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This Turbo-LS 1993 Mustang Is Ripping Up The 275 Radial World!

HOT ROD logo HOT ROD 6/7/2018 Hot Rod Network Staff
002_turbo-street-car.jpg This Turbo-LS 1993 Mustang Is Ripping Up The 275 Radial World!

The 1980s saw many a great things rise to prominence, like the U.S. winning the Cold War, the hairbands of Sunset Strip became worldwide legends, and the Ford Mustang became cool again with EFI in 1986 and a sporty new look in 1987. As Guns N' Roses blasted off the charts, so did the 5.0 Mustang and some 30 years later both are still rolling strong.

The Fox-body generation of Mustangs, which began in 1979 and concluded in 1993, continues to be one of the most popular street/strip cars at tracks across the nation. There have been complete drag racing series dedicated to them, one of which is celebrating its 20th anniversary. The engine swapping, home-built culture loves them, as we've seen everything from big-block Chevy engines to Toyota 2JZ six-cylinders fastened between the fenders.

Of the dozens of different engine platforms popular with hot rodders, it is the LS small-block family that has been a popular swap into Fox-body Mustangs from the non-brand loyal crowd. We ran across Michael Kurt Bunton and his wild street/strip LS-powered Mustang while pounding the pavement during the Lights Out races at South Georgia Motorsports Park. Sitting amongst the titans of the outlaw radial world was an innocent looking silver 1993 Mustang LX notchback. The innocuous appearing street car picked the wheels up and whistled its way to runs in the 4.50s with speeds over 160 mph. That was two years ago and now he plans on going a whole lot quicker.

001-turbo-LS-Mustang© Kevin DiOssi 001-turbo-LS-Mustang

Rewinding the story a bit, Bunton got his first taste of drag racing from his 2005 Dodge 3500 diesel truck. The overweight hauler ran 6.90s in the eighth-mile, which is roughly high 10s/low 11s in the more recognizable quarter-mile distance. But as he puts it, "every time I would break the truck it would cost me $3,500 to fix it. That started to get really expensive."

Instead of throwing more money into a big heavyweight hauler, he went in the complete opposite direction and picked up the lightest Fox-body Mustang body style that Ford offered: a coupe. Purchased for its looks and the fact that it already had an LS1 engine under the hood, Bunton got back on track. This time he was collecting 6.00 time slips after adding a nitrous system and having plenty of fun. Tragedy struck when a freak accident caused a fire and burnt Bunton, forcing him to look at making changes under the hood. He ditched the nitrous and added a single turbo, starting the Georgia-based enthusiast down the highway of 275 radial insanity.

The first stop on the road was the low 5s—thanks to a new 383 stroker motor with a Borg Warner 84mm turbo. It replaced an aging—and broken—junkyard LS1. He upped his game even more when he hooked up with Brian Tooley Racing (BTR) out of Kentucky. A new set of Trick Flow 245 heads were ported by BTR and the shop prescribed a hydraulic roller camshaft and matching valvetrain to go along with the heads. Also new was a 388ci short-block based on a Chevrolet Performance LSX Bowtie to handle the big increase in power from a new Precision Pro Mod 94mm turbocharger. Knowing he would need a more capable engine management system to keep his engine in good working order, Bunton teamed up with FuelTech USA and worked with their head of technology, Lus Fernando Backes de Leon, to get it installed and tuned.

Bunton became a fixture in the street car classes and No Time events across the Southeast. The new induction system and boost maker enabled the notchback to click off eighth-mile runs of 4.70s at around 150 mph. At this point most would've pulled the car off the street but not Bunton. In fact, he was so comfortable with how well it drove on the roadways that he tossed the keys to his wife Blaine so she could drive it around town. The couple has documented the car's street antics all over social media, teasing the competition with its mild manners.

For 2017, Bunton would up his game again. This time the E85 fuel was ditched in favor of VP Racing Fuels M1 methanol, which allowed him to remove the air-to-water intercooler. When it comes to boosting up the small-block, more is always better, so a call to Forced Inductions netted him a Garrett GTX 98mm turbo, with some special modifications performed by the shop before it was shipped out. Right off the trailer, the car dipped into the 4.50s and some more fine-tuning brought Bunton to his career-best of 4.45 at 165 mph. The fun came to an end in early 2018 when the engine slung a connecting rod through the side of the block.

Ironically, the obsession of going quicker and quicker has rewarded Bunton with a new business—MJB Performance. After all, when you dominate the local street car scene people tend to seek out your skills. Despite customer work, the coupe continues to evolve and Bunton is working closely with BTR on a completely new engine combination to go even quicker and faster. First on the list of upgrades, however, was the chassis. The front and rear suspension systems remain in place but MattFab added a double frame rail to stiffen the car and an SFI 25.3-spec cage to meet the NHRA safety specs.

Bunton was tight-lipped on the new BTR engine combination as his goal is to terrorize the No Time scene as well as the popular Pro 275 category at the Lights Out/No Mercy events. He did admit to upgrading to a FuelTech FT600 and FT Spark as well as a two-speed TH400. The car also checks in at 2,830 pounds now, thanks to CFM Motorsports carbon fiber doors and deck-lid. "It is kind of funny, I made a mistake when breaking in the engine and ended up rebuilding the entire car," mused Bunton.

As Gun N' Roses celebrates 30 years in the rock and roll business by touring around the world, Bunton celebrates the same anniversary of the EFI Mustang by touring the drag strips around his home and rockin' the competition.

Tech Notes

Who: Michael Kurt Bunton

What: 1993 Mustang LX

Where: No Time/Grudge and Pro 275

Engine/Transmission

Brian Tooley Racing is working on a top-secret LSX that should push the coupe to the low 4-second zone on a set of 275 radial tires. Prior to the new engine, a Pro Line Racing 388ci was the weapon of choice and helped push the street car to 4.40s. It was topped with Trick Flow 245 cylinder heads that were ported by Brian Tooley Racing. The shop also designed a custom hydraulic roller camshaft and valvetrain. A Powerglide two-speed transmission benefits from the usual upgrades like SFI-certified aftermarket case, billet planetary gear sets, etc. A PTC torque converter is responsible for helping the engine spool quickly and run hard down the track. This year, the 'Glide is being replaced with a TH400 that has First gear removed, making it a two-speed combination. A new torque converter is being designed for the upgraded engine combination.

Chassis/Suspension

Each time the coupe was upgraded under the hood, so was the suspension and chassis to keep the Mickey Thompson ET Street Radial Pro tires (275/60R15) glued to the pavement. A set of UPR upper and lower control arms combine with the company's anti-roll bar and a set of Menscer Motorsports coilover shocks to make up the backside suspension mods. The shocks have been moved inboard on a shortened 8.8-inch housing in order to clear the mini-tubs. A UPR K-member and A-arm kit are slung under the front of the Mustang, along with double-adjustable Menscer Motorsport struts and front-end travel limiters. Originally the chassis benefited from a 10-point roll cage, which was upgraded with a funny car cocoon around the driver. For 2018, a MattFab-built SFI 25.3 roll cage and double frame-rail setup protects the driver and stiffens the chassis to handle the 2,000-plus horsepower from the turbocharged combination.

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