As one would expect, the mounting locations of the suspension points aren't exactly stock, but what remains relatively untouched is the 8.8 rear that's had the axle tubes welded and filled with FRPP 4.30 gears, a spool, and connected to an aluminum driveshaft that spins the Race Star drag wheels.
"We focused on removing weight, so a custom rear subfloor allowed us to mount the fuel cell and the associated fueling components, while simultaneously dropping weight and helping us sneak under 3,100 pounds without the driver," Drew Wallace of AED said.
We can all agree that racing with a convertible just isn't the norm since they tend to weigh more than coupes, exhibit serious chassis flex, and require a ton of additional safety equipment.
"We commissioned a local chassis shop to build the 8.50-spec chrome-moly cage so that it not only allowed Don to race in any class, but it preserved the functioning factory top. Don's been known to drop the top in the burnout box," says Wallace. If you got it, flaunt it, right?
Life inside this tidy New Edge is as clean as the exterior thanks to a Kirkey Racing seat, a B&M ratcheting shifter, and functioning A/C. With the stick still in place, Jones was able to wheel the 'vert to deep 10s.
"The car ran as fast as 10.38 at 134 mph when it was a stick. It was a ton of fun and fast on the big end, but it wasn't consistent, and consistency is key in bracket racing," Jones says.
So another trip to AED resulted in a C4 swap—actually, several swaps, until they found a bulletproof C4 from Mike's Transmission in Lancaster, California, with a manual valvebody and a 5,200-rpm Spec Rite stall converter.
After the transmission woes were solved, the next pieces to go were a handful of stock intake manifolds. "The plastic stock units aren't known for their strength under boost, and we exploded three before I was able to reinforce the last," Wallace said.
The transmission combo might have knocked power to 540 hp at the wheels from the 605hp stick numbers at the same 15 psi, but the car was consistently running 10.30s and pulling the wheels like a Boss.
When that still wasn't enough to run in the 10.60-class during the heat of summer, AED added more mods aimed at maximizing the Two-Valve's efficiency. American Racing long-tubes joined the party, along with an Edelbrock Victor Jr. lower intake manifold, a 4140 intake elbow, and an Accufab 75mm throttle body. The final piece of the pie was good ol' E85 corn oil for consistency and value. The result: 10.18 at 132 on a 1.39 60-foot in 100-degree summer heat. That means when the cold weather hits, they're going to struggle to keep it out of the single digits.
"I know a ton of people look at me like I'm crazy because the car could easily run 9s with a few more mods, but that's when things get complicated. I love running in D-Gas and the ET Summit Pro Series," Jones says. And enjoy it he does, as the car has seen upwards of 750 passes and dozens of worn-out slicks since it was built just a few short years ago.
"It's a family thing. That's why my plate says, 'Peg Thanks'—not only because I believe every car should have a name, but also because I wanted to thank my wife and family for everything. Without them, nothing is possible," Jones said.
While some search for every last ounce of power and e.t., others spend countless hours crafting a car that will make them competitive in a certain class because, like Don Jones, they simply love the thrill of racing.
"Now that I've been racing for the past few years I can't imagine life without it, I just wished I'd met the AED crew and bought my Mustang earlier."
Hats off to you for doing something you love, Don. If only everyone could be so lucky.