Tony Syracuse (left) and Mark Gattallaro (right) have hard-running, near-stock 5.0 Mustang
If you own a new 5.0 Mustang, it can be tough to sort though all the trick-of-the-week stuff that's available for these cars. We understand this because, in most cases, we've seen these parts in action. Some work as promised, and some of them should have been left on the design-room floor. With that in mind, we wanted to take a look at a pair of street cars that have been subtly built up to the point where the owners have gone a bit beyond the casual hobbyist.
Tony Syracuse and Mark Gattellaro are two average guys with realistic budgets who want to get the most out of their 5.0 Mustangs. No, these aren't 10-second street cars that launch on the back bumper. These guys have assembled a pair of 5.0 cars with respectable performance achieved through hard work and creativity instead of cubic dollars. Tony and Mark have both put a precedence on keeping their cars reliable and streetable, and they run them only on street tires.
In both cases, you can see an emphasis on making the stock 5.0 breathe with better intake and exhaust systems. Then they've added some hook with street tires and appropriate gearing to get all that power into the confines of their closest quarter-mile track. Both of these cars are regularly street driven in the Rochester, New York, area. And both these guys are regulars at the MOM's (Mustang On Mustang) shootout series.
An engineer during the day, Tony built this car precisely and exhaustively since he bought it new in 1989. He supplied us with an Excel spreadsheet detailing every run (all 306 of them), every modification (all $3,605 worth), and what each part did for the 5.0 Mustang's performance. The cheap stuff that really adds to the bottom line includes removing the factory intake silencer; adding a K&N air filter; installing a short belt to bypass the power-hungry engine accessories; removing the spare tire, padding, and jack for the trunk area; running 40 psi in the front tires to reduce rolling resistance; running 13 degrees of initial timing; bolting on underdrive pulleys; and plugging the EGR vacuum line to cool the intake charge. The incoming air has been hastened by a Pro-M 75mm mass air, a 70mm throttle body, and an Edelbrock Performer 5.0 intake. Tony has spent quite a bit of time porting his stock heads, and he has actually become somewhat of a local authority on the matter. His best pass on street tires has been a 13.41/103.2.
Tony's AOD hatch regularly knocks down 20 mpg with all the factory conveniences in place. Repainted in 1995 by Rodney Mitchell, the hatch is as stock as it looks, with only Weld rims added for decreased rolling mass. Tony has spent a great deal of time working out the right transmission package for his combination. He settled on a B&M shift-improvement kit, a 10-inch TCI torque converter, a Ford Racing Performance Parts aluminum driveshaft, and 3.73 gears. A typical short time of 1.90 seconds was made possible by Mega Bite Jr. lower control arms.