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1990 Ford Mustang GT - Strike Fighter
When An F-18 Aerospace Engineer Builds A Mustang, You Can Bet There's Going To Be A Turbine Involved.
Roger Feldman of Jacksonville, Florida, is a self-proclaimed "boost addict." His experience with unnaturally aspirated automobiles began with a Vortech-blown '90 GT, and his daily transportation uses a Roots-blown V-6 for motivation. If you haven't already scanned the engine shot of his Kandy Tangerine colt, then you'll want to, as Roger's hot rod is a turbocharged terror with a bit of stealth technology incorporated into the design.
No, this Mustang doesn't use radar-deflecting gold tint or saw-tooth body seams, nor does it employ temperature masking to hide its infrared signature. In fact, its eye- searing hue is anything but inconspicuous. It is, however, as quiet as can be and blistering fast at attack speed. With a road-race sus-pension, it performs exceptionally well in a multitude of tasks.
Roger purchased this '90 5.0L Mustang in the fall of 2002, and it had already been modified with your basic bevy of bolt-on ordinance. It was good for 13.50s at 103 mph on the dragstrip, but the following spring brought a set of AFR 185cc cylinder heads, an Erson cam, a Trick Flow Street Heat intake manifold, and long-tube headers. Speed and power improved until the fall of 2003, when the oil pump called it quits on the way home from a car show.
With the engine coming out of the car, Roger embarked on a full restoration of the black Fox-body Mustang, starting with a custom paint job by Visual FX in Orange Park, Florida. He was hoping to have the car painted in Saleen's Beryllium Orange Metallic hue, but when Saleen wouldn't give up the color formula, Roger and Visual FX's Paul Holman came up with their own version using House Of Kolors Kandy Tangerine over a gold basecoat. Several coats of clear later, they achieved the desired result.
"Thankfully, I made it into the driveway before some serious metal-on-metal screeching and stalling let me know the engine wasn't happy," Roger says. An inspection of the 306-cube motor revealed some toasted main/crank bearings, two torched rods, and one bent valve. It also wiped out the camshaft.
The body of the GT was modified with a Cervini's Designs 3-inch cowl-induction fiberglass hood, a Saleen replica rear wing, and '93 Cobra ground effects. The front fenders were also changed to the wider '91-'93 versions. Holman logged more than 120 hours in the project, and while he was busy block-sanding the flanks and smoothing the engine bay, Roger was hard at work researching turbocharger systems for the 5.0 Mustang.
In December 2003, Roger ordered a Pro Turbo Kits 5.0L super-saver turbo system, and aided by his buddy Dave Pfister, installed the freshened 306 as well as the hairdryer and its accompanying components. HP Performance had the short-block machined for new bearings, replaced a couple of rods, and installed a Ford Racing Performance Parts E303 camshaft. To cope with the added heat under the hood from the turbocharged mill, Roger added a Lincoln VIII electric fan with DCC controller and a Ron Davis aluminum radiator. The Precision 67mm P-Trim turbocharger was connected to a Mental Addiction Motorsports (Mesa, Arizona) air-to-air intercooler, and vents its remaining combustion byproducts to a MagnaFlow exhaust system that does well to disguise the power beneath the hood.
The turbocharger pushes its intercooled atmosphere through a Pro-M 80mm mass air meter and past a 70mm throttle body. Matching the incoming air surge are 50lb/hr Delphi injectors that pull from aftermarket aluminum fuel rails and a pair of 255-lph fuel pumps, one in the tank and one external.
Finally, in the spring of 2005, Roger's ride was ready to hit the streets again. Before jumping on the throttle, though, he dropped by HP Performance in Orange Park, Florida, where Tony Gonyon plugged in an SCT chip and tuned the turbocharged powerplant for power and driveability.
"With a safe tune, I ran it at Gainesville to a 12.79 at 118 mph on drag radials," Roger says. "The car was a handful on the stock suspension, and the T5 was giving me fits as the heat from the turbo was killing the clutch cable. Dave talked me into an AOD, and I've never looked back."
Roger swapped out the original stick-shift transmission for an Art Carr-built, transbrake-equipped, AOD automatic, and coupled it to the engine with an Art Carr 9.5-inch torque converter with a 3,500-stall speed and SFI flexplate. He later pulled the trans back out for a rebuild and took the opportunity to drop off the Mustang at HP Performance for some rear-suspension upgrades.
While the front end employs a Griggs Racing tubular K-member, control arms, and a Koni coilover setup, the rear suspension uses UPR Products' adjustable upper and lower control arms with spherical rod ends for absolutely no slop. Eibach rear springs and Koni Yellow shocks keep the car stable at high speeds.
On the chassis dyno at HP Performance, the Tangerine filly spun the rollers to 417 rwhp and 415 lb-ft of torque. Roger wasn't overly impressed, as the five-speed turned out 426 hp, but Gonyon told him the power was there. It was just that the torque converter and automatic transmission weren't showing it. With the new AOD gearbox and a rear suspension that could rein in the tremendous torque, the stout little Mustang trekked back to Gainesville Raceway in Gainesville, Florida, and promptly laid down an 11.01 at 122 mph with Gonyon behind the wheel. Indeed, the power was there and then some.
The car ran a string of low-11-second elapsed times through 2007, and over the course of the year, Roger renovated the interior to his liking. This overhaul included a complete color change from gray to black, using Latemodel Restoration's door panels, headliner, and carpet. Corbeau CR1 bucket seats comfort the occupants, while a K Dezines rear-seat delete did away with the unusable rear seat. Roger modified the seat delete to accommodate the battery relocation, and he also installed sound deadening on the roof and interior panels to combat excessive noise and vibration. G-Force harnesses were attached to the Autopower six-point rollbar, and Roger installed a Painless Wiring ashtray switch panel for the transbrake and overdrive functions.
Roger and Dave also upgraded the Pony to five-lug axle specs using Lincoln rotors up front, and Moser 31-spline shafts with a Traction-Lok differential and girdle on the 8.8 axle. Weld Pro Star wheels were chosen for the five-lug upgrade and feature 15x3.5 rims up front and 15x10-inch hoops out back. Mickey Thompson front and rear rubber was selected as well. Roger has plans for a future upgrade to SN-95 rotors and rear disc brakes, and plans to use a set of black FR500 replica wheels with drag radials for street duty.
In April 2008, Roger entered the orange horse in the Pinks event at Gainesville Raceway, and while he wasn't chosen for the television show, the car did run a best-ever 10.73 at 124 mph while recording a 1.46 short time on its relatively road race-spec suspension.
Roger points to his family for getting him into the car hobby. "My dad had a '68 Camaro with a 327 when I was little, and while growing up, my Grandpa and Uncle Pat always had some type of project when I was around their house, be it a '68 Vette, a '62 pickup, or a '68 Mustang." While his family may have been into Chevys, Roger's passion for 5.0s developed while he was in college. "I came home for the summer, and a good friend of mine had bought an '88 Bimini Blue LX hatch. I've been hooked on the 5.0 since then."
Roger is quick to stand by those who stood by him throughout his automotive endeavors. "I'd like to thank God for blessing me with a hobby I love; my wife, Lisa; and sons Joshua, Aaron, and Christopher, who put up with my hopeless gearhead addiction," Roger says, "as well as my Mom and Dad, and my Grandfather Novaria and Uncle Pat for instilling in me a love for high-performance cars while growing up." Roger also thanks those who had a physical hand in the build, including Dave Pfister, Chris Whitehouse, Sean Knighton, Tony Gonyon, Jason Combs, and Paul Holman.
In a few short years, Roger has built himself a strike fighter capable of attacking on many fronts. The ordinance, a turbocharger, was no accidental choice as Roger is an aerospace engineer who works on the compressor section of the F-18 Hornet's jet turbine. Full speed ahead.