When I think of fox body Mustangs, I picture them with nitrous purge valves coming out of the hood and doing a wheelie as they blast down the quarter mile. That isn’t the case with Matt Soppa’s blue fox. Appropriately named, “Give No Fox,” the car was built for one thing: killing tires. To test its tire-shredding abilities, I met up with Matt at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park during a Go Fast Entertainment Drift N Drag night.

As the trailer door on Matt’s rig rolled down, I was amazed the car was in such a great condition for being a drift car.  Matt shared that he nearly total’d his 2005 Mustang into a wall at a grassroots drift event which led to the acquisition of this blue beauty, which he found as a roller in Wisconsin.

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Matt jumped in his Mustang and fired it up, my ears were filled with the heartbeat of a 2013 Ford F-150 5.0-liter Coyote engine transplanted into the engine bay. “I had the car setup for a Ford modular V8, so the Coyote swap made a lot of sense,” Matt said. He added that every modular Ford V8 from 1996 to present shares the same bellhousing pattern while the flywheel, clutch, and starter works as well.

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Matt shared one of the most challenging parts of the swap was the power steering. The 3-valve uses a hydraulic pump while every truck and Mustang Coyote uses an electric rack. “Ford makes a bracket to use the 3V power steering pump with a Coyote where the AC compressor usually hangs out. But this put the pump on the opposite side of the engine, so I had to figure out a pressure line.  I tried a 94-95 Mustang 5.0 pressure line, and with a little tweaking of the hardline portions of the hose, it worked perfect and has been for over a year now.”

Ford Racing also helped simplify this swap with a bolt-in wire harness, ECU, intake, drive by wire pedal and fuse box all conveniently bundled together for about $1550.

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In total, the car makes a healthy 372 wheel horsepower which gives this 5.0 just the right amount of power to get this 3200-pound pony car all sorts of sideways.

As Matt backed his stallion out of his trailer, I immediately noticed the front wheels sticking out past the fenders.

With Steve Mass’ design of the front lower control arm and Jon Duncan’s front knuckles, this angle kit has been dubbed “WiseFox.” Connected to that knuckle is a custom set of Maximum Motorsports coilovers with even more custom goodies. To finish the angle kit off, they created their own caster and camber adjustment plates. What does all that custom fab work yield angle wise? With a flick of your wrist, you get 65 degrees of near parallel steering angle.

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To get the rear end of the car lower and to stay planted, Matt installed a set of Maximum Motorsports rear lower control arms that lay homage to a pair of Eibach Sportline Springs with adjustable spring perches. Aiding the springs in their compression are a set of Bilstein shocks.

Peering into this Mustangs cockpit, a full roll cage spiders it’s way across the A and B pillars, connecting to the door bars, harness bar, and roll bar to keep the driver safe in a tandem accident or a rollover. Not only does the roll cage add enormous amounts of safety, but it also stiffens the chassis together for little-to-no flex.

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To make room for the cage and door bars Matt gutted the interior, yet for the most part, the car still feels like a genuine street car.

A set of Racequip 4-point harnesses snake their way through a set of OMP Racing bucket seats to keep the driver planted for aggressive flicks. Additionally, a full set of Autometer gauges replace the dated 90’s gauge cluster.

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Matt has replaced the front bumper with that of a 2003 Cobra Terminator. I think this a great addition as it matches the drift car vibe very well. A tow strap has been installed inside the bumper and Matt has retrofitted a set of RTR grill LED’s that give his Mustang a more “pissed off” look. He also replaced his hood with the more aggressive Cobra R version of its day. Matt has retained the OEM, two-tone body color, metallic blue and silver.

Observing the side profile of this car, Matt says he keeps his 18-inch XXR’s up front wrapped in some sticky Nitto NT05’s while running different compounds in the rear to help alleviate the cost. I really love the side skirts and the little OEM cuts they have.

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At the rear, a Saleen rear wing has installed for style points. Matt has replaced the OEM GT rear tail lights with LX tail lights for a sleeker appearance.

I thoroughly enjoy how this car looks, it’s not over the top but a great balance of aggressive and subtle. The terminator bumper and RTR lights are what makes this “Matt’s Mustang.”

Driving Impressions

Since Matt got the car in 2014, he hasn’t let anyone drive it until now. He stands at 6’5″ which meant I had to use some pillows for a booster seat because I’m a puny 5’7” on a good day.

The car is very straightforward with a decently stiff clutch and manual operated brakes.  Before I left, Matt told me to put in into third gear then to first gear. With a quick turn of the key, I fire her up I forget about the transmission and immediately ground first gear (Sorry Matt!). With the transmission in the correct gear, I leisurely made my way up to the donut zone.

About 10-seconds into my drive, I notice how easy it is to steer this car. This is something I miss about newer cars. With little effort, I was able to sweep the wheel left-to-right very quickly.

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The donut zone at the track is laid out in a simple “figure-eight.” I wanted to be easy, I stabbed the electronic throttle to awaken the Coyotes roar and quickly got on the ASD hydro-handbrake.

The wheel whips around to my right, and I peddle the throttle to respect the engine. I get a feel for the grip level of the rear tires and end my donut with a huge smile. The steering is perfect, props to Jon and Steve for creating an angle kit that responds well to inputs doesn’t bind and with little Ackerman for maximum sideways speed.

Ready to run the track, I patiently waited my turn. Once the starter gave me a thumbs-up, I went from third gear to first. I revved Matt’s 5.0 up to around 6000 RPM and grabbed second. I felt the rear end start to get loose as the slightly worn rear tires began to beg for traction. I take a short shift to third and quickly glance towards the apex. I give the wheel a slight wiggle to the right to upset the suspension and slam my foot into the clutch and rip the e-brake.

I am not a fan of manual brakes, I am a princess when it comes to driving, and I love my driver’s aids.

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My instincts had my hands follow the wheel as I am not accustomed to self-steering. I went deep into the corner and started to lay into the angle with a good line. Since I do not know this car that well, I get back on the e-brake briefly to slow for the transition and feel it out. I could have easily just lifted the throttle to bring the rear up to make it swing back left.

The front end has tremendous amounts of grip and begs for you to transition faster and more aggressive. This could be due to the weight of the V8, very sticky Nitto’s and a race prepped front suspension set up.

Back on the power, I noticed the RPMs started to drop, so I gave her a good clutch kick, still in third gear and the fox began to make power again. This was a little odd for me as I’m used to driving very torquey 4-cylinders. “Torque” and “4-cylinders” usually do not mesh together, but with the aid of turbo technology and high compression, believe it or not, many 4-cylinder cars make more torque, and make it earlier in the power band than most 5.0s and LS engines.

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The car was getting hot fast, we had to stop multiple times between runs to let the engine cool down. Matt plans on upgrading his cooling system as you read this.

I ended my run gracefully and recouped my thoughts about the performance of Matt’s Mustang.

I could have entered the first corner much faster and more aggressively, I needed to get off the e-brake and let the angle do its work and more importantly, I needed to keep the car in the power band if I wanted to move forward.

The car is damn quick, 374 wheel horsepower in a 3200-pound car is no joke. Last but not least, the V8 was fun but working for the power was very questionable. I am more than confident that bouncing off the rev limiter and continuously clutch kicking the engine was attributing to the heat soak.

Build Specs:

  • Engine: 2013 Ford F-150 5.0L V8 Coyote
  • Transmission: TR3650 from an ‘01 Cobra
  • Rear end: 1987 Ford Thunderbird Turbo Coupe Axle converted to 5 lug
  • Horsepower: 372 WHP
  • Chassis/Suspension: Custom “WiseFox” front knuckles and front control arms w/ Maximum Motorsports coilovers and caster/camber plates; Maximum Motorsports Heavy duty rear control arms with adj. spring perch, Eibach sportline rear springs, stock upper control arms, Bilstein rear shocks
  • Brakes: 99-04 front PBR brakes, 1987 Thunderbird Turbocoupe rear disc converted to five lug using a 88-91 Lincoln Mark VII rotor turned down to 10”
  • Tires/Wheels: XXR 530, 527, Front 245/40/18 Nitto NT05
  • Exterior: 03-04 Cobra front bumper, stock paint color scheme, Cobra R hood, custom LED “RTR” style corner lights
  • Interior: Full Autometer gauges, Full roll cage, sort of gutted
  • Driveline parts: Exedy Mach 500 clutch, custom driveshaft

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