Video: Watch This Fox Body Hop Through Imola’s Chicanes

Even in Group A guise, this Fox Body Mustang isn’t that different from the road-going sibling. Nevertheless, this basic racer demonstrates that a solid-axle machine can be effective in very wet conditions—provided the driver’s handy.

Fox Body Bones

The recipe is simple. According to Group A regulations, the Mustang uses a 5.0-liter V8 with a cast iron block and cylinder heads. It also has a roller cam with roller rockers, factory aluminum inlet manifold, 4-barrel carburetor, and tubular exhaust manifolds. The most recent dyno result is 489 horsepower at the rear wheels. This is about 100 more than what it produced in its Group A days. All this power is harnessed by a close-ratio Getrag 262 gearbox.

As we can see from the external footage, a lot of front camber is needed to get the iron lump in front through the middle of the corner. Adjustable swaybars, Bilstein shocks, and a 4-link setup help this solid axle machine rotate well and exhibit confidence-inspiring behavior. A bit bouncy perhaps, but what it lacks in turn-in, it makes up for with an inspiring corner exit. Solid rear axles are good in that department!

fox body

Driveability Is Key

This Fox Body is no featherweight, and needs a little extra to lean on when braking. It uses an AP Racing kit with 4-piston calipers, 331mm front rotors, and 291mm rear rotors. A little extra modulation over the car comes courtesy of an adjustable pedal box. Around those brakes are 16″ Simmons 3-piece wheels wrapped in 265-section Dunlop slicks. Those were ditched for rain duty, but you could be forgiven for thinking otherwise; this car is quite happy moving around, even at high speeds. 

The front works well enough to lean on through quick corners, even in the wet. However, the tail is prone to dance several times throughout the corner, especially on throttle. In areas where he’s decelerating and cornering, the driver stabilizes the rear through a combination of steering inputs and light throttle. In order to do this while braking, he rolls his heel over onto the throttle and adds just enough to keep the revs from dropping (4:43 and between gears at 5:20). Think heel-toe without manipulating the clutch pedal. This minor blip keeps the weight a little more evenly distributed over all four corners when the car must be slowed and turned from a high speed. In such a nervous car carrying strong cornering speed in wet conditions, this technique bolsters confidence and avoids high-speed snaps that, regardless of how quick one’s hands are, aren’t always savable.

As we can see, there’s a major difference between front and rear camber.

Unrealized Potential

Originally, the car was prepared for and driven by Smith and Barry Seton for the 1984 Bathurst 1000, where it finished 18th overall and 3rd in Group A. The car was then entered into the Australian Touring Car Championship where, plagued by unreliability, it failed to make much of an impact. However, the Fox Body Mustang was not scrapped and after being sold to Wayne and Bruce Anderson, it enjoyed a mild resurgence.

The pair updated the car to 1985 specifications and wrapped it in the striking PinePac livery. The rules allowed for larger brakes, better front end components and engine modifications. The PinePac Mustang took part in the Bathhurst 1000 in 1985, as well as the Australian Touring Car Championship and New Zealand Touring Car Championship in 1985 and 1986. It also participated in a WTCC race at Wellington in 1987, where it finished 14th place overall. Though the engine was prepared by Dick Johnson, this gleaming Fox Body never really enjoyed much success. Thankfully, it’s since found a new home in historic racing where its rarity and incredible exhaust note have garnered fans.

 

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About the author

Tommy Parry

Tommy Parry has been racing and writing about racing cars for the past seven years. As an automotive enthusiast from a young age, he worked jobs revolving around cars throughout high school, and tried his hand on the race track on his 20th birthday. After winning his first outdoor kart race, Tommy began working as an apprentice mechanic to amateur racers in the Bay Area to sharpen his mechanical understanding. He has worked as a track day instructor and automotive writer since 2012, and continues to race karts, formula cars, sedans, and rally cars in the San Francisco region.
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