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Holley Ford Festival 2021: Autumn Schwalbe's 1989 Ford Mustang LX

Author: Evan Smith | 10/02/2021 < Back to Motor Life Home
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It’s been a three-year quest for Autumn Schwalbe to break into the 9s with here ultra-clean 1989 Mustang LX. But the Ypsilanti, Michigan-based racer achieved her goal with a Coyote-swapped Ford Mustang that was built as a family project.


Autumn is a committed Ford fanatic; By day she’s a Global Marketing Specialist at Ford Performance, and on the weekends, she gets behind the wheel of this sporty Gray LX. Motivating the Mustang hatchback is a mostly stock Gen2 Coyote that’s boosted by a 3.0L intercooled Whipple supercharger. It benefits from headers and a performance exhaust and backing the 5.0L engine is a T400 transmission that sends power to a 3.73-gear-equipped Ford 8.8. The combination makes well over 600 horsepower and 600 lb-ft of torque!


Ford Fest 2021 Schwalbe Mustang 1



To meet the requirements, Autumn’s Mustang is fully caged and NHRA-approved to run as quick as 7.50. And it sits with a racy stance thanks to the mini-tubs and a four-link rear suspension. Form and function is also added with Weld Wheels and Mickey Thompson racing tires. The ’80’s Ford also benefits from Santhuff struts and shocks with Strange brakes to haul her from speed.


“I’ve owned this Mustang for three years and it’s been a fun project for me, my family and my boyfriend Chris Bluga. I race Exedy Mod Muscle and I’m learning and getting better each race,” she said. It’s always great being at the races and having support from Chris, my dad Darren and my mom Cheryl.”


Autumn began her journey in the 11s, then she ran 10s and now she’s solidly in the 9s. Her best run to date was a 9.72 at 142 mph at 3,100 lbs., but she’s hoping for more in the future.


Ford Fest 2021 Schwalbe Mustang 2



The Mustang is as much a showpiece as it is a racer, too. Its paint is super sharp and the engine bay is smoothed with the wiring mostly hidden. The caged interior is finished with Kirkey racing seats, a Mark Williams removable steering wheel, the required safety harness and a Precision Performance Products shifter. It also has an Auto Meter tachometer and Racepak digital dash so she can monitor the vitals.


“It’s been a great season and we love racing NMRA. We’re excited to be here at the Holley Ford Fest and hopefully I can go a few rounds and improve on our best elapsed time. Then we’ll take the car back to Michigan and get it ready for next year.”


Ford Fest 2021 Schwalbe Mustang 3


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