The Ultimate Father-Son Project -Joey Keown’s 95 Mustang

The youth of today take a lot of criticism from their elders for being lazy, uninterested, entitled, the list goes on and on. This shows up in all areas of life, even in car culture. All too often we’ve heard people talk about one generation or another as though they’re not interested in cars, or simply too lazy to put forth the effort to modify, or customize one.

This criticism seems to fall even more on today’s youth at the tail end of generation Y or the Millennials. It is true young people of today tend to be wrapped up in technology, and statistically they are driving less. We still should remember that not everyone is a car guy or car girl, or was when we were growing up.  When we hit the car shows, cruise nights, and drag races we’re always able to find pockets of youth that are just as into cars as we were at their age. So there’s still hope for the hobby, and for the younger generations out there. 

One such young person we recently met is Joey Keown. Joey built the ’95 Mustang you see here with his dad Jim as a father and son project. The elder Keown himself had already, with the help of his son, completed a very nice Fox body convertible, one which had the magazine light shone upon it a few years ago. That turbocharged 5.0 was his first taste of the Mustang universe, and a project that he developed to give his young son a hobby and keep him out of the kind of trouble and temptation that so many teenagers fall into, something that Jim had first hand experience with as a teen himself. 

 Finding the Right Car

With the exception of the rear bumper, few clues remain that this was once a V6 Mustang.

After the convertible was completed the search began for another project car. Every once in a while things just line up for some people. Jim actually did some trading with a family member for this ’95 Mustang. A V6 with a five speed. The car had belonged to a girl in the family who wrecked it more than once in less than a one month time frame. Keown and son had already repaired this car one time for a head gasket failure, then again for the body damage. Although Joey was only twelve at the time, his dad saw this as the perfect opportunity to keep his young son interested in cars, and again keep him by dad’s side in the garage instead of getting into trouble with some of his classmates. 

As so many project cars do, this father and son project snowballed from building a simple driver that you see here, into the fun street car and then a impressive show car that you see before you. The car is completely unrecognizable from the original, very plain low option V6 that it once was. Gone is the lowly and anemic 3.8-liter six, replaced instead with the venerable 5.0 from another ’95 GT. A complete ’95 GT wiring harness was sourced from a wreck as well, and installed in the car to simplify the conversion. With the exception of the rear bumper, nearly everything on the car today is correct for a GT built that year.

Getting What He Really Wanted

If you’re thinking now something along the lines of it must be nice to have your dad build your car for you, you’d be thinking wrong. “Joey would ask for parts for his car for Christmas and his birthday, or save his money to buy them, he helped do or did all the work to this car himself,” says Jim. Joey earned or asked for each of these parts, when some kids were getting skateboards and X-box’s, he was getting wheels and performance parts under the tree or working to save the money to buy them himself.

Joey is nineteen now, so this is not a project that happened overnight either, it’s the culmination of seven years of saving money, waiting for Christmas and birthdays, and a lot of hard work. That is perhaps a lesson that all of us in this day and age of instant gratification could stand to learn.

Joey would ask for parts for his car for Christmas and his birthday, or save his money to buy them, he helped do or did all the work to this car himself – Jim Keown

The engine itself is a mostly stock 95 longblock. It does utilize an FRPP F303 camshaft and is topped with a Holley Systemax intake, which has been plumbed with 42 pound injectors, fed by the Walbro 255 in tank pump. Those big squirters are necessary because there’s that OnThree 70mm turbo system that kind of sneaks up on you when you open the hood, or when Joey flies by you on the throttle.

The Keown’s paid a lot of attention to detail with this car, everything is painted or powder coated, including the intake and turbo housing, but it has been done so well that it looks like it could have come from the factory that way. “I told him that there are lots of these cars out there and also a lot of them will have the same parts as yours. You’re going to have to do everything just a little bit different, with just a little more detail to get it noticed,” says Jim.

There’s an MSD ignition system to keep the candles lit under boost.  A recent Facebook post by the younger Keown said “Turbo V8 + cold weather = greatest ride ever.” Exhaust is sent through the turbo kit’s Y-pipe and then routed out a set of Superflo turbo mufflers. 

Stopping this teenaged driver and his trusted pony is handled by the ever popular and affordable 13-inch Cobra brake upgrade up front. Out back UPR control arms hang onto the 8.8” rearend that’s been upgraded with an Auburn posi, 3.27 gears and 31 spline superior axles. Gear changes come via a T5 transmission. Eibach springs get the ride height where it should be, and everything rides on a set of custom painted FRPP FR500 wheels. The 17×10” rear wheels work with Nitto 555 tires, and do their best to grab the pavement under hard acceleration. 

Inside the car we quickly noticed the absence of power windows and locks, something rarely seen on SN95 and later cars, a further clue as to this car’s base model origins. Joey has upgraded the instrumentation adding an Autometer FRPP logo tach as well as the necessary boost and air fuel monitors to help him keep an eye on engine operation. Those uncomfortable base model front seats have been replaced with a set from Summit racing. 

Outside you’ll notice right off hand the two tone paint job, slick and smooth – the FR500 wheels were resprayed to match it. The front bumper has been changed to an SN95 Cobra model, notice too the lack of a front license plate cutout, something that plagued they styling of many SN95’s front bumpers. Headlights were also swapped out, as was the hood for a small cowl induction style. 

We found Joey and his dad Jim at the NMRA World Finals in Bowling Green, KY where the car won the Outstanding Achievement award for 94-98 Mustangs. We actually met Jim first, Joey it would seem was helping a friend checkout cars in the swap meet.

Working on two project cars, the younger Keown has inspired a few of his friends to get involved in the hobby and build cars themselves. “I’ve had friends ask me now if I would teach them how to work on their cars,” bringing us back to our original point, sometimes it takes the influence of one peer to get others interested.  

 Next Generation

The Keown’s aren’t done building cool  Mustangs, not by a long shot. As a matter of fact, Jim Keown is not done building cars with his sons. His youngest son Dustin, now only eight years old is already getting an early start in the hobby. At home it would seem there is an ’85 Mustang T-top waiting to be brought into the Keown family garage. “I got a really good deal on it,” Jim says.

He already has his youngest son involved in the earliest stages of the project, the planning. Dustin has been looking over what color he wants and what wheels he thinks would look good on his car as well. These are tastes that develop early in our lives and are likely to change very little.

While Dustin isn’t yet old enough to fully understand all the complexities of the build, his dad understands the importance of getting him interested in it now, so that Dustin will want to follow in his dad and his older brother’s footsteps and build a cool car of his own. “People asked me about Joey’s car, aren’t you afraid he’ll get killed driving that car, and I always tell them if he’s going to be stupid in a car and do something to get himself killed, it really doesn’t matter what he’s driving,” a wise statement from a dad who is teaching his sons well.

Turbo V8 + cold weather = greatest ride ever. -Joey Keown

Not only has Jim Keown given his son a hobby that has taught him the value of hard work, patience and keeping out of trouble. He has also created a passion in his son, that will give the two a strong common bond for the rest of their lives. Often is the case that parents feel distant from their kids, with little to nothing in common during that span between teens and their thirties.

When Joey and his dad get together, if the conversation on other topics runs dry, they’ll always be able to shoot the breeze about cars, something in common to share, that a lot of parents probably wish they shared with their own kids. We’ll be keeping an eye on the Keown family for years to come, as some of us have a particular partiality to four eyed Mustangs. With the outstanding outcomes of the first two builds, we’d wager that by the time young Dustin is old enough to drive his car will be something truly special indeed. 

Jim's turbocharged convertible right, with Joey's turbo '95 Left. We have a feeling Dustin's car may follow the family turbo path as well.

About the author

Don Creason

Don Creason is an automotive journalist with passions that lie from everything classic, all the way to modern muscle. Experienced tech writer, and all around car aficionado, Don's love for both cars and writing makes him the perfect addition to the Power Automedia team of experts.
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