It began innocently enough. When Scott Connor spotted the forlorn '90 notchback on a dealer's back lot, all the Archdale, North Carolina, resident had in mind for it was use as a daily driver and occasional quarter-miler. With this car on the street, he could keep the mileage down on the cherished trio of low-mileage '93 Cobras sitting prettily in his garage. The well-used 5.0 in question had two flat tires, holes in its mufflers, 123,000 miles on the clock, and a $3,200 price tag. "In my eyes, this small purchase of a little black coupe would be the perfect street/strip toy I needed to keep me from hurting something expensive," Scott says.
Imagine that--a Mustang guy motivated by sound economic principles. That couldn't last long.
Now, Scott has a friend named Rob Coble who, to us, sounds like the little devil sitting on Scott's shoulder, whispering bad things in his ear. It seems Rob not only tunes Scott's Mustangs, but he also suggests little ideas to--uh, improve them. "Not long after its purchase," Scott admits, "we had installed an intake, a throttle body, a mass air, a radiator, an electric fan, pulleys, gears, a shifter, a clutch, an aluminum driveshaft, a fuel pump and regulator, Weld wheels, and a 175-horse shot of NOS." Scott's daily driver was suddenly running consistent 11.70s with its stock bottom end, heads, cam, injectors, and drivetrain.
With a 125k long-block, the 5.0 should have been living on borrowed time. Yet, try as he might, all Scott managed to break was the oil-pump shaft. To fix it, he and Rob had to pull the motor, which inevitably got the duo thinking about what they could do to go even quicker--with their sights suddenly set on Super Street Outlaw. And there went any remaining hope of fiscal responsibility... Scott tells us how he and Rob agreed to become a team. "A partnership was formed and a budget was set. And then the budget was blown out of the water."
So it goes in the search for speed, but at least they found some, showing up at the '99 World Ford Challenge with a brawny, carbureted 417-inch Windsor, built by Rob, which went 8.96 seconds on only its third nitrous pass, launching on a stock rear suspension. This was encouraging, but the pair knew there was more work to be done. In preparation for the Y2K season, the car received a ladder-bar suspension and was stripped of some excess weight. Originally a hefty 3,120 pounds with Scott at the wheel, the coupe was pared down to around 2,920 over the winter.
The goal of being in the top 10 in NMRA Outlaw points was not realized last year. "The car has been there sometimes," Scott says about the 2000 season, "but other times we've been chasing our tails." Basically, they were plagued by just about every possible new-car gremlin. Scott even had the brake-pedal pushrod snap at the beginning of the year. "I'm glad it broke on the starting line and not at 150-plus miles per hour," he says. Conversely, the engine itself has proven virtually bulletproof, losing only one piston all season--something of a record for a nitrous car.
In the final 2000 points round in Bowling Green, the brightly plumed Outlaw (the airbrushing alone took more than a week to apply) made its best pass of the season--8.57 at 161 mph. With Job Spetter Jr. posting 7-second runs at the same event, the Connor/Coble car wouldn't have been a serious threat even if it hadn't broken on the second qualifying run.
Just the same, Scott and Rob remain optimistic--first of all because they went in fully expecting 2000 to be a learning season and, more significantly, because their big Windsor has so far been ingesting only a single stage of nitrous. For 2001, the addition of a second stage of giggle gas, plus a Moroso crankcase evacuation pump, should team with the car's competitive 1.25-second 60-foot times for some impressive e.t.'s. Scott's goal for 2001? "I want to be the first nitrous car in the sevens."
Oh, and what of the three show-worthy '93 Cobras Scott originally sought to preserve by his original purchase of this car? He sold them all to help defray the costs of turning his cheap street driver into a Super Street Outlaw. We told you his original economic good intentions couldn't last.
Horse Sense: NMRAs 2000 rule book set a minimum weight (car and driver at end of run) of 2,800 pounds for a small-block Outlaw with a single power adder. In Scott Connor and Rob Cobles case, penalties of 50 pounds each were added for its ladder-bar suspension and small-block larger than 361 ci.