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“I was always around cars growing up because of my dad,” says Mike Aston of Springfield, Ohio. “He had a little bit of everything – late '40s Fords, MGs, and Austin Healeys were some of his favorites. And I was always out there with him like his little shadow, handing him tools and watching him work.”
Over the years Mike developed a fascination with drag racing and passion for wrenching on anything mechanical, a combination that would lead to the acquisition of his first hot rod before he was even old enough to drive it. “It was a ’73 Monte Carlo that I got for painting our neighbor’s house when I was 15 years old,” he recalls. “And my brother is a year older than I am, so he was driving the car around in the meantime before I got my license. One day the 350 just decided to jump time, so I bought a Chilton service manual and my dad and I rebuilt the engine in the garage using that book.”
He tells us that led to a series of projects over the years that has included Tri-Five Chevys, first-gen Camaros, and late model Corvettes, but it wasn’t until he bought a SN95 Mustang in 2010 that he really found a project that could keep him entertained. “The C5 Corvette was a neat car, but it just wasn’t wild enough for me. I ended up selling it and getting this ’94 Mustang. It was just a shell when I got it, and we put a Ford small-block from BES Racing Engines in it, did the bodywork, swapped out the rear end and transmission, re-did the interior; the whole deal. We ran it in some Outlaw-style events at our local track.”
Looking to take things a step further, Aston recently acquired a 2010 Mustang from a Copart auction that had been in a front end accident with the intention of building something even wilder. “I’m at a point in my life where I have more to work with financially, and I felt like this would be a good foundation for something a bit more hardcore. Part of the game plan was to do a tubular front clip anyway, so this car was a good candidate.”
Aston says that while he was shopping around online for parts earlier this year, a promotional email caught his eye. “I got this message about Holley Days and bought a Pro Dash that was part of that sale. That got me registered up with Holley, and through a different email I found out about all the different sweepstakes that Holley does. I’ve probably entered half a dozen of them by now. I mean, who doesn’t want free performance parts, you know?”
And Holley’s Racecar Refresh Giveaway was one of those sweepstakes – a contest that provides entrants with a chance to win $2,500 worth Holley credit that can be applied toward whatever they need for their project.
Fortunately for Aston, what was almost a missed opportunity turned out to be icing on the cake for an already-special occasion. “I’d gotten a new phone number after I entered the contest, and I just forgot about the fact that I had signed up with the old number,” he says with a laugh. “They first tried to call me, but of course that didn’t work. Thankfully they reached out to me through email, and it just happened to be on my birthday. Initially I wasn’t even sure if this was a gag or something, but when he explained that I had been selected, I was like, ‘man – this is the best birthday present ever!’”
Since he already had his parts list more or less sorted out for the project, it didn’t take Aston very long to figure out how to best utilize the windfall. “I’m putting together a twin-turbo LS for it, and 1,200hp on E85 is the goal,” he explains. “So I ordered some 120 lb.hr injectors, along with a Frostbite aluminum radiator for LS swaps, Flowtech LS turbo headers, Sniper EFI sheet metal fabricated intake manifold, and a Terminator X 24x/1x EV6 LS MPFI kit.”
He says that since aftermarket EFI is fairly new territory for him, the Terminator X system was a particularly appealing option. “I figured this would be a good place to start, and since the harnesses are interchangeable between the Terminator, HP, and Dominator systems, my thought was to use this system to get things rolling. Then, if I want to upgrade down the road, all I’d need to get would be the new ECU, and then the Terminator system can go on one of my other projects.”
Aston is aiming to get the Mustang up and running by next summer, and he’s targeting ETs in the 8s. “There will probably be a few loose ends to sort out, though,” he admits. “I’d love to take it to LS Fest next year, we just need to see how things progress because I don’t want to show up with it half-done. I’m kind of picky with stuff like that. This build is all about having fun, and to me, the tinkering is the best part.”