We’ve all seen it countless times: someone begins a project with the intent of the finished project falling within a certain category of car, only to have things take a drastic turn in a different direction. California native Nick Stewart wanted to take his mother’s former daily driver, a 1965 Mustang, and turn it into a Pro Touring car…but that just didn’t happen. What did happen is a sledgehammer street car with an LS power plant under the hood and goals of eight-second passes.
Stewart got his start racing back when he was 17 years old in high school with his 1994 Mustang GT. The supercharged Ford only managed to run a best of 14.10 — not the best time, but it was the first time he ever went to the track and set the stage for more trips. Later, Stewart campaigned a 1992 Fox body Mustang with a heads, cam, and intake swap that ran in the 13.20 range. Both of these cars exposed Stewart to the racing community that helped him build friendships, and now a decade later it’s those friendships that have assisted him in completing his 1965 Mustang.
With such heavy influences of drag racing in his life, it’s no surprise that Stewart decided to turn his classic Mustang into more of a street/strip machine.
“Originally, the car was supposed to be more of a Pro Touring build, but after spending more and more time at the drag strip things started being geared more towards drag racing. The intent was to be able to drive the car to the track, run an eight-second pass, and then drive it home, which is about an hour away. Northern California has a lot of heavy-hitter street cars, and to be able to hang with them is something that really has driven this project in its current direction,” Stewart says.
To push his Mustang towards the eight-second zone Stewart decided to rely on General Motors power. Originally, the car had a 4.8-liter, LS-based engine behind the twin BorgWarner S364 turbos; but that didn’t last. A 5.3-liter short block was secured, and Stewart had the ring gaps opened up and ARP head studs added to deal with boost. A Lil John’s Motorsports custom camshaft was slid into the engine, and a set of 799 casting GM heads were bolted on to the engine next. Finally, a Holley High Ram lower intake was selected to be used with a fabricated aluminum upper intake to assist with transferring boost into the engine.
The Mustang received a lot of chassis work at Dow Brothers Racecars to help make the LS engine fit and add a custom roll bar to the car. Dow Brothers also modified an AJE Colt 65 kit to make room for the turbo kit they fabricated. In the rear a custom four-link suspension was built, and has been supplemented with a wishbone that keeps the 8.8-inch rearend from a late model Cobra Mustang in place. An extra beefy anti-roll bar rounds out the rear suspension along with a set of double-adjustable shocks.
This Mustang’sbackground is actually pretty bland, but that all changed when Stewart decided the car would be the perfect canvas for his horsepower dream painting.
“The car was my mom’s daily driver from the late 1980s to 1992 when it was parked. When I was in high school ten years later, my dad and I brought it back to life and made it road-worthy again. I decided to cut up the car a couple years later when I wanted to make it more of a hot rod instead of your mom’s old Mustang,” Stewart says.
So far, Stewart has come super-close to his eight-second goal, but transmission troubles have held him back.
“The goal was to be a streetable 8.99 or better car. I feel that’s well within reach as soon as I iron out the transmission issues. So far I’ve gone 9.16 at 151 mph in the quarter-mile and 5.82 at 121 mph in the eighth with the car, so I’m knocking right on the door of the eight-second zone. As of late, I’ve been looking into building a stouter forged 5.3-liter engine. I feel if I really push the current turbos, the car is capable of running in the 8.20 to 8.30 range, and that is the end goal. But for now, I just want to prove my 8SECRYD license plate is true by dipping into the eights.”
Nick Stewart’s Mustang has deviated from its original path, but found an even more interesting one as it continues to evolve. Don’t let the fact that this Mustang began life as his mother’s daily driver fool you, Stewart is working on transforming this pony car into an eight-second street machine that sees plenty of track time each week.