Mason’s Mean LS Powered Mustang 5….3?

Grey S197 Mustang drifting to right of frame

Josh Mason originally found himself on the same old path that most drifters travel — an S13 240SX with an impending turbocharged LS swap. Josh, at just 26 years old, had scraped and saved to build the turbo mill. Then the phone rang. A buddy was on the line with a lead on a V6-powered S197 II Mustang that had suffered a fairly hard front-end collision. Josh decided to give the car a look.

On further inspection the Mustang, which amazingly still drove, had been hit so hard that the front coilover towers had been moved. Knowing that he would be chopping the front off of whatever car he built, Josh decided that the Mustang might be worth the gamble. When the price turned out to be $1,000 US, Josh knew he might have something special.

There are certainly brand new Mustangs out there on the pro circuit, and there have been a few S197s and even SN95s over the years, but, in comparison to a sea of S13 and S14s, the Mustang seemed like it had a good chance to stand out and be different.

In an effort worthy of the Grassroots Motorsports $20xx challenges, Josh parted out the completely original and stock S197 chassis and actually made back $1,200 — more than he bought the car for! He sold the S13 chassis that he had just finished fabricating the cage for, and set to work on a year-long process of putting the Mustang together.

Chevrolet LM7 5.3L in the Mustang engine bay
Don’t be confused by that intake manifold. This Mustang is rocking Chevy power.

Why an LS swap in a Mustang? Because, frankly, Josh didn’t have the funds to do anything other than shove the rebuilt LS he had assembled into the chassis he had available. While the Ford Coyote powerplant is a truly amazing mill, they are also truly expensive, and the dollar-per-horsepower value proposition of the LS (which happened to be sitting in his garage) was pretty hard to beat.

76mm Comp turbo and air filter
A 76mm Comp turbo smooshes air into the bowtie powerplant.


Aeromotive fuel pressure regulator mounted on firewall
An Aeromotive regulator has the critical task of keeping the go-juice properly pressurized.


  1. Great build. Very efficient use of resources.

    I have shocks that extend into the engine bay and I had some tie rods with spherical bearing rod ends that I bolted to the top of the shocks which I triangulated to the firewall. For about 5lbs in weight the increase in steering precision is phenomenal. I have never seen anybody else do that mod but I swear to god it is the best upgrade I have ever done in terms of price. I had to carve out a divet with a angle grinder and reinforce the mounting points on the firewall. Great bang for buck, though.

  2. Swaybar endlinks tied to the rear bumper support? Am I missing something? Maybe it is just the angle of the pic on Pg7.

    Somebody please tell me I am wrong.

    1. The swaybar is mounted to the axle, and the ends are bolted to the chassis.
      Backwards from how it is on most cars, but the end result is the same.

      1. Ah, yes. Thank you. I thought the Mustang was multi-link now, but I must have missed the Chevy live axle part in the build description.

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