Congratulations to Brad Krekelberg (FEP username ZephyrEFI
) for winning the November Ride of the Month with his 1979 Mercury Zephyr ES 2 door sedan. The story of Brad’s ownership of this month’s winner started in 2005 while attending the Car Craft Summer National with his 2002 GT. Brad had decided that he wanted to get out from under the debt of his New Edge Mustang and build a sleeper instead. While sitting there in his lawn chair enjoying the show a Zephyr drove by with a For Sale sign in the window. Brad was immediately hooked by the unique character of the ES, the excellent body & paint, and the $2500 price tag. The deal was made and Brad was now the proud owner of a Zephyr ES.
Thanks to not needing to do paint and body work, Brad decided to jump right into the modifications of the interior and drive train. The decision was made to go with a black interior to make the matching of color and interior parts easier, besides it looks great with the silver exterior. A 1990 LX 5.0 project that had stalled out for another enthusiast was obtained to become the donor of the front interior half, engine, drive train, and electrical wiring for the Zephyr’s transformation.
Brad swapped in the 5.0 and an AOD original (later replaced by a T-5), the dash, and wire harness from the Mustang. He adapted the Mustang harness to the Zephyr as needed to make important things such as lighting and wipers work. Brad also added a Mark VII disc brake rear end to balance out the car. Most of the suspension has been rebuilt using rubber bushings, but with the addition of Steeda rear lower control arms, H&R Sport Springs, Tokico HP Shocks, Mustang sway bars, SN95 lower ball joints, QA1 K member, caster camber plates, BBK strut tower brace, and custom through the floor subframe connectors to stiffen up the chassis.
The interior is a combination of the 1990 dash and console along with GT front seats with new foam and black upholstery to match the original rear seat pattern. Brad customized the door panels to match the dash and eliminated the original wood grain trim. He also installed a new headliner as well as a SN95 dome light (with map lights) and sunvisors with vanity mirrors and lamps.
The exhaust starts out with stock 5.0 manifolds which flow into a BBK off-road H pipe and then into a pair of LX 5.0 Flowmaster Super 44 mufflers and tail pipes. The exhaust had to be lengthened before the mufflers and then again over the axle due to the longer wheelbase of the Zephyr compared to a Mustang. In the future Brad plans to add a pair of shorty headers as part of a GT40 upgrade to increase the overall power and fun factor of his Zephyr.
The fuel system has seen some changes over the years since Brad’s original swap. The original setup used Mustang hard lines that were stretched to fit the longer wheel base as well as the Mustang fuel tank and in line pump. The Mustang tank never fit properly due to Brad being unwilling to cut up the original spare tire well. Due to that the Mustang tank sat at an odd angle and caused many fellow drivers to inform Brad “Whoa Man! Your gas tank is falling out!!!!” Brad reassured them it wasn't and laughed it off. Luckily Brad found FEP and thanks to fellow members, found out about the LTD wagon fuel tank. This allowed him to swap out the Mustang tank and replace the stretched Mustang fuel lines with some high quality braided stainless steel lines.
The engine currently has about 150,000 miles on it and therefore is definitely not a race car, but is still pumping out around 225 HP and 300 lb/ft of torque. Although the car doesn't see the race track it does make it out to the car shows as often as possible. Unfortunately for Brad due to its stock appearance and unique subdued nature it doesn't get a lot of attention, except for the real enthusiasts that know and understand what a great car Brad has put together.
Although you wouldn’t know it looking at this cool Zephyr, Brad has hit a few speed bumps along the way to getting it to its current condition. One of his biggest headaches was the attempt at installing Bullitt style wheels. Due to the SN95 spindles/brakes and the Mark VII rear discs the Bullitt wheel offset just never worked and sat too far out. After multiple attempts of shocks and springs, Brad made the choice to pick up a set of OEM SVO wheels to swap for the Bullitts. The SVO wheels fit much better without all the rubbing and issues of the Bullitt wheels and give the car its cool original look. Another major issue for Brad was the original AOD that he installed. Although it wasn't his transmission of choice it was chosen due to a tight budget. Well sure enough it turned out to have a wasted 1st gear. Brad sourced another AOD in questionable condition only to find out that one was burnt up! Brad had the second AOD repaired, but just as luck would have it, he almost immediately found a T-5 for a price he couldn't resist and so that replaced the newly rebuilt AOD. Brad sold the AOD for about half of what it cost him to rebuild, but now he was shifting a T-5 which is what he really wanted anyway!
Brad’s Zephyr has come a long way from its original condition when he first bought it. Although he didn't have a clear vision at first on how he wanted to build his dream sleeper it slowly came together as his project has moved forward. Brad admits he’s not a flashy/attention grabbing guy and the subtle nature of the Zephyr suits him and his desires more than a flashy Mustang. The 1990 5.0 EFI gives him the benefit of reliability, drive ability, and yet enough power to have fun while driving too. The setup also allows him to tinker and play with car both financially and technically which is something that was difficult with his ole’ 2002 GT. Brad plans on installing a set of GT40 heads, intake, and cam in the near future because it is tried and true and will help give him a boost in power without betraying his current stealth/sleeper look to the untrained eye.
Finally Brad wanted to say “Thanks!” to his wife for being so understanding of all the time he spends in the garage and being so forgiving when he accidentally goes way over budget! We want to Thank Brad for sharing this one of a king Zephyr with us and we look forward to seeing more of the Zephyr in the future as Brad continues to work his magic on this cool ride.