To fuel his hobby, James moved...
To fuel his hobby, James moved from solider (1994-2004) to working for vendors in Iraq and Afghanistan. He managed his builds from overseas.
James Draughn was a sergeant in the military, but in his civilian duties, he's still packing major firepower in his garage. James' stable includes a '93 LX coupe with 404 rwhp and an '08 GT500 Shelby with an incredible 724 rwhp. Better yet, both cars run on 93-octane pump gas. He is gearing the latter "for the mile," and the former, dubbed by his builder Chris Carroll as "The Nasty Little Coupe," will be his "quarter-miler." Carroll has come up with a name for the Shelby, too. "Pretty Insane" is an accurate description of this Shelby.
Actually, running the standing mile can be beyond pretty insane in ultra-high-performance cars. Shifting gears in a street-legal ride until the speedo approaches 200 mph is not for the feint of heart. No stranger to danger, James didn't hesitate. He drove his Shelby from the Houston environs southwest to Goliad, Texas, to compete.
James modified the shifter...
James modified the shifter on his Shelby to reflect his feelings when hitting Sixth gear in the standing mile. Going 200 mph would dredge up these thoughts: First, Second, Third, Fourth, Fifth, and Holy Shit.
"I did two runs. The first run I was highly apprehensive. I was nervous as hell: I'm not even going to lie. The whole idea of going that fast in a Mustang, I expected to be bouncing all over the road," James explained. "Much to my surprise, I eased it out, I didn't launch it hard or anything, I even had a problem with Third gear. I went out the back door at 174 and change. The car was pinned to the ground like you wouldn't believe. I would love to give the thumbs up to Ford and what they did with that car because I truly expected to be all over the road in a Mustang."
The real drama came on the second run. With his right foot to the floor in Fifth gear at about the three-quarter mark and the tach at six grand, James heard a "horrendous pop." "I looked up in the rear-view mirror expecting to see smoke and parts going everywhere, and I lifted," James said. He coasted across the finish line at 163 mph.
What was the pop? Some people think he hit the rev limiter. Others think it was a backfire. The good news is that the car is fine. He passed on future runs because he drove the vehicle there from Houston, but he will return with the car on a trailer next March when his current tour of duty (with a contractor) in Afghanistan runs out. He has no doubt his GT500 can hit 200 mph in the mile.
The LX is James' quarter-miler....
The LX is James' quarter-miler. The goal was reliable horsepower in the 400-rwhp range in a fun street ride. True Forged wheels provide the sole exterior bling.
We first met James at Mustang Week in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. He drove his Grabber Orange GT500 to the event. We arranged to shoot the Shelby and its companion LX on our next trip to Houston. First, James pulled off a tour of duty with KBR to Iraq. "The whole idea was obviously I was going to make some good money," James said. "However, I believe in supporting the military, and for every civilian, that is one extra soldier you don't have to have over there."
After 10 years in the army, from 1994 to 2004, James has become a valuable civilian in service to contractors assisting the military overseas. Remuneration gives him the means to build some hot Mustangs.
"It's kind of funny. The other thing I was able to experience is that the amount of contractors in the Mustang community is crazy," James added. "I've met some of my really good trustworthy car friends from out there."
Everybody seems to really...
Everybody seems to really like the Honda Green Tea from the CR-V, James said. Perhaps this is because the color is even more subdued on the LX body style.
While overseas, James' parents found a '93 LX coupe for sale on the side of the road. He gave them the go-ahead to pay the $2,700 to purchase the coupe, originally an automatic 5.0 H.O. On his return, James got the build going. "It was running, but definitely a project car," he said. "The motor crapped out when they pulled it into Slater's Auto Works in Humble, Texas. Chris Carroll went to work on the engine."
The car had rear-end collision damage, so James chose Phil Bauman Paint & Body, also in Humble, to do this work. He admits he relies on the shops to do the mods and says he is an annoying customer. He orchestrates the projects by "popping money" into them. He credits the shops for taking pictures and video to send overseas for progress reports.
The Boss 347 delivers 404...
The Boss 347 delivers 404 hp to the rear wheels. James can boost this figure by 150 with a shot of nitrous. Torque is 375 lb-ft max and 572 "when we sprayed it." James has since added a Hellion single turbo, which boosted the Fox beyond 700 rwhp before it asked for a new engine.
The LX recipe was simple: 400 rwhp in a fast street car with amenities like A/C and heat. James knew Chris Carroll as a formidable racer and builder in the area. Boring and stroking a Ford Racing Boss 302 block, Chris built a naturally aspirated 347 with "good compression (10.6:1), a decent cam (custom grind), and good heads (AFR 205s)."
Chris calls this 347 "a proven combination that we've done several times" and one that "seems to be the one making the numbers." The build met James' horsepower expectations, as the dyno showed 404 to the rear wheels and 375 lb-ft of torque. Chris says this power makes the LX a solid 11-second quarter-mile car, say 11.40s, and low 10s on nitrous. "With the 150-shot, we made a hair over 520 and 542 on torque," he added.
James restored the interior...
James restored the interior to stock. The TKO 600 five-speed manual mixes a set of 4.10 gears and a Traction-Lok in an 8.8-inch rear axle.
The full specifications on the LX reveal a highly customized '93 model. Yet, the car still looks like a vintage LX. Meanwhile, the Shelby is virtually a stock ride except for "monstrous" power and the few suspension upgrades. "When they were putting the [turbocharger] kit on, I had them put on the BMR rear adjustable suspension components-the lower control arms and the Panhard bar," James said.
The Shelby gets its awesome power from the stock supercharged 5.4, compound-boosted by Hellion's twin 61mm turbos with intercooler and supporting mods. "I opted to keep the blower on," James said. "A lot of people argue to take the blower off, but with the turbos feeding into a supercharger, the car is a monster." Meanwhile, the whir and purr of the 5.4 at idle is misleading. "You drive that car and don't put your foot in it, it's just like driving a stock GT500," James elaborated.
"I had been watching the market...
"I had been watching the market forever," James said of his search for a new Shelby GT500. New Shelbys sold for more than sticker. James was patient and got a good deal on a new GT500 in Grabber Orange, the color he wanted. James got to work modifying the Shelby right away. He said, "Within 700 miles I had already put a pulley on it, tuned it, did the intake, and put a C&L on it. And the car was great, it was fun, but...
Both cars are in a constant of upgrading. James calls them "ongoing goals." He just might get as much fun planning and dreaming of what the next mods might be as he does from lighting the firepower at his disposal today. He's already talking about a T76 Hellion turbo kit with a tubular K-member on the LX, and he's trying to decide whether or not to go to coilovers all around on the Shelby ...
5.0 Tech Specs
'93 Mustang LX
Engine and Drivetrain
Block Ford Racing Boss 302
Crankshaft Eagle chrome-moly
Rods Eagle chrome-moly H-beam
Pistons Probe forged
Camshafts Custom grind (trade secret)
Power Adder NX Nitrous Kit, 150 shot
Cylinder Heads AFR 205
Intake Manifold Edelbrock EFI Spyder w/Pro-M mass air, 70mm Professional Products throttle body
Exhaust BBK 1 3/4-in long-tube headers, MAC Prochamber (modified), DynoMax mufflers dumped over the rearend
Transmission TKO-600 with SPEC Stage III clutch and FRPP aluminum driveshaft
Rearend 8.8-inch w/4.10 FRPP gears with a 31-spline Traction-Lok and Moser 31-spline axles
What's a Hellion compound-boosted...
What's a Hellion compound-boosted Shelby GT500 without a set of True Forged Chicane wheels? They measure 20x9 in front and 20x10 in the rear. James plans a return to the Texas Mile in Goliead, Texas, in his Shelby GT500. He said, "There is no doubt in my mind that as the car sits it can pull 200 mph."
MSD Digital 6
Chassis and Suspension
Struts Lakewood 70/30s
Brakes Baer Brakes, 13-in rotors
Wheels True Forged Victory, 18x7-in
Tires Nitto 235/35-18
Brakes Baer Brakes, 12-inch rotors
Wheels True Forged Victory, 18x10.5-in
Tires Nitto 305/35-18
5.0 Tech Specs
'08 Shelby GT500
Engine and Drivetrain
James wanted more power for...
James wanted more power for his Shelby, and turned to Hellion Power Systems for more boost. "We slapped that turbo kit on there-twin 61mm turbos-and made monstrous power," he said.
Cracked forged-steel I-beams
Hellion Turbo Systems twin 61mm turbos with intercooler, Abaco DBX MAF, stock Eaton supercharger
Stock with 80-lb/hr fuel injectors
Stock cast-iron manifolds with no mufflers
Stock TR-6060 six-speed manual
Stock 8.8-inch with 3.31 Traction-Lok
Ignition Stock coil-on-plug
Chassis and Suspension
The Shelby retains the stock...
The Shelby retains the stock GT500 interior with a few notable exceptions.
Stock, modified with BMR adjustable upper and lower control arms and Panhard bar
Reverse-L independent MacPherson strut
Brembo 14-in vented and crossdrilled disc
True Forged Chicane, 20x9-in
BMR lowering springs
Baer Brakes, 12-in rotors
True Forged Chicane, 20x10-in