Any car builder will tell you that fast costs money. But, as Sloppy Mechanics demonstrates, there are still ways to build a wicked-quick car without help from Fort Knox.
Hence the genesis for this “Eight for Eight” build: A 1995 Ford Mustang GT that will run into the 8s, while staying within an $8,000 budget.
The SN95: A Solid Starting Point
Have you seen Fox Body prices lately? Fear not, because later 1994-2004 “SN95” era Ford Mustangs represent a good value still today, and the early 1994-98 cars that came before the “New Edge” makeover tend to be the most affordable.
And while the $8K budget is a tall task for sure, Sloppy Mechanics didn’t start with any old SN95. In addition to being a solid, rust-free car, this Mustang was actually another racer’s stalled project. That meant Sloppy Mechanics was able to get the roller relatively cheap—and it already had a bunch of race-ready parts installed, which we’ll get to in a sec.
In short, this build follows a prudent strategy of finding a less desirable car that already has some work done as the basis for a project.
Hang out in enough automotive forums and online classifieds, and you’ll discover that these types of half-done project cars are far more common than you’d think.
The 8F8 Blueprint
So, what does it take to push a 1995 Ford Mustang GT past the quarter-mile beams in 8.99 seconds (or less)?
For starters, we mentioned that this particular Mustang had already begun a racing makeover and included some smart performance upgrades with the initial purchase price. Even better, a lot of the tedious work of removing the old, unused stuff was already done, so Sloppy Mechanics just needed to carry the project through the final stages.
Or in other words, skip right to the fun part.
Here’s a list of some of the upgrade parts installed by the previous owner:
- QA1 Adjustable Coilovers
- QA1 Caster/Camber Plates
- Flaming River Manual Steering Rack
- Tubular K-Member
- Tubular Control Arms
- Quick-Release Steering Wheel Disconnect
- Race Seats
- Fuel Cell
- Line Lock
- Upgraded Bushings
- Built Ford 8.8″ Rear
^^^All of that jazz, plus the car, for two grand. So yeah, Sloppy Mechanics really lucked out a bit with the initial purchase. But there’s still a lot of work to be done—namely under the hood, where astute readers will notice there isn’t an engine OR a transmission. So…..
The 8F8 Ford Mustang GM LS Engine Swap
C’mon, don’t act surprised when you see an LS stuffed in under the hood of a (GASP!) Ford Mustang. Sloppy Mechanics loves LS engines, and a lot of racers do too. LS engines are cheap, compact, and can make big power. And given the 8F8’s 700(ish) hp power goals and budget constraints, the LS is the easiest path.
Sloppy Mechanics’ build initially started with a “4.8L” LS plucked from a junkyard. A teardown revealed that it was actually a 5.3L. And not just any 5.3L either, one that had been built-up with some quality performance parts.
Unfortunately that engine was toast—its block destroyed by excessive crank thrust caused by a missing cam plate O-ring. (Yeah, make sure to sweat the details on your engine build, gang.)
Undaunted, another junkyard 4.8 was promptly acquired, disassembled, and rebuilt. 8F8’s new engine still uses its stock heads, but it’s running an aftermarket performance cam, PAC springs, and new valvetrain. There was even room in the budget for the newer Trailblazer SS intake, along with fuel rails and upgraded injectors to better feed the LS with E85. Engine management happens via a Holley Terminator X system.
We could spend pages describing the nuances of the engine buildup, but Sloppy Mechanics does a way better job in its own video series. Start here.
Of course, there’s the turbo too. It’s a cast 75mm S475 VS Racing Turbocharger fed by the stock exhaust manifolds, and features a four inch intercooler and dual 44mm VS Racing wastegates. The five inch, side-exit downpipe is a nice touch too.
Power is sent through a built GM TH400 automatic. After some tweaks on the dyno, the engine made 730 horsepower.
So, by now you’re probably wondering if the Sloppy Mechanics 8 seconds for 8 grand project hit its mark. Well, see for yourself:
Yep, after a lot of hard work, 8F8 easily cracked the 8s with an incredibly impressive 8.858-second, 153.51 mph run. Want to see the magic in action? Check out the video here.
We’ve mentioned earlier that Sloppy Mechanics made a complete video series on this project. Click Here to Start With Episode One.
The biggest problem with someone elses “half finished” project is that many times, they’re not half finished, they’re finished half assed! Then, you have to tear everything back apart and do it right.
Ha–yep, there’s a reason the “DPO“ acronym exists!
I think the point here is not the workmanship you get, it’s the parts. If you don’t enjoy the work, you don’t need a project car.
I love how the article says it had PAC springs because that’s what summit sells. It did NOT have PAC springs. The springs were donated by a small business owner trying to promote his business and they worked very well. I don’t recall the name right now I think it was Riverside or something like that. Kind of a BS move on this article’s part though..
Hey Adam, we got that valve spring info from the Sloppy Mechanics team. If you check out this video, you can see that his parts spreadsheet specs PAC-1218 springs. But the engine plan went through a couple of evolutions, so perhaps we got our specific build iterations mixed up?