Steve Turner
Former Editor, 5.0 Mustang & Super Fords
June 1, 2013

We've seen a few Mustangs in our day. We've also been asked to consider a few for the magazine—just a few. As you might imagine, we've grown a bit jaded.

It's our gig to pick the best Mustangs for the magazine. So it's often with some trepidation that we approach a car someone enthusiastically asked us to check out. Such was the case at the 2012 Mustang Week Meet 'N Greet. What could have been a here-we-go-again moment became love at first sight. We couldn't ask to shoot the car for the magazine fast enough.

We love it when a story has a happy ending. However, it started in a way that might have made your Strawberry Fox-loving scribe break into tears.

"The car started as a Wild Strawberry 1991 with a mild 302. It had new paint but Strawberry didn't pop enough," explained Charles Cartrette. "So we went to Electric Currant with candy and House of Kolor charcoal graphics. Then I took the car home and it never saw the light of day."

It never saw daylight because Charles just wasn't satisfied with it. We might have finally met someone who holds his cars to a standard that would exceed even the most passionate enthusiast.

"I decided I wanted a smoothed engine bay. It snowballed from there. From just a simple smoothed engine bay, it evolved into a totally smooth firewall, framerails, radiator panel, and more. Nothing was left untouched," Charles explained. "I wanted a Fox-body unlike anything that had been done: smoothed everything, mini-tubbed, painted, cleared, and a highly detailed undercarriage."

Working with his friends Shawn Thompson, Tony Robbins, David Hardie, and Corey Spann, Charles took the car down to the bare shell and the crew did just what he had in mind, smoothing every nook and cranny and prepping it for a unique custom blue paint that would deliver the pop he sought. In the end, the car and all its parts absorbed seven gallons of this one-off hue.

With a such a detailed chassis ready to go, there's no way the mild 302 was going back into this Fox chassis. "I already had a Dart 327 setup with a turbo ready to power the car," Charles said. "But that had already been done. I now had bigger goals. I wanted a Fox unlike anything ever seen or built."

That's certainly a bold plan. Obviously, a pushrod engine was old hat for a car like this, but a straight Modular swap wouldn't do either. Instead Charles found a stout Modular engine equipped with a turbo setup. "The powerplant and tranny came from a donor car already making 723 horsepower," Charles said. "It had run 10.11 at 143 mph with a bad solenoid on the wastegate."

To that combo, he added a more efficient turbo and replaced the Mach 1 intake with the more purposeful Sullivan intake you see in the photos. Obviously the engine received a fair amount of detailing before it ended up in the car, but its performance stats from previously powering a hatchback Fox gave the car instant performance cred.

Like the clean presentation of the painted and polished Modular in the super-sano engine compartment, the car's interior follows a similar path. To a highly coveted black interior, Charles and his pals added a few choice pieces to make it fit in with the car's overall presentation.

While the interior is nice and the engine compartment is out of this world, it's the car's underside that really pushes the coupe to that next plateau. "The first time we slid the mirrors under the car, we were stunned," he said. "What we had created was so far ahead of what we had envisioned. Seventy-thousand dollars later, I arrived and Mustang Week and it took Best of Show."

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