territory, and learning how to recover interior panels (doors, dash, kick panels) with vinyl officially made him a jack of all trades.
Confident in his skills, and aided by his dad and Cyrus, Chris began to see his fastback take shape, but there would be times when it seemed like things went backward. Chris points out that many things had to be done twice-mostly because as the project takes shape and the goals become clearer, the equipment must change. Case in point: the single-piston brakes-which were swapped out early for some four-piston Wilwood pieces and a slim Wilwood master cylinder. The fuel system also got swapped when it was discovered that a stock tank and frame-mounted pump caused fuel starvation under acceleration. A Fuel Safe fuel cell with in-tank pump and internal baffling was the solution. Ultimately, the paint also got redone once all the mechanical systems were sorted, and that's the way we see it today.
Detractors may point out that Chris doesn't beat his fastback on the road course or autocross, and that's fine with him-for now. He's still in the falling-in-love stage where cruising is his favorite activity. (He has drag raced his Mustang once in the quarter-mile, where it's gone 12.75/106 on street tires. That's well into respectable territory.) Nevertheless, Chris has made plans to autocross his Mustang in the near future, and we think we've just about got him convinced to go road racing at some of the wonderful venues near him. The main takeaway here is that Chris set out to do exactly what he planned: morph his classic into a modern performer, right down to the creature comforts, ride, handling, efficiency, and power. As a BMW aficionado who drives an M3 for daily transportation, the bar has indeed been set high for this Mustang's owner. Ironically, he's surpassed his Bavarian bruiser with some old-fashion Detroit iron, and he did it mostly with his own hands.