A couple of decades ago, the idea of a 1,000 horsepower street car seemed absolutely absurd. But thanks to modern technology and mankind’s bottomless desire for more horsepower, it is now possible to build a perfectly streetable car pushing well over 1,000 horsepower at the wheels.
Normally, you’d see more modern cars, like the Terminator Cobra Mustangs or LS1-powered F-bodies. But for Chris Lancaster and his $600 ‘66 Mustang, it’s all about going fast in old school style and taking pride in the work he did himself.
“When I bought the Mustang, it was a total piece,” says Lancaster. “About the only original parts left on it are the rockers and roof.” Lancaster, who is no stranger to Mustangs, had originally intended to build a show car. Chris has had plenty of fast cars before, including a couple of 8-second turbocharged Fox-bodies (including an SSP model with a four-eyed front end) that have ended up in some major magazine publications. Both of these Fox-bodies also had mod motors built and tuned by Panhandle Performance.
Chris came in 2nd place in the True Street competition, but won the Spring break Shootout the next day
“I just love how the mod motors look,” says Lancaster. “It looks like a bigger motor, but the way it behaves on the street is really tame.” Lancaster, who fixes dents and dings on other peoples’ cars for a living, took over a year and a half to fix up the ‘66 into driving shape. It required him to do a lot of custom work, all of which he did himself (with help from a friend, Kyle Vander-Porten.)
Once the body was where he wanted it, Chris approached Panhandle Performance about a motor for his ‘66 Mustang. Naturally, he went with a mod motor, opting to keep the stock displacement of 281 cubic-inches. While the internals, camshafts, and cylinder heads all got substantial upgrades, Chris opted for just a single turbo; a massive Precision Engineering 88mm unit. The motor was tuned and built by Mark Biddle of Panhandle Performance, and while the car has never been dynoed, Chris estimates wheel horsepower of between 1,000 and 1,200 ponies to the rear wheels.
That explains how Chris was able to win the Baer Brakes shootout this past weekend in a heads-up competition, delivering consistent 8.0 second runs at around 175 mph. “A lot of people tried telling me that it isn’t a street car,” says Lancaster. “But I was driving it in the rain not long ago trying to get it to the shop for tuning. Trust me, this car sees the street more often than most people would believe.”
So how are the street manners of a 1,000 horsepower Mustang with a mod motor? “Surprisingly tame,” says Lancaster. “The car has 3.50 gears, and the turbo is big so it takes a while to spool up. As long as I keep my foot off the gas it drives like an ‘01 Cobra with an exhaust.” Chris regularly takes the Mustang to local car shows, and the low gearing and low-revving nature of the mod motors certainly makes for a streetable combo.
Dropping a 1,000+ horsepower mod motor into a ‘66 Mustang requires more than just minor modifications though. Though Chris is obviously a Ford guy, for a transmission he went with a beefy TH400 unit to put the power to the 9-inch rear end. The Chassisworks rear has a four-link suspension setup “…a lot like a Fox-body Mustang,” which helps this classic ‘Stang hook better than it ever could from the factory. The front end has a Mustang II rack-and-pinion setup, and coil-overs are present on each of the four corners.
Fitting the 4.6 liter mod motor into a classic Mustang requires a lot of work, but for Chris, it's worth the effort
The custom paint job had just one intention; “It had to look cool,” says Lancaster. And indeed, the House of Kolor paint job certainly looks cool, a unique orange-and-black two-tone that helps the ‘66 really “pop” on to the scene.
But what really makes this Mustang pop is the ball-bearing, 88mm turbocharger. Chris had to knock in the shock towers to make the extra-wide mod motor fit. It’s one of those automotive oddities that shouldn’t make sense, but does. And by going with a turbocharger, Chris is able to keep this 8-second Mustang a true street car.
Of course most street cars don’t have chutes attached to the trunk. Chris’ Mustang currently wears Aerospace Components brakes, which he says allowed him to bring the Mustang to a stop on the drag strip without use of the the slow down chute. Combined with the modern Chris Alston’s Chassisworks components, this classic Mustang is shockingly modern, which no doubt contributes to its street-ability. But Chris also won a set of Baer Brakes this past Sunday for his performance in the shootout, “So I may have to install those soon,” he says.
“The thing about this car,” says Lancaster. “Is that it all but drives itself. Once I let go of the transbrake, it’s easy.” While that sounds like a bit of an exaggeration, Chris estimates that with him in it, the ‘66 Mustang weighs just 3,000 pounds. The modern suspension all but ensures it heads down the strip in a straight line. And the smooth-running mod motor can spool up the big turbo in no time, allowing Chris to set a blistering pace in a car that he can drive home.
For whatever reason, mod motors have not gained a lot of popularity with the classic Mustang crowd, especially not when compared to what Chevy guys are doing with LSx engines. It could be because of the extra work and labor that goes into making room for the extra-wide mod motors. But for Chris Lancaster, who was already doing all the work on his Mustang anyways, what was a little extra effort to fit in his Ford engine of choice?
At the end of the day, Chris has a unique classic Mustang with a modern motor and an 8-second time slip. Moreso, it is an 8-second car that he played a pivotal role in building, unlike so many other drivers who take a back seat to their own projects. Very few people can say they built their 8-second Mustang. Even fewer can say they regularly drive it on the street. But Chris Lancaster has done both, which makes this ‘66 Mustang the climax of cool in our eyes.