Freaky Fast Fox
More than 19 years have passed since Oakes McKee bought his red fox body 1993 Ford Mustang LX coupe. In that time, he’s gone through eight rear ends, nine different motors and 21 transmissions. And those are just the “big things.”
Another way to look at it: He’s spent more than 10,000 hours (“easily over that,” he says) working on it in his shop, totaling upwards of $80,000 in repairs and upgrades.
Considering the original sticker on the car was just $13,750, this might seem a little crazy—until you hear it start up.
“When I turn the ignition on that car, well, people come running over to see it,” McKee says.
The car makes an incredible 770 horsepower out of a naturally aspirated 347ci engine built using a 289ci block. McKee says the engine will wind to 9,500 RPM. It’s mated to a four-speed transmission.
It’s fast, and that’s the way McKee wants it.
“It’s my race car, and it’s my therapy,” McKee, 63, says. “If I’m working on it, I’m very, very happy, very relaxed.”
A car and racing enthusiast his entire life (he rebuilt his first car at age 10 on his parent’s farm), McKee bought the car with the intention of using it for drag racing. He test drove 15 Mustangs at a dealership before spotting the ’93 notchback on a showroom platform. He took it home for one reason: “It was the fastest one,” he says.
Actually, as McKee puts it, the car was “destined” to be fast. It had 287 miles on it when he bought it. The previous owner? The Broward (Florida) Sheriff’s Office, which used it in a drug sting operation.
The car was entirely “bare-boned stock” when McKee brought it home. He waited all of two days before starting a complete rebuild of the engine. He started by changing the rear end gear ratio and putting in a new clutch. Everything just snowballed from there.
Owner of Smokin Racing, a mechanical repair shop in Boca Raton, Fla., that specializes in American muscle cars but repairs anything, McKee wasn’t too focused on adding a whole lot of bells and whistles to the car—at least in terms of aesthetics.
The car still has its original paint (though it has been touched up from time to time), and nearly the entire interior is still stock. He did put in a racing seat and had a six-point roll cage installed, though. He also installed a custom hood scoop and added an aluminum wing on the back, which “makes the tires really stick on the top end,” he says.
McKee has been racing it since 1995. He says the car’s best E.T. (elapsed time) is 10.37 seconds at 134 mph on a quarter-mile track.
“That’s a manually shifted transmission, and it has a G-force four speed in it with a V-gate shifter,” McKee says. “People always come up to the car to ask where the automatic is in it. They can’t believe it’s a manual.”
Most can’t believe the sound either. With a .740-inch lift cam, McKee says the car “really makes noise and rattles pretty good.”
McKee has won various awards showing it, and he still races the car once or twice a month when it “stays together and does everything right.”
He plans on racing until he retires from running his shop in seven years or so. Once he’s done with the track, he wants to turn the car into a pro touring vehicle. He’ll put an automatic in it and take his wife on a hot-rod tour.
Until then, though, he’ll be racing it and racing it hard. He says it’s the all-out attitude of drag racing that’s caused the repair bills to pile up. He drives it to win, he says, and drives it “to the maximum every time.” If that means blowing out a few transmissions here or there, he’s fine with it.
Really, with the attention the car gets at the track and shows, McKee says he’s made back his investment in the coupe “eight times over, at least.”
“It draws people,” he says. “The advertising I get from it is so valuable. They see it and want us to work on theirs. For six years running, we’ve had no less than 300 fox-bodies in our shop.
“The car’s a beauty. I really do love that car.”