Bubba Kung
September 14, 2004

You know, it's getting harder and harder to find a true custom car these days. By no means will we attempt to define what a genuine "custom" is, since it is so subjective, but sometimes we question how others define it. Just about any kid these days can pick up a Japanese econobox and slap on a coffee-can-sized exhaust tip, plaster it with a poor-fitting and unpainted body kit and call it a custom car. We're just not too sure what kind of glue they're sniffing, because the last we checked, a custom car is supposed to go fast and look it, without any pretense.

This is probably why we all own Mustangs. The original ponycar represents nothing less than the very spirit of customizable hot rodding--the passion for undiluted power, looks and speed. In essence, our four-wheeled creations are extensions of what we believe in, often stemming from long Saturday nights and a thunderous creativity streak.

The long yet short road to customization began last year in 2003 when young Mr. Eric Cheney approached Ford Motor Company to acquire a Mustang upon which to display his talents at the 2003 SEMA convention in Las Vegas. It took some patience for the numerous layers of red tape to be unraveled, but eventually, the car was readied and delivered to him. The only thing was, he had just six weeks left to make it all come together. Fortunately, all the parts were prepared and in his possession, ready for installation.

Now we know some of you guys want to read about the bodywork, but let's get this straight--we always start car conversations with the engine, so take a listen. We always rev before we buff.

Starting with the stock aluminum, six-bolt-main block, the team at Xtreme Mustang Performance (XMP) prepped and bored it a wee bit until the bore gauge registered 3.572 inches in all eight holes. A Houston Performance billet crank was then lowered into place on the engine stand to provide a three-seven-fifty stroke for a total displacement of 5.0 liters. JE stroker pistons were then slid down the bores with their attendant Eagle rods, to yield a 10:1 compression ratio. The metric mill was then capped off with a set of race-ported Mach 1 heads, fitted with Comp Cams springs and Houston Performance billet blower camshafts that hang the Ferrea valves open .492 inches for 282 degrees of crankshaft rotation. The great-flowing stock intake was then treated to a thorough port job as well, and the remainder of the long-block was ready to be dropped in.

Once back into the car, XMP relied on Paxton for its Novi 2000 Renegade blower to stuff a boiler-busting 22 pounds of boost past the ported Lightning throttle body and into the engine. An XMP-fabricated intercooler system helps thwart detonation at these elevated pressure and temperature levels so that the engine stays to the internal (not external) combustion theory. Meeting all this compressed atmosphere is a fuel system that has been augmented with a Cobra tank insert that is home to two Focus RS pumps. In addition, XMP billet fuel rails are used to feed the 72-pound injectors with ample pressure and volume. Making sure that the Hooker Super Comp 1.625-inch headers get nice and red-hot, Eric installed a Nitrous Express wet system that is calibrated for 125 additional horsepower. An NX fogger system for the intercooler helps drop charge air temperatures even further.

Well, enough about the lunacy under the hood. Let's talk about all this custom bodywork that was performed by both XMP and Ratical Automotive of San Juan Capistrano. Here, Eric started by breaking out his Bic to shave the door handles and rear quarter-panel scoops. Next up, he whipped out the Sawzall and decided to make himself a nice Targa-top Mustang. The portions that were cut and exposed were filled and smoothed, making the transformation look factory perfect. Next up, Eric installed a Decah Lambo-style vertical door hinge kit by Car Excess for a truly custom (there goes that word again) setup. Not only does he get noticed when he rolls up on the set, but when he steps out, all eyes are on him. A Saleen body kit was then fitted and the entire car was covered in the original Dark Shadow Gray hue, but without the copper flake it usually calls for. A very intricate vinyl graphics kit by Max Sigwart Designs gives a big-dollar look at the fraction of the price. It also allows Eric to change his graphics scheme further down the road should he decide to.

I guess it would be fun to spin your tires all day as if you had wrong wheel drive, but a Mustang needs traction at the rear to make things happen. Installing a full Maximum Motorsports Max Grip suspension package makes forward progress possible at full throttle with its tubular K-member and control arms, Bilstein dampers and MM coilover kit. To prevent this ride from becoming looser than Paris Hilton's body cavities, a boxed steel firewall support was added to cope with the missing roof section. Full length subframes run the length of the floorpan, and jacking rails along the perimeter keep things tighter than a clam's butt.

Well, I could go on forever, but I have to stop. No, I really do. If I don't, I'll run out of space and there would be no room for the pictures. So, check out the pics, check out the specs and, most importantly, check out this true custom Mustang that has become the definitive car for the term.

Model: Jana Zeile

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Where do we start?!? This custom one-off Mustang started life as an '03 Mach 1 coupe and has certainly undergone a "few" modifications. A targa roof conversion and vertical-hinge door kit by Car Excess are the biggies. A Saleen body kit and Classic Design Concepts Mach 1 grille delete kit are also worth noting as they clean things up a bit. The hood is by Automotive Power Hoods and is called the Mach 2. Believe it or not, those are vinyl graphics that you're looking at, not paint, and were laid out by Max Sigwart Designs and cut by Modern Image Signworks of Huntington Beach, California.
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Three-hundred-two cubic inches, 22 pounds of boost, 782 hp and 805 lb-ft of twist with nitrous at the wheels.
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Like, whoa!
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Altezza-style taillamps look nice with the Saleen S-351 rear wing. Pat Campbell and Big John from Ratical Automotive helped Eric Cheney or XMP make the stunning steed look the way it does in just six short weeks. Quite frankly, it would take most people several years to do what they did in just a month and a half's time.
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A total of 18 Alphasonik stereo components provide 2,000 watts of audio bliss for both himself and the entire neighborhood. Five Audiobahn monitors keep your eyes busy, if they haven't fallen out of your head from the sound.
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Starting with the already-excellent Maximum Motorsport six-point rollcage, XMP modified it with swingouts for the doors. It was then powdercoated in Candy Blue. Recaro Top Line full-power seats coordinate well with the Dark Charcoal leather and Blue Alcantera interior that was custom-made by Stitchcraft Custom Interiors in Huntington Beach.
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Baer Racing Alcon six-piston calipers with 15-inch front rotors shed serious speed with the quickness. The HRE 446R 19-inch wheels are 9 inches wide in front and a staggering 11 inches wide in back. Wrapped in 275- and 305-section Pirelli P-Zero Rossos, the four steamrollers do their best to keep this car pointed straight when the go pedal is mashed.
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Eric Cheney tells us that he only rolled the fenders to make them fit. We think there was more to it, but your best bet is to ask him yourself at XMP in Aliso Viejo in Cali.
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