Harold Lauder
June 1, 2008

Horse Sense: Temple Performance Cars [(770) 722-2587; www.legendmustangs.com] offers three lines of serialized Mustangs: Series 1, Series 2, and Legend X. In an unconventional twist, the Series 1 is supercharged, and the Series 2 is naturally aspirated. The Legend X we're featuring is the blown, stroked top-of-the-line ride.

After fighting traffic on my way home in the Legend X Mustang, a traffic jam the following morning encouraged me to take the backroads to the office. Two-lane backroads are fun, and I got the chance to exert some of the 600 or so horsepower offered by the X's Kenne Bell-blown Livernois 5.0-liter Three-Valve; then I came upon my turn. I rounded the corner, slowed to a crawl, and hammered the throttle. The BFG KDWs clawed hopelessly at the asphalt as the tach climbed. I banged Second gear, and the KDWs decided to retract their claws and let the car drift sideways. That was enough to calm me down for the rest of the commute. I knew the Legend X was fast, but I had just experienced its raw street-brawler personality.

The Legend X separates itself from the pack with a unique body package. It builds off of a GT 500 fascia and adds a host of Legend-exclusive body parts, resulting in a cool, modern/retro look. Of course, those Shelby CS69 wheels make the whole package for us.

What is a Legend X, you might ask. It's one of the latest ultra-performance tuner cars to join the S197 fray-and a crowded fray it is, from Ford's own Shelby line to the old guard of Saleen and Roush. There's something about the car's retro styling that brings out the kid in a lot of us, including John Temple of Temple Performance Cars. John says he wanted a high-performance car for the masses that stands out. To that end, he fused '60s-Shelby influences with the modern equivalent and rounded it out with a generous dose of modern performance.

In this case, it's modern performance with a retro feel. The Legend X growls through a full Bassani Xhaust system that offers a familiar low roar until the throttle is opened and the roar swells. The exhaust, coupled with the S197's naturally quiet cabin, quells the sound of the Kenne Bell blower atop the Livernois Three-Valve 5.0 liter underhood, but forget it's there. Simply cracking the throttle results in an instant 10 pounds of boost that swells all the way to redline if you dare keep your foot on it. Coupled with snappy 4.10 gears and the close-ratio T56 six-speed, the boosted 5.0 is a thrill a shift. We adapted to the muscular, grippy clutch needed to corral more than 600 hp.

Unlike many of the vinyl-striped Mustangs on the road, the Legend X sports painted-on stripes, which really take the car's looks up-market.

The only downside of all this power is a pronounced stumble in the 2,500- to 3,500-rpm range. Given that our ride was a prototype, Steve will undoubtedly weed out any such gremlins before a Legend X lands in the hands of happy new owners. Likewise, he'll have to banish the tire-pressure-sensor warning chime triggered by the transplanted GT 500 dash cluster. The dash looks great, but if we didn't have the Shaker 500 cranked most of the time, that chime would grate a bit.

Besides the power, what truly shined about the Legend X was its head-turning looks. The car was simultaneously familiar and unique, and it stood out from other Mustangs without being garish. I collected my fair share of turned heads, thumbs-up, and verbal compliments during my brief time behind the wheel. Much of that is due to Steve's in-house body panels-hood, rear wing, splitter, side scoops, and quarter-window scoops-as well as the painted-on Le Mans stripes. The stripes are a real upgrade over vinyl, and the cherries on the Legend X sundae are those sweet CS69 wheels.

So, if you're looking for something different but still want prebuilt power that can rule your local streets, write your own legend with Steve Temple.