A Twenty-First Century Fox Body

In spite of being an affirmed Mopar nut, I have always had a soft spot in my heart for Mustangs. My first car was a 1987 Fox-Body LX convertible in white, and man, did I love that car. When I heard about Joe Ayad’s white 1987 Mustang build, I just knew I had to cover it.

Joe, a Boeing Company instructor from Washington State, first got the urge to build a Fox Body in 2015. He had previously built a second-generation Camaro and a number of Hondas.

His intention for the Mustang was to do all the wrenching himself with an affordable budget and enjoy the car at open track and autocross events. Joe did about a year’s worth of homework before pulling the trigger on a car, learning all about Fox Body Mustangs and how to get them to handle and perform.

Joe Ayad’s white 1987 Mustang | Photography by Nicole Ellan James

The Mustang he procured was a “mostly stock” 1987 LX 5.0L FASTBACK equipped with the stock five-speed T5 transmission. Once he got his new steed home, he immediately tore it apart and began reaching out for technical support and knowledge to a cadre of aftermarket manufacturers whose parts he knew he wanted to use.

The stock 5.0-liter was rebuilt using forged internals, an upgraded cam, Trick Flow Twisted Wedge aluminum heads and a Trick Flow Street Heat intake manifold. The motor received a Paxton Novi 1000 Supercharger, and the transmission was upgraded to a TKO500 5-speed. Finishing off the drivetrain is an aluminum driveshaft and flywheel at 8.8-inches with 31-spline axles. Later dyno tests yielded a peak of 461 horsepower at the rear wheels.

Acutely aware of the handling problems inherent with the factory Fox, Joe spent a lot of time focusing on the suspension.

The Mustang is fitted with Nitto 315/30R18 tires wrapped around ESR SR01 wheels.

“I had sourced together just about every suspension part that Maximum Motorsports offered,” Joe said, adding those included a Maximum Motorsports K-member, A-arms, HD torque arm, pan hard bar, camber/caster plates, strut/engine brace, bump steer kit, and weld-in subframe connectors.

“To keep costs down, a lot of the parts were appropriated from other cars that I had bought and sold, as well as a few parts that were purchased online from out-of-state sites that offered free shipping.”

Other notable performance mods included a Black Widow Widowmaker exhaust, a 2003 Mustang Cobra steering rack, and Cobra disc brakes on all four corners with EBC rotors and Blue Stuff brake pads.

The Mustang features a home-built rear spoiler.

A majority of the stock exterior body panels were kept, and a cowl hood was added. Additional body mods included a Carter’s Customs front splitter and rear diffuser, as well as a home built rear spoiler. Later, 3.5-inch fender flares were added to accommodate Nitto 315/30R18s fitted to ESR SR01 wheels.

Inside the car, a fully welded 10-point roll cage, Sparco Evo-II seats, a Holley-HP EFI standalone digital dash display with data-logging and tune-on-the-fly capabilities were installed. For weight reduction, the radio and rear seat were removed.

“All in all, it took three years from idea to completion,” Joe proudly states. “I named her #UltimateStreetFox, and started hitting tracks to log miles and get some ideas about fine-tuning. I did a few autocross and track events, and those led me fairly quickly to the wheel, tire and fender flare upgrade. That really turned the car into a sticky go-cart with a ton more bite on the track.”

Joe driving at The Thermal Club.

With each track event, Joe gained more seat time, and adjustments to the suspension set up followed after each event. As the performance of the Mustang grew, so did Joe’s his confidence.

“I entered the car in some of the biggest and most prestigious track events, such as the Optima Search for the Ultimate Street Car Challenge,” Joe said. “I did it just to see what it could do against cars from some of the biggest and most well-known companies in the business, as well as ones that people had invested hundreds of thousands of dollars into building. I didn’t place high enough to win any trophies, but I also wasn’t too far from doing so.”

“I continue to learn how to be a better driver every time I am behind the wheel on a racetrack” Joe said.

Joe was thrilled with the results he achieved by his home-built-on-a-budget racecar.

Currently, Joe is still pushing for more performance. “I continue to learn how to be a better driver every time I am behind the wheel on a racetrack and learn new things all the time about set-up and tuning. The car is my happy place, and it allows me to forget about the everyday grind of life for a few hours.”

“The car is my happy place, and it allows me to forget about the everyday grind of life for a few hours.”

As for the future?

“I’ll continue to run the car in those big events, and maybe one day, it will bring home a trophy.”

Judging by Joe’s vision, talent and discipline, we’d have to wager that it will.

About the author

Rob Finkelman

Rob combined his two great passions of writing and cars; and began authoring columns for several Formula 1 racing websites and Street Muscle Magazine. He is an avid automotive enthusiast with a burgeoning collection of classic and muscle cars.
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