Nicholas Fluhart

July 4, 2010

“The Ghost”: F-150 / Mustang GT Conversion

Filed under: The Ghost — Nicholas Fluhart @ 10:09 pm

This is one of the more in-depth projects I have done. It is my very first truck, a 1984 Ford F-150. What started out as a stock, old truck turned into a very neat retro style hot rod with a modern twist: an early 90’s 5.0 HO Mustang GT electronic fuel injected engine. I have always been a big fan of the 80’s step side F-150’s. In my opinion, they have the best body lines of any Ford step side truck, and I love the retro style bed with the wood floor. I have also been a big fan of the 80’s fox body 5.0 Mustangs since my dad purchased one new in 1989. My brother also has a clean 1991 model. So naturally, this was the best of both worlds and a great project.

Sometime around 1999 I got my first vehicle a few months after I turned 16. My dad found this old Ford F-150 step-side for $1000. It needed a transmission overhaul and some other work. My parents got the truck for me and I paid them back in installments after.

The stock setup was as follows: The truck was originally silver (badly faded and in need of paint when I received it) and it is a short wheelbase stepside. The stepside is a factory retro style wood bed with the old type of tailgate, fenders, etc. It’s very unique and there aren’t many clean ones left. Again, I think it has the best lines and overall appeal of any step side truck bed ever made.

The engine was a stock 302 V-8, and originally it had an automatic overdrive (AOD) transmission, but someone replaced it with an automatic 3-speed C6. The rear end was a single-track differential with 3:55 gears. Someone had also installed P255/70-15 tires on chrome spoke wheels that actually looked pretty decent along with a chrome roll bar in the bed and bed rails.

The interior is pretty basic with a bench seat, manual locks and windows, no cruise control or tilt wheel, but it does have factory A/C, factory tachometer, and a clock in the dash.

Shortly after I received the truck, I began sanding and priming in preparation for paint. At the age of 16, I didn’t know precisely what I was doing, but I did a decent job, all things considered. My dad and I then took the truck to a local body shop who painted it for $150 plus materials. We went with dove gray as opposed to silver because the type of paint job (old style with no clear coat) required a solid color to look good, and with no matalic, the dove gray would last much longer without fading. It turned out OK. Definitely not what I would call a professional job, but for the money it was great. I polished up the wheels, bumpers, and roll bar and then tinted the windows. I also installed two KC Daylighters on the roll bar. I had one of the best looking trucks in school. It was named “The Gray Ghost”, later to be known only as “The Ghost”.  The picture below shows me at age 17 posing by my truck. I think it was taken in the fall of 2000.

About a year later I acquired a set of polished aluminum sawblade rims and the truck looked like you see it in the photo below which was probably taken around 2001.

It was also during the summer of 2001 that a major transplant occurred. I had been working as an automotive mechanic since the age of 16 and was working very long hours at a local garage when I acquired an engine out of a wrecked 5.0 Mustang GT. I recall having lots of money around this time because I worked so much that I had no time to spend it. LOL So I began building the 5.0 “fuely” engine (short for fuel injected). It was the first automotive engine I built from the bottom up. Now keep in mind, this was my daily driver and was not intended to be a show truck or anything like that. I just wanted a powerful, unique truck.

Below are the vitals:

– Bottom end rebuilt to OEM specs
– 1966 289 Hypo heads (higher compression) w/Windsor valves
– E303 Ford Racing Roller Cam
– Mass Air Conversion
– Custom cold air intake w/K&N filter
– Larger radiator with electric cooling fan
– Black Jack Headers (already on the truck)
– Serpentine belt system, maintaining A/C and power steering

Later upgrades include:

– 24 pound per hour fuel injectors (replaces the OEM 19 pound)
– Crane performance ignition (most bang for the buck horsepower increase)
– Ford Racing plugwires
– Custom made fan shroud for the electric fan
– Full 2.5 inch aluminized exhaust system with Flowmasters and tips
– Polished GT40/Explorer intake manifold (most noticeable horsepower increase)
– Big bore throttlebody and mass air meter
– Roller rocker arms (the high-lift cam destroyed the stock ones)

Converting an old carbureted truck to a modern OEM style electronic fuel injection system complete with all the sensors and wiring which also allowed the ability to run computer diagnostics was NO EASY TASK. However, the project was a success, although it took a very long time to work out all the bugs. In late 2002 I bought my first new vehicle, an ’02 Ford F-150, and retired the Ghost to a weekend hobby truck. It was around this time that my father took an interest in it and we began partnering on the project.

The next upgrade to the truck was the transmission.

Tired of the C6’s lack of overdrive, we wanted to reunite the truck with its long lost companion, the AOD transmission. Since I had undertaken the cost of the initial engine build, dad got the transmission. After much research, we found a speed shop that specialized in AOD’s. We ordered a custom built AOD with the following specs:

– Transgo Shift Kit
– A+ Servo
– Extra clutches AODE style
– 2500 RPM Stall Converter

I also purchased a B&M ratchet shifter which moved the gear shifter to the floor. I installed the transmission and the result was the sweetest shifting automatic transmission I have ever operated. I mean really, it turned out very nice.

The next major upgrade was the rear end.

Dad and I decided we needed a little more low-end thump, so we changed out the stock 3:55 gears with a set of Precision Gear 3:73’s on an Eaton positive traction locker. Perfect! It is exactly what was needed.

Other upgrades:

During our time working on it, we did a lot of other things to the truck. We rebuilt the front end by replacing all the old rubber bushings with new polyurethane bushings. We replaced the entire brake system. We decided to go with a retro hot rod type of look, so we did away with the roll bar (as bad as I hated to see my favorite 80’s icon go), the bed rails, and those big mirrors. Then we lowered the truck 2 inches and put air rides on the back so we can adjust the height to compensate for a load or if we pull a trailer. We went with 50 series wide tires. We also replaced the front bumper with a smoothie chrome one, replaced the headlight housings, and installed a billet grill. We also reworked the interior having the seat recovered, re-carpeted the floor, and installed new door panels and dashboard.

Here’s what it looks like:

Under the hood…

And the interior…


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