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Some 30 years after it ceased production, the Fox Body Mustang is seeing a renaissance of sorts. It’s not that these cars ever disappeared from the performance car lexicon, but they were relegated to niche hobbyists and dedicated racers. Now, cars like the Fox coupe are regaining fans and selling for premium prices.
Along the way, these cars have gathered fans whose memories come from a time before they could drive, but others have been with the movement from the moment it was legally possible. That is certainly the case for Brandon Gibson, who was a Fox Mustang fan from the jump, and got behind the wheel as soon as he had a license.
Even though its hue is more common today, this couple still looks stellar in the sun, and it performs just as well with a full suspension based on bits from Baseline Suspension, Maximum Motorsports, Strange Engineering, Team Z, and UPR Products planting its big-Windsor power.
“My first car was a Mustang, I have loved them ever since,” Gibson explains. “In high school, the Fox Body was the car to have. I’ve owned at least one Fox Body since I could drive — four in total. I still have two of them.”
While Ford fans could never question his Fox platform credentials, Gibson found his love of cars by taking a bit of a detour. Like many, his father was an influence on taking the path to internal-combustion bliss, but his dad had a predilection for something other than Blue Oval machines.
“I’ve been into cars my whole life,” Gibson says. “My dad was a car guy — a Chevy car guy — so we had a lot of fun picking on each other.”
Though he endures a little good-natured antagonism from his dad, Gibson remains undeterred in his Fox fandom. Rather, he loved the cars so much, that he originally picked up this coupe with the idea of making it a simple, everyday ride. However, as most enthusiasts know, those best-laid plans of not modding the next project that much often falls by the wayside.
To deliver a higher level of performance, Gibson added a Keith Kraft-built, 408-cube stroker based on a ’74 block.
“I got the car to drive every day, but it was a little rough. It had a blown head gasket when I got it. The paint was not good, and it needed some work. I took it apart to fix it and my OCD took over. I had to fix everything, so it got a new motor, paint job, etc.” Gibson explains. “Then it was too nice to daily drive. We drove the car for a couple of years, took it to shows, and did various things. I started racing it then and I wanted to go faster, so I started changing things to go faster.”
Things evolved in the direction of speed in a hurry. Gibson picked up a Keith Kraft 351W short-block based on a ’74 block that displaced a healthy 408 cubic inches and percolated at a stout 10.5:1 compression ratio. It is filled with rugged internals, including an Eagle crankshaft, Eagle rods, and JE pistons.
The sound and the feel of it is an adrenaline rush. At the track launching it is an awesome feeling. -Brandon Gibson
Topped by AFR 225 aluminum cylinder heads with valve events orchestrated by an Ed Curtis custom hydraulic-roller camshaft and Scorpion 1.6 rocker arms, it breathes deeply through an Edelbrock Super Victor intake manifold and an Accufab 90mm throttle body. He has a Nitrous Outlet Stinger Plate in case the naturally aspirated power isn’t quite enough.
While it is common for Fox projects to embrace overhead-cam engines these days, Gibson stuck with the tried-and-true Windsor “Because, as awesome as the newer motors are, they just don’t have that same sound,” he says of sticking with pushrod power.
Tied to the rear by Team Z through-the-floor subframe connectors, the frontend of this Fox Coupe benefits from a UPR Products K-member, UPR A-arms, Strange Engineering 10-way adjustable struts, Maximum Motorsports caster/camber plates, and coilover springs.
Though a potent powerplant was key to the project, Gibson’s aforementioned OCD wouldn’t allow for the car to remain ratty inside or out. He wanted a car that performed at a high level and looked the part while doing it.
“The interior was horrible. I still remember my wife saying ‘What have you bought?’” Gibson recalls. “Trying to have a show car, a street car, and a race car is pretty tough to keep up with.”
Multiple projects do have the effect of bogging each other down, but that didn’t stop him from transforming the black interior from subpar to stellar thanks to the additions of Kirkey front seats, a Haltech dash, and an Alpine head unit delivering tunes via Rockford Fosgate speakers in stock locations.
While a classier cockpit makes for a more enjoyable driving experience, the first impressions are made on the outside. To that end, he augmented the factory body with a Cervinis 4-inch hood and a Team Z Motorsports strutless wing, but it is the custom Burnt Orange paint that makes the coupe stand out in a crowd.
“I was looking for a different color that you didn’t see,” Gibson says. “Of course now burnt orange is everywhere, but in ’07 when this car was painted, it wasn’t.”
Even though its hue is more common today, this coupe still looks stellar in the sun, and it performs just as well with a full suspension planting its big-Windsor power.
Gibson’s Fox coupe sounds every bit the muscle machine courtesy of Kooks 1 7/8-inch long-tube headers, a custom 3-inch X-pipe, Flowmaster mufflers, and 3-inch Flowmaster tailpipes. Its stroker Windsor power is controlled by a Powerglide automatic transmission with a Custom PTC torque converter and fed to an 8.8-inch rearend — fitted with a Strange spool, 4.10 gears, and Strange 35-spline axles — via a chrome-moly driveshaft. A combination of Team Z springs, Strange double-adjustable shocks with small-tire valving, and Baseline Suspension upper and lower control arms plant the power with 275/60 Mickey Thompson Pros mounted on 15×10-inch Billet Specialties wheels.
“I love driving it. It gets a lot of attention. The sound and the feel of it is an adrenaline rush,” Gibson says. “At the track launching it is an awesome feeling. My little girl is 10, and she loves to ride in it. She never misses a chance. Her mother fusses the whole time, saying ‘You better behave with her in there.’ We always do.”
Framed by a Team Z 10-point chrome-moly roll cage is a black interior updated with Kirkey front seats, a Haltech Dash, and an audio system made up of an Alpine head unit and Rockford speakers mounted in the stock spots.
The youngest enthusiast in the Gibson household isn’t the only one who appreciates this Fox coupe’s style and performance. They even express appreciation for those little touches that stand out, like its glistening, custom-bent tailpipes.
“People seem to like it. The tailpipes always catch people’s eyes,” Gibson says. “Even at the track, I get comments about the tailpipes.”
Riding on Billet Specialties wheels and sticky Mickey Thompson rubber, Gibson’s coupe throws out the anchor with Strange disc brakes at all four corners
Despite his project transitioning from daily driver to street/strip stunner, we know these machines are never quite finished until we don’t own them anymore. “I also have an all-aluminum exhaust with tailpipes, and I want to run some upcoming no-time street car shootouts.”
Supporting the big-inch Windsor underhood with cooling is a Fluidyne radiator and a BeCool
16-inch electric fan. Meanwhile, an Aeromotive A1000 fuel pump feeds the nitrous-injected beast via -10AN feed and -8AN return lines connected to Edelbrock fuel rails fitted with Siemens Deka 60 lb/hr fuel injectors under the sway of an Aeromotive fuel-pressure regulator and a Haltech Platinum 2000 Powertrain Control Module. An MSD ignition works with Live Wires to light the fire via NGK spark plugs.
With this bruiser at a mature stage, it will give him time to concentrate on other projects, like a long-suffering ’93 Mustang fitted with a Vortech S-Trim. That one sounds like fun too, but his dad probably won’t approve…
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