IF YOU’VE won Powerball recently and are looking for ideas to build a bad-arse radial car, look no further than the Fox-body Mustang owned by West Australian radial stalwart, Lorenzo Gullotto. This thing is just killer!
This article was first published in the March 2021 issue of Street Machine. Photos: Jordan Leist
Lorenzo and his brother Sam previously campaigned an incredibly successful LS-powered Pontiac GTO, which in March 2019 held the title of the quickest and fastest LS-powered car in Australia. With a 6.48-second ET, it is still the world’s quickest hydraulic-roller LS both over the eighth and the quarter.
It’s one of a distinguished list of accomplishments for Lorenzo that also includes finishing third outright in Drag Challenge 2018 in a VL Commodore, which has since been moved on.
“After Kenda in September 2019, I sold the VL,” Lorenzo explains. The car was dangerously fast, running 192mph with just a six-point ’cage. I’ve got a family and two kids, and I needed to get into a car that had more safety.
“We had seen the Mustang advertised for sale in Melbourne. The car had been built in California as an X275 car, but never raced there. I’ve always loved the Fox-body coupes and was keen to pull the trigger on the deal, as it was a lighter and safer car.”
The plan was for Sam to race the GTO and Lorenzo to campaign the Mustang – until the GTO crashed in testing.
“After wrecking the GTO, work, COVID and all the other crap going on meant we had no time to repair the car,” Lorenzo says. “So we focused on the Mustang.”
Lorenzo decided to forgo LS power this time around. “I had been there, done that,” he says. “I wanted to go BBC, and started ordering parts like a madman. By the time I got home [from picking up the Mustang in Melbourne], I had spent $35K and had a lot of stuff on its way. My goal for the car was to have something that could run into the threes if I wanted to lean on it but essentially could run with a handful of Sydney cars into the 4.20s on a 275.”
Lorenzo found a big-block Chev in Perth that had come out of Merv Biggs’s dragster. The blown and injected 572ci mill had been built by Sam Fenech from Sydney’s Westend Performance, and Lorenzo bought it manifold to pan. With all the spares that came with it, it was a no-brainer; you just can’t build an LS for the same money.
The boys then got stuck into the build in earnest. They decided to use the trans out of the GTO, so they sent it to Al’s Race Glides to convert it back to a two-speed and ordered a billet, bolt-together PTC converter.
“The car was set up for X275, so it had mini-tubs and we were just going to add torque boxes,” Lorenzo says. “When I finally got the car on a chassis bench, we realised we needed to get the car lower. The motor would make a lot of power, so for it to work, the crank centreline comes into play and it all needed changing and re-mounting.
“We essentially kept the main hoop and main ’cage and cut out the back half with tubs and the firewall forward. The two footwells are still stock; the rest is chassis.”
It was a massive amount of work, and Mik Waters Fabrication in Bunbury did three solid months on the car. “We helped quite a bit,” Lorenzo says. “I worked on weekends and started over Christmas 2020 setting stuff up. I replaced the whole rear end with a Race Products floater that Danny from Spot On Performance organised.
“After the chassiswork was done, Danny came to my shop in WA and did a lot of fab work, including rear end sheeting, tubs, fabricating the whole hot and cold side and a heap of other work.”
The motor itself is built around a Big M block filled with a Lunati crank, Venolia pistons and alloy rods. Heads are 12-degree Dart Big Chief PRO1s, with a custom roller cam by John Bewley at Full Proof Performance. It’s a wet-sump deal force-fed by two 88mm Pro Mod GEN2 turbos with twin 60mm Precision Pro Series wastegates.
The fuel system is massive, with the single-plane Pro-Filer inlet manifold drilled for twin injectors – eight 575lb Billet Atomisers and eight XX Racing 740lb items feeding methanol from a Waterman Li’l Bertha pump through an Aeromotive regulator. The air/fuel mix is fired by an MSD Pro 600 and run by a Holley ECU with all the usual data acquisition sensors.
Jeff Johnson from Streetbuilt Racing tunes the car. On a recent dyno session the twin-turbo big-block Chevy punched out an impressive 2656rwhp on 32psi of boost. Where they will be able to use that kind of power in Australia is as much of a mystery to me as it is to Lorenzo!
The rest of the build is just as stunning, with a high-end fit-out including a carbonfibre driveshaft, Strange brakes and two-way adjustable rear Menscer shocks with external nitrogen canisters. A set of Strange Fox-body replacement shocks live up front.
The car weighs 3000lb race-ready and has a 101-inch wheelbase. The 1988 body retains its steel roof and quarters, and has a one-piece lift-off front that incorporates the original steel guards.
Lorenzo has just completed his third and final licensing pass in the Fox-body, which saw an 8.0@180mph. At this point it’s all about tuning the chassis and getting the car squared away, with Jeff, Lorenzo and Michael Marriott from Motorsport Database making the adjustments to the four-link. While the car may have seemed slow in licensing, on its last pass it picked up 43mph in the back half of the track.
“The car felt dead, but it’s good to have the licensing passes finished,” Lorenzo says. “The next step is to get to a Kenda event as soon as we can. We were thrashing to get it to the first meeting of the year, which was to be in Sydney, and we were going to leave it on the east coast and race it as much as we could. But for now, with COVID, we will do what we can, but we want to be the first car in WA to run a six-second radial pass.”
While the car is yet to make a pass at anywhere near half-power, given the team involved and their previous runs on the board, it’s safe to assume this ’Stang is going to be a radial monster. We’ll certainly be keeping a keen eye on its progress!