The Ghia: #79


This is the first-year Mustang Ghia. We’ve bastardized it into a four-cylinder five-speed challenge car. It still has the woodgrain!

The third car in our series was already owned and decorating the driveway of our Chief of Design.  He had long wanted to restore his 1979 Mustang Ghia to something it had never been.  Originally an automatic six-cylinder car, he was turning it into a turbo four manual street car, and was dutifully going through a very elaborate restoration process.  As projects do, that one stalled, one thing led to another, we started getting more and more interest in the Mustang 4 Challenge series, so ole’ Chief decided to build his beloved Ghia into a race car.


The Ghia before the late-night love fest

The 1979 model year was the first year for the Mustang on the Fox chassis.  Like many first-year builds, there are significant changes that came after 1979.  The door panels are a hard plastic instead of the pleather-covered cardboard that became prevalent a year later or so.  The inside door handles are at the bottom of the door.  If you take a ride in the Ghia, you’ll notice this when you try to get out.  It’s also our first four-eyed car, which is my personal favorite, as well as our Chief of Design’s.


Wood grain and funky door handles

Suffice it to say that our Chief of Design is also our best driver, by far.  He has the most seat time, more than the rest of us combined, so he really knows how he likes his cars set up.  As I’ve already come to figure out, he doesn’t always like the easy way out.  His car, this Ghia, embodies that spirit.  It’s a car to be conquered, not driven.  The first time I drove it, I was furious.  Then, as I thought about the car, I started to feel like it had beaten me, so I had another go, and another.  It’s spell won me over.  I enjoy pushing it beyond it’s limits, and knowing that it absolutely wants to kill me.  If racing legends had the “Crossroads” legend of Blues fame, I’d say this car was created out of some similar unholy pact.  It’s currently working it’s spell on our very own Madame President, aka “The Boss”, aka HMFIC.  She can’t seem to give it up, either.

I’d like to walk you through the detailed loving care that this car was built with, but our Chief of Design loves this car so much, that most of the work was done in secret, in his closed garage, late into the night.  Some say he became “inappropriate” with the car.

I don’t see how that’s possible, but I will say, there was a lot of love and work that went into this build.  It was our original “oooh look, it’s got wood grain” build.


We underestimated the value of woodgrain

It’s got a lot of proprietary SVOC Frankenfuckery in it.  It’s a carbureted four-plug car with a 91-93 short block, a turbo 4 head and the cam from a Ranger.  The timing is locked at 36 degrees.  It has toggle switches because WE ALL WANT TOGGLE SWITCHES IN OUR RACECARS!  But our Chief of Design only put them in his car, to give us the virtual middle finger.  It even has a push-button start.

toggle switches ghia

Toggle switches and a push-button start, just to spite us

None of the gauges work, and it makes a lovely unexplained mechanical whine that sounds like a mini-supercharger.  It runs slightly smaller tires than the other cars because our Chief of Design likes to wrestle his cars like a Russian wrestles an angry bear.  It has a drive shaft shudder in fifth gear, which you must use because it has a 4.56 rear gear.  It has a severe studder in the paddock, which requires a firm right foot to overcome.  It has a short shift kit but uses the stock shift lever.  The pedals have been customized ever so slightly to aid in our Chief’s “footwork”.  The brake pedal might as well be an on off switch.  It has more than 3 degrees of negative camber.  The seats are Corbeau and are just lovely and perfect, oh and there’s a passenger seat so we can scare the piss out of passengers. It ran a 2:12 at TWS.  To put that in perspective, my 197 HP Fiesta ST runs 2:15s at TWS.  It’s brilliant to drive, once you tame it.  It was designed by Him for Him and He shall be it’s only master.

Once you’ve driven the easy cars (Beta, the Cop Car, etc.) drive The Ghia.  It’s a wiley beast that reminds you that just because it’s a four-cylinder, doesn’t mean it has be be a tame driver.  It’s fast, and it’s fun, but it doesn’t feel like any other car in the fleet, and that makes it very special to us.  For the very brave, try it in the rain.



The Ghia even got it’s own photoshoot…

2015-06-13 09.21.54

Notice how this car is always in front?


This is what Frankenfuckery looks like