In Mike's own words:
Up until 1995 I'd never owned a Mustang or even a Ford. My tastes had run towards Porsches, Corvettes or even a trans am or two. In 1995 I had just sold my third Porsche and was just looking for a "get-around-town" fun car to drive till I found another "sports car". I wound up finding a 1990, triple white, convertible 5.0 Mustang that was in perfect, but stock, condition.
I had never driven a Mustang before and was excited at how good it felt to drive. I was fairly happy with the car in this condition for about 6 months. Then the yearning for more power and better handling hit. I ended up talking to a guy named Bryant Morris during a slow day at work. I'm a police officer for San Diego and came across Bryant and some of his "Mustang club" guys while working the Mira Mesa area. Bryant was working as a mechanic at a local automotive shop but worked on the side building up his own performance shop, Full Throttle Performance.
After talking to Bryant about mustangs for a few days we started getting busy rebuilding the car from front to back. Bryant installed the usual go-fast items, exhaust, suspension and motor bolt-ons, which resulted in a noticeable improvement in how the car drove. But this only lasted about a year.
About this time I was able to acquire an S-trim Vortech blower kit and a set of TFS twisted wedge heads. Bryant and his buddy, Braden, installed this set-up and made suggestions for several other upgrades, such as fuel, air intake and gearing. When this buildup was finished, the car made 462 hp at the wheels on the brother's performance dyno. The car was also being "cleaned up" during most of these buildups and a lot of chrome and polished items were starting to show up in the engine bay. About this time the "bug" really hit and I met dave Schultz. Dave had a red convertible similar to mine but it was one of the nicest cars around and had been in several magazines. "Hanging" with dave really gave me the performance bug. I had Bryant remove the motor and wiring in the engine bay and had Greg Grosset at "Total Performance" in Santee start building the new motor from scratch. We started with an SVO 4 bolt main N351 block. Greg did all the machine work getting it ready for the bullit-proof internals we had agreed on. A 377 stroker kit consisting of a crower billet crank, eagle h-beam rods and custom arias pistons made up the rotating assembly. Doug at ESI custom designed a blower specific cam for the motor and ESI did a ton of work on the TFS high-port street heat aluminum heads. They went with a 2.08/1.625 valve combo and got some extra port work done by converting to the J-302 exhaust bolt pattern. Greg assembled the long block, topping it off with some Crane gold race 1.6 rockers and a Probe rocker stud girdle as well as a "hogged out" Edelbrock RPM intake. Greg also broke the motor in on a local dyno so we could get the motor "seated" properly. While all this was getting done, I decided to freshen up the body and engine bay.
I took the car to Mike Nolan of D-Z Motorsports who welded up all the seams and holes in the engine bay. Mike then sanded the welds and prepped It for painting. I then took the car to Stretch at "Stretch's Playhouse" in Lakeside where the car and engine bay was cleaned up and given a new paint job. After getting the car and motor back home Bryant got started with the final rebuild. He put all of the engine bay wiring into the fender wells and behind the firewall and installed the motor along with a new T-trim Vortech supercharger running an ASP cog belt set-up. During this time the suspension was upgraded with SSM subframe connectors, Megabite jr. lowers and Steeda aluminum upper control arms. We also put in some Eibach progressive lowering springs, Koni "red" shocks and struts and installed a complete Energy Suspension's master bushing kit. Almost as an after thought I had a tubular k-frame, a-arms and coilover kit intalled. All the usual upgrades to support this set-up was made such as a mini hi-torq starter, 130 amp alternator, Fluidyne aluminum radiator, MSD BTM electronics, SPAL external electric fan, Edelbrock hi-flow aluminum water pump, Earl's external oil cooler w/ remote filters and so on and so on. There wasn't much on the car that wasn't upgraded in one way or another.
After this set-up was completed I had Scott at JBA build a custom exhaust for the car. We ended up with a custom set of 1 ¾ long tube stainless headers which were stepped to 1 7/8 then into a 3" collector. Scott also made a custom 3" X-pipe. The headers and X-pipe were sent off to Olympic coatings to be jet-hot coated and the exhaust was topped off with a Mac 3" cat-back system. The interior was dressed up with white leather Flofit seats and a matching rear seat re-build. I also changed out the stock steering column and wheel with an '89 tilt column and Momo "Jet" leather wheel. Gauges were upgraded to the white face set-up and a triple pod Autometer A-pillar was installed along with "phantom" boost, fuel and air/fuel ratio meters. The rear end was upgraded with a set of 31 spline Moser axles and 31 spline Auburn Pro differential running 3.55 gears. The stock T-5 tranny was replaced with a Tremec 3550 and a Pro 5.0 short throw shifter. An SVO Motorsports Cobra brake kit was "borrowed from a rolled '97 Cobra and installed. I had a custom set of American Racing Torq-Thrust II's built. The wheels, 18x8 fronts with 245-40 18" Nitto extremes and 18x10 rears with 285-35 18's filled the wheel wells very well and helped finish off the cars looks and that great "in-the-weeds" look. The outside look of the car was upgraded with a Cervini's Cobra R hood, Cobra wing and bumper and a Stalker front end.
After getting this all up and running we were off to Danny at Swanson performance in Torrance CA where we had him build us a custom computer chip. The car ran a 628 HP/629 TQ at the rear wheels before correction for sea level. After the correction we came up with 612 HP/613 TQ at the wheels. This Dyno run was made on pump gas and running about 18 pounds of boost. During the dyno we realized we were running out of fuel with the lone Paxton blue 1100 fuel pump and renegade fuel system. We ended up adding a second Paxton blue pump and upgraded the fuel lines to 10 feed, -8 return and sumped the fuel tank. This setup ran very well at Swanson's and took care of the fuel drop-off problem.
The car has been to several car shows in the last 6 months or so and has won some and lost some, but always seems to be a favorite for the spectators. After all of this work you would think we'd be finished, but I've found that you are never really finished in this hobby. I've been looking into a few interior and suspension upgrades for the future. Hopefully they'll only add to the overall effect this car has had on me, my friends and the people who seem to enjoy looking at