Kevin Hamel from Long Island, New York has himself one fun Fox body convertible, a ’91 Ford Mustang that spends much of its time playing autocross.
A friend planted an idea that forever changed the future for this Fox. Kevin didn’t have anything against the factory pushrod motor, but installing a new Coyote 5.0-liter would certainly awaken a whole new beast. With that factory 5.0-liter already pushing 90,000 on the clock, Kevin flirted with the idea of a modern heart transplant.
“I really can’t complain about the pushrod, it never gave me any problems,” Kevin tells us. “After adding heads, cam, intake and exhaust, it was pushing just 290 rear wheel horsepower.”
The plan was to buy the modern motor out of a friend’s wrecked GT but after finding out that the block was cracked, his plans were deterred. With the idea still swimming in his head, Kevin kept up his search for another used Coyote. He stumbled across a few used engines, but all seemed priced beyond belief. After more searching to no avail, Kevin bit the bullet and ordered himself a brand new crate engine from Late Model Restoration with free shipping.
Kevin sought out well-known and trusted tuner in his area, Real Speed Auto owned by Dan Carlson out of Bohemia, New York. “Everyone goes to him,” says Kevin. Carlson was once employed by Steeda as one of their drivers and he also competed in American Iron where he snagged second place. We think it’s safe to say that Dan knows his stuff. Dan’s main mechanic, Rob, helped tremendously with Kevin’s Coyote build.
Not only did Kevin order the crate engine, but he added BBK full-length ceramic-coated headers and a mid-pipe to the order list as well as clutch, bell housing and clutch fork.
Just like every motor swap, bumps are always in the road. Wanting to install everything from underneath, drag cars are able to do so due to front sway bar mounts cut completely off the chassis. With Kevin’s Fox-body, these mounts were still intact making the Coyote too wide for that method. The overhead conventional method is the way to go, especially with any car running a sway bar. Installing overhead proved easy as the Coyote sat nice and snug inside of the Fox body’s engine bay.
A necessity for the build was a Power By The Hour bracket kit which allows the use of a factory 1996-2010 Mustang alternator, power steering pump, and A/C compressor. Out of all of the alternator cases out there, the SN95 seemed to be the best bet. The one issue with the Power By The Hour kit is that the alternator is mounted upside down and in reverse. L&L Auto Electric came up with a fix to the problem and they were able to continue on.
Another issue was that the power steering bracket mounted to the power steering pump was too low causing interference with the sway bar. Kevin and the guys researched videos and websites looking for Fox-body Coyote-swap tips. Browsing forums, they reached out to members who have completed their own Fox-body Coyote swaps. Many of the answers didn’t work well with Kevin’s build since he needed to go the power steering and power brake route, and many of those were using manual steering and brakes. Real Speed Auto was determined to build the car to Kevin’s satisfaction so skipping corners was not an option. This car needed to be done completely the right and safe way.
Mounting the pedals safely became a task in itself. While Maximum Motorsports will soon have a kit to make this issue easier, the product still hasn’t hit the market. SN95 pedals seemed to be the best option for installation since they mount to the steering column instead of the firewall, which is not the case on a factory Fox-body. The best scenario was to install the Fox-body pedals for the clutch and gas, and then fabricating SN95 pedal for braking.
When installing the Coyote motor into the Fox body, the angle is naturally steep. That can be bad in regards to weight distribution if looking to road race. “Dan has an eye for the driveline angle. It’s steeper than the stock 2014 angle,” says Kevin. “You want that angle to be as level as possible.” That’s when the guys decided to install a .5-inch spacer to the k-member, not only to make it appear more stock, but to even out the weight distribution.
The new ECU was installed inside of the passenger fender along with a custom-mounted plate that was powder-coated for aesthetics. The fuse box was installed inside the passenger kick-panel.
A custom cold air intake was created with a Steeda Velocity Stack, a rubber elbow, and a K&N air filter. Stance and handling comes from a Maximum Motorsports suspension setup. Other modifications include a whole new fuel system with bigger fuel lines and a higher volume fuel pump.
After everything was professionally and safely installed, Kevin was finally able to enjoy his new Coyote-equipped Fox-body convertible, now capable of 403 rwhp and 354 ft. lb. of torque, on the track and for leisurely drives with the wife. “I built it for fun but that doesn’t mean I don’t drive it. I drive it a lot actually. We take it out to the wineries on a Saturday and then go on and race that Sunday,” Kevin tells us.
Kevin’s future plans includes more road course action, as well as competing in SCCA regional autocross. As soon as he finishes more HPDE (High Performance Driver Education) days, he plans to compete in time trials on the road course.