"snowball effect"

Todd Eichelberger's '89 LX

Article by: Caleb Richards

“What started as an engine freshening turned into a three year build”
— Todd Eichelberger

    

    

    I've said it a million times, so I wont bother going into the snowball effect again. In a nutshell, you start with a small project, and before you know it, the entire car is in pieces. Yep, chances are if you are reading this, you know exactly what I am talking about. 

    I must admit, this is a self indulgent feature for me. Todd Eichelberger built his '89 exactly how I would spec out a fox build. He managed to check every box that gets my salivary glands going, and the attention to detail is exceptional. The forged Weld wheels, Makers Garage splitter, polished supercharger, custom black interior, and so on simply work. No crazy stripes, no huge wings, no wild colors; just a well built fox that runs as good as it looks. 

   Despite not growing up with a car guy in the family, Todd was always playing with cars and trucks as a kid. As Todd got older he began to tinker with RC cars, and began reading car magazines. As luck would have it his neighbor growing up owned a fox, and let Todd help him turn some wrenches on it. By the time high school came around, he was totally hooked on cars, more specifically foxbody Mustangs. "I always had mustang magazines with me in high school" recalls Todd. This passion eventually led him to go to technical school, and become the Master Certified Ford technician that he is today.

    Rewind back to the summer following his graduation from high school, a friend mentioned he was selling his '89 LX, and the deal was too good for Todd to pass up. The car was in great shape, and already sported an A trim Vortech supercharger, and the classic Weld draglites. Although he was in college, Todd managed some upgrades like a rear disk conversion, and changed the wheels to Saleen SC replicas. Other than that, he was content to drive and enjoy the car. 

    Once out of school, Todd was able to buy a house, which of course had a large garage to keep the hatch safe from the Iowa winters, and space to tackle some projects on the car. The first project was to smooth the engine bay, do a wire tuck, and some minor suspension upgrades. While the engine was out, the plan was to freshen it up a bit, but after pulling the pan and finding pieces of the rings, he was at a crossroads. "Further inspection revealed that nearly every ring was broken, but the engine ran good, and barely smoked" recalls Todd. 

    Once stripped of the wounded bottom end, the block was bored and clearanced for 347 spec, and a forged rotating assembly ordered. The cam is an Anderson Ford Motorsport B-45, and actuate the 1.94/1.60 valves in the heavily worked E7 heads. The heads are from Ron Anderson Performance, which were built back in the early 90s before there were many head options available. Topping things off is an equally rare Vortech upper intake, mated to a Holley Systemax lower. Next on the list was to send out the little A trim to Vortech, and have it upgraded to S trim specs, which can compress quite a bit more atmosphere. Keeping the engine fed is a 340lph in-tank pump, a 255lph external pusher, and 60lb injectors. Keeping the home fires burning are MSD 6AL-2ignition, MSD coil, and MSD plug wires. The spent gasses exit the stroker via JBA 1 3/4 long tubes, a custom 3" x-pipe with electric cut-outs, and Borla Pro XS mufflers quiet things down a bit. After Kurgan Motorsports worked their magic, the combo was good for 472/500, on a safe tune to preserve the block. 

    Aft of the 347, the stock T5 is amazingly hanging tough, although plans for an Astro Performance built T5 are in the works. The clutch duties are handed off to a Spec stage I, and the shifter is from MGW. Once the new Astro transmission is ordered, Todd plans to upgrade the clutch to a stage III. The rear end is the original 8.8, with a 31 spline carrier, rocking GT500 carbon clutches.   

      While he was at it, Todd didn't overlook the brakes and suspension. For some added stopping power, '94 Cobra brakes were installed front and rear, with a '93 Cobra booster, '95 Cobra master cylinder, and Maximum Motorsports braided lines. Up front, and Team Z tubular K member is used in conjunction with MM coilovers, MM caster/camber plates, MM tubular A arms, and MM bump steer kit. Moving to the rear, MM full length subframe connectors tighten things up, and a MM panhard bar, MM torque arm, MM lower control arms, and MM adjustable sway bar keep the tires planted. 

    The guts of Todd's LX is where his attention to detail really shows. The first order of business was to convert the gray interior to 90-93 black interior. Next on the list are Corbeau LG 1 seats, that are covered in a sumptuous italian leather, and the rear seats were reupholstered in matching fabric, to tie it all together. The steering wheel was also addressed, and replaced with a custom unit from Redline Goods, which resembles the 85-86 three spoke wheel, and covered in an ultra soft suede. The final touches are an AEM wideband gage, and Autometer boost and temp gage to monitor the blown mill. 

    I finally got to meet Todd at Foxtoberfest this year, and drool over his hatch in person. Towing the car all the way from Iowa for the event, I had to tip my hat to him as a hardcore foxbody guy. The car was even more impressive in person, and the sound of the Vortech coupled with the lumpy cam made the car sound like pure evil. Todd has several things in the works for his '89, including a 363 stroker with aluminum heads, and the afore mentioned A5 trans. All I can say is; the snowball effect is in full swing at the Eichelberger residence. CR


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