If you grew up loving Fox Mustangs like we did, it is great to see these cars still have a strong following with enthusiasts. From the racetrack to the cruise-in, it’s common to see a nice Fox or two some 24 years after the last one rolled off the assembly line. Case in point is the 1989 Mustang LX, built by Mark Schlitzkus, which is comfortable in both spots.
Impressive no doubt, but these days the trend — and one we fully support — is the Coyote swapped Fox. It’s hard to argue with the injection of modern performance in the lightweight, adaptable Fox platform. However, for someone whose first car was a Fox, sticking with a pushrod powerplant felt like the right move.
Riding low on Boze forged wheels and Nitto tires, you might assume this is just a clean Fox coupe. However, under its House of Kolor red exterior hides a potent drivetrain ready for street or strip. (Photo Credit: Mark Schlitzkus)
We put heads, cam, intake, exhaust and nitrous on it from there. I was hooked then! — Mark Schlitzkus, car owner
“My dad bought me an ’87 GT my senior year in high school,” Mark explained. “We put heads, cam, intake, exhaust and nitrous on it from there. I was hooked then! Growing up my dad always had ’60s muscle cars. I was addicted at an early age, and cars have always been a family affair.”
Before his project ’Stang could become what it is today, Mark had to press the pause button while he was in college. We are all for continuing education and finishing your degree, but we are ecstatic that Mark opted to pick up with this project and take it to a new level.
In The Beginning
Powerful and pretty, the 461-cube small-block that propels this coupe wears a Trick Flow top end and receives boost from two Precision turbos. The latter are part of a custom turbo kit Mark built. He believes this big-cube beast will be good for nearly 2,000 horsepower when the boost is cranked up to 30 psi.
I have had at least 10 or so built Foxes over the years. I wanted to build the nicest one and make it hard to be duplicated. — Mark Schlitzkus, car owner
“I had this car since 2007. It had a turbo SVO in it first that made 600 rear-wheel horsepower,” Mark explained. “It was a 100,000-mile car but in good shape. It had all original paint and interior when I got it. I put the car in storage to finish college till 2014. It is a three-year rotisserie build.”
Yes, you read that correctly. He said three years. In fact, Mark estimates that he and his Fox spent over 3,000 hours of quality time together in his garage. He built the Fox from the ground up with one mission in mind.
“I have had at least 10 or so built Foxes over the years,” Mark said. “I wanted to build the nicest one and make it hard to be duplicated.”
Inside, Mark’s masterpiece is fitted with Racepak gauges and Recaro seats. The custom roll cage from Lyons Custom Motorsports is good for up to 8.5-second e.t.’s.
When you look at the level of detail that went into this car—from the custom turbo system to the gorgeous paint—he has certainly built something that couldn’t easily be copied. This is no bolt-on car. Moreover, Mark did every last bit of the work himself from the fabrication to the bodywork to the paint. That’s an undertaking that few are willing to tackle themselves.
For someone willing to push the car to this level, you might wonder how he resisted the siren’s song of a Coyote swap? For one, the fuel-injected small-block engines are what he grew up on, but moreover Mark isn’t opposed to the Coyote platform. He just happens to have another project targeted for the modern powerplant.
Prepped to plant the car’s massive power is a rear suspension made up of gear from Lyons Custom Motorsports, QA1, Strange Engineering and UPR Products. The Chris Alston 9-inch rear is loaded to the gill with the good stuff from Strange.
Powering The Project
1989 Mustang LX Mods
Block: Dart Iron Eagle 351W machined by Jon Kaase Racing Engines
Crankshaft: Lunati billet
Rods: Oliver billet
Camshaft: Custom solid-roller
Cylinder Heads: Trick Flow High-Ports
Intake: Trick Flow R Box w/ Accufab 95mm throttle body
Power Adder: Two Precision billet-wheel 7675 turbos w/ Chiseled 2000-horsepower under-dash intercooler and 7-gallon tank
Fuel System: Two Holley brushless pumps, Aeromotive fuel pressure regulator, Aeromotive fuel rails, Billet Atomizer injectors and stainless hardline (-10 feed and -8 return)
Transmission: ATI Turbo 400 automatic w/ Pro Torque billet torque converter and Pro Ratchet shifter
Rearend: Chris Alston chrome-moly 9-inch w/ Strange Pro heavy-duty aluminum case, Strange 3.20 gears, and Strange Pro Race axles
Engine Management: FuelTech FT600
Ignition: FuelTech w/ MSD wires and NGK spark plugs
K-member: UPR Products tubular
A-arms: UPR Products tubular
Brakes: Aerospace Pro Street
Wheels: Boze Forged billet, 18×8-inch
Tires: Nitto NT05
Brakes: Aerospace Pro Street
Wheels: Boze Forged billet, 19×12-inch
Tires: Nitto NT05R drag radials
“I’m a pushrod guy,” Mark explained. “This is what I grew up on, so it was a no-brainer for me. I am currently building a ’69 F-100 Ranger with a turbo Coyote. So I am gonna have both soon.”
The next project sounds pretty awesome too, but the pushrod engine in the red Fox coupe is no slouch either. Based on a Dart 351 block, it weighs in with big-block level displacement at 461 cubes. Topped by a set of Trick Flow High-Port heads and a Box R manifold, the big small-block is fitted with a solid-roller cam and takes commands from a FuelTech EFI system. If that weren’t enough, it wears a custom twin-turbo system highlighted by Precision 7675 turbos.
It has yet to hit the dyno, but Mark estimates that with the boost set to 30 psi it could push toward a whopping 2,000 horsepower!
While the robust engine is backed by an ATI Turbo 400 automatic transmission, the rest of the combo is remarkably streetable. From the UPR suspension bits to the Strange dampers and the QA1 springs to the Aerospace brakes, the supporting gear deftly dances on that street/strip line. He might have to tune things down a bit to put the power to the pavement with drag radials, but it will certainly be fun trying.
Eventually he plans to hit the racing circuit with this impressive Fox, but he also plans to hit a couple of shows on the East Coast that draw a strong contingent of Fox Mustangs.
Even the massive drag radials out back might have trouble containing four-digit horsepower, but they sure look great on those Boze forged billet wheels. Other than a simple cowl hood up front, this Fox retains the timelessly clean coupe lines.
“I plan on showing it at Mustang Week and Foxtoberfest this year and then running True Street with it after that,” he added.
We suspect this car will attract a lot of attention in either venue. We just hope Mark is around to tell the onlookers how much work went into this coupe. It’s not easy building a one-of-a-kind Fox rod, but Mark pulled it off with a lot of time and dedication – and we commend him for helping keep the Fox Mustang relevant as a project platform.
Does this look like a DIY project to you? For Mark Schlitzkus it was. While Kaase racing engines did the machine work, he built the 461-inch Dart Windsor and fabricated the custom twin-turbo kit. As you can see, it feeds boost into a Chiseled under-dash air-to-water intercooler and back out through the cowl into the Accufab Racing 95mm throttle body. A 7-gallon tank ensures plenty of coolant flow to the Chiseled unit.