Posted on 22 Comments

Five Liters of Fury

This is probably the most talked about drag test in the history of drag tests. The numbers seem weak now, but thirty years ago, this blew a lot of minds. With our permanently revoked New York Driver’s License, reputation for bringing Test Cars back not quite as functional as we received them, and the fact that we street raced these things in a time when street racing was a taboo subject, it was often difficult to get cars to test. In this case, we just went out and bought one ourselves. The rest is history.

Full story below.

22 thoughts on “Five Liters of Fury

  1. I still have that issue, along with about 11 others. Cars Illustrated was my favorite magazine.

    1. Thanks, John, that’s about eight issues more than we have.

    2. Ahhh…..I still have my 25th Anniversary Mustang GT. 5.0, auto, K&N air filter, 160,000 miles, Oxford white, pony 25 years plaque on dash, original as in stock. That car will do 140mph!!….stock

      1. The automatic 5.0 Mustangs had 205 hp,different cam and not as quick as the 5 speed cars..

  2. The exact reason I orderd my 89 5.0 coupe.
    I beat the snot out of it, and loved every second of it.

  3. Stories like this one are what got me started in the whole mustang game around 13 years old. Mid 90s MM&FF, Cars Illustrated, 5.0 &SF, etc. Those were the best articles and some fantastic writing from guys who really had a passion for the cars. Really glad I kept every issue I ever got. 20+ years later, I’ve owned almost 30 stangs personally and sold probably 100 more being in the car business. Thanks Tony for your part in getting me hooked way back then. You were my inspiration for being the fastest pizza delivery driver in my hometown for the 4 days that I worked there in my 5.0 LX.
    Cheers for the years buddy….

    1. You know, Clint, ironically enough, I delivered pizza for a few weeks to make some extra cash, in my LX. Thanks for the nice words.

  4. Dude, I picked up this mag sometime between the date I ordered my black 5.0 LX in May, 1987 and the time it came in. I must have read the entire article daily for a couple of months. I had never really driven a manual trans car until the day I drove it home. I grabbed second gear heading onto the Florida Turnpike within a mile of the dealership. Got a racing ticket later that night.

    I got a little more careful with where I did it from then on. But I raced anything and everything with a giant chip on my shoulder. Because of you, I always thought I shouldn’t lose. And rarely did. I got that car before I turned 18 and have at least owned one Mustang ever since. I actually still own that very car but it sits in a field at a friends house since I split block, broke the crank in half and bent a few rods.

    I don’t know whether to thank you or blame you 😀

    1. Keith, that’s a great story, thanks for sharing!

  5. So many great memories. In 1987, I was a dirt-poor college student, living on ramen noodles. My wardrobe consisted of two pairs of blue jeans and half a dozen T-shirts, all from car meets and rock concerts. Any money I did happen to come by was spent on my daily driver, a ’69 Cougar with a 351 4 barrel and 4-speed. It wasn’t a supercar, but was stout enough to handily dust any late-model iron that cared to give it a try.
    Then one day, a new LX with 5.0 badges caught me at a light. I was familiar with the so-called H.O. version of the EFI 302 that had debuted the year before, and wasn’t impressed. Replacing the tried and true Holley 4 barrel hadn’t helped performance, the EFI looked like a hassle to deal with, and generally it all seemed a step in the wrong direction. Yes, Ford claimed the ’87 version was improved, but it still looked the same, and still had cats, a smog pump, and all the rest of that emissions junk to slow it down. Really, how much better could it be?
    So it was with extreme confidence that I waited for the light. On green, the Cougar was immediately ahead by half a car length. And then the Mustang started GAINING. By the time we caught up with traffic and had to back off, the Mustang was a fender length ahead. And if getting beat wasn’t bad enough, turns out he still had a new car temporary tag on back.
    That got my attention, and in a big way. I mean it was settled knowledge, like the Earth is round, that new cars were about style, image, and a polite, non-threatening level of “balanced” performance. It was simply a given that they would never match their ’60s and ’70s forefathers when it came to straight-line acceleration.
    It wasn’t much later that I was reading about Mean Mr. Mustang in Super Stock, and starting to accept that Ford might actually be on to something. Then your article came out, and that was that. I HAD to have one. Unfortunately, I was still two years away from graduation, and any possibility of affording a new car. In the meantime, I picked up every issue of Cars Illustrated to keep up with the latest 5.0 news and tech. Each month brought new revelations on how to tweak the EFI and set the cars up for best times. Which of course I couldn’t wait to try out on my own Mustang, just as soon as I actually had one.
    Anyhow, once I’d finally graduated, obtained gainful employment and had a couple of paystubs to prove it, I started hitting the dealers. Naturally, no one had a black, 5.0, 5-speed notchback with 3.08 gears in stock, but I would accept nothing else. It took a while to find a dealer willing to special order such a car, but eventually I did. In August of 1989 my first, and still only, new car found a place beside my beloved Cougar. I met a lot of fellow 5.0 LX owners in those days, and they’d ALL read that same article. Ford really should have given you a commission.
    All these years later I still have both cars, and my love for them is undiminished. (BTW, wanna feel old? Wait ’til a car you bought new qualifies for Antique plates. That’ll do it.)
    Sorry to ramble on for so long. But thanks for the site, a ton of great memories, and the opportunity to share a few of them here.

    1. Thanks man, great story!

  6. Tony…It’s great to see that you’re alive and kicking! I just found UTG on YouTube. I loved reading your stuff and you have not changed.
    I bought a new 87,radio delete[didn’t want to pay 350.00 for that crap],black hatch after reading this article. Great car. The only problem was the high speed handling.
    I couldn’t hang with the F bodies on the 401.
    Despite buying 2 new Fords{03 Terminator}, I’m a Mopar guy. Thanks for flying the flag way back in those dark ;dark days.
    Torsion days,reduction starters,and rocker shafts forever, Darrin.

  7. 13.90’s still good today,sure the new Mustang 5.0 will do low to mid 12’s,but thats 30 years later ! After all back then the Mustang was to be replaced by the Probe,yeah the Probe was to be the new Mustang lol..

    13.90’s is what my Magnum RT ran in 05,I was so happy I thought we would never see those numbers again from a rear drive car ! I ran 13.98’s -14.08 at 99 – 102 Sea Level here..I now have a 2015 Challenger SRT 392 I picked up 1 year ago and happier than anything ! I still have my 68 Super Bee,crashed it lightly in 1991 that probably saved it and allowed me to keep it to this day ! I hit the front passenger side,down to the 1/4,hood ,fender crashed upward lol.Was really upset when it happened,but I then totaled a quicker 74 Charger(factory rallye package 318 car) with a built 1978 440.I destroyed that car 1 year later ,so that saved the Bee(bee was at my uncles farm for 10 years fully restored with the nice healthy 440,with 383 emblems its a 383 ).That high 11 second 74 Charger’s engine was to be put in the Super bee,and I would have totalled that one for sure instead I know .

    I raced lots of 5.0 Mustangs in my 68 383 Super Bee ,my Bee was a mid to high 13 second ride.. Hard to hook ,but it ran good.I had 2 buddies with these Mustang 5.0’s one LX coupe(trunk model) 4.10 gears,off road exhaust etc we would be side by side..I had 3.55’s with a 8 3/4 ,727 auto..I blew my original 383 racing him lol !! Car had 120,000 on it and never worked on(mechanically).

    My Mom had a 1982 Mercury Capri 5.0 auto,that is a 16 flat 1/4 mile car but the 5 speeds were tested in the 14’s I think.She later bought a Monte Carlo SS again nothing fast just a decent mid to high 15 second ride as tested when new.Parents always had decent cars .At their old age they own a 2012 Charger RT Hemi ,and maybe they have 1 more new car in them,both retired so Charger only has 30,000 on it.

  8. I remember seeing your car as a young kid in Staten Island (next to friend’s house Ray N.). East Figueroa… you silently were my hero and I met you once. If recall later you had a slingshot dragster in your garage I still have my Cabernet Red LX in the garage I bought new and a black notch I’m working on. Your writing is on another level and I knew that we were living in some special times when the LXs, GN’s and Formula 350s ruled the streets.

    I hope all is well and with could read your articles and tests now. Writers are boring today in comparison.

  9. WOW! brings back the memories. This car is pretty much the reason for me hitting my local dealer and buying an 89 5.0 LX. Mine wasn’t as stripped but did run some 8.80s in the eighth. Great stuff. Love the podcasts. Keep up the great work!

  10. Great article. Loved it. It took me back.

  11. Thanks for posting this. Classic!!

  12. Man you really know what’s going on awesome car and you definitely are a wealth of knowledge keep up the great work Tony you show brings back a ton of memories from my childhood

  13. Hey Tony,

    SS & DI, Cars Ill, Street & Strip Supercar & early MM & FF were the best car mags ever.

    The Attitude you & Neil brought to it was infectious.

    I remember this article almost word for word.

    I am blessed to have been friends w/Neil for decades.

    Saw several episodes of UTG before I figured out it was you LOL.

    The Second Coming & Mean Mr. Mustang were great.

    BTW I still have the ’87 LX I bought new…

  14. Thank you Tony for posting this, I will be printing it out somehow for my wife. As a young teen in the 80’s, I went to Atco with my world’s greatest older brother and his friends to race his 69 Charger RT with a 440 and six pack (my favorite quote was one of his friends laughing about the prospect of getting pulled over at the mall while my brother broke loose the 15-inch wide rear tires, saying “but this is a faaamily car”. I also remember being slammed against the back seat as the car filled up with tire smoke after a few runs up the street near our SJ pine barrens house. Anyway, you mention Atco on your youtube site, and reading it here brings back great memories. My wife bought her first car in ’88 (an ’81 mustang with a straight six), and my first car was a ’77 dodge truck with a slant six. She still has hers, mine hit a telephone pole long ago with us both in it. One less real tooth but we are both still here. I had one other D-100 with a slant six back in the day, and I am working on getting another now that I am embracing adulthood. I love your YouTube Channel, but I can’t comment there, you make the computer a wayback machine with your wonderful channel. Thank you!!!

  15. I was always a Chevy Z28 guy. But I have absolute respect for the 5.0 mustang. It was just a wolf in sheep’s clothing. All in all, a better car…

  16. LOL….in 2024 I still reread from time to time my Cars Illustrated magazines. Tony is the reason I became a “gearhead” and even buying a 5.0 LX Mustang. Judging by other comments I am not the only one. I wonder how many of those things he helped Ford sell. Some great information and writing by a true car guy. You know its good stuff when reading these articles, you started making car noises and burn-out sounds waiting to get your drivers license. I miss the 80’s and cars magazines written by car guys !!!!

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