Read the magazines, talk to owners at car shows, or interview any open-track driver, and you'll hear a version of the oldest story in Mustanging: "I bought it as a street car, added some parts, and here we are at the racetrack."
Street, parts, track-new to old, it's the natural progression, and exactly the way Paul Mashouf and his '94 GT found themselves broken against a concrete wall at Laguna Seca. One of them made it, the other didn't, but the ride they had together was one for the ages.
Paul ordered his GT in November 1993 after reviewing the Camaros and the new SN-95-bodied Mustangs at the San Francisco Bay-area auto show. He figured the Camaros had the edge in the powertrain, but they had "a GM interior." He also knew a Camaro would be squeaking and rattling within a year.
Taking delivery in January 1994, Paul sported the newest Mustang around, which was enough to carry him for maybe four months, when he began adding parts. Living in the hill country around San Francisco, Paul recognized his Mustang's weakest area was in its suspension, so he bought a complete Saleen suspension and bolted it on. He also noted JBA had Shorty headers for his car almost immediately, so he added those, along with a throttle body and an MSD ignition.
In the course of three years, Paul wore through three different street-oriented suspension packages. Having just read an article about Griggs Racing and its replacement suspension system, he knew deep down that the track-engineered Griggs torque arm, Panhard bar, K-member, control arms, and associated pieces were what he needed to survive the severe duty he was dishing out. That, and white-knuckle, rainy-day track events had proven something other than bolt-on parts were needed to balance a Mustang for the knife-edged performance he was looking for.
While the cost of the Griggs gear was daunting, Paul recognized he had already spent nearly as much on bolt-ons, and there was no need to do it again and still have it not work. With Griggs Racing in nearby Sonoma, it was easy for him to stop by and take a test ride in the company's demonstrator coupe-a ride that clinched any doubts Paul may have had. This was in late 1997, when his daily driver GT had 117,000 miles on it. Knowing that Griggs was the place, Paul simply left his Mustang and picked it up a month later with it wearing a complete GR40 suspension.
Now living on the peninsula just south of San Francisco, Paul reveled in blasting his newly sharp-handling GT over some of the same roads used in the movie Bullitt. It turned out this twisty road work showed the chassis was willing, but the stock, 215hp '94 5.0 was weak. So Paul went back to Bruce Griggs to talk horsepower-engine building is a relatively unknown strength of Griggs Racing.
After kicking the idea around for a month, Paul and Bruce decided the best combination would be a high-torque, moderate-revving stroker Windsor. Using a Ford Racing Performance Parts Sportsman block, Griggs built an 11:1 compression, 5,500-rpm 408 for what Paul now realized would be his play car. He had been driving even harder with the Griggs suspension, and beating up the car with constant use, so he obtained another car for daily duty.
The 408 used good components for durability. An Eagle crank and rods, Ross pistons, Trick Flow Track heads, a Trick Flow intake manifold, a 262 Comp hydraulic-roller and full Comp valvetrain, ARP bolts, and a Canton road racing pan all went in. The crank, rods, and block were all cryogenically stress-relieved, and while no one can say the cryo treatment is the reason, this engine did last through three and a half years of relentless, pounding street, open-track, and autocross use. All told, the 408 and its supporting hardware produced 390 hp and 416 lb-ft of torque at the rear tires using pump gas-fully 360 lb-ft of torque was on hand at just 2,000 rpm.