In the wee hours of a cool March morning, Randy Seward slipped behind the wheel of his 1,000-plus horsepower '91 coupe, and drove it from Orlando, Florida, 496 miles to Atlanta Dragway in Commerce, Georgia. In Commerce, he easily handled the MM&FF True Street 30-mile road tour and then ripped to a sick 8.891-second average.
Ok, I gave away the climax, and yes, I realize that's taboo, but there's much more to this tale so I implore you to read on.
Randy's hot-rod story begins in 1973, in his hometown of Miami. At 18, he bought his first muscle car-a '70 Cougar with a 351C. "It wasn't very fast; I remember my first run down the strip at the now-defunct Miami-Hollywood Speedway, where it ran a 16.33 at a whopping 88 mph." He eventually got the puma into the 14.40s. Unfortunately, the Cougar got totaled, so he bought a '70 Mach 1 with a 351. It wasn't long before he had the 351 yanked and a 428CJ in its place. It then ran a best of 13.29 at 108 mph.
When Randy left for college in 1976, his parents negotiated getting something more economical. Randy sold the Mach 1 and ended up with a Pinto. Two months later, it was 302-powered and running 13s. He drove it for about 10 years during college and while in the U.S. Air Force. While stationed in North Carolina, Randy experimented with nitrous oxide, but the Pinto "spun like crazy." Nevertheless, it did manage to run a 12.78 at 108, according to Randy.
By 1992, Randy was married and had collected all the parts to build his next project-another '70 Cougar. Plans included a 427ci side-oiler and a turbo. By this time, though, Fox-body Mustangs were all the rage. Randy bought his wife a new car and took her four-cylinder '85 coupe in order to build a street/strip twin-turbo 5-liter. "I basically hand-fabricated everything on the turbo system, including the stainless steel exhaust system and the inlet tubing," Randy recalls.
The coupe featured Trick Flow Specialties high-port heads, a GT-40 intake, a custom camshaft, twin Garrett T-4s, a C-4, and a Moser 9-inch with 3.25:1 gears. After tuning the engine using exhaust gas temperature (EGT) readings and e.t.'s alone, the four-eyed notch ran 10.72 at 132 mph and was completely streetable. That was 1994, mind you!
Randy even made an appearance at DeSoto Speedway (now Bradenton Motorsports Park) in the spring of 1994 at the Fun Ford Weekend event to compete in True Street. Later that year, though, Randy's coupe was stolen. "I went outside one Monday morning, and the car was gone. I was in shock and disbelief," Randy tells us. After months of investigation, Randy found bits and pieces of the now-stripped coupe. He recovered his intercooler, rearend housing, transmission, driveshaft, and rear wheels. For the next 13 years, what was left of the car sat idle in Randy's garage.
But in 2007, something snapped. "I don't really remember what triggered it, but I decided I was going to build another Mustang. I started hunting for a coupe, and eventually ended up buying a four-cylinder Calypso Green coupe with a body in decent shape for $1,800 from someone on eBay Motors.
"Since I planned to make serious power and wanted something that could take the abuse, I decided to build the motor from scratch using aftermarket components," Randy says. He built a 363ci Windsor using a Dart block, CP pistons, and Prime 1 rods and crankshaft. Randy modified the stock oil pan to accept a Melling high-volume oil pump and extended sump. He contacted Comp Cams for a custom camshaft that features 294/290 degrees of duration and 0.615/0.610-inch lift. He topped the short-block with Trick Flow Specialties high-port aluminum heads, built by Champion Racing Heads in Palm Coast, Florida.
The Windsor mates to an FB Transmissions' (Long Island, New York) AOD, complete with a Performance Torque Converters' 2,800-rpm stall converter. It feeds a custom aluminum driveshaft and the old 9-inch rearend that Randy recovered from what was left of his '85. Leaving the setup naturally aspirated, Randy took the coupe to the dragstrip. "I originally had the car running without the turbos. The strategy for this was that I needed to learn how to tune the engine with the Haltech system and get a feel for the car." It ran a 12.98 on its first pass and as quick as 12.15 at 112 mph before Randy added the turbos.
In order to meet his goal of low 9s, Randy installed twin 62mm turbos and designed a second fuel system. "The stock tank feeds 30-lb/hr injectors in the stock location. The second system is a five-gallon fuel cell in the trunk that feeds eight 95-lb/hr injectors installed in the upper intake. The car normally cruises around with 93-octane in the regular tank, but when the engine goes above 3 pounds of boost, the second set of injectors kicks in and uses 112-octane fuel." This is the key component that allows Randy to drive his coupe just about anywhere he wants.
"The first pass with the turbos (set on 5 pounds of boost), produced an 11.23 at 123 mph. After that, the track owner asked me to get the car's safety equipment installed," Randy recalls. He called up TRZ Motorsports to install the rollcage, subframe connectors, and safety net. "TRZ did a fantastic job installing the chromoly cage-it fits so perfectly that all the interior components can be removed and reinstalled around it." Randy recently returned to TRZ for the installation of a mini-tub to make room for 30-inch-tall 295/65-15 M/T drag radials.
This past spring, Randy won MM&FF's Tremec True Street at this year's Spring Break Shootout (SBS), held at the NMRA event. At that time, he told us of this plan to drive to Commerce, Georgia, to compete in True Street there. Naturally, we laid down the proverbial gauntlet: "If you drive to Commerce and run True Street, we'll ride along and document it."
Georgia On Our Mind
Before we knew it we had a plan. Randy and I met in Orlando and were on the road to Georgia. We made the nearly 500-mile trip, stopping only for gas. In Saturday's True Street competition, Randy ran an 8.85, an 8.87, and 8.94. Though not enough for the win, he took home the runner-up prize with an average of 8.891. His subdued LX (it does have a stock hood and tail pipes) performed as designed and turned a lot of heads in the process.
With rain in the forecast for Sunday, we hit the road Saturday after the True Street awards ceremony. With his luggage in the back seat and no chase vehicle, Randy completed the last leg of his 1,000-mile round-trip without a hitch.
"The car drives very much like most Fox-body Mustangs. It idles smoothly, and with the overdrive and 3.25 gears, it gets almost 20 mpg on the highway. I would like to thank Jay at Real Street, Mike and Fred Brown at FB Transmissions, Ronnie Crawford, and Mike and Todd Braasch at TRZ Motorsports for their help and support."
For the record, the coupe has run 8.64 at 159 mph (with a 1.289 short time)-it did so at the 2010 SBS. How much power does it make? Since it has never been on a chassis dyno, Randy estimates about 1,000 rwhp.
Randy isn't finished, though. "My plans are to continue to engineer things and make some minor changes to make it faster. How fast is a secret right now, but I intend to keep it on the street and drive it to the track."
We can only guess, but Randy may drive it over 1,100 miles to Milan, Michigan, and run low-8s. Sounds like another road trip is in order.