I made a huge mistake at Alex Gorbunov's feature shoot. No, I didn't get him arrested while doing a smoky burnout at an elementary school. (Been there, done that). Nor did I drop the camera on any of the coupe's original panels. Even the 5.0 hex that befalls many racers when we shoot their cars didn't take hold of his coupe. Alex made it back to his home in Land O' Lakes, Florida, without a hitch.
In fact, all went well with the photos. The huge mistake I made was actually driving Alex's coupe.
I haven't driven a Fox coupe since I drove my old '93 coupe to trade it for my current '94 Cobra. I've owned four Fox coupes, but I've been driving the SN-95 Cobra for a few years now. Driving Alex's coupe reminded me how loose and heavy my Cobra feels. Of course, Alex's Fox felt slower than my newly Coyote-powered Cobra. However, with its no-frills, lightweight, snug-as-a-bug-in-a-rug road manners, his coupe also reminded me why we love Foxes.
We love 'em because of all those reasons, but also, or men in their late 30s/early 40s, the Fox Mustang is the car we grew up wanting. If we couldn't afford one then, we're making up for lost time now. The Fox Mustang is definitely a generational car.
Furthermore, even though Mustang enthusiasts are from all over, the New York/New Jersey area was a hotbed of Mustang activity back in the Fox Mustang heyday. If you were into performance cars at that time, you knew the two cars to have were the 5.0 Mustang or a Grand National. Those were the hot cars. Corvettes were still for old guys, imports hadn't truly caught on yet, and, frankly, the Camaro couldn't compete at that time.
Alex was a high school senior in '92 and his family lived in New York City at that time. "If you were into 5.0 Mustangs or Grand Nationalsàthat was the place to be," he says. According to Alex, Mustangs and GNs were all over the place and in every flavor.
For Alex, his moment of clarity came one summer day as he rode down the Garden State Parkway in Jersey with his dad in the family '88 Lincoln Town Car. "There I was, rolling along, when a green Mustang coupe comes around us in the left lane," he explained. Since the car had painted moldings, Alex recognized it as a brand-new '92 model. Alex's ears alerted him of the coupe's addition of Flowmaster mufflers. The owner of said coupe had also outfitted it with chrome Pony wheels.
"It was dusk and the Emerald Green paint was picking up the colors of the setting sun in such a way that just mesmerized me," Alex says. "It was plain gorgeous!"
Back to reality, Alex's piggybank full of $4,500 wasn't even close to enough to bring home a new LX, therefore, he had to settle on an '87 Firebird Formula. Sure, it was a 350 car, but it wasn't the same. And as it did for all of us after high school, Alex's life hit fast-forward with a career, a wife, and kids.
"In between, I managed to own countless 5.0s and 4.6 Mustangs, along with Grand Nationals and multiple '60s and '70s Pony cars, but never an Emerald Green '92," Alex says. Up to that point, there were only two cars Alex had to find at some point. One was another Formula like his first car, and the other, more importantly, a '92 green coupe.
Alex looked long and hard for the perfect green coupe. As this author can attest, a search for the perfect Emerald Green coupe can lead you down dirt roads of desperation looking for "the one." With just 843 Deep Emerald green coupes built, according to Thomas Shriener and Peter Sessler's Fox-Body Mustang Recognition Guide 1979-1993, finding a nice example worthy of the vision from that day on the Garden State Parkway was going to be tougher than finding an honest politician.
Even though the Interwebs can be used for ill, Alex used it for good in the search for the ideal coupe. Good search engines and eBay expanded Alex's scope, allowing him to look across this great nation of ours. With most searches, the longer it drags out, the more desperate one gets. You'll take the closest thing to what you really want, and when that search turned up nothing but beaten coupes, Alex "settled" on a '91. "Out of a need to own a green coupe," Alex says, "I took the plunge on this one." Of course, the '91 had black moldings, and the '92s have painted moldings, but this particular '91 was an all- original, 45,000-mile car wearing its original tires. "Dry, but original," Alex says.
Alex brought the car home and began the planning process. As the picture came together for the car's transformation, parts started arrivingùbut hold up a second. It so happened that while on a business trip to Kansas City, Missouri, in the summer of 2008, Alex found his '92 coupe. "Did I already have a green coupe?" Alex asked. "Yes, and now I had two." However, the '92 had even fewer miles, with its odometer sitting at 29,000 miles, and was original as well. "Every plan I had made for the '91 was transferred over to the '92," Alex says. Though his garage was a bit green for a while, he sold the '91 and got to work on the '92.
"I wanted to build a car with classic style as it had to keep most of its original appeal," Alex explained. He didn't want to change anything on the inside, and he didn't want anything to detract from the coupe's simple exterior lines, either. No cowl hood or rear spoiler would ever be worn by this coupe. "It had to look clean on the outside," Alex added, "but be everything it could be under the covers."
That didn't just apply to the engine, Alex wanted the car to do everything well. He wanted the coupe to stop quick, turn sharp, ride comfortably, and stay reliable during Florida's intense summers. Not that I'm hatin' on the Fox body, but those are tall orders for our favorite Mustang body style. However, as I can attest, Alex's '92 green coupe is a perfect match for his childhood inspiration. Color us jealous.
5.0 Tech Specs
'92 5.0 LX
Engine and Drivetrain
FRPP F303 w/FRPP lifters
Trick Flow Twisted Wedge w/Fox Lake Power Products Stage II-ported, 2.02/1.60 valves, and FRPP 1.6-ratio roller rockers
Trick Flow StreetBurner
FRPP, K&N filter
BBK Performance 15?8-in long-tube headers w/BBK H-pipe, and Flowmaster after-cat exhaust
Stock T5 w/Centerforce Dual-Friction clutch, Pro-5.0 shifter, and FRPP aluminum driveshaft
Stock 8.8 w/Ford Explorer 31-spline differential, FRPP 31-spline axles, and 4.10 gears
MSD w/6AL box, Master Blaster coil; and FRPP spark plug wires
Stock w/column-mounted shift light
Chassis and Suspension
KYB AGX adjustable
FRPP M-2300-K 13-in five-lug disc brake conversion
Shocks KYB AGX adjustable
Springs Eibach Pro-Kit
Control Arms HPMotorsport adjustable uppers and lowers
Brakes FRPP M-2300-K 11.65-in five-lug disc brake conversion
Wheels Bullitt 17x9-in
The more the miles on a Fox...
The more the miles on a Fox Mustang, the less comfortable it is on the inside. The seat foam gets worn out, the driver seat develops that gangsta lean, and let’s not forget about the faulty ashtray door. No such issues with Alex’s car, thanks to its low miles. As such, “I was sure I wanted no changes at all inside the car,” Alex says. After all, you can’t go wrong with a plush interior, Fox-style. When it’s in such good shape, you leave it alone.
Alex’s goal was to make 300...
Alex’s goal was to make 300 hp at the wheels in naturally aspirated form. With an FRPP F303 cam, Trick Flow heads, and a GT-40 intake, the car made 299. Oh so close. Alex surpassed his horsepower goal by adding a Trick Flow StreetBurner intake, and making 315 hp and 305 lb-ft of torque. Having driven countless Fox Mustangs and knowing their “characteristics,” I was pleasantly surprised at the coupe’s well-mannered behavior. During my painfully short drive, the car didn’t stall, hunt for idle, or surge. The temp stayed low, but not as low as the cold air from the A/C vents.