I’ve Had My Mustang GT Project For Three Weeks And Still Haven’t Crashed Into A Crowd

I realise I’m destroying a stereotype here, but Project 95 is shaping up to be a surprisingly fun machine despite being a mostly stock 5.0 five-speed. And since I haven't careened into a crowd of people yet, it means I need more horsepower
I’ve Had My Mustang GT Project For Three Weeks And Still Haven’t Crashed Into A Crowd

It’s been three weeks since I bought my 1995 Mustang GT convertible for a cool $3500. At that price I got a rust-free American icon with 97,000 miles, a five-speed manual transmission with a recent clutch, a factory limited-slip differential turning the rear wheels, a good convertible top that actually fits like it should, some minor front and rear bumper accents, and a booming stereo system that belts out ‘90’s grunge rock like a boss. I also got an old-school 5.0-litre pushrod V8 under the bonnet rated at whopping 215bhp from the factory. More on that in a bit.

The first order of business when I got this was to tweak the exterior with some proper 5.0 badges. Hey, the mods have to start somewhere, and why not be proud to pilot the last year for the Mustang’s old pushrod V8? Next came a new set of headlights to replace the faded, yellowed originals. And though I’ve never been a big fan of tri-spoke wheels, I’ve always liked the black tri-spokes Ford offered on the limited-edition 1993 SVT Mustang Cobra R. A sunny afternoon and a bit of refinishing work took care of that, and while I’m still not sure I like them enough to keep, they’re definitely better in black.

I’ve Had My Mustang GT Project For Three Weeks And Still Haven’t Crashed Into A Crowd

Aside from a pair of modestly loud mufflers the car seemed bone stock on the performance side, a claim supported by the original 21-year old spark plugs and plug wires I replaced during a basic tune-up. Being an old school motor I also replaced the original distributor cap and rotor, both of which had considerable scoring. And to make things interesting, I picked up an archaic tuning device called an inductive timing light. Wait, what?

Back in the olden days before paved roads and streaming music, car guys would adjust the engine’s ignition timing by turning the distributor while using a timing light to determine the specific setting. It’s not necessarily an exact science, but when it’s free horsepower, who cares?

I’ve Had My Mustang GT Project For Three Weeks And Still Haven’t Crashed Into A Crowd

I advanced the old 5.0’s ignition timing three degrees from stock - the setting most Mustang guys feel is the best - and called it good. Yeah, I need to run premium fuel now to prevent detonation, but between that, the tune-up, and a cheap cold air intake from eBay, the Mustang feels notably faster. And premium in my neck of the States is like $2.20 per gallon, so meh, no big deal.

Before I go further, let me review a few things. On the performance side I spent $50 for spark plugs, wires, distributor cap and rotor for basic maintenance. I spent another $50 on that cold air intake to replace the idiotic factory setup - I figure the intake might be good for a couple extra ponies at best, but I needed to replace the air filter anyway and the stock airbox was just a mess.

I’ve Had My Mustang GT Project For Three Weeks And Still Haven’t Crashed Into A Crowd

I say this because last Saturday I took Project 95 to a dyno day hosted by O2 Dynamics in my South Dakota home town of Rapid City. Let me just say that if you have the teeniest bit of fondness for cars, go to a dyno day even if it’s just to watch. Spectating is usually free, and a couple of pulls with your car are typically less than $100.

I happily paid $50 for two runs and came away with a good understanding of how much power the Mustang makes, as well as where that power is throughout the rev range. It’s a good baseline for me to build on, plus the dyno plot showed a slight stumble around 3300rpm - something I wouldn’t have noticed otherwise. You can clearly see the small dip in the pic below, and while I’m not losing any sleep over it, I’ll be nosing around the engine bay for crusty 21-year old vacuum lines.

I’ve Had My Mustang GT Project For Three Weeks And Still Haven’t Crashed Into A Crowd

Since you’ve read this much I won’t make you wait any longer. My 1995 Ford Mustang GT 5.0-litre V8 made 190 wheel horsepower at around 4700rpm. Before you start completely roasting me for making the same power as a new four-cylinder Honda Accord, understand that wheel horsepower is always lower than crankshaft horsepower due to power loss through the drive line.

The folks at 02 Dynamics told me this 21-year old engine with 97,000 miles is actually making around 240 horsepower at the crank, but I think they’re a bit optimistic. Factor in 15 to 16 per cent power loss, and I come up with around 230 horsepower. Either way, that’s considerably more than a four-cylinder Accord, but still much less than a V6 Toyota Camry, so it’s not like I’m going to be bragging about this around town. Especially since there were other Mustangs at the dyno day making double my horsepower…

I’ve Had My Mustang GT Project For Three Weeks And Still Haven’t Crashed Into A Crowd

Still, 230 is 15 more horsepower than stock, and with almost 100,000 miles I wasn’t even expecting to reach that factory figure. I don’t know if those extremely minor mods I did made all the difference, or if the old motor is just that healthy. But I do know this: The engine is definitely strong enough to handle stronger mods. And the Ford 5.0-litre pushrod V8 engine is one of the best supported performance engines in the world for aftermarket go-fast goodies. Attaining 300 naturally aspirated horsepower should be an easy bar to reach. That’s my next performance benchmark.

I’ve Had My Mustang GT Project For Three Weeks And Still Haven’t Crashed Into A Crowd

Until I get there (i.e. until I have more money to spend), I have a car that’s reasonably fast, fun-to-drive, and contrary to popular belief, does in fact know how to corner. This could definitely be fun, and if things should go terrifically wrong along the way - like wiping out a line of cars and/or people when leaving a Cars and Coffee meet for example - I’ll make sure the world at least gets a hilarious meme out of it. It’s the least I can do for you CTzens on this cheap American muscle car challenge.



Just give it time

04/17/2016 - 19:27 |
2 | 2
Tony Tarfa

Still haven’t crashed mu RWD Astra, Feels good eh !

04/17/2016 - 19:35 |
16 | 5

It is because you don’t own an RWD Astra.

04/18/2016 - 12:27 |
1 | 9

That’s a brake tester 😂

04/18/2016 - 22:01 |
3 | 1

Murphy’s law…Just kidding, great car man!

04/17/2016 - 19:46 |
8 | 1
Kyle Ashdown

Great article, as usual. My buddy’s got a 94 hardtop, will be sure to give him some of your tips!

04/17/2016 - 19:52 |
2 | 0

Thats because u know how to drive its about the driver always

04/17/2016 - 19:55 |
2 | 0

Nice Story, keep on posting your updates, it is interesting and quiet fun to read :)

04/17/2016 - 20:13 |
0 | 0

Well done!

04/17/2016 - 20:17 |
0 | 0
Clint 1

Well yes but how many car shows have you exited?

04/17/2016 - 20:29 |
5 | 1

You’re doing it wrong. This is what my 90s mustang looks like on a daily basis.

04/17/2016 - 20:33 |
25 | 1

It has to be running to crash into a crowd

04/17/2016 - 20:39 |
3 | 3

Please, stop with that.

04/17/2016 - 23:12 |
2 | 3


Sponsored Posts