To say hot rodding is a family affair would be putting it lightly. For generations, automotive knowledge and mechanical know-how have been passed down from parent to child as each generation of horsepower-fed youth has come of age. One of the largest hotbeds for horsepower legacies is the Motor City. Detroit and the surrounding suburbs are home to many of the designers, engineers, and assembly-line workers who churned out the cars we know and love today.
Matt Stals was raised in the shadow of the "Big Three" just outside of Detroit. His father, Jerry Stals, was a veteran of Ford Motor Company's engineering department for over 25 years, and even had a hand in the 5.0L of the '80s and 4.6L modular motors of the late '90s. Coming of age in the 5.0L's heyday, it's no wonder Matt has forged a love for the Mustang.
"I remember sitting in the garage for hours watching my dad work on his car," Matt tells us. "He was a drag racer for most of his life, and we would always be at the track on the weekends. When I was a senior in high school, I got my first Mustang. It was an '86 notchback with a four-cylinder. We spent the next year or so converting it to a V-8 with a five-speed and an 8.8-inch rearend."
Over time, Matt made lots of go-fast modifications to his four-eyed coupe. Aftermarket cylinder heads, an aggressive camshaft, and long-tube headers added to the fun factor of the little Fox.
"It was a great car!" exclaims Matt. "I regret selling it." But it was not Matt's only Stang. Over the years, Matt has also owned a '95 GT and a '98 Cobra convertible.
Matt and his family now reside in Land O' Lakes, Florida. When the time came to start a new project, Matt decided to keep the SN-95 theme going. An AutoTrader ad netted Matt a Chrome Yellow '98 Mustang. Though this SN-95 started life as a V-6 Pony, a previous owner removed the six-shooter and lowered a nitrous-fed, carbureted, 331ci pushrod mill between the fenders. The bullet was backed by an automatic and could routinely knock out 10-second passes on the 1,320-but it wasn't enough.
"My plan was to pull the motor to make a few changes and clean up the engine bay," Matt adds. "I was going to add a set of aluminum heads, and while the engine was out, I decided to add more cubic inches. I was thinking about a 347, but after pricing out stroker kits, I felt the cost difference to go with a stroked Windsor was worth it."
With the plan set to build a 351-based stroker powerplant, Matt acquired all of the needed components, and with the help of his father, began the process. The basis for Matt's Windsor is a 351 block from Ford Racing Performance Parts. CNC Motorsports in Brookings, South Dakota, handled the machining work, and once the block was ready to go, assembly began.
An Eagle forged-steel crankshaft uses forged Eagle H-beam rods to raise and lower the JE pistons that fill the bores. The combination of the 4.030-inch bore and 4.00-inch stroke give this Windsor a total displacement of 408 ci. The 6.7L combination is topped off with AFR 225 Race Outlaw aluminum cylinder heads. The out-of-the-box heads allow the JE pistons to produce 10.0:1 compression, making the combination perfect for the street and the strip. A Crane solid-roller camshaft sets the 1.6 crane roller rockers into motion, which actuate the 2.08-inch intake valves and 1.60-inch exhaust valves.
Induction comes in the form of an Edelbrock Super Victor single-plane intake manifold. The mixture of air and fuel is handled by an 850-cfm Demon carburetor. Under the carb rests a dual-stage nitrous system from NOS. Two nitrous and two fuel solenoids deliver 500 extra horsepower, split equally between both stages. A Holley Blue fuel pump feeds the carb the 6.5 psi of fuel pressure, while an Aeromotive pump adds the extra fuel for both stages of nitrous. Dual Aeromotive fuel pressure regulators keep the pressure under control for the engine and nitrous system.
Once the air/fuel mixture flows through the stroked Windsor, the spent exhaust gases exit the engine via a set of 17/8-inch Kooks long-tube headers. A custom X-style mid-pipe and one-chamber Flowmasters complete the exhaust system and add to the symphony of horsepower heard from the pipes.
Power is transferred to a Pro-shifted Tremec HD gearbox through a Spec clutch. A BBK shifter handles the selection of the Liberty gears inside the transmission, and an aluminum driveshaft drives the 4.56 gears in the 8.8-inch rearend housing. Power is distributed to both rear wheels by an Auburn differential with the help of 31-spline Moser axles. Nitto 555R drag radials mounted on 15x10-inch Weld wheels handle traction on the street and strip.
The rear of Matt's SN-95 is held up by BBK springs with adjustable QA1 shocks cushioning the ride. South Side Machine rear control arms keep the rearend housing straight under hard acceleration, and a QA1 antiroll bar prevents excessive body roll. Up front, a QA1 K-member keeps the engine in place and helps shed a few unwanted pounds. The nose is supported by stock springs; Lakewood Drag Shocks assist with weight transfer. The sway bar has been removed, and a Flaming River manual steering rack keeps the car pointed in the right direction.
The exterior of Matt's yellow steed has also seen some upgrades. A 5-inch Harwood cowl-induction hood gives the carburetor plenty of room to breathe easy. An Ed Quay sheetmetal spoiler rests on the deck lid and adds an ultra-aggressive look to the rear of the SN-95.
"This has been a project that went much further than I originally planned," Matt says. "I think what I ended up with is a very streetable car that will be very successful at the track."
Even though Matt Stals may not have followed in his father engineering footsteps, the love of horsepower and the Pony car was given from father to son. Working hand-in-hand with his father, Matt Stals keeps the Ford performance legacy alive and well.