I have always held a soft spot for muscle cars. My first car was a 1971 Chevelle 350. When I saw this 1978 Mustang II at a swap meet a few years ago, I realized that it was sort of a muscle car -- it was far smaller than any other fastback I'd ever seen -- and it would be an interesting pro-street platform. I also have a dear place in my heart for rat rods -- the more irreverent and insane, the better -- so I built this car to be a rat rod / muscle car hybrid. I wanted a car that would stick its finger in the eye of classic car enthusiasts, and that would also blow the doors off of sport compact owners who believe that old school "can't hang." i wanted to smoke 'em, and I wanted to smoke 'em bad, and I wanted to do it old school. No nitrous, no turbo, no computer chips, just carbureted iron moving very, very fast.
"Hey, what is all that stuff sticking up out of your hood?"
"Yo, man, is that sh-t real?"
I get questioned a lot about the Hilborn. I think that the proliferation of phony scoops on imports (and, sadly, some domestics), coupled with a lack of rudimentary knowledge of internal combustion, leads some folks to think that my Tower o' Induction is, in fact, fake -- that I've somehow bolted all this inert hardware on top of my "real" engine just to make it look cool.
This is not a supercharger. This is a tunnel ram. See page 2 for a primer on tunnel rams, wave reflection and volumetric efficiency. It will explain how I've managed to wring over 400rwhp out of an iron-headed small-block using carburetors and no NOS.
The big chrome thingy at the top is a Hilborn-style dragster scoop. This is, in essence, the mother of all cold-air intakes. The faster the car goes, the more pressure builds up inside the scoop, which forces the fuel/air mixture into the carburetors.
Below the Hilborn scoop are twin Holley carburetors, running on an adjustable, synchronized linkage that I built myself. Think of a carburetor as an early-model throttle-body with external adjustments for tuning. Under the carburetors is my intake, which is a tunnel ram designed for street applications of small block Fords.
Yes, it's real. Yes, it's fast.
Neck-snapping, sphincter-clenching, what-the-hell-was-I-thinking, scary fast.
The Skunk won third place in the '74-86 Modified category in the 2006 Mustangs Northwest Roundup. This was a really interesting show for me; they classified The Skunk as "Modified" (go figure!) and I ended up next to $20,000, $30,000 -- even $50,000 -- Stangs: "Modifieds" is the realm of all-chrome engines, twin-turbos, custom appearance packages, Lamborghini-style doors, and paint jobs so trick that the owners don't drive them, they just roll them to the show in trailers. And yet, my $2,400 flat-black wonder drew a sizeable crowd the entire show. People seemed truly impressed at the amount of work I'd done myself, paticularly being able to do it with junkyard parts and ingenuity for a fraction of the cost of the other cars in my category. (I got more than a few comments about other 'Stang owners in the show who couldn't answer any question about their engine without referring to a spec sheet!) Cheers to Mustangs NW, and thanks to everyone who attended the show.
The Skunk is a 1978 Ford Mustang II with a dual-quad, tunnel-rammed 5.0L H.O.
This car was built, not bought. When I first got this chassis it had no engine, no tranny, nothing except the wheels, the factory T-tops, and the power windows. And it was white. Everything you see on the car was fabricated, hand-assembled, improvised, or sledgehammered together out of junkyard parts for under $2,500.
The current engine is a roller-cam 5.0L H.O. from a 1991 Mustang, with a custom cam from Delta Cams and a set of ported Explorer GT-40 heads. I swapped in a water pump, timing cover, and fan assembly from a 1977 302 due to clearance issues; this is why you don't see a serpentine belt assembly. (If you scroll back up and look at the engine bay, you'll note the radiator-to-fan clearance is extremely tight. A custom radiator would cost nearly half what I've paid for the whole build so far.)
I also had the 28-oz. flexplate weighted to 50 oz. and rebalanced so as to retain the Mustang II bellhousing on the C4 -- again, clearance issues. There have been very few setbacks to this build that couldn't be overcome with a calculator, a two-pound hammer, and a grinding wheel. It's all about clearance with a car this small.
The heads are GT-40 Explorer heads, highly-modified: I bored and polished the intakes, ground down the skirts, removed the thermactor bumps, and hogged out the original exhausts to match the headers.
The headers are Hedmann 1 5/8" custom for the Mustang II, with 3" collectors and custom 2.5" cut-outs behind the front wheels; the pipes run forward again from the rear of the cut-outs to a set of OEM Corvette side pipes. It sets off car alarms when I romp on it.
The spoiler is custom, as well; it's from a 1988 Mustang LX, which is about 8" wider than the Mustang II. It had to be modified extensively. I chopped nearly 7" from the center and fiberglassed it back together. The brakelight ended up a triangle about 2" on a side, so I glassed over it and affixed the "Running Horse" Mustang II logo to the center. I've been told that the modded LX spoiler gives a Porsche look to the back end; it definitely adds a "What the hell is THAT?" aspect to the appearance package.
I first painted this car in 2005, long before the flat-black craze. I used John Deere Blitz Black, which is a very thick, tough, matte-black paint that costs about $30 a gallon, and shot it myself in an afternoon. The paint is semi-permeable, so I rub it with WD-40 to protect the metal and to give the car a semi-gloss look. This is a nod to old-school "Rat Rodders" who back in the day would paint their hot rods with black primer and rub motor oil into it for the same appearance and protection. The idea being, you spent all your money on the engine so you scrimped on the paint (which is exactly what I have done.) Then, as now, you didn't screw with a guy in an evil-sounding, primer black ride.
Or maybe, these days, you do. I just talked to a 'Stang owner who'd paid $3000 to have his V6 Mustang painted in "satin black."
No ground effects. No video player. No bumpin' stereo -- I couldn't hear it over the engine, anyway. No neon. And no, it doesn't need any of the above. Your concern is appreciated, however. Love it or hate it, this is MY ride. My sweat, my blood, my knuckle skin, my (alleged) ingenuity. My fault if it fails to start, dies, or explodes. I have come to learn that driving a hot rod is only half the fun; the other half is coming out of a club -- or even the grocery store -- and finding a knot of people admiring the car. It's a thrill that wouldn't have a fraction of its impact if I hadn't done the work myself. I have no beef with sport-compact racers, as long as they bust their knuckles under their hoods. Those of you who build up your own sport-compacts, my hat is off to you. Sign my guestbook, especially if you're from Seattle. You guys are keeping hot rodding alive. No matter what you're driving, put some time in under your hood and you'll learn something about yourself. Who knows, you might even discover that you're good at it. And then, look out.
Go-Fast Mods: - 5.0L H.O. Mustang engine - custom-ground Delta cam - Torrington bearing gear drive - Gasket-matched and polished GT40 heads - Weiand 289 Dual-Quad Tunnel Ram intake - Sync'd Holley 390 cfm vacuum-secondary carburetors - C4 transmission w/B&M shift kit & 2600 stall - Pertronix ignition - Custom 21-degree advance distributor - MSD Blaster II coil - Hedman full-length headers- OEM Corvette side pipes- Weight Reduction: rear seat delete, custom bumpers, aluminum intake, aluminum wheels
Appearance Mods: - John Deere Blitz Black (satin finish) paint - gloss white stripes - Hilborn scoop - 245/50 rear and 225/50 front tires on 15" turbine wheels - chopped and channeled '88 LX rear spoiler - custom "Jolly Roger" grille - Factory T-tops
Stuff I Couldn't Do Myself (serious machining):
- Cam grind by Delta Cams, Inc., Tacoma, WA - Flexplate rebalanced by Perpetual Balancing, Mukilteo, WA
NEXT PAGE: ABOUT TUNNEL RAMS
------ "Hey, what is all that stuff sticking up out of your hood?""Yo, man, is that sh-t real?"