"Humble Beginnings"

     Chris Duke's '86 LX

“When I bought the car, I had no intention of restoring it”
— Chris Duke


    I love thinking back at times to some of the beaters I have owned over the years. In my late teens, and early twenties, I had some really rough foxes. I still get a laugh thinking about it, you kinda have to. One ’93 notch I bought had a broken seat track, and the previous owner had a brick under the seat to keep it level; just don’t hit the brakes too hard. An ’89 GT I had for a very short time was a complete mess under the hood. The fender aprons looked like they had been through a tornado, and the core support looked like a crushed beer can. I could envision the guy I bought it from wrapping a tow strap around the core support, tying off to a tree, then flooring it in reverse. Apparently he had hit a deer at some point, and considered himself quite astute in the art of frame work. For all of the used tires I’ve drove on, used parts I’ve scored, and rigged up wiring jobs; I loved all of those old turds. 

    Chris Duke acquired his ’86 in much the condition that I just discussed. Back in May of ’10, he picked up this four eye for $2,000 from a buddy of his. It did run and drive, but was very rough. His intention was to learn how to drive a stick, and have some basic transportation. The old four eye needed everything; the stereo was a hack job, tires were shot, the little 2.3 was tired, and the paint was a rattle can job. 

    As time went on Chris got the urge to revive the little soldier, the more he looked at the car, the more potential he saw, and began putting a game plan together. The very first thing on the list was paint, the Krylon just wasn’t going to cut it any longer. Not one to sit on his hands, Chris got busy painting the car.

    Once the paint was done, Chris moved on to the suspension. Up front a UPR k member, control arms, caster/camber plates, and bump steer kit were installed. Next up were Eibach coil overs, and larger sway bar. While he was down there, Chris also converted the car to five lug using parts from a ’95 GT, to do the job right. With the underside of the car done, Chris turned his attention to the ratty interior.

    Beginning with the wiring, Chris spent many a late night getting rid of all the extra wires, and making heads or tails of the mess behind the dash. He also converted the interior to black, using new and used pieces from 90-93 cars. Months of work went into bringing the guts back to life, no way was Chris going to do this job half way, and the results speak for themselves. 

    In the go department, Chris scooped up a late model Explorer block, and had it totally gone through. Going through several combos with this engine, Chris settled on AFR165 heads, ported Explorer intake, TFS stage II cam, Scorpion 1.6 roller rockers, and 70 mm throttle body. The spent exhaust exits via BBK long tube headers, BBK x pipe, and finishes with a Flowmaster 44 series cat back. Chris also deleted most of the accessories, smog, and EGR parts to clean things up, and give him a few extra horses. 

    For drivetrain duties, Chris settled on a Tremec 3550 trans, and Centerforce DFX clutch. The Tremec is plenty strong to handle the current combo, and would be just fine as Chris continues build up the car. Out back, an 8.8 was added to replace the feeble 7.5, but not before a set of Ford Racing 3.73 gears were added. 

    When people see this car, many won’t ever know where it began. That it left Detroit with a lowly 2.3 4cyl, and lived a rather neglected life, with less than caring owners. They also may never hear how Chris spent nearly seven years on the transformation, to revive a car that was not far removed from being hauled off for scrap. I think it goes without saying that most cars you see at a show or race have a great story behind them. A story about how a car can look so perfect, yet came from very humble beginnings. CR

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