Not many of us can say that we still have our first Mustang, but La Jolla, California's Charles Weller is one of the few who can. Nearly 20 years after driving it off the dealership lot, Chuck's Mustang looks as good, if not better than the day it rolled off the assembly line, and it runs a little harder now too.
"In high school I started a computer consulting business," recalls Chuck. "I got involved in computers at a young age (self-taught), and I started building computer systems and networks, along with tutoring users before I was even of legal age to drive a car-my dad would drive me to jobs. It was this business that allowed me to save money, and with the help of my parents, put enough money together to buy my Mustang during my last year of high school."
Chuck also drove his faithful steed every day to college at the University of California at San Diego. When it was time to go to law school, he finally was able to retire it from daily driver status and make it his weekend thrill ride.
As with most 5.0L enthusiasts, Charles modified his Mustang with the usual bolt-ons. Having grown up in San Jose, California, Chuck tells us that the best speed shop in town was Charlie's Mustangs, a group of hard-core road racers that would often take Chuck to the track with them.
"I remember one particular time on a hot August day in 1995, we were flying around Sears Point in my buddy's supercharged road-race Fox-body Mustang. (This buddy happened to be one of the guys who also worked at Charlie's.) He had an S-trim Vortech with a full Griggs Racing suspension and big Wilwood brakes on all four corners. I was amazed at the level of grip the car had and the overall acceleration we experienced around the track. After that day, I was completely hooked," says Chuck.
Chuck tells MM&FF that he still has the videotape that was recorded from the roll bar of said Mustang that day. "Flying around a track for a full twenty minutes at full kill beats going down a dragstrip for just 9 or 10 seconds at a time any day of the week. It's a pure adrenaline rush," exclaims Chuck. That's also how Chuck was introduced to Griggs Racing. From then on, it was all about the corners, from Sears Point, to the Auto Club Roval, to Willow Springs Raceway.
With help from Brian King of Runamok Racing, Chuck upgraded his Mustang with Griggs Racing's GR40 suspension and chassis components. The front suspension consists of Griggs' tubular K-member and A-arms, and Koni coilover shocks and springs. At the stern, Griggs' torque arm, panhard bar, and World Challenge control arms locate the 8.8-inch rear axle, which has been fortified with a DPI Racing Products Platinum Track differential, 31-spline shafts, and cryogenically-treated 3.55:1 ring and pinion gears.
Chuck had a local chassis shop handle the chassis stiffening, which consists of a Griggs Racing World Challenge frame kit, cut and welded into the floor of the car. Supplemental Global West subframe connectors were also installed and tie into the Griggs frame kit.
Obviously, improving the braking potential of the Fox-body would be paramount if Chuck was to dice it up on the road course, and to that end, a Griggs 4on4 brake system was installed. The system features a quartet of four-piston calipers, as well as 13-inch front rotors and 12-inch discs out back. The 17x9 front and 17x10 Cobra R rims fit without any issues. Yokohama AO32R rubber in size 255/50/17 works quite well when it comes to exercising the Mustang's lateral grip-Mickey Thompson drag radials are employed these days, though, as the Mustang has been known to light the road race rubber up in Fourth gear.
With the chassis and suspension sorted out, Chuck spent a number of years figuring out the best engine combination.
"I did the usual bolt-ons and put on a Powerdyne supercharger, followed by a Vortech S-trim," recalls Chuck. Engine displacement increased at one point to 317 ci, and then to 351 cubes of Windsor power. Chuck tried a couple of 351 setups, including a high-compression, naturally aspirated one, but it was hard to beat the added thrust that comes from a power adder.
In August of 2004, Chuck endured a major set back when a fuel-rail bracket broke under boost. "The car turned into an instant fireball." The insurance company said it was a total loss, but Chuck not only had a significant amount of money invested, there was also a personal 12-year relationship with the Mustang, which could not be replaced.