Mustang 5.0 Performance Projects by Huw Evans
Published 2004 by Motorbooks International
112 pp. paperback
Acquired new from a book retailer.
I’ve mentioned before that I was very lucky as a young man to have a 1988 Ford Mustang LX 5.0, 5 speed notchback as my daily driver. It was a lot of fun, and I put over 408,000 kms (250,000 miles) on it before I finally retired it with the intention of restoring it.
Among the resources I’d gathered for the job was Mustang 5.0 Performance Projects, by Huw Evans from the Motorbooks Workshop. It turned out to be a valuable resource, providing a great deal of information on various upgrades for 1979 through 1995 Mustangs equipped with the 5.0L Windsor V8.
The Fox-body Mustang (so called as it was built on Ford’s Fox platform) has come to be seen by some as a new Deuce coupe or 55 Chevy, due to its high production numbers, relative low cost, and willingness to accept easy modification to build power. Evans observed in his ‘Introduction’…
“So popular did this humble pony become for modification… that it led to the creation of
one of the largest performance aftermarket industries tailored to a single car.”
Evans goes on to say that, while he couldn’t possibly showcase every project that could be, he’d collected those he felt were useful, especially for cars that would probably see mostly street duty with the occasional trip down the drag strip.
There are 37 projects in 9 sections, each section represents a major component group (ie engine, brakes, interior etc). Some of the projects are very simple — the first is jacking the car up, the second is performing an oil change. Those with limited skill can tackle these and begin to get comfortable working on the car. Some may seem a bigger deal but are fairly easy, such as swapping out the front seats. Other projects, such as pulling the engine to replace the cylinder heads, are much more involved. And others, like strengthening the AOD transmission, do not actually discuss doing the mechanical work, but provide education on what should be done and why, and steer the reader to choosing a transmission shop to actually do the job.
The layout is great, making each project easy to understand. An introductory box breaks it down, listing Time, Tools, Talent (a relative rating of the skill and experience needed), Applicable years (based on a stock car, from 1979-95), Parts, Tab (a rough figure in 2004 $USD), Tip (information to make the job easier), Performance Improvement (expected) and finally Complementary Project. Projects stall out when things happen and frustration sets in – budget concerns, lack of the correct tool, or the job is beyond the ability of the owner. Setting it out in realistic terms helps one know what to expect before tearing into the car.
Evans provides info that even seasoned pros may overlook. The underdrive pulleys project instructs to inspect related wear items such as the plastic clutch fan and serpentine belt, and highlights that the project can affect the cooling and charging systems. The nitrous oxide project cautions to pay attention to older engines which could easily grenade themselves due to the added stresses of a large nitrous shot. That’s insight that may not be available when excitedly ordering parts from the internet.
If there’s a criticism, this book is light on pictures. When I had my Mustang I read magazines like Muscle Mustangs and Fast Fords and Mustang 5.0 and Super Fords. The tech articles in magazines tended to be filled with photos, illustrating many steps. This book relies much more on descriptive text. Someone who finds following text, or would feel more comfortable with visual cues, may have more difficulty following this book.
The newest of the 5.0 litre pushrod Mustangs is now 25 years old. But today, retailers still stock many parts for the projects found in this book. And there are still many of these cars floating around, some even remain relatively stock. That’s not to mention the many Mustangs that began life with 4- or 6-cylinder engines that have had or are available for V8 transplants. This book therefore remains a relevant source for enthusiasts new and old.
Pros: well organized; good range of projects from easy to more involved; lots of great tips to ensure projects are done well.
Cons: could have more illustration/pictures.
Where to find it: Amazon, eBay, private sellers.