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FORDMUSCLE.com
 
 

Introduction
It took us a while to decide what we wanted out of a project car. We wanted to make our goals clear, rather than just calling it a "project car". Since this car has naturally evolved into a quarter mile machine, we decided that shooting for 11's was a good goal, and hence the name Project 11.99. Our objective is to break into the eleven's, without the assistance of power adders. The 400 Horsepower 302 engine buildup that you've been reading out will be the driving force. The second condition is that car must be fully streetable. This means that we'll be driving it about 120 miles round trip, to and from our local track, Sacramento Raceway.

We know that many of our readers have long surpassed this goal, and hopefully this provides some entertainment and a chance to reflect on how you achieved the number. Of course we expect you veterans to give us tips and let us know when we're going wrong. Most of you may have a ways to go, and for you our objective is to provide a step by step documentary on what it takes to get there.

Evolution
Our 1967 Diamond Green coupe started out as a bone stock "C" code Mustang. Manufactured at the San Jose plant, this car has never left California. The car was purchased five years ago from the original owners. With over 150,000 miles on the original engine, the first step was rebuilding the stock 289 so the car could pass California emissions laws at the time. The block and heads were rebuilt to stock specs. A very mild RV cam, Performer 4bbl intake and Performer 600cfm carb, being the only modifications. The worn suspension was revived, with nothing more than stock leaf springs, 620 rate front springs, replacement shocks, and replacement ball joints, tie rods, and rubber bushings.

In 1997 the car made its first pass at the local drag strip. As every first time drag racer believes, I too felt the car would hit 13's no problem. In fact I was even worried about not having a helmet (mandatory for cars running 13.99 and faster.) With the stock C4 trans, 2.79 gears the car ran a 15.84 at 90 mph. Of course at the time these numbers were disappointing, but soon enough I'd learn it take a lot more that most people expect, to run 13's.

A shift kit, 3.55 gears, hotter cam (Crane 272 216/228 @ 0.050 .484"/.512") and a set of Power Heads (ported stock heads with 1.94"/1.60" valves) got the car a 14.88 at 93 mph. At this time I started becoming aware of a very important factor...traction! Eventhough I'd continue to race with radial tires for at least another year, overcoming poor 60 ft. times would be a huge challenge in the search for lower ET's.

For quite some time my intention was to maintain the '67 as a daily driver, which was not only fast but had handling to match. I had always wanted a stick, and the C4 with 3.55 rear gears was bit too much for highway cruising. So the C4 was swapped out for a T5. Initially this would not seem to make a difference in ET's, as the 60ft times went from bad to horrible, as I could barely manage a sub 2.50 short time. Welding on a set of Shelby under-ride traction bars would prove no immediate gains.

The Edelbrock carb also proved to be a hindrance at the track. I found that not many people knew how to tune it, and virtually everyone running low 14's or faster were using Holleys. When I met Vic Edelbrock at an open track event one year, and saw that all three of his race cars had Holleys, I immediately put on a Holley 600 double pumper. With some tuning the car would reach 14.40's at 96 mph.

Another cam (Comp 270 224 @0.050 .512 lift) and manifold (RPM) change would propel the car to 14.0's and break 100 mph. Getting through the 14's was definitely the hardest and most agonizing stage of evolution for me as a drag racer, as well as for the car. Getting from the first 14.99 in late 1997 to the handful of 14.0's in late 1998, took over 100 passes, two cam swaps, and a carb change.

Simply swapping on a set of used McReary Dirt tires would get the car its first 13 second timeslip. In fact no other changes, and still using a 3.55 open differential, would quickly whittle through the 13's. In one short month the ET's would hit 13.50's at 101mph, all due to 60ft times going from 2.40's to 1.90's! A 650 double pumper and long tube headers to replace the Tri-Y's would shave the ET's to 13.30.

A 4.11 rearend and Lockright locking differential in the stock 8" would get the car its first 13.0, in March of 1998. What at the time would appear as an easy step into the 12's, would instead be the second most agonizing stage of evolution. Changing to a Weiand X-celerator or Victor Jr. single plane intakes would gain mph but not ET. Converting to a roller cam (Erson 226 @ 0.050 .512") would not do it either. Subframe connectors, a removed sway bar, relocating the battery, taking weight out of the car, were all worthy mods, but simply not enough for a full tenth. Eight months would pass, and the car would get as low as 13.04 at 105, with 1.80 60fts, but no 12's.

Finally in November of 1999, the car with the help of Ram Air, would break into the 12's. A little bit of tuning and the little 289 with stock crank and pistons, 8.8:1 compression, and stock heads, would top out at 12.72 at over 107 mph, with a 1.67 60ft (on Mickey Thompson ET Street Tires) The cars final race weight, with half tank of fuel and driver would be 3050 lbs.

This is where FORDMUSCLE.com takes over. The 289 has been yanked, and replaced with a purpose built 302. In the months to come we'll take the car to the track and find out first hand what it takes to get through the 12's and into the 11's!
 

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