Eric English
January 15, 2014

You might call Dennis Chandler a consummate go-fast guy. Not one to be pigeonholed into a particular genre or brand, Dennis seems to pretty well appreciate anything with four wheels and a muscular mentality. To the point, over the last 50 years he's owned both pre-war and post-war street rods, Chevys and Fords, vintage and modern musclecars, and a slew of small-blocks and big-blocks. In short, Dennis has experienced a wide swath of the high-performance world, and relished it all.

With the above as background, it comes as no surprise that such an enthusiast would react to the newest wave of high-tech FoMoCo V-8s with a big embrace. How big? Well, witness the '92 notch seen here as an indication.

Dennis explains that he's owned this particular Fox Mustang since 1995, when he bought the virgin Deep Emerald Green two-door with a scant 20,000 ticks on the clock. Never a fan of the automatic or stock nature of the pushrod 5.0-liter that came delivered from Dearborn, Dennis was slow to act on a plan that at one time called for a stroker 351 and five-speed swap—he says too many project cars will do that to a guy. In this case, it's a good thing, for when Ford's Coyote 5.0 arrived on the scene, Dennis had yet to turn a wrench under the hood of the '92.

"It's kinda funny" muses Dennis, "My initial intention for the new 5.0-liter was to put one in my '32 Ford pickup, but after purchasing a crate engine at the end of 2010, I was sort of overtaken by the idea of swapping it into the '92." Easier said than done of course, though the great thing about this swap compared to some vintage chassis is that the high-tech Coyote is a bolt-in—as in no cutting required. However, as anyone savvy to modern engine swaps would know, bolt-in in this instance isn't as simplistic as shoehorning a 460 into a '79 Mustang. Dennis recognized these realities, and despite considerable skills and experience spinning wrenches himself, he turned the project over to Brad Siebold and company at Brad's Custom Auto in mid-2011.

From the outset, both owner and shop shared a similar vision for the end result. Dennis wanted a powerful Fox Mustang that would look and function as if the Coyote were factory. As such, quality work and craftsmanship were a must. The crew at Brad's were equally enamored by the concept, and eager to discover how to overcome a litany of obstacles that would be encountered along the way. Ace technician Brian Holsten would lead the effort, and took care of the easy part—the physical engine swap—within hours of Dennis dropping off the car and engine at Brad's Seattle-based digs. We stumbled across the original-paint notch a few days later, when Brad and Brian trailered it to a local show for display. Even though it was far from finished, the car made quite a splash, and we committed to tracking the project through completion.

As already mentioned, bolting the Coyote into the chassis was the easy part, in large part thanks to Maximum Motorsports' modular-swap K-member for '79-'95s. With the new 5.0 sharing the same motor mount configuration as earlier 4.6 modulars, the Maximum piece is a perfect perch. Brian found that installing the K-member with Maximum's ½-inch spacer kit allowed the Coyote to sit low enough to clear the stock hood, and coincidentally yielded a near perfect 2.5-degree driveshaft angle.

Using a Kenny Brown sway bar with SN95-style ends enabled Brian to remove the factory Fox sway-bar brackets on the front subframe, creating room to lift the entire K-frame/engine/headers/trans assembly into the chassis from below. Given the proper equipment, this technique is far easier and time efficient than working from the top. Said headers are BBK's Coyote swap long-tubes, and work like a charm.

The appeal of Coyote/Fox interbreeding is undeniable, and the result is a car that simply begs to be driven and enjoyed.

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Alterations to the braking system provided clearance for the new DOHC 5.0, but Dennis clearly went above and beyond in this arena. Running big-by-large four-wheel Wilwoods isn't specifically required, though some kind of upgrade is surely prudent. No matter the choice, the stock Fox power-brake booster has to go; it would quite logically be replaced by a Hydraboost system in most situations. In this case however, Dennis wanted to go old school with full manual control, opting for a conversion kit from Maximum Motorsports.

A number of other hardware components are necessary to complete a Coyote swap on a Fox, some of which were accomplished with a Ron Davis aluminum radiator and S&R Performance power steering pump kit. Other companies offer a variety of swap products, and just during the course of this build through the winter of 2011-2012, a number of high-quality components have hit the market. Of course, the real challenges are in the electronics integration—the black arts, if you will—which is where Dennis believes Brian's work shines particularly bright.

An FRPP Control Pack is really just the beginning to getting the car up on its own feet, to which Brian added a custom SCT tune. The Control Pack did the trick, but was lacking in its ability to accommodate accessories such as A/C and cruise control due to its analog configuration; it's likely better oriented toward the vintage swap market. Brad and Brian figure this is an area that will be addressed by the aftermarket in time, and yet during our shoot, Brian had everything up and functioning as intended—save for the cruise control. He has a fix for that figured out too, but it's a matter of twisting the '92 free from Dennis's tight grip now that he's had a chance to spend some time behind the wheel.

Not to be overshadowed by the impressive engine swap, the remainder of the drivetrain is plenty impressive as well. If you're thinking overbuilt, let's just say Dennis has experienced enough parts breakage through the years to want things bulletproof. Besides, who knows if a supercharger might be in his future? To that end, backing the modern 5.0 is a Tremec Magnum six-speed manual with Centerforce DYAD dual disc clutch, and further arrears, a highly modified 9-inch.

We asked Dennis what he thought of the finished product shortly after his first extended drives last summer. "It's above and beyond my expectations. The power and balance is just phenomenal. It's simply not the same car I dropped off at the shop." After spending some time around the '92 ourselves, that's just the kind of response we anticipated.

The appeal of Coyote/Fox interbreeding is undeniable, and the result is a car that simply begs to be driven and enjoyed. Considering that Dennis has rolled just 1,000 miles a year on the odometer since purchasing his notch 17 years ago, we predict that rate of accumulation is about to accelerate—quickly!

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Tech Specs: 1992 5.0 Lx

Engine and Drivetrain

Block: Stock Coyote aluminum, 3.629-in bore (M-6007-M50)
Crankshaft: Stock Coyote, 3.647-in
Rods: Stock Coyote
Pistons: Stock Coyote
Camshafts: Stock Coyote
Cylinder heads: Stock Coyote
Intake manifold: Stock Coyote
Fuel system: Aeromotive 340 Stealth w/ adjustable regulator, -6 lines, stock fuel rails, stock 32.8-lb/hr injectors, and 22-gallon Fuel Safe cell
Exhaust: BBK 13⁄4-in metallic-ceramic-coated swap full-length headers, BBK 3-in X-pipe with cats, and 21/2-in Magnaflow mufflers and stainless after-cat
Transmission: Tremec T56 Magnum six-speed w/ Centerforce DYAD twin-disc clutch, aluminum flywheel, Quick Time scattershield, and D&D sourced crossmember, and an Inland Empire 31⁄2-in aluminum driveshaft
Rearend: Ford 9-in housing modified by Dennis Chandler and Bill Scribner w/ big-bearing/Torino ends, Moser aluminum case, Moser 31-spline axles, Detroit Locker diff, and 3.89 gears

Electronics

Engine management: Ford Racing Control Pack w/SCT tune
Ignition: Stock
Gauges: Stock

Suspension and Chassis

Front suspension
K-member: Maximum Motorsports MMKM-2.1
A-arms: Maximum Motorsports
Struts: Edelbrock IAS
Springs: MM/Hypercoil coilover
Brakes: Wilwood 13-in six-piston w/ stainless lines, Wilwood combination proportioning valve (260-11179), and Maximum Motorsports manual brake conversion/master cylinder
Wheels: Enkei PF-01, 18x8.5-in
Tires: BFG KDW2, 235/40ZR-18

Rear suspension
Shocks: Edelbrock IAS
Springs: H&R
Control Arms: Edelbrock adjustable uppers w/ Steeda billet lowers
Brakes: Wilwood four-piston calipers w/ 12.19-in rotors
Wheels: Enkei PF-01, 18x10.5-in
Tires: BFG KDW2, 295/35ZR-18

Horse Sense: Owner Dennis Chandler was surprised by the improved front to rear weight balance of the car as a result of the Coyote swap. Formerly a 60/40 split in stock form, the car is now 56/44 thanks to the 444-pound Coyote, tubular front suspension, and trunk-mounted battery. Dennis says the resulting driving dynamic is like night and day.