A tale of two ponys: Ford Mustangs, that is
Like father, like son is the story with Joe Sepanik and his pair of four-wheeled steeds. In 1982, Joe watched his dad, Joe, buy a new, painted black Mustang hatchback from Suburban Ford (now Ron Hopkins Ford).
Ten years later, in 1993, Joe returned to the Elgin dealer and did the exact same thing as his father, buying himself a new, painted black Mustang hatchback, too.
When pops wasn't commuting, he used his 1982 ponycar for instruction, both at slow and higher speeds.
"I learned to drive stick shift on dad's car," recalls Joe, who lives in Hampshire. Once that skill was dialed in, Joe and his dad used the car for competing in area SCCA solo-racing events, too.
Joe grew to like the Mustang life so much that, upon his 1986 high school graduation, his parents offered the car to him at a reduced rate. He still has the car today and, together with his son, Ben, is lovingly giving it a much-needed refresh and overhaul.
As for his second steed? He bought his hatch to use every day but quickly found he liked it for going fast.
"I picked it up from the lot with six miles on the odometer. By the time it hit 200, I was already ordering parts," laughs Joe.
While his dad and he carved up coned parking lot courses, this time around, Joe wanted to haul in a straight line.
"My in-laws live near Byron Dragway and I kept hearing the cars running," recalls Joe. "I remember thinking, 'I'd like to try that.' "
He did just that and over time, Joe has added more and more to make his Mustang go.
The stock engine was exchanged for a supercharged, 351-cubic-inch V-8. Joe installed a Trick Flow air intake and cylinder heads, a 70-millimeter throttle body and dual fuel pumps.
All told, the powertrain combo makes 660 horsepower to the rear wheels. In the quarter-mile, it can turn 10 seconds flat at 138 mph. The suspension was upgraded with tubular K-members, aftermarket struts, control arms and coil over shocks.
Even while making those modifications, Joe was still regularly driving the vehicle. For a spell, his family used it for longer jaunts, like vacations to see his sister in Cincinnati.
In 2014, the leadfoot decided to throttle back on the straight-line speed.
"The car had so much originality to it. The more horsepower you make, the more likely you are to break something," Joe says.
He changed gears, cleaning up his ride and making cosmetic changes to participate in the area show circuit.
"I bought the car because of my dad and also to learn how to work with my hands," Joe says. "It's been great to do both, while learning a lot of lessons along the way."
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