Seriously Foxy: Dig This Rotisserie-Rebuilt ’88 Mustang GT
As many projects do, the scope of this build expanded exponentially as Scott got a more clear sense of what he wanted to do with his ’88 GT. While it might’ve taken a little longer than he’d initially expected—and required a more substantial investment than he originally theorized—the results speak for themselves. Scott’s process included a full rotisserie restoration; a single-turbo Dart 333 cubic-inch small-block; a Tremec T56 Magnum XL conversion; MGW short shifter, a Cobra independent rear suspension, and a whole lot more.
Since completing the nearly 700 horsepower (on pump gas) build in 2015, Scott’s Mustang has won numerous awards, including a recent Best in Show at the 2016 Foxtoberfest in North Carolina. “I purchased the car for $3,500 when I was 15 years old,” Scott explained. “It was either a car or an ATV, and I decided to get the car, because I was soon getting my driving permit. My father had to go with me to buy the car because I couldn’t legally drive it home. The car was relatively stock with the exception of some suspension modifications and wheels. Oh, and Flowmasters, of course.”
Fast forward to present day, and the state of this Mustang is a decidedly different scenario. Let’s take a closer look at Scott’s incredibly comprehensive makeover of his Fox body.
(Re)Starting From Scratch
This car will essentially be an overpowered sunny day car, and most of the power will never find its way to the ground on the street anyway.—Scott Hartrick
Bringing the car down to a shell revealed a few surprises right out of the gate. “Found some filler in spots I didn’t expect. The car must have been hit in the driver side rear quarter at some point in its life,” Scott said. “I also cut out the rusted areas of the car. Luckily there aren’t many. I knew the frame rail was bad when one of the stock K-member bolts looked like it was being chewed on by a rabbit for two decades.”
After cutting out the affected areas and welding in new sheet metal, he turned his attention to the engine bay to ascertain if he would have any fitment issues with his planned combination. “I temporarily bolted up my Maximum Motorsports K-member and mocked up the engine in the car,” Scott detailed in the build thread. “I hit a speed bump when I mounted my driver-side header. It wouldn’t fit. It was hitting the motor mount on the K-member. And it’s not like it almost fit, because the front header bolt was nearly an inch higher than it should be.”
He explained that, after determining that having a driver-side header custom built would be too cost prohibitive, he decided to simply modify the existing header himself. “I went over in my head a million times the best way to route the tubes into the collector. After finally figuring it out, I decided to cut the primaries and re-weld new ones in so the collector would sit between the power steering pump and frame rail.”
The modification was necessary in order to shoehorn in the new powerplant–the aforementioned Dart 333 cubic-inch small-block Ford, paired to a set of AFR 185 cylinder heads, a custom FTI hydraulic roller cam, and a 76mm Comp billet wheel, ball-bearing turbo. Along with a Cartech upper intake, a Holley SysteMAX II lower intake, an Accufab 90mm throttle body, and a Holley EFI engine management system; it was a combination that would later prove to make 698 horsepower and 675 pound-feet of torque at 17 psi using pump gas on the dyno.
But first, Scott wanted to add some safety and rigidity to the car, and did so by adding an 8-point chromoly roll bar, along with a set of through-floor subframe connectors. This would supplement the extensive suspension modifications he had planned for the car, which included a Cobra independent rear suspension system with Fult Tilt Boogie Racing Delrin bushings, Maximum Motorsports coilovers, Tokico D-Spec front struts, and Bilstein HD rear shocks.
“This car will not see any launches on slicks, and may actually never see a drag strip. I’m going in more of a handling direction with this build, so it may see a road course on the weekend at best. This car will essentially be an overpowered sunny day car and most of the power will never find its way to the ground on the street anyway,” Scott jokingly said during the build process.
Before putting everything back together, Scott wanted to clean up the car a bit first. “With the engine bay work just about done save a little bit more weld cleanup, I decided it was time to change gears and move onto another part of the project…undercarriage,” he said. And in yet another example of how engineers are one of the rarest breeds out there, Scott decided to make the process easier on himself by building his own rotisserie in his garage. “Beats the hell out of laying on my back and scrubbing the bottom of the car,” he said.
By now it has probably become clear exactly why this turned into a five-year project. Scott’s meticulous attention to detail, coupled with his habit of engineering his own solutions to many of the obstacles he encountered throughout the course of the project, made this extended timeline a requirement. Starting from the ground up, he has gone over nearly every nut and bolt of this car on its way to becoming whole again.
As you might imagine with a build of this scale, it’s been an on-going process; even once the car was back on the road, and having a proper support network has made all the difference in this massive undertaking. “I’d like to thank my wife for fully supporting and encouraging this addiction,” Scott told us.
As for the epic, 147-page build thread (which you should definitely check out), Scott said that, like the car itself, it’s a labor of love. “I’m glad that my thread inspires people as much as other’s have inspired me. I know how exciting it is to see other builds evolve and come together—that’s why I did this thread.”