Wide, 4-Eyed, And Ready To Party – 1986 Mustang Gets Revisioned

I think it’s safe to say that the majority of us grew up admiring our parents’ vehicles. We all thought we would be the one piloting dad’s modified car in the future. However, much to our displeasure, our parents ended up selling the vehicle to make ends meet or to fund a new automotive adventure. This nightmare usually plagued us at least once during our childhood, as the thought of smokey burnouts and weekends in the garage faded like tire smoke in the night. In the case of Chris Leonard, he had to relive this nightmare a number of times, as his father sold and repurchased the same 1986 Mustang.

My dad purchased the car back around 2000 and built it into a street car. I was around 6 years old. This car was the first car I remember doing a wheelie in and I fell in love with it. Chris Leonard

Leonard’s father had unknowingly skewed his son’s perspective on what a simple street car could be after building a well modified supercharged small-block 1986 Fox Body Mustang. This street car stunned a six-year old Leonard with its ability to lift the wheels at every launch, leaving the young Leonard smiling from ear to ear. However, his father sold it before Leonard could make an attempt at ownership. After coming to terms with the fact he might not see the car again, he decided to build his own Mustang. He settled on a 1993 Reef Blue Hatchback with a 306 cubic-inch engine.

1986 Mustang

Photography by Mike Autrey – Night Adder Photography

One fateful night Leonard’s father called him to the living room to discuss a car that recently popped up on eBay. It was the 1986 Mustang that he longed to own again. His father managed to scoop up the disassembled project for a fantastic price, which gave Leonard hope he would be able to trade his father for his Reef Blue Hatchback. His father had other plans and the car was parted out and sold once again.

The 1986 Mustang would reappear into Leonard’s life three more times before he finally convinced his father to swap Mustangs, if not for any other reason than to stop the torture of seeing his childhood dream car fading in and out of his life. The 1986 Mustang now lacked an engine, but that would change after locating a rolled 2004 Mach 1 Mustang. The 4.6-liter engine was an easy swap candidate, especially since his father had just swapped a supercharged 4.6-liter from a 2003 Cobra into a 1993 Cobra that left him with a wealth of knowledge on what needed to be done.

Leonard continued to build the chassis with Maximum Motorsports coilovers and an independent rear suspension from a 2003 Cobra. Unfortunately, his naval duties in South Carolina would result in him meeting a few inattentive drivers. The first one was a fender bender and the last wreck took out a large portion of the rear quarter panel. Trying to remain optimistic, Leonard decided to widen the Mustang through the use of a Maier three-inch widebody kit. He teamed up with friends at 508 customs in Dighton, Massachusetts, to finish off the body work. As the car was getting its new widened cloak applied, the engine was being fully forged internally and supercharged with a Vortech YSI. Everything was looking bright for Leonard until a bad batch of fuel resulted in a blown engine.

1986 Mustang

Widebody, 4-Eyed, T-Top, Coyote-swapped, manual transmission, what more could you want?

At this point, Leonard lacked space, tools, and time to finish the build, so the car remained on jack stands until he could get back to it. He knew he wanted something different than the antiquated small-block or the consistently belt-breaking modular he had dealt with for years. After a long thought process, he decided the best route would be a modern Coyote engine. After getting scammed on a blown engine, he decided to do it right and build this new Coyote engine to his specifications.

Leonard’s new powerplant would receive MMR rods and pistons accompanied by an entire assortment of ARP bolts throughout the engine. The heads were swapped over to Comp Cam-equipped GT350 heads. Billet oil pump and crank gears would replace the factory components. A Canton oil pan would round off the bottom end while BBK long tube headers and Bassani exhaust would give the wide Fox the exhaust note dreams are made of. Deciding not to tempt fate again, Leonard purchased an AEM Infinity 7 to control the Coyote. An RPM Transmission-built TREMEC T56 allowed Leonard to continue banging gears and maintain control of the car, as a SPEC twin-disc clutch allowed the power to transfer.

After completely rebuilding the chassis, suspension, and engine multiple times on the Mustang, you would think that Leonard would finally settle down and enjoy the fruits of his labor. You couldn’t be further from the truth, as he’s currently working on a new engine combination for the Fox at the time he’s pursuing a S550 drift build. He’s already attained his Formula Drift license and is building his YouTube following. He managed to do all this while serving six years in the United States Navy and continuing his professional career at SpaceX secretly retrieving all those rods he sent into orbit. If that’s not motivation, I don’t know what is!

1986 Mustang

Massive meats tuck nicely under the Maier 3″ widebody kit.

Photography by Mike Autrey – Night Adder Photography

 

 

About the author

James Elkins

Born into a household of motorsport lovers, James learned that wrenching takes priority over broken skin and damaged nerves. Passions include fixing previous owners’ mistakes, writing, and driving.
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