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Judge and Jennifer Gibson’s 1988 Mustang is a daily-driver dynamo! 

With a name like Judge, you know there’s a heaping helping of smack-down on-hand inside this ’88 Fox-body! This Judge has got the ultimate authority, and the muscle to back it up. But, amazingly, its owner also enjoys drives on the highway and the occasional grocery run. Kind of like your domesticated Kraken, if you will. 

But, let’s get right down to why we’re here. Imagine having a Bennett Racing Engines 338ci small-block built on an R302 block that is stuffed full of .060” over-sized pistons. This combination metes out over 1,000 horsepower and is stuffed in a street car with a full interior which is repeatedly driven to, and from the track, and on long-distance cruises.

Assembled by Judge under the guidance of Jon Bennett himself, the engine houses a “mild” hydraulic roller camshaft which bumps out the tunes to those Bennett Racing Engines High-Port heads. A set of Oliver rods connect the Callies  Magnum crankshaft to the 10.5:1 compression topside.  

Airflow is king. That’s why Judge relies on an Edelbrock Super Victor EFI intake, port-matched by Bennett with a 90mm Accufab throttle body controlling the throttle settings. A set of Siemens Deka 96 lbs/hr injectors get their squirtin’ orders through a Holley Dominator ECU that has been tweaked by KBX Performance’s Justin McChesney and Ben Thomas handling the tune.

In Judge’s own words, the ECU uses, “a LOT of inputs to support the build.”  And, if the atmosphere won’t get enough air into the engine to support the amount of fuel this monster can ingest, then Judge relies on the Forced Inductions turbo system to keep the air/fuel ratio safe. The Distributor-less Ignition System (DIS) turns the fuel into fumes as they work their way to the turbine wheel to make even more power. 

After the fuel has expended its usefulness, it rides to the exit point in the passenger’s side of the front fascia through a 4-inch exhaust. The cool side of the compressor twists and turns its way into a Wilson Manifolds elbow that directs the air down into the intake. 

The by-product of all that fuel and fury leaves the crankshaft via the 9.5-inch PTC  torque converter and gets jumbled around in the PTC-built, Reid-case-equipped, Turbo-Glide transmission set up with a 1.69:1 first gear. From there, the torque gets spun around a Denny’s 3.5-inch driveshaft. It makes a right-turn inside the 8.8-inch rear diff with 3.55 gears and beefed up with 35-spline Moser Engineering axles using 9-inch bearings. 

The interior of the car is a tasty blend of the necessary safety equipment and the OEM-spec’d goodies it left the factory with back in the ‘80s. Added items include lighter aftermarket seats and the Quinn’s Chassis Shop cage. The factory one-click-wonder seat belts have also given way to a full-house set of Simpson straps to keep both driver and passenger securely in those new bucket seats. 

Merillat Racing supplied the upper and lower torque boxes to give this Mustang unlimited adjustment of the rear control arms to hook the car. Motion Raceworks helped on the safety side with the parachute and bracket, and manufactured several specific items the industry just doesn’t have available. Judge offers a huge thank-you to each one. In his words, “Both companies’ owners are open to help and listen to their customers and they were there to keep us going!”

Of course, when you realize that Judge and Jennifer’s Mustang has a current best E.T. of 8.19 at 166 MPH and well north of 1,000 hp on the dyno running VP Racing Fuels’  C16, it’s easy to understand why these parts are welcome additions to the build of the car. Many believe that a seven-second pass is somewhere in the near future of the car at its current build. 

Even with all the necessary survival bits, Judge and Jennifer still enjoy short drives in their Mustang and their trailer-less trek to the track whenever they race. It just goes to show even with all the muscle in the world tucked up under that black robe, it’s not a bad thing to speak softly once in a while. It just makes it all the more impressive when you do bring out the big gavel!