"Sleeper Fox"

Joe Dileonardi's '90 LX

“I bought the car last year, and had to make a few changes, the built AOD didnt like boost”
— Joe Dileonardi

   I know what you are thinking: "No fox body Mustang is a sleeper". While there is truth to that, hear me out. When you pull up at the track or cruise, and see the giant hoods, parachutes, stickers, and fuel system hanging below the rear bumper; you know it's no stock fox body Mustang. So how do you make a fox body, one of the most feared cars on the street, a sleeper. The best way is not to advertise the goods. Blend into the crowd, if that is even possible in a fox, and let the numbers speak for themselves. Personally, I prefer this approach. There's nothing more satisfying than beating the daylights out of a would be competitor, especially when they mistook your car for easy prey. This brings me back to the previous point, that it's difficult for a fox to be a sleeper. Too many guys in the street racing scene have been taken by subtle appearing foxes. This gives me an evil grin. 

  Take Joe Dileonardi's '90 model notch for example. Stock hood, no visible fuel system, not your usual drag wheels, and even the stock appearing LX tails poking out the rear. Probably just a bolt on car right!? Therein lies the the fun part of Joe's notch. Your typical Z06 driver may pounce on it, hoping to score an easy win.  

  Lets dig into this bad boy, and investigate the deception. Under that stock hood is a forged, Dart based 347 stroker. Built by Paul Knippen, she rocks a Scat crank, Probe H beam rods, and Probe dished pistons in anticipation of boost.  The heads are Trick Flow Twisted Wedge, that were shipped off to Fox Lake for a stage II port job, PS3 spring kit, titanium retainers, Harland Sharp rockers, and TFS pushrods. The cam is a custom piece by Ed Curtis at Flowtech Induction, and specs in at 230/242 .597"/.576 @115. The intake is a Holley Systemax that was port matched to the heads by Fox Lake. Adding to the already potent stroker is a Quicktime turbo kit, with a PT78GTS turbo. The cold side specs in at 3", and is all powder coated. The hot side is all ceramic coated, and is high temp wrapped to keep the under hood temps down. A Tial 44mm wastegate, and Tial 50mm blow off valve round out the kit.    

   The bone stock automatic shifter poking up through the console is also part of the trickery. I mean everyone knows it's not AOD, it's DOA, right? Not exactly the case here. Attached to that shifter is a TSI built AOD,  that has been blueprinted, received a 31 spline alloy input shaft, and TSI 2/3 forward manual valve body. She also got upgraded planetary gears, pump, wider bands, and extra clutches. The converter is a 10" unit from UCC, the flexplate is a lightweight J.W piece, and a Tru-Cool Max cooler keeps the temps down. So much for the DOA slushbox.    


   Moving on back to the rear, the mods list grows even longer. The 8.8 was built by Strange. It was first straightened, the axle tubes welded, and received 9" ends. Up next is a set of Strange 31 spline axles, Detroit TruTrac diff, 3.27 gears, and Ultimate 8.8 girdle. 

    The brakes and suspension were also treated to a full bevy of upgrades. A Ford M2300K Cobra brake conversion was installed, converting the car to five lug, and adding plenty of whoa power. The Suspension mods include a PA k member, Strange ten way adjustable shocks/struts, UPR bump steer kit, PA racing coil overs, and MM caster/camber plates. The rear is handled by Wild Rides battle boxes, and MM extreme duty control arms. 

    So what is it like to drive such a sedate looking fox body Mustang with nearly 700 RWHP on tap? Actually fairly calm with a light foot, the tune is spot on, and the car can be quite docile. However, dip your foot into the boost even a little bit, and things get interesting very fast. The Nitto drag radials fight a near hopeless battle for traction, that requires restraint for any chance of hooking up. So if you happen to be in the Chicago area, watch out for the blue coupe, it's a true overachiever.     CR

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