As many people know, it is all too common for someone to put away a car with the intentions of restoring it, and for many that day will never come. Days turn into months, months turn into years, and years turn into decades, and so on, and so on.
It is not uncommon to hear stories of cars being stored away and found decades later in some windowless garage or a raggedy old barn sitting in the back of someone’s abandoned property. Under decades of dust sits somebody’s once pride and joy, a dream that was never fulfilled. Maybe the previous owner had passed on, or maybe it was the sentimental value that made it so hard to let go. Some will hold on knowing the day will never come, not even letting go when an offer is presented, someone with the intention of bringing the car back to its former glory, or even better. Even knowing that the day may never come, they let the car sit, well, forever. We are happy to report that this isn’t the case with Paul Kingma’s 1987 Mustang GT.
This 1987 Fox body Mustang has been in Kingma’s possession since 1989, since it was basically brand new. “My best friend in high school had a 1986 GT and I was very jealous. I saw mine in the front yard of a house in Michigan a few months later and had to have it,” Kingma tells us. “It was the first car I have ever purchased.”
The Fox served daily driving duties all the way up until 2004, and that’s when Kingma decided that it was time to put it up in storage with a plan of restoring it someday. Luckily for this beloved GT, that someday came just a few years later. It only sat for about four years when Kingma reached out to another Paul (Paul Faessler) in 2009 to discuss ideas to get the project started.
Faessler owns Paul’s Automotive Engineering out of Cincinnati, Ohio, also known as PAE, and is well-known for cranking out insane Mustang builds, from track stars to Concours Shelby and Mustang restorations, and has won more than 200 MCA and SAAC National Gold Awards.
Not to mention, Faessler’s expertise and dedication to road racing has landed him 50-plus feature builds in many magazines, as well eight NASA American/American Iron Extreme national championships. Not only is he well-known for building cars for apexes, but years ago he built the fastest NMRA S.S. Outlaw car in the country at the time. That car ran a 7.71 second pass at 193 mph. Faessler has done it all in the 32-plus years in the business of building and racing Mustangs, whether they were meant for chasing apexes or quarter-mile times, carving esses or plowing the straight line. The attention to detail he and his staff put into the cars that they build is impeccable, and even cars he has built decades ago often show up looking like they could have rolled out of the shop just yesterday.
The two Paul’s discussed goals of reaching 400 rear-wheel-horsepower out of Kingma’s Fox, as well as making this old ’87 a car that would brake and handle as well as a few BMWs that are owned by some of his buddies. Of course, he wanted a car that could handle just as well, if not better, than his buddies’ German cars, yet still be comfortable on the street.
Fast forward to early 2011, after the two Paul’s had laid down the final plan. Kingma was finally ready to pull the trigger on the project now that they have the perfect goal in mind. During the time that Kingma and Faessler were talking about the Fox project, PAE was working with Ford Racing and was running pre-production 5.0-liter Coyotes in its American Iron Mustang. After running that setup, Faessler had a plan that would turn Kingma’s ’87 Fox body into one bad boss. That’s right, why not install a Boss 302/Coyote engine swap? This seemed like a whole different direction than the old stroked pushrod engine that the two had previously discussed.
With PAE, Kingma’s old Fox body was finally getting a new heart — a much more reliable and updated heart — with the powertrain of choice being a 2012 Boss 302 crate engine from Ford Racing, one of the last ones available. PAE installed the new Coyote into Kingma’s 1987 GT and what better to protect it then with a menacing steel cowl hood.
You can’t just throw in a Boss 302 crate engine into a Fox body and call it a day without a few other upgrades to get the car running at optimum performance. Installed to help with fuel and air include a Ford Racing ECM, BBK 190lph fuel pump, Aeromotive regulator, Ford Racing intake manifold, and an 80 mm throttle body. Exhaust gases flow through BBK headers and a mid-pipe that connect down to Magnaflow mufflers. To help shift all of this newfound power is a Ford Racing world class T-5 five-speed mated to a Centerforce Dual Friction clutch, aluminum Ford Racing flywheel, and a Steeda shifter.
Our very own StangTV.com editor Don Creason photographed the car, and he also had the opportunity to drive it around the parking lot. Creason mentioned that the clutch, transmission, and shifter combination felt light and almost effortless, making the car incredibly easy to maneuver in the confines of the parking lot. Faessler says the combination is the result of years of working on Mustangs, and finding exactly the right parts that work on each combination. We feel safe to say that Faessler must have it down to an art.
Maximum Motorsports components make up most of the chassis such as front and rear upper/lower control arms, K-member, front and rear struts/shocks, torque arm, control arms, and Panhard bar. PAE also supplied the subframe connectors. For even better handling, the springs of choice came from Hyperco. The stock Ford 8.8-inch rear houses a 31-spline axle rear end complete with positraction.
“Handling is a nice balance between street and track. There are times when I wish it was a little stiffer for the track, but I am sure I would regret that on the street,” Kigma says. As many people who build cars know, sometimes you have to sacrifice a few things to get it running the way you want whether it’s driven daily or track-oriented.
“The interior is mostly original and shows its age, but I like the fact that my car still looks mostly like a stock ’87 GT,” Kingma says.
The wheels that perfectly compliment the exterior are 18-inch Ford Racing Shelby GT500 factory wheels wrapped with Nitto NT555 rubber (255/35R18 front and 285/35R18 rear). Sitting behind those Shelby GT500 wheels are Baer GT 13-inch brakes in the front and Cobra brakes backing up the rear to provide the stopping power needed during those intense track days. Keeping Kingma safe and secure during those hairpin turns are a set of Sparco Evo2 seats.
“I participate in a lot of track days, and I drive the car to and from the track. The response of the Boss engine is very quick and smooth, and it has been very reliable,” Kingma tells us.
With all of those modifications added to the new crate motor, Kingma’s naturally aspirated 1987 Mustang GT makes an impressive 416 rear-wheel horsepower and 345 rear-wheel torque. All of the new power plus suspension mods helped pilot him to a lap time of 1:26 at Putnam Park Road Course, a 1.78-mile featuring 10 turns located just west of Indianapolis.
So, let’s just say we are thrilled to know that Kingma’s dream has become a reality. Rather than letting the car sit in the garage as an ornament reminiscent of high school, he followed through with his plan of attack to build a car that suited his needs and hobby for racing. Slowly they transformed this factory Fox body into an apex killer. Instead of allowing other things to take over and putting his car on the back burner, his passion led him to Faessler and PAE, where they turned this stock Fox body from a high school hauler to a modern road course demon.