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  1. #1

    Default Beginner starting to build an 86 GT drag car looking for some advice

    So a little backstory, I am 18 years old building an 86 GT AOD Mustang for drag racing and I pay for all the parts myself so I don't have much in terms of a budget or having a shop to work on it (I prefer working on my car myself anyway). I grew up around drag racing because my dad has been drag racing motorcycles for many years (best run 7.4 @170 spraying for those wondering). I did some test n tune with my 5-speed 2000 v6 daily to get a feel for racing and I loved it but I didn't want to race a v6 mustang and I was having a hard time with leaving at the line with the manual hence why I decided to go with an automatic for the drag car for more consistent R/Ts. The car definitely needed some work when I got it and I've done quite a bit in terms of cleaning it up. When I got the 86 it was leaking badly (later found that the gaskets were cracked in multiple places), and I mean the engine was covered in filth, the brakes didn't work until the pedal was basically at the floor, the oil pan has a pretty bad dent on the bottom, parking brake doesn't work (not sure why), and the interior was pretty rough.

    So far what I've done:
    • Stripped the interior
    • Pulled the engine and trans
    • Replaced front rotors and pads
    • Rebuilt the calipers
    • Cleaned and degreased the engine
    • Painted the engine and valve covers
    • In the process of swapping it to carb setup

    What I've bought for the car so far:
    • Edelbrock carb
    • Rotors and pads
    • Intake manifold
    • Air filter
    • Gasket overhaul kit

    What I plan on buying soon:
    • Seat
    • A/C delete
    • Electric fan
    • Fuel Regulator

    • Rear drums and shoes
    • Slicks
    • New gears (4.10?)
    • Long tube headers

    My plan for the cars future:
    • Ultimately nitrous
    • Automatic racing trans with a trans brake
    • Slicks and skinnies
    • Roll cage

    Any advice would be greatly appreciated keep in mind I plan on bracket racing this car and I don't have a ton of money to throw at the car especially with school starting soon. Also there is some play/wobble in the steering wheel/column.

  2. #2


    I hate to hear about another four eyed fox being butchered for a drag car. There are so many out there for sale already and usually you are money ahead to go with one.

    this aside.....

    Do not buy rear gears until you have selected a transmission. You need to consider your slicks too. Frequently tire is used for fine tuning once you have a trans and have geared it.

    If you have an ET in mind as a target, use an RPM calculator to work backwards to what rear gear it would take with an RPM max to run the number at a given rear gear, tire size, and transmission ratio. Target being at your shift point or slightly past it by the stripe. Shifting costs ET so keep that in mind.

    Read some one of the other posts about getting the pushrod fords to run RPM. Retainer weight, spring strength, pushrod strength, short stroke roller lifters or shimmed factory, etc.

    You may like the article

    If you want your combo to stay together, respect the physics of what you decide to build. Strokers cannot be safely revved as high as short strokes without going to exotic parts.

    Now for some broader thoughts

    Read posts like this too

    To take 0.1 off your ET you can usually add 10 HP or remove 100 lbs.

    with thst, parts matter. Modern CAPA certified replacement fenders from suppliers like RockAuto will look identical to what's there but weigh FAR less based upon metal thickness. Same for modern fiberglass or medal hatches/trunk lids vs stock.
    Last edited by erratic50; 08-22-2017 at 04:38 AM.

  3. #3
    FEP Super Member mmb617's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2005
    Altoona, PA


    Since you mentioned the importance of consistent R/T's I'll assume you are planning on bracket racing rather than just trying to go as fast as you can afford to go. In my opinion starting out the one thing that matters most is seat time. Get the car in condition to race and start making as many passes as possible. This will improve your chances of lighting the win lamp more than anything else you can do and is also tons of fun. Finding the best way to launch the car and learning to drive the stripe is far more important than modifying the car when it comes to winning bracket races.

    On the other hand if I'm wrong about your intentions and all you want is to go as fast as possible then I'd first concentrate on weight reduction. That's the cheapest mod you can do and definitely pays dividends. It's usually easier and cheaper to lose weight rather than add horsepower, at least at first.

    As for the car itself, the first thing is to make sure all leaks are fixed as they won't let you run if you are leaking any fluids on the track. And while sticky tires are a must, running slicks with stock axles is a real crap shoot. You may get away with it, but then again you may not. I'd seriously think about upgrading the rear axles before running slicks. This doesn't have to be expensive as there are numerous threads on this board covering the subject.

    We're not fast racers, we're more what's known as half fast racers.

  4. #4


    When you actually start racing, keep a notebook or spreadsheet and monitor your progress and monitor what changes did and didn't work. You'll at least want a cheap digital weather center that gives you temp and humidity. If you're bracket racing, the longer you go into the night and the weather is changing...cooling off, humidity coming up, you need to adjust your dial accordingly.
    1985 GT, Sunroof, 5 Lug, Rear Discs, 01 Graphite Bullets, 88 forged piston shortblock, 2.02/1.60 Alum heads, Weiand Stealth, Holley C950 TBI, BBK Long tubes

  5. #5


    Quote Originally Posted by erratic50 View Post
    I hate to hear about another four eyed fox being butchered for a drag car. There are so many out there for sale already and usually you are money ahead to go with one.

    You hate to hear that someone is taking a fairly undesirable, Automatic Fox Body and giving it a new life? Potentially gaining tons of automotive experience, creating memories and possibly getting years of enjoyment and respect at the race track? What part is bothering you about that?

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