Some Melvin purists claim...
Some Melvin purists claim that our esteemed tech editor ruined a rare T-top coupe-the nerve of him! He took a basket case coupe and turned it into an incredible street/strip Fox Rod that sets a standard for future projects in these pages and beyond. If you think this Mustang is ruined, you might want to find a new hobby. In case you're wondering, the cowl hood is from Cervini's Auto Designs. When KJ parks the coupe at Bob's Big Boy, there's no ugly prop rod in the way of all that engine, thanks to Redline Tuning hood struts.
Horse Sense: KJ likes to tell us that his car was finished-as you see it here-in less than 11 months. It's an impressive feat, no doubt. But we all know that you're never really done with a project car until you sell it. That said, expect to see further stories on KJ's coupe. Next on the horizon is a custom installation by K Dezines Audio of a Sony Giga-Panel head unit with Scosche amps and speakers. Even big-power street cars need tunes.
We've heard it all before. Everyone wants to get his or her project car featured in a magazine. This one's different though. Tech Editor KJ Jones was getting close to wrapping up the saga of his T-top coupe project and asked when we could shoot the finished product for the magazine. At first I bristled: This was unheard of. We'd had our project cars on the cover, but we never really featured them in the magazine. As I thought about it longer, it seemed a lot less like bragging and much more of a natural progression of the project car thread, so thank KJ for knocking me out of a rut.
Even more than making us think about finished project cars in a different way, KJ made us think about finishing project cars. True, they're never completely finished, but getting project cars to a stage that could be called "finished" is a relatively unheard of concept in magazine land. Between the constant deadlines, the inevitable fitment issues that come with a custom car, and those parts you forgot you needed, it can take a while to put one of these radical rides together, even if it's your job. Just ask Associate Editor Johnson.
It didn't take KJ long to get in the game. Even he knows that any tech editor worth his toolbox has to have a project car. After coming into the 5.0&SF fold, it didn't take long for him to find one. It wasn't just any car, however. He found an '86 5.0 LX coupe with T-tops. Now, '86 5.0 LXs are hard to find, but one with T-tops? That has to be off the charts. I'd never actually seen one until KJ found his, and I've been around a lot of Fox Mustangs in my years-I didn't believe it existed. KJ stumbled across it on an Internet message board, and after a few e-mails, he had an empty trailer in tow on the way to pick up what would we would call "The T-top Coupe." "I really dig the fact that before I started building this car, there was little awareness that T-top coupes even existed," KJ says.
Once he took possession of the car, KJ was a man possessed. He formed a plan to build a street/strip monster that could compete in the grueling Hot Rod Drag Week competition. That gave him about 10 months to take a rough Fox and turn it into a drop-dead Fox Rod. This is a ridiculous timetable for a magazine project. Only SEMA display cars and Overhaulin' participants are built quicker-but they don't go on Drag Week. Sadly, KJ got down to crunch time and decided to finish the car without cutting any corners, missing last year's competition. Hope springs eternal for a future appearance.
Still, KJ got the car to this level in 11 months, and it wasn't just a bolt-on project. If you followed along, you know several parts used on the T-top coupe were created specifically for Fox 'Stangs. "Many friends have said this T-top coupe is my 'dream Mustang' that has become a reality," KJ says. "It is in a way, but it's more so a 'Stang that I built with other hard-core, old-school Fox Mustang enthusiasts in mind. This project pioneered new technology for '79-'93 Mustangs, namely the FAB9 rearend and JBA 131/44-inch headers for AFR 205s. It was really cool to have major companies believe in it and support it in such ways."
From the response the car received at its Knott's Berry Farm public unveiling and the "Best in Class ('79-'93 coupe/hatchback)" first-place award it received at another SoCal all-Ford show, we'd say the hardcore Fox fans KJ had in mind appreciate his efforts. It's time for him to begin a new project and see if he can top this one.
KJ had Autobadges.com create...
KJ had Autobadges.com create these badges based on our logo. He also requested that the molds be destroyed after making them. That's right, there are only a few of these in existence, and you can't order your own. As such, he's currently waiting to see if Editor Turner's Fox 500 is cool enough to "earn" one.
Don't even ask about the wheels....
Don't even ask about the wheels. KJ waited months to get these 17-inch Weld Alumastars, and sadly, there doesn't seem to be any definitive information about their current or future availability. Originally designed for Mustang Cobras and their 13-inch front brakes, these rims were selected by KJ because they're "the hotness." He has plenty of brake clearance thanks to the compact, light, and effective 10.75-inch Wilwood Dynalite stoppers. Mark Bohlen of Bent Custom Plumbing & Sheetmetal artfully plumbed the whole system.
Crowned by a Paxton Novi 2000...
Crowned by a Paxton Novi 2000 pullied for 18 or so psi is a 347-inch masterpiece created by Jeff Henry at Keith Craft Racing Engines. Based on the foundation of a Ford Racing Performance Parts R302 block bored out to 4.125 inches, the engine is filled with a Scat crank and rods, SRP pistons, and a massive Comp Cams rumble stick. With a thunderous 0.608/0.612 inches of intake/exhaust lift and 0.236/0.245 degrees of duration at 0.050 and 114 degrees of lobe separation, this cam will wake the neighborhood and rev to 7,000 rpm while still retaining a driveable personality. A pair of Air Flow Research 205cc cylinder heads and a Holley SysteMAX II intake manifold complete the combo. Fast Intentions custom-bent the supercharger's inlet and outlet tubing.
Clean is just about the only...
Clean is just about the only way you can describe the lines of a Fox coupe, so why mess with success? KJ commissioned John's Customz & Performance for the bodywork repairs and several coats of Auto Air Colors waterbased paint. Riding on its strip combination of Weld Alumastars, Hoosier fronts, and sticky Mickey rears, the T-top coupe has the stance. From the rear, you can see the clean lines of the AlumaStealth fuel tank from Rick's Hot Rod Shop. This tank provides an internal mounting for an Aeromotive A1000 fuel pump, which not only hides it from view, but keeps it running quiet and cool.
KJ isn't a fan of the glovebox....
KJ isn't a fan of the glovebox. Why throw a few maps and a tire gauge in there when that space can more efficiently serve as a mount for your FAST XFI system? And we bet you noticed that little badge. Looks sweet, doesn't it?
Eschewing more street gear...
Eschewing more street gear for a clean, racy aesthetic, KJ mounted the MSD Digital Programmable 7 where you might find a parking brake handle. Not only does it look race-car cool here, all the adjustments are easily within reach, making on-the-fly tuning a breeze. The knob poking out where the parking brake used to be is a flashlight, in case KJ needs some nighttime illumination in the cabin while he's cruising the streets of L.A.
This cluster from Florida...
This cluster from Florida 5.0 allowed KJ to utilize the stock location to mount a full array of Auto Meter Sport Comp II instruments. KJ opted for boost, voltage, water temperature, speedometer, tachometer, oil pressure, fuel pressure, air/fuel ratio, and fuel level. You can also catch a glimpse of the Grant wheel here. It's attached using the company's antitheft gear, so the wheel can be removed, making the car more difficult to steal.
Juxtaposing a resto-mod stock...
Juxtaposing a resto-mod stock aesthetic of later-model LX seats, recovered by Oscar Barrera using Latemodel Restoration Supply's upholstery kit, the interior is contained by a 10-point, T-top-specific rollcage from Chris Alston Chassisworks. This 'cage adds additional safety and security by bolstering the open roof with multiple bars. The steering wheel is by Grant and is affixed to a Flaming River tilt column. The gauges are from Auto Meter, and they reside in a Florida 5.0 cluster. G-force five-point harnesses and a Stroud window net keep KJ safe at the track.
There's no junk in KJ's trunk,...
There's no junk in KJ's trunk, only a Moroso battery box housing an Optima Yellow Top Spiral Cell battery. One item that hasn't shown up yet-and we stress yet-is a Nitrous Express nitrous kit. KJ has a thing for the juice, so we wouldn't be surprised to see him give in to temptation like Lindsey Lohan at an after-party.
KJ wasn't kidding when he...
KJ wasn't kidding when he said this car was built primarily on Sundays so it wouldn't interfere with his day-to-day magazine duties or Saturday honey-dos. Of course, he didn't do it all alone. Many of those days, his co-conspirator was Saul "The Surgeon" Gutierrez. Sure, Saul got some fame for Extreme Automotive [(818) 883-8184], but we have to think he had serious love for this project to get him over to the shop on Sundays-while his wife was at home pregnant-especially when Grandpa Jones gets moving at 3 a.m. Though she didn't spin any wrenches, KJ's wife Crystal supported the whole project by putting up with his antics.
ENGINE AND DRIVETRAIN
Scat forged-steel 9000 series
4.4-in Scat 4340 H-beam
SRP forged aluminum
Comp Cams hydraulic w/Comp Pro Magnum hydraulic-roller lifters, beehive springs, magnum 1.6:1 roller rockers
Holley SysteMAX II
Rick's Hot Rod Shop AlumaStealth fuel tank; Aeromotive A1000, fuel rails, fuel-pressure regulator; RC Engineering 650cc
JBA 131/44-inch stainless headers, X-shape crossover, high-flow catalytic converters, stainless mufflers and turndowns
Performance Automatic Super Comp AODE w/Precision Industries 3,500-stall converter, B&M Hammer shifter, BMR Fabrication driveshaft
Chris Alston Chassisworks Fab9 w/Detroit Locker differential, Strange 4.30 and 35-spline axles
MSD Digital 7 Programmable w/HVC Pro Power II coil and NGK BKR 6E
Auto Meter Sport Comp II in Florida 5.0 cluster
SUSPENSION AND CHASSIS
KW Inox Variant 3 coilovers
KW 170 lb/in
10.75-in Wilwood Dynalite Pro Series w/Racecraft manual brake kit
Street: 17x9-in AmercanMuscle.com GT 500-style
Strip: 17x4.5-in Weld Racing Alumastar
Street: 235/45ZR-17 Nitto NT 555
Strip: 26x7.5-in Hoosier
Chris Alston's Chassisworks antiroll bar
VariShock Quick-Set 1 double-adjustable
VariCoil 150 lb/in coilover springs
Chris Alston's Chassiworks upper and lower
12.19-in Wilwood Dynalite Pro Series
Street: 17x9-in AmericanMuscle.com GT 500-style
Strip: 17x9.25-in Weld Racing Alumastar
Street: 275/40ZR-17 Nitto Drag Radials
Strip: 275/40-17 Mickey Thompson ET Street Radials
Chris Alston Chassisworks 10-point T-top-specific rollcage and Maximum Motorsports full-length subframe connectors