Even the Chevy guys can't deny the greatness of Ford's legendary 9-inch rearend, so boldly opting to install a lesser 8.8-inch rear in a Mustang requires a compelling argument. Fear not, for such a questionable antic is more than justified. Sure, the 9-inch's virtues of strength, affordability, and ease of serviceability-thanks to its slick drop-out center section-are irrefutable. However, its 8.8-inch little brother is lighter, cheaper, takes less power to turn, and can be built just as strong. Bearing an uncanny resemblance to the GM 12-bolt, which the 9-inch is often compared, the 8.8 has proven its mettle in the world's fastest Outlaw Mustang drag cars, where countless racers have pushed them well into the 7s.

With such an impressive track record, a built 8.8 will laugh in the face of Project Fox's measly 775 hp. "People have run as fast as 7.50s in the quarter-mile with built 8.8 rearends, and I've had customers pull consistent 1.23-second 60-foot times with an 8.8 in nitrous cars," says Bill Buck of Bill Buck Race Cars in Austin, Texas. Bill keeps busy building race car chassis during the week, and serves as head suspension tuner on Mike Murillo's 6-second, 3,000hp, Outlaw 10.5 '93 Mustang on weekends. That said, we felt that he was the perfect candidate to not only get Project Fox caged and ready for battle, but assemble a bullet-proof 8.8 rearend for it as well.

Somewhat surprisingly, it takes very little to beef up an 8.8-inch rearend far beyond the durability requirements of even the most serious street/strip machines. For this build, Strange Engineering set us up with 33-spline axles, C-clip eliminators, 3.90:1 gears, billet bearing caps, a spool, a differential cover, a 1350 yoke, and 1/2-inch wheel studs. Such components aren't any more exotic than what's typically used in a basic rearend build, a testament to the strength of Ford's design straight from the factory. Furthermore, the only additional fortifications necessary were some custom chromoly back braces, and welding the axle tubes to the differential housing. At the end of the day, parts and labor for our super-duty 8.8 rearend rang up at just under $1,800. That's about $500 cheaper than a comparable 9-inch equipped with goodies like a nodular iron case and Daytona pinion support. Plus, building an 8.8 makes for a much more interesting story than merely ripping open a wooden crate and stabbing a turnkey rearend assembly under a car.

WHERE THE MONEY WENT
Item: Part No: Price:
Strange axles, spool, studs, C-clip eliminator P2000FM $629
Strange differential cover R5234 $149
Strange billet aluminum main caps H1124 $88
Strange 3.90:1 ring-and-pinion RSF888390 $160
Strange 1350 yoke U1630 $89
Strange installation kit R5231 $94
custom chromoly bracing N/A $300
axle tube welding N/A $100
rearend assembly labor N/A $150
Grand Total: $1,759
SOURCE
Bill Buck Race Cars
512-837-4999
Strange Engineering
Morton Grove
IL
8-47/-663-1701
Strangeengineering.net
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