In 1979, Ford introduced the new Fox-body Mustang platform. Lightweight and with a big engine bay, the Fox-body Mustang has come to dominate the American muscle car aftermarket. Nearly every engine you can think of has been stuffed into a Fox-body Mustang, though it seems most people prefer the later-model Mustangs with the aerodynamic lights and nose.
Not Joe Guertin though. This South Florida Deputy Sheriff has had his 1985 Mustang for nearly 20 years, and it still wears its four-eyed headlights with pride. When the NMRA announced the new sealed Coyote 5.0 engine for the Coyote Stock racing class, Joe knew what he had to do; drop a brand new 5.0 into a classic four-eyed Mustang. Joe dropped his ‘85 Mustang off at CRE Performance, where it went under the knife for some mod motor surgery.
Joe, who has owned this Mustang since 1993, is not a professional racer by any stretch of the imagination. His Mustang was once a daily driver, “Then I got a company car as part of my sheriff’s job, and the Mustang became more of a weekend car.” Even though racing runs in his family (his father was a drag racer, and his mother worked in a speed shop) it took Joe a few decades to come back around to the racing. That was when he came across CRE Performance, who helped him slowly transform his ‘85 Mustang (still wearing its original paint) into a street/strip car for weekend rides.
Alas, due to bent valves from some over-zealous spraying of nitrous, the original 302 engine was in dire need of replacing, which was right around the time the NMRA announced the Coyote Stock class. Joe, who had no prior professional race experience, decided this was his chance to make the leap into the world of semi-pro racing.
Since the Coyote Stock class requires the running of a sealed Coyote 5.0 engine, that’s what Joe is stuck with. But in terms of the car, a lot can, and has been done to bring it up to racing spec. To start with, CRE Performance ditched the archaic old suspension in favor of a UPR Pro Series suspension system both up front and out back. This suspension helps keep the wheels planted during powerful launches. A CRE-modified 8.8 inch rear end backs up the Pro Motion TKO 500 5-speed manual transmission.
This also necessitated the installation of a 10-point roll cage from Wolf RaceCraft. Yet save for some 4-lug Mod-Star wheels and a cowl induction hood, the exterior of Joe’s ‘85 Mustang stayed as stock as the day it rolled off of the assembly line. Sure, the four-eyed headlights might not be the most aerodynamic of setups, it is a well-known, classic look. It’s also worth mentioning that CRE was able to put together Joe’s car in less than a month, and in his first semi-pro race, Joe managed to make it all the way to the finals, finishing in 2nd place overall.
“I’m just a regular guy with a Mustang who made the leap,” Joe says rather humbly. “I also want to thank my wife Charlena for putting up with my hobby. I’ve been slacking on my husbandly duties to get this car together, but without her none of this would have come together.” As the old saying goes, behind every fast car is a patient woman. The faster the car, the more patient the woman…and Joe’s wife must be very patient indeed.
We love to see some old four-eyed Mustangs getting some modern love, and hopefully more muscle car fans take after Joe Guertin though, and take the time to appreciate the genesis of the Fox-body platform, while updating it with some 21st century horsepower.
- Sealed Ford Racing Coyote 5.0 V8
- Kooks long tube headers
- Tremec-500 5-speed manual transmission
- UPR Pro-Series Suspension Front & Rear
- CRE-modified 8.8-inch rear end
- Wolf Racecraft subframe connectors and 10-pt rollcage
- Kirkeys Race Seats
- 4-lug Mod Stars with Beadlock
- Mickey Thompson E/T street radials