If you aren’t keen on Fox Mustangs, you might just assume that Jack Lyons is the proud owner of a clean older Mustang. However, a peek under the hood reveals that his coupe packs a race car punch in a street-car package. In fact, after chatting with him, we wished we could travel back to 1990 with this combination where it would have been the baddest street ’Stang on the planet.
In 2006 I took it off the road to build what I had already built for everyone else, which was an ultimate street car. — Jack Lyons
From there he came up with a plan to upgrade nearly every piece of functional equipment on the car with the idea of improving performance without rendering the car just another race car.
“The only part on this car that’s still original Ford that came with the car is the power steering pump,” he said. “Everything that rotates or revolves has been exchanged with replacement parts because it has 260,000 miles on it. I have rebuilt the whole car twice, just because of use. It’s been drag raced as a nitrous car, a supercharged car and, now, it’s a turbocharged car.”
His Fox coupe caught our eye in the National Parts Depot display at the NMRA’s season opener this past March. First we just saw a really clean Fox and that always stops us in our tracks, but the more we learned about the car, we realized it was the kind of sleeper that would have ruled the streets back in the day.
“Most of the time when people first see it, their first thoughts are ‘It’s a beautiful car. It’s very clean.’ Most people who don’t know Mustang absolutely love it,” Jack explained. “The people who do know Mustangs understand from closer inspection that it’s probably more than just a stock vehicle. However, most of the time, people have no idea what’s lurking under the hood, so to speak.”
What’s lurking under there is a fully built 363ci stroker based on the robust Dart SHP Windsor block, which he filled with a SCAT forged crankshaft, SCAT forged connecting rods, and Wiseco pistons yielding a boost-friendly 9.3:1 compression ratio. Topped with AFR 195 aluminum cylinder heads and a Trick Flow R intake the combo is orchestrated by a custom COMP camshaft.
Driveable and Reliable
“When I contemplated getting rid of this car, I thought it would be worth more as a stock-format vehicle instead of with the modifications that I made. I was used to driving it around at about 500 horsepower,” Jack said. “I thought about going back to a stock format because I wanted the driveability and dependability that Ford was famous for in these vehicles. But, I knew I wasn’t going to be happy with less horsepower than I was accustomed to, so I did some research and decided to build a streetable, big-cubic-inch small-block.”
With the Coyote swap craze in full swing, it might be a surprise that Jack kept his street sleeper powered by a pushrod small-block. That was an easy decision for him, however.
The reason I stuck with the pushrod engine is that I am somewhat of a purist. — Jack Lyons
1990 Mustang LX Specs
Block: Dart SHP
Crankshaft: Forged SCAT
Rods: Forged SCAT
Pistons: Coated Wiseco w/ Wiseco rings
Cylinder Heads: AFR Renegade 195
Camshaft: Custom Comp (.604 valve lift I/E, 238 duration I/E, 114 LCA) W/ Comp Ultra Gold 1.6 rocker arms
Intake Manifold: Trick Flow R 75mm w/ Holley 75mm throttle body
Fuel System: Walbro 450-lph fuel pump w/ Aeromotive regulator, Aeromotive fuel rails and Bosch 82 lb/hr fuel injectors
Powertrain Control Module: Haltech Sport 2000 w/ adapter to factory harness
Ignition: MSD Digital 6 Plus w/ MSD Blaster coil and NGK spark plugs
Exhaust: D Performance headers w/ On3 Y-pipe, Magnaflow 2.5-inch cat-back and
3-inch Magnaflow mufflers
Turbocharger: On3 78/75 journal bearing w/ HX front-mounted interooler featuring 3-inch inlet/outlet and 3-inch core
Transmission: Tremec TKO-600 w/ TKO billet shifter, McLeod RXT1000 clutch and stock driveshaft
Rearend: Factory 8.8-inch w/ Detroit True Trac differential, Ford Performance 3.55 gears, Moser 31-spline axles (custom from North Race cars, stock Fox track width)
K-member: PA Racing, stock location with spring perches
A-arms: Stock Ford lower control arms
Struts: Tokico fully adjustable
Caster/Camber Plates: UPR steel
Springs: UPR coilover conversion, 14-inch springs
Sway Bar: Factory with urethane bushings
Wheels: Five-lug Pony R, 17×8-inch
Tires: Continental Extreme DW, 235/45-17
Brakes: 2004 Ford Cobra w/1993 Cobra master cylinder
Shocks: Tokico fully adjustable
Springs: Ford Performance M2300-C, 1/2-inch lower than stock, stock spring rate
Bushings: Heim Joints
Control Arms: UPR double-adjustable upper and UPR single-adjustable lower
Wheels: Five-lug Pony R, 17×10-inch
Tires: Continental Extreme DW, 285/40-17
Brakes: 2004 Ford Cobra w/ North Race Cars adapter bracket
The ability to return this car to stock might be reassuring to fellow purists, but you might assume that a big-cube pushrod engine might not behave the way he wanted it to, but that’s just not the case. Jack called on his vast experience to select the parts that would make power while retaining drivability and reliability. Far to often, he told us, people believe bigger is better, but that’s not always the case, especially on the street.
“In the ’90s, during the Pro 5.0 era, we built a record-breaking Pro 5.0 and I learned a lot of the tricks of the trade back then. It evolved into me applying everything I had learned over the years to this car…” he explained. “Thanks to the advances in technology, I was able to build this platform, which is fully streetable with working air conditioning, working cruise control and the only reason the heat is not working is because it’s disconnected — I live in Florida. It functions exactly as it did when it rolled off the showroom floor in every aspect.”
A great enabler of this level of performance in a streetable package is the On3 single turbo with an ample intercooler. It is set up to deliver about 16 pounds of boost and the whole combo is refined by Jack’s aftermarket fuel injection system of choice — a Haltech Sport 2000 plugged right into the factory harness — which he tuned himself to deliver that stock-style driveability.
“To make it streetable, keeping it to around 680 at the tire is probably the limit. It will break the tires loose in all four gears with the amount of torque this car makes. But, generally speaking, the way the cam profile is, it starts to build its peak power around 3,500 to 4,000 RPM, which most of the time when you are driving it, you are not in that powerband, you are below it,” he added. “So it drives more or less like a daily would until you put your foot into it. …By the time you are at 4,000 RPM you are at full tilt, full boost and you go all the way to 6,000 RPM. I drove it, and on my datalogger, it went from 30 to 130 mph in 8 seconds. What more do you want? And, that was with the street tune.”
What more do you want, indeed? Having the title in our names? Seriously though, we have to applaud Jack for building exactly the kind of car we would have dubbed King of the Street.