It’s a well known fact that speed costs money. How fast we can go at the track is often dictated by how much money we can budget for our project car. Other factors that influence our car’s elapsed times are traction, and weight. Obviously a lighter car accelerates more easily, and requires less horsepower than a heavier car. Higher horsepower is fun, but without the necessary traction, you’re literally left spinning your wheels.
Adam Cox of Louisville, KY is proving that going fast doesn’t necessarily have to cost you a fortune. His 1999 Mustang is running high ten second quarter miles while competing in NMRA’s Modular Muscle class, as well as the monthly eighth mile shootouts held at Ohio Valley Dragway in Louisville, KY. There are no power adders of fancy tricks here, just old-style naturally aspirated horsepower from a modern-day engine.
Cox, an electronics engineer for CSX Railroad signals department (no he doesn’t drive the trains), bought his car from its original owner in Northern Ohio. It began life as a lowly V6 and he tells us, “Originally I bought the car with the intention of making a racecar out of it, but at the time I couldn’t afford to own two vehicles. I sold my truck, set some money aside each month from my overtime pay, and bought parts here, and there for about three years. When I had accumulated enough parts and money to do what I wanted, I parked the car, tore it down and built it.”
Cox’s patience in saving money paid off; good things come to those who plan, budget, and are willing to wait a little while for the payoff.
When I had accumulated enough parts and money to do what I wanted, I parked the car, tore it down and built it.
The build would take Cox somewhere between three, and four months to complete with some of his friends helping. Like Chris Cotner, who among other things helped build the bracket to relocate the alternator. Everything that wasn’t necessary to run at the track or to keep it street legal was removed. The stock V6 seats remain while the rear seat was deleted. Carpet, power windows, and power locks also remain intact. The instrument cluster has been replaced with Auto Meter gauges, and a shift light, only what’s necessary to monitor the engine’s performance was installed here. A switch panel also resides where the car’s climate controls once made their home.
Inspired by Hot Rod Magazine’s Junkyard Jewels series, Cox went to a local salvage yard and yanked a 110,000 mile engine from a Lincoln Mark VIII, that he paid $175 for the complete running engine. For those not in the know, the aluminum block, and dual overhead cam setup make these an ideal candidate for a modular engine build. He removed the heads and replaced them with the complete heads and cams for a 2004 Mustang Cobra. “The only reason why I changed the heads was that with the “B” head they don’t make a carburated intake for it,” he says, referring to the second design DOHC head that the Mark VIII came equipped with. The heads used are otherwise stock over the counter, with stock cams, from a Ford dealer’s parts department.
I only spent about $3500 on the engine, I wanted to put most of my budget into the suspension
This brings us to the next area of interest in Cox’s car and that is his choice for the engine’s induction setup. Years ago we read that Ford engineers were against at the idea of someone slapping a carburetor on their precious technological marvel – the modular engine. “About six years ago I read an article in Muscle Mustangs and Fast Fords about a car with a modular engine, and a carburetor, that fascinated me and when I decided to build this car I wanted to do something different,” says Cox. What you see before you is an engine that uses a Sullivan Performance intake, and Quick Fuel Technology carburetor.
Cox also sourced Bridge Racing in Newhaven, MS for the distributor drive that’s mounted in the driver’s side head. The ignition system is controlled by an MSD Digital 7 box. A Stewart Components electric water pump serves to keep coolant flowing during street driving, or quarter mile passes.
Saving more money, and weight is the Tremec TKO 500 transmission. While automatics are known for their consistency, manual transmissions tend to save weight and free up horsepower. Cox saved money in this area as well by disassembling the transmission himself to install he necessary parts to pro-shift it. He had honed his skills on rebuilding Tremec transmissions, and pro-shifting them years ago while working on his former Fox Body Mustang – a car he competed in NMRA’s Pure Street class with.
“I only spent about $3500 on the engine, I wanted to put most of my budget into the suspension,” Cox told us. Fast Chassis Races Cars in Mt Washington, KY gets the credit for building, installing and aiding in the tuning of the car’s rear suspension. Fast Chassis also constructed the car’s six point roll cage.
Up front a PA Racing tubular K-member, and suspension help reduce the car’s front end weight. During drag launches power is planted via Mickey Thompson 26×10.5” slicks, riding on American Racing Wheels Track Stars. Front skinnies are also from Mickey Thompson.
The body retains its stock silver color. There’s no spoiler or wing on the back, just a plain stock trunk lid. The hood is a six inch lift off from VFN Fiberglass, held in place with desutch fasteners. The front bumper is the only other body alteration, having been swapped for the better looking 03-04 Cobra style.
10’s for less than $10k.
Cox told us “I can probably reproduce this setup, including the price of the car for less than $10,000.” Looking at the list of parts and frugal nature of the build we believe him. What he’s built is a car that can cruise on Saturday night, or drive to the local track, run a respectable time and make it back home on its own power, reliably, and consistently.
Cox asked us to guess what the car’s weight was during our photo shoot, we guessed 2,850 lbs with driver. He smiled slyly and said that was pretty darn close. At the track it would seem his focus on suspension, and weight over maximum horsepower has paid off. The car launches hard, nearly dragging the rear bumper. Tripping the sixty foot clocks with a best time of 1.42, the eighth mile rips by in 6.90 at 98 MPH, and so far the best quarter mile has been 10.90 at 122 MPH. Given the investment of money, and the actual time to complete the build tear down day to shakedown passes, we’re impressed.
When his work schedule and arrangements have allowed, Cox has taken the car on the road to a few NMRA events to compete in the Modular Muscle class. In 2011 at the NMRA World Finals in Bowling Green, KY he made it all the way to the semi finals. In 2012 he again made it to the semi-finals at Commerce, GA. It would seem it may only be a matter of time before he grabs a final round appearance, and perhaps even an event win.