Some things you just can’t live down. The one time where you saw a Maverick and said, “That looks pretty good.” Suddenly, everyone thinks you love every Maverick, which is not the case. Then you take out a couple Cervini’s Cobra R bumpers, no big deal, right?! No one’s going to remember that! Well, you’re wrong... way wrong.
Ronnie’s Custom Paint and...
Ronnie’s Custom Paint and Body repainted the car black, but added blue pearl to give it a different look. Ronnie’s also smoothed the shock towers, custom-built a new firewall. The body is host to new weatherstrips and door handles, a Cervini’s heat extractor hood, a Steeda Autosports rear wing, a ’93 Cobra rear bumper, and factory Saleen ground effects. It is, after all, a real Saleen. The Tig-Vision–mini-tubbed rear helps house Weld RT 17x12 wheels wrapped in M&H Racemaster tires, while 17x4 Weld RTs ride up front with M&H Front Runners.
Everyone has something they wish they could take back, whether it’s an action or a statement. It could be as simple as a song you played for the Associate Editor of a Mustang magazine during said magazine’s biggest competition of the year.
That is Sergio Rojas’ cross to bear. During the ’09 King of the Street competition, Sergio wanted to show the range of his Saleen’s audio system. The song he chose...”Owner of a Lonely Heart” by Yes. Those of you under 40 can YouTube it.
I know the song because two of my older brothers were Yes fans. At the time of this writing, Sergio is 41, so he fits the demographic. Did the song show his Saleen’s auditory magic? Sure it did— but Yes? Really, Sergio? So the song has a strong mix of highs and lows, we get it. There are a million other songs that would’ve got the job done, but then we wouldn’t be talking about it now, would we?
Don’t think we’re the only one picking on Sergio for his musical taste, either. Since he’s a fixture at Power by the Hour in Boynton Beach, Florida, whenever we’re down there for a tech article, Sergio always comes up as the guy that played that song at KOTS. Sergio won’t ever live that down. However, we can all have a good laugh about it.
Fortunately for Sergio, we not only remember Sergio’s Saleen for that song, we remember the car because as you can see, it’s unbelievable.
Sergio’s story starts way back in 1991 when he purchased his first Mustang, an ’89 GT. Coming out of an Oldsmobile Cutlass with a Rocket 350, the GT seemed to lack a bit of torque. Sergio’s buddy, and 5.0&SF feature alum Kevin Dunn, helped point Sergio in the right direction with the addition of some exhaust components, a cold-air kit, a ported mass air meter, and pulleys.
“Just enough to get into the low 13s,” Sergio said. “Well, for good or for bad, here I am, six Mustangs later, owning the same platform in pursuit of Fox-body perfection.”
With that first GT, Sergio ended up in the low 11s with a heads/cam/intake combo on the spray. In 1995, that was pretty impressive, but after working hard on the GT to get it to that point, Sergio switched gears to a Honda Civic to see how the responsible and economical half live. Like everyone reading this magazine, Sergio found that way of life wasn’t for him.
Fast forward to 1999, Sergio purchased this Fox Saleen. Like his former GT, he went the heads/cam/intake route with the spray. That is, until 2005 when he bought a D.S.S. 331 crate engine and strapped a Vortech YSi supercharger to it.
“The nasty whine of that YSi blower through Flowmasters and the smell of C16 is like crack for Fox Mustang fans,” Sergio says. He says of all the combinations he’s run in any of his Fox Mustangs, the Vortech YSi garnered the most attention. “All that being said, it became noisy after about two hours of driving, quickly losing its cool factor for me.”
Something else that wasn’t cool was when Sergio got beat by a homely young punk with glasses in a green ’97 Cobra in 2006. “I couldn’t believe it, so we stopped and talked for a while,” Sergio says. The punk in the Cobra was Power by the Hour’s Jake Long, and his Cobra had a turbocharged, Four-Valve combo under the hood. Sergio still believed a turbo was kinda “ricer,” but after Jake gave him a ride, Sergio quickly changed his tune. “I was hooked,” he said.
Sergio acknowledges Mustang...
Sergio acknowledges Mustang Performance Racing’s Tim Eichorn as the only person who’s “built me something that can take over 23 pounds of boost without pushing out a drop of coolant.” With a Borg-Warner race series 80mm single turbo on E85, the 331ci combination is capable of pounding out over 900 ponies at the wheels. Sergio’s car spent much quality time at Power by the Hour during the conversion from supercharged to turbocharged power.
After that ride, plans were put into place to switch over to turbocharged power, and the swap took place at Power by the Hour. Around that time we also caught wind of not only Sergio's car, but Jake's car, and another Power by the Hour car in Diego Castro's '00 GT. All three competed in the 2009 King of the Street competition, and all three had, you guessed it, turbos. "I earned a fifth-place finish, and probably would've ranked higher if not for my musical selection during the Ride and Drive portion," Sergio contends. We didn't hold his musical choice against him, but it was good for a laugh for sure.
Anyway, Sergio says competing in the King of the Street was a learning experience for him and his Saleen. The turbocharged combo made 767 horsepower at the wheels on pump gas and meth-injection, but unfortunately, like Jake's Cobra, he hurt the transmission on the dyno, which severely impacted his quarter-mile times. In preparation for the KOTS, Sergio had run a best of 9.70 at 143 mph, but the hurt tranny relegated the car to an 11.2 at 104 mph. That was just using First and Second gear. Furthermore, we don't think Sergio enjoyed our commentary on his Saleen's loose door handles, tight-fitting seats, and the fact we thought it could use a couple hundred more horsepower.
Licking his chops after the KOTS competition, he drove the car for about a year before an abnormal leakdown test signaled a wounded engine. "I decided to pull the engine and have it freshened-up," Sergio says. "This is where I lost my mind." What was supposed to be a simple engine refresh turned into a full redo.
On the inside much has changed...
On the inside much has changed with Sergio’s Saleen. The original door panels and dash remain, but that’s the extent of original equipment. The seats are custom, the factory gauges have been swapped for white-face unit, and supplemented with Auto Meter Phantom series gauges. Though it doesn’t impede entry or exit, a Tig-Vision cage was added for chassis stiffness and safety.
The paint was around 9 years old at the time, and Sergio wanted something different. The car was torn down to a bare shell before he turned to Ronnie's Custom Paint and Body, who built a custom firewall, smoothed the shock towers, and re-routed brake lines, engine wiring, and power steering lines. Sergio also replaced various weatherstripping, window motors, and even those door handles we frowned upon. Ronnie then repainted the car black, but with a blue pearl to give a different look.
While all this exterior stuff was going on, Mustang Performance Racing's Tim Eichorn was busy building the engine with components from Dart, Eagle, Diamond Racing, Bullet Racing Cams, AirFlow Research, and Edelbrock, just to name a few. Tim upped the compression ratio to 9.3:1, as well, while Sergio upgraded the turbo to a Borg-Warner race series 80mm unit. Tig-Vision narrowed the factory 8.8 and added other chassis upgrades, like mini-tubbing the rear for big meats.
To finish addressing the car's needs, Sergio finally focused in on the interior, adding custom reclining "roomier seats for us big boys." The proper word is "husky," Sergio -- who you callin' big?
Speaking of husky, Sergio's Saleen now makes a more-than-respectful 900 hp at the wheels, has cold A/C, power windows, power steering, and cruises 75 mph at 2,000 rpm. "It is what I consider Fox perfection." Yes, we would agree, Sergio. 5.0
Horse Sense: Ask anyone in the South Florida area who does great 'cage work, and we'll bet Tig Vision is on the list. The company installed the rollcage, subframe connectors, Battle Boxes, and mini-tubs, and narrowed the 8.8 in Sergio's Saleen. Tig Vision [(561) 281-2827; www.tigvisionwelding.com] is located in West Palm Beach, Florida.
In preparation for the KOTS, Sergio had run a best of 9.70 at 143 mph, but the hurt tranny relegated the car to an 11.2 at 104 mph
- Dart Iron Eagle
- Eagle 3.25-in stroker
- Diamond Racing
- Bullet Racing hydraulic roller w/ Comp Cams lifters
- Cylinder heads
- AirFlow Research 205 w/ Total Engine Airflow-ported, Crane Gold roller rockers, and Pacoloy valvesprings Intake manifold Extrude Honed Edelbrock Performer RPM II w/ Accufab 75mm throttle body
- Power Adder
- Borg-Warner 80mm single-turbo w/ custom intercooler
- Fuel system
- Magnafuel 750 fuel pump w/ Custom fuel rails and lines, Bosch 100-lb/hr fuel injectors
- Power by the Hour-custom headers and Y-pipe w/ Magnaflow after-cat exhaust
- 4R70W w/ FTI 3,400-rpm stall converter
- 8.8 w/ Eaton differential, FRPP 3.55 gear, and Moser Engineering 31-spline axles
- Engine management
- MegaSquirt 2
- MSD Digital-6 w/ MSD Hy-Fire coil, Firecore spark plug wires, and NGK spark plugs
- Auto Meter Phantom series
Suspension and Chassis
- Front suspension
- UPR Products
- UPR Products
- Struts QA1
- UPR Products coilover
- ’03 Cobra
- Weld RT 17x4-in
- M&H Front Runner
- Rear suspension
- Shocks QA1
- Control Arms
- Tig Vision custom w/ Maximum Motorsports antiroll bar
- ’03 Cobra
- Weld RT 17x12-in w/Champion Beadlocks
- M&H Racemaster 325/45-17