This LS Powered Turbocharged Fox Mustang is a No-Prep Monster Machine

10 min read

This LS Powered Turbocharged Fox Mustang is a No-Prep Monster Machine

10 min read

You would think that a V8-powered 2012 Mustang would be enough to scratch the performance itch of any self-respecting gearhead, especially one who had stepped up from the world of tuned Honda Civics. For some, the stock car would be enough. For Trevor Whitaker, his Mustang went from having just basic bolt-ons to being a full-deal build, with twin-turbochargers, a built motor, and a rollcage. That should have been plenty to satisfy the speed craving, but for Whitaker, the weight of the S197 Mustang just wasn’t acceptable. He wanted a chassis that would work well for his drag racing intentions, and when Aaron Burrell’s 1988 Ford Mustang race car popped up for sale, a plan was set in motion that transformed your basic LS-swapped Fox into something much more interesting.

The Mustang, as Burrell had it, was already plenty competent. Known throughout the stick-shift racing community, it was originally running a turbocharged LS and T56 six-speed and was good for a low five-second 1/8th mile time in 2017. Fitted with a Donnie Gibbons Racecars rollcage, an AJE K-Member and a built 8.8-inch rear end with 9-inch axles, the Mustang was exactly what Whitaker was looking for. Even with the factory doors, front fenders, roof, quarter, trunk, and rear bumper, the Mustang is a featherweight. The Motor City Solutions valance was molded into the nose by Brandon Hurdle, the hood is a Featherlite Composites piece, and outside of the quarter window glass, the windows are Optic Armor units.

Whitaker Mustang rear quarter

For now, Trevor runs drum brakes in the rear. "That's what the 'chutes are for, to stop me," he says.

Whitaker has always been adamant about doing more with less and that is his favorite part of the build. In a world of $100,000-plus class cars, the little guys are the ones who deserve the attention, especially when they are using whatever they can to get things done. The suspension on Trevor's Mustang is more-or-les stock Fox style. Believe it or not, he's still on factory springs, and they are slid over Strange Engineering single adjustable shocks in the rear. The torque boxes are as they came from the factory, and UPR upper and lower control arms complete the back. In front, is a custom-built set of Viking coil-overs from Jeff Thomas, along with Tick Performance travel limiters. Braking comes from Aerospace Components drag brakes up front and the factory drum brakes in the rear. When asked why there are drums back there, his response is simple: "That’s what the ‘chutes are for, to stop me."

In the same vein, the engine is also about doing more with less. Trevor and his good friend Jordan went to a junkyard and pulled out a fourth-gen 5.3 LS from a Silverado for a few hundred bucks. Once they got it home, they took the heads off, cleaned it up, and slapped it back together using some LS9 head gaskets and eBay head studs. The only internal changes made involved a Brian Tooley Racing stage four turbo cam and .660 valve springs, and some LS7 lifters. Power assistance comes from a VS Racing 92mm turbocharger that Tim McCallum sponsored, while Johnathan Haymore of JonnyBFab built the kit around it. The 92mm hair dryer pushes air through a Holley Sniper throttle body and into a Holley EFI Hi-Ram intake manifold. Fueling starts from a five-gallon cell housing aan in-tank fuel pump, then feeds through 210lb-hr injectors. Tuning comes from Jonathon Atkins, owner of Tick Performance.

Whitaker Mustang modified body panels

While the chassis of the Mustang is anything but stock, the body stays closer to original. The only exceptions are the Motor City Solutions valance, the Featherlite Composites hood and the Optic Armor glass replacement pieces everywhere but the quarter windows.

Originally, Trevor was intent on keeping the Mustang as a stick-shift racer. After the T-56, the next move was to a G-Force G-101 four-speed H-pattern gearbox with multiple gear sets. Combined with a slipper clutch and Holley controlling the two-step and anti-lag systems, Trevor managed to get the Mustang down to a 5.45@135 MPH pass. That’s pretty solid, but the world of stick-shift racing is highly competitive. It doesn’t help when the tuner of your car is ripping off 4.60s in his record-setting fourth-gen Camaro.

The next transmission change came when Whitaker decided to switch his format up and moved to no-prep racing. The G-Force was removed and an FTI Level 5 Powerglide and Hughes Performance torque converter went in. A 1.69 gear seat combined with the 3.55 rear axle gear makes an outstanding no-prep combination. A Strange spool and 33-spline axles in the rear end are capable of handling the 1,050 wheel horsepower the Fox body currently has and has room to grow later on down the road. Class-spec 28x10.50 Hoosier slicks provided by Blake Lawson from Lexington Tire and Automotive are mounted on Weld ProStars, while 19x4.5 Keiser Full House wheels are on M&H front runners.

Whitaker Mustang rear tire

28x10.50 Hoosier slicks provided by Blake Lawson from Lexington Tire and Automotive are mounted on Weld ProStars, while 19x4.5 Keiser Full House wheels are on M&H front runners.

On the inside, simplicity is critical. Two Kirkey racing seats with G-Force Racing harnesses, and an easily accessible fire extinguisher set up the basic package. Looking over the Grant steering wheel, you'll find the 7-inch Holley Digital display. All of the electronics are easy to get to and are placed on the passenger side kick panel with the Holley Dominator ECU. That way, any changes that need to be made can be done when needed. A B&M Pro Bandit shifter, Scott Rod door panels, and a rear-seat delete complete the interior of Trevor’s Mustang.

Aside from the simple approach, “do more with less” vibe of the Mustang, most people will agree that the paint color is one of the most unique features. Going back to his Honda roots, Trevor teamed up with painter Jake Bryson and bodyman Brandon Hurdle to put together this black/brown metallic combination. The lighting will influence how you see it, but many agree that there is a strong copper attribute in direct sunlight.

Whitaker Mustang color

Is it brown? Is it black? Is it copper? Whatever color you see, Whitaker's Mustang wears one of the most unique shades you'll ever see a Fox body painted.

Like any build, there’s an army of friends and supporters who have helped out over the years with this build. Trevor’s right-hand man Zach Bean provides the no-prep tunes, as Jonathon Atkins did with the stick-shift tunes. Jordan Perrell has provided the voice of reason. Mark Hurdle has provided a shop for all of the work to get done and without question, the information that his father Ronny taught him over the years.


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