For the majority of men engrossed in racing and the car hobby in general, they remain at constant odds with their significant other as to the time, money, and effort that is devoted to their cars.
In that sense, North Carolina native Caleb Skinner, who owns and operates FNRowdy, is a very fortunate man.
After flogging a number of potent street cars — 2014 and ’15 Mustang GT’s and a GT350 — Skinner’s wife, Tricia, pressed for something a bit more racey. And Caleb was happy to oblige.
The end result is this striking 2016 Ford Mustang sporting a GT350 nose and fenders and the distinct Mystichrome color scheme that’s equally capable of grocery store runs and 5-second runs to the 1/8-mile.
“She’s had all these stock cars and drove them all on the street, and she wanted something that was one-off and substantially faster and more modified than all those others she’d had….something like a drag car,” Caleb says.
The Skinner’s had two specific objectives that make this car truly stand out: first, having never seen an S550 Mustang in the familiar and still-adored Mystichrome color synonymous with the 2003-04 Cobra, they chose to make it happen for a true one-of-a-kind look. And second, Caleb wanted to do a straight-axle conversion in the rear and retain the full trunk and stock gas tank and emissions. “They’re usually Cobra Jets with an aftermarket fuel cell and all,” he notes.
The engine is, curiously enough, a bone-stock 302 Coyote original to the car, save for the oil pump gears and sprocket. Twin 67mm Garrett turbos provide enough boost to produce around 900 horsepower — the upper limit for the stock engine in Skinners’ assessment. The turbo system is finished out with Tial wastegates and blowoff valves, FIC 1200cc injectors, Fore fuel rails, twin 400lph fuel hat, and fuel pressure regulator. A Roush SC lower manifold with a cooler core was mated with a custom upper intake hat.
In order to retain emissions and feature comforts, Skinner wired the car up to use both a Holley Dominator EFI and the factory ECU in unison — the Holley manages the engine, transmission, ignition, and so on, and the Ford part the air-conditioning, electric steering, and all of the standard in-car processes. The two systems share sensors and the crank tigger.
A 4R70 transmission was swapped in place of the 6R80 for compatibility with the Holley Dominator EFI system.
RC Components wheels with Baer Deep Stage wheels are up front and Belak double beadlock wheels wrapped in Hoosier bias-plies are in the rear, with dual-caliper Wilwood brakes. The front suspension is a Watson Racing conversion kit, with tubular k-members, A-arms with a 2014-style strut and spindle. Strange Engineering double-adjustable struts were chosen for the build. Out back, the project began with a 2014 straight axle and skinner narrowed the 8.8 rear 10-inches total, made low front control arm brackets and used UPR 2014 lower control arms; a torque arm was modified to fit, which allowed the car to go without upper control arms and thus retain the factory fuel tank. Moser Engineering custom-length 33-spline axles are paired with weld-on 9-inch ends and the aforementioned 9-inch Wilwood brakes. The car does not have a spool, so that it can be driven comfortably on the street and pushed around the shop without issue.
The interior is largely factory, with Corbeau seats and G-Force belts; eventually Caleb says a 10-point cage will be necessary as track-time becomes more frequent, but for the time being, the kids can still safely ride in the back-seat without fear of injury from a bar.
Tricia has made three runs down the strip in the car — and Caleb makes clear this is her car and only she drives it — with an off-the-trailer 6.40 and a best run in the 6-teens on 14 lbs. of boost. The goal, as it sits, is to go 5.99….rather stout for a street car with an OEM motor that spends most of its time on the road.
“The fastest car she’d ever been in before was a totally stock GT350, which she did not race on the track,” Calerb says. ‘My first time down the track was a 9.90 in a 1994 GT, and I was ecstatic. Her goal and mine was to go 5.99, daily drive it on the stock motor…and that’s quick for someone that hasn’t been into drag racing that long, but is extremely interested. There are a lot of men out there with fast cars that will never go to the track and go 5.99.”
Mike kyzmicki photos