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1989 Ford Mustang - He Joined 'Em

Raphael Ordaz Was Tired Of Getting Beaten By Mustangs, So He Bought One.

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Tech Notes
Who: Raphael Ordaz
Where: Reseda, California
What: '89 Ford Mustang

Engine: A 347-inch, stroked 302 powers Ralph's Mustang. He built everything, including the turbo system, himself. "I didn't know what parts to buy, so I started going to the races and asking the fast drivers what they used to build their engines," he says. The stroker package consists of a Scat crank and forged H-beam rods. It adds the low-end grunt needed to push the car until the big turbocharger spools up. The cylinder heads are out-of-the-box AFR 185s. Dished pistons add up to a compression ratio of 9.5:1. If that sounds high, don't worry. Ralph limits the boost to 7 psi and the pistons are forged, so they can stand up to some abuse.

Boost: Ralph started with a 72mm turbocharger he bought from Turbo Performance in Van Nuys, California. Somehow it got out of balance, and he opted to have the housing bored out and repaired rather than buy a new one. As it sits now, it measures 76 mm, and Ralph says the increase in lag was noticeable. "It raised the point where the turbo spools by 500 rpm, but it kicks in a lot harder than it did before." Ralph made all the plumbing, too, apologizing for the look of his welds. We say, "Who cares. It's fast." He hung an intercooler off his bumper impact beam with zip ties, and cold air enters an early Accufab throttle body, an EFI Spyder elbow, and a Trick Flow single-plane intake manifold.

Engine management: The stock computer was recalibrated to cope with the extra airflow through the mass air meter. Ralph also installed a piggyback chip he bought from his brother-in-law that improves the idle quality.

Ignition: The stock distributor is hanging in there, but Ralph says he keeps burning through spark plug wires.

Exhaust: Swap a pair of shorty headers side to side and you now have turbo headers. Ralph made the rest of the plumbing with straight and bent tubing, ending in turndowns.

Starter: Ralph needs a new one. It doesn't work after it gets hot. We had to push-start his car a few times during the shoot. Great exercise, though.

Transmission: The car's stock T5 is still in place and hasn't broken under the strain of the added horses. To save the trans, Ralph runs an off-the-shelf Autozone clutch disc. "It has a lifetime warranty. When I burn it up, I take it in and get a new one." He changes it every few months. They're starting to get suspicious.

Rearend: The rear is out of a Lincoln Mark VII and houses 3.55:1 gears on a Traction Lok differential.

Suspension: Ralph rebuilt his suspension with a coilover kit from X2C Motorsports, with Eibach springs and Tokico struts in the front. He added Bilstein shocks in the rear but kept the stock springs so the car would squat under acceleration.

Brakes: The stoppers were upgraded to '95 Mustang Cobra rotors up front.The rear brakes come from Lincoln.

Wheels/Tires: When we first met him, Ralph had stock Mustang GT wheels on the car. He's since upgraded to steamroller 315/35R17 BFGoodrich tires on FR500 replica wheels.

Paint/Body: Ralph even did the bodywork and sprayed the paint himself, though he didn't intend to from the start. He paid a guy to fix some ugliness on the roof, but the guy was a hack. Ralph decided to do the rest of the car himself. "I didn't know what to do, so I watched videos on YouTube and did what they did."

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