Mustang owners of recent years are spoiled rotten. Walking in and buying a new Mustang with well over 400 horsepower on tap, out of a base GT, would have seemed like a pipe dream to those of us who grew up in the heyday of the foxbody. Lets face it, 225 HP these days is laughable. Aren't Honda minivans rated higher? Not only that, but a simple plug in of a programmer can net actual power gains, and you never had to set down your latte. I think it would be a fair statement that we've been spoiled with the modern day horsepower wars. Want some perspective? Vortech superchargers ran ads back in the '90s about their base A trim which bumped your fox to 270 horsepower and 344 torque. Yeah, supercharged. Now granted that was 5 psi with a primitive FMU for tuning, but still!
Way back when, fox body Mustang owners did it 3-4 hp at a time, MM&FF magazine came up with the ten minute tune up, to get a stock fox rolling. These steps were essentially free, and added 12-15 hp depending on the car. Basically it involved yanking the air intake silencer, adding a K&N panel filter, bumping the timing to 13-14 degrees, and a 70 1/2 short belt to bypass the power robbing accessories (a/c, power steering). With some sticky tires, and spirited driving, a foxbody Mustang could touch the elusive 13 second zone. Other tricks included icing the upper intake, jacking the tire pressure in the front tires, and slipping the clutch a bit to avoid tire spin.
Lets consider the time; handheld tuners weren't invented, and computer dyno tuning was still a few years away. Most of the time it was the old butt-o-meter, or timing lights that told the tale. Truth is, there was quite a bit of power hidden away in the venerable 5.0 HO. With some luck, and beaten to death testing shift points, tire pressures, and timing; your fox body could rock with little to no cash. Again, you must consider the times. When you look at what is possible with today's Mustangs, hell even back to the Terminator days, it tells the tale of how much times have changed. Even the mighty '93 Cobra at 235 hp was no rocket ship from the go.
If you have never heard of the ten minute tune up, then none of this makes any sense. But for the guys who still have piles of magazines from the early '90s, it brings back memories. I still recall taking my MM&FF mag to the track with me to make sure I did it right. Ice on the upper and all. Back when most foxes were still stock, this is just what you did. Even though you may not have been able to afford a GT40 tubular intake, you could still earn some respect at the local drags. That is where we came from, that is who we are, and turning a wrench was the only way to make power.
This was the beginning of the slippery slope of building your fox body Mustang. Whip out your magazine and do the freebies, take it to the track and test, then head home thinking about your next mods. The Friday night drags had a way of keeping you totally obsessed. Crunching the numbers from your time slips, and bench racing all night with your friends about how that last pass would have been a 13.90 if the 60ft was better. I remember these days like they were yesterday, wish I could go back and live them again. Chances are if you are reading this, you know exactly what I mean. CR