The late 1980s and early 1990s were glory days for fans of the Fox Body Mustang. You could order a brand new 5.0L LX or GT and go burn the factory Goodyear Gatorbacks down to the belts. And when you were done doing that, a few performance upgrades and some decent rubber turned your Mustang into street hero/drag race funmobile. It was a good time to be a Stangbanger.

That is the whole idea behind Hemmings’ Fox Body Rehab project. Fox Body Rehab covers the transformation of a 1991 Ford Mustang LX hatch into a street and drag race machine as it might have been built in the late 1980s and early 1990s, the heyday of the Fox Body Mustang performance era.

Fox Body Rehab hosts Mike Musto and Terry McGean should know because they lived it. Mike was in high school then, and took part in New York City’s hot street racing scene where Mustangs ruled the roost. Terry has a modified 1993 5.0L LX that he’s owned since 1996 so he’s very familiar with the cars and how to make them faster. It was a match made in Mustang heaven.

front bumper view of a fox body ford mustang

The Mustang

The Fox Body Rehab Mustang came to Hemmings in near-stock condition with 121,000 miles on the clock. Originally a Florida car, the body had the usual minor dings and a couple of rust bubbles, but was otherwise in good shape. On the other hand, the interior was darn-near perfect, and the lights, radio, power windows, etc. worked just fine. And wonder of wonders, the A/C blew cold air.

Backing the trusty five liter V8 was an AOD four-speed automatic and an 8.8 inch rear axle with 2.73 gears and a Traction-Loc differential—all factory standard stuff. The drivetrain was in good nick considering the mileage, so Hemmings took the Mustang to a chassis dyno to establish a baseline. The five-oh was factory rated at 225 horsepower and 300 lbs.-ft. of torque. Hemmings’ pony put 176 horsepower and 225 lb.-ft. of torque to the rear wheels, which is pretty good for an automatic-equipped car.

The Build

Mike and Terry wanted to build the Mustang much like someone in, say, 1993 would build one for street use and occasional trips to the drag strip. Rather than tear into the engine and upgrade the cam, cylinder heads, intake, and other parts, they went straight to boost with a ProCharger supercharger kit. The kit is an update of the one ProCharger introduced in the early 1990s; it was the first on the market to come with an intercooler, which was a huge deal back in the day.

One of the annoying characteristics of the AOD transmission is its inability to stay in second gear during a pass down the track. You had to cheat the system by doing the 1-3-1 shuffle. This involves starting out in drive (third gear), accelerate until it goes into second, then manually shift back into first. Needless to say, that is very hard on the transmission.

The Hemmings fix was swapping in a new valve body to allow manual shifting and replacing the lockup feature with an electronic solenoid to engage overdrive. Hemmings also sourced a new higher-stall torque converter, and replaced the rear axle with a Moser Engineering Muscle Pak 8.8 inch axle assembly with 3.73 gears and an Eaton TruTrac limited slip.

The Mustang came with aftermarket 17 inch wheels on well-worn tires. Hemmings solved the traction issue with fat Mickey Thompson ET Street R tires mounted on Race Star Drag Star Metallic Gray wheels.

Hemmings tapped Summit Racing for parts to help stiffen the Mustang’s chassis:

The nice folks at Summit Racing also sent Hemmings a bunch more goodies:

The Fox Body Rehab project is going full steam ahead right now. Follow the progress on the Hemmings YouTube channel.

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Author: Alan Rebescher

Editor, author, PR man—Alan Rebescher has done it all in a 25 year career in the high performance industry. He has written and photographed many feature stories and tech articles for Summit Racing and various magazines including Hot Rod, Car Craft, and Popular Hot Rodding, and edited Summit Racing’s Street & Strip magazine in the 1990s. His garage is currently occupied by a a 1996 Mustang GT ragtop.