1991 Ford Mustang LX Hatchback - Running Wild - Project Roadkill
It's Been A Long Time Coming, But Project Roadkill Moves Under Its Own Power
From the December, 2010 issue of 5.0 Mustang & Super Fords
By Michael Johnson
Photography by Michael Johnson
Here's Roadkill sitting on...
Here's Roadkill sitting on all fours at MV Performance. The wheels are American Muscle GT4 wrapped in Falken treads. You can see the Cervini's Stalker/'93 Cobra ground effects, and new front fenders from Year One. The fenders are genuine Ford, so we have no worries there as far as corrosion/collision concerns. Roadkill's body was fairly straight before it arrived at MV, and thankfully, it has remained so. It will just need minor straightening once it reaches the paint stage of the build.
It's been quite a while since we've given you an update on our long-running Project Roadkill. Many of you have most likely never heard of it, and 5.0&SF veterans have probably forgotten about it. Well, we haven't forgotten, and it's time to move this car from the back-burner to the front and turn up the heat.
To refresh your memory, Roadkill is a '91 LX hatch, turned '93 Cobra look-a-like using Cervini's Auto Designs' Stalker/'93 Cobra ground-effects package. Carrying Roadkill's Cobra persona even further is a '96-'98 Four-Valve engine under the hood, urged by a Vortech T-Trim supercharger. We're itching to get this car done and on the road. It's been a long time coming, and we're starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Hopefully, it's not a train coming in our direction.
Roadkill has been at MV Performance for a few years now, and in between working on race and street cars, the MV crew accomplished the majority of the mechanical upgrades on the car. However, the next step in its journey to roadworthiness is a trip to a JMS Chip and Performance is Lucedale, Mississippi. We have some new ideas for the car to bring that dream to reality, but for now, let's catch up on the current state of affairs.
Roadkill's engine is based...
Roadkill's engine is based around a '96-'98 Cobra Four-Valve engine. The engine's B heads were treated to a Fox Lake Power Products port and polish job, and feature stock cams. Rebuilt by MV's Tim Matherly, the bottom end features a 0.020-inch overbore resulting in 283 ci of displacement. The intake is stock, but Tim cleaned it up before installing it. The engine's crown jewel is a polished Vortech T-Trim. Vortech's aftercooler will go between the supercharger and the throttle body to cool the air charge. The reservoir will sit in place of the battery, which has been relocated to the trunk.
We're using a complete Bassani...
We're using a complete Bassani Xhaust (www.bassani.com
) system from front to back on Roadkill. The headers are mid-lengths joined to an X-shape crossover between and backed up by an after-cat. This system features chrome tips peeking out from under the Cervini's '93 Cobra rear bumper cover. To work with our unique combination, the headers and X-shape crossover are designed for a '96-'98 Cobra, but the after-cat is for a Fox Mustang.
A big proponent of Ram Clutches,...
A big proponent of Ram Clutches, Tim outfits Project Roadkill accordingly with a Ram VDS clutch and aluminum flywheel. Ram's VDS clutch is designed to maintain holding capacity throughout the clutch's life. Tim uses this same clutch in his NMRA Real Street race car so we know it will last in Roadkill. During our brief experiences on MV's Mustang Dynamometer, the clutch felt like stock, which is one of the features of the VDS clutch.
After leaving MV Performance, Project Roadkill's new residence is JMS Chip and Performance in Lucedale, Mississippi, for the next phase of its rebirth. JMS was started by SCT's Chris Johnson, and he still oversees operations on a regular basis.
Though MV did handle Roadkill's transformation up to this point, there is still much to be done. With JMS' expertise, Roadkill is going to receive a Mach 1 wiring harness [sourced from JMS and MPS Auto Salvage (www.mpsautosalvage.com)] and PCM (from Joe Charles), a new Weldon fuel pump, a new Optima battery, and the like. Roadkill's seating surfaces will be upgraded by TMI Products, and JMS will be sending the seats out to TMI for rejuvenation.
The plan for Roadkill while at JMS is to get the car running so assorted driveability issues can be sorted out, a new heater core and evaporator installed, a custom rollcage, and paint. Of course, Roadkill will also be tuned while at JMS. We're super-psyched to get the car done, and trust JMS to come through with an excellent product we'll be proud to drive.
For long-legged performance,...
For long-legged performance, we chose a Tremec '03-'04 Cobra-style T56 behind the Four-Valve-besides, a six-speed is just cool. Tim bolted the bellhousing to the engine, and then the transmission to the bellhousing. MV relocated the transmission crossmember rearward to mate to the T56 transmission mount, then welded it into its new place.
Tim and MV's Bart Tobener...
Tim and MV's Bart Tobener use this jig with the K-member, engine, and transmission already set up. Then the car is lowered and the K-member bolted in place, along with the transmission mount. Up front, Roadkill utilizes a QA-1 tubular K-member, front control arms, and coilover struts. Also, the car will use a '96-'98 Cobra hydraboost system and rack-and-pinion steering setup. As you can see, Roadkill will scrub off speed with Baer clamps front and rear.
Out back a Currie Enterprises...
Out back a Currie Enterprises (www.currieenterprises.com
) 9-inch rear handle's Roadkill's might. It's supported with the company's upper and lower control arms, QA-1 rear shocks, and a pair of Eibach springs. Currie not only built the rear, we also sent them the Baer (www.baer.com
) brakes to install before leaving its facility. When the rear arrived at MV, the only thing it needed was fluid before being bolted in. Roadkill's sheetmetal fuel tank is from Behind Bars Race Cars (www.behindbarsracecars.com
), and features stock-style support straps. The fuel tank features a rear sump, which will be ideal for the car's return-style fuel system.
Speaking of fuel, Roadkill...
Speaking of fuel, Roadkill will sport a Weldon Racing (www.weldonracing.com
) fuel system, including the pump, regulator, and filter. Here is shown Weldon's 2035 fuel pump, which is the same pump Tim uses on his NMRA Real Street. We knew it would be loud since it's externally mounted, but not that loud. With it installed, we either needed to forego a stereo system or install a concert-hall PA so we could be able to hear it over the pump. However, Weldon recently came out with a more street-friendly 1100-A fuel pump, so that will be in place by the time the car is fully operational. The Weldon 1100-A is good for up to 1,200 hp, which should be plenty for Roadkill.
Here is the engine, all buttoned...
Here is the engine, all buttoned up. In this form, the car ran, but it was temperamental. It features an Electromotive TEC-II engine management system (www.electromotive-inc.com
), which was new to MV's Tim Matherly. Our plan is to go with a Mach 1 engine harness and computer for more familiar stock-style electronics, the aforementioned Weldon 1100-A fuel pump, and a new Optima battery. We hope these additions will enable JMS Chip and Performance to take the reins and get the car 100-percent operational.
Roadkill's interior is still...
Roadkill's interior is still a work in progress. We have some ideas for seating and a non-obtrusive rollcage, but one completed aspect is the gauges. Auto Meter supplied us with its Nexus line of gauges, and they're simply awesome in function. You can change their color, and they feature a full-sweep start-up function. The gauges reside in a custom dash cluster from JME Enterprises (www.jmeenterprises.com
), who also installed and set up the Auto Meter Nexus gauges. The JME cluster with the Auto Meter Nexus gauges is one of the highlights of the build so far. Everyone who sees them in action is in awe at their function.
From the glamorous Auto Meter/JME...
From the glamorous Auto Meter/JME Enterprise gauge install to the not so glamorous, we move back down to Roadkill's bottom side for a look at the car's subframe connectors. Any Mustang benefits from subframe connectors, especially Fox hatchbacks. You can feel the car's increased rigidity after a subframe connector install. Roadkill may get a rollcage before its completion, but we're going to keep it at a minimum since it will be driven on a regular basis. You can also spy Roadkill's aluminum driveshaft from The Driveshaft Shop (www.driveshaftshop.com
Back up top, MV's Bart Tobener...
Back up top, MV's Bart Tobener works on finishing up the Vortech supercharger installation. Bart had to trim the inlet pipe in order to make everything social under the hood, but that's to be expected with an undertaking such as Roadkill. At left, you can see the plumbing connections for the Vortech Aftercooler and Roadkill's Weldon fuel pressure regulator. Tim and Bart ran the fuel lines from front to back along the car's subframe connectors, then up and into the engine compartment to the UPR Products' fuel rails.
Well, she's a little dusty,...
Well, she's a little dusty, but before Roadkill left MV Performance it did run under its own power. As Tim worked to decipher the car's engine management system, yours truly even "drove" it while on the dyno. Tim monitored the situation as I ran the car through small steps to make sure everything was working properly. The engine seemed to have a mysterious miss upon initial start-up, but it would go away as the engine came up to temperature. Since we ran the car at that time, it's become temperamental and didn't even want to start. We haven't had a chance to diagnose that issue as of this writing.