5.0 Mustang & Super FordsFeatured Vehicles
1999 Ford Mustang GT - The Lemonator
When life handed him a lemon, Toby Thompson squeezed his ’99 GT into a Saleen tribute
Stunned, Gallatin Tennessee's Toby Thompson stared at his wrecked '99 Mustang GT, a fire hydrant embedded squarely in its nose. A spirited evening drive ended—badly—when Toby went off-road and clobbered the fire plug.
"I had to decide if I was going to have the car fixed or call a flat bed and sell the car for scrap," Tony said.
If he hadn't already invested a lot of time, energy, and money in his Mustang, the decision might've been easier. Let's turn the clock back a few years. Having owned four other Mustangs, Toby was Mustangless for 10 years before getting the itch to lasso one back into his stable.
"I started searching for a reasonable deal on a New Edge body style. My criteria were five-speed transmission, black leather interior, and a maximum price of five grand," Toby explained. "After a few months of searching online, I found one for sale at a Chevy dealer in Texas."
His wife, Tina, was less than enthusiastic about his renewed lust for a Mustang, but through clenched teeth reluctantly uttered, "I…don't…care." Those three words were all Toby needed to hear as he hopped a plane to pick it up. Besides, "I promised my wife I wouldn't modify it."
Despite his promise to leave the Mustang alone, Toby reasoned it wouldn't hurt to upgrade the stereo a bit. But trained as an engineer, Toby does things properly—or not at all. A "stereo upgrade" soon had Toby completely stripping the car's interior removing everything—right down to the factory Mach 460 stereo system's electrical harness. Some serious thought went into the audio system. Toby laid Dynomat throughout the car to keep the music inside the cabin, and bad noises out. His shopping list included equipment from JL Audo, Alpine, Rockford Fosgate, and Polk Audio.
"For cleaner sound, I even ran the signal cables and power cables on opposite sides of the car on their way back to the amplifiers in the trunk. The speaker coverings look like a stock Mach 460 sound system, but behind them is a ‘Mach 4000!'"
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With the stereo finished, his promise was long forgotten. Toby turned his attention to the powertrain department—after all a little more horsepower was required to offset the stereo equipment's added weight. A few BBK induction pieces, underdrive pulleys, and an SCT tune rewarded Toby with 275 horsepower and 325 lb-ft of torque to the wheels.
To liven things up in the corners, Toby added Koni yellow shocks and struts, H&R race springs, Eibach sway bars, and Maximum Motorsports rear control arms. Steeda X2 ball joints and bump steer kit improved suspension geometry with his GT's lowered stance. He replaced most of the rubber with polyurethane bushings and welded in Kenny Brown's Extreme Matrix subframe system to make the chassis more responsive. For a wider footprint, Toby bolted on an 18-inch chrome Cobra R wheel combo with a Toyo T1R Proxes tire front and rear.
All those suspension modifications made carving corners really fun—which brings us back to when Toby's '99 GT drove over the fire hydrant, and the subsequent decision whether to fix it or forget it. Toby resolved to not only repair the car—but, as he describes it—"push in all my chips."
Once at the body shop, Toby learned that everything forward of the firewall had to be replaced. He decided it was a good time to get a Saleen body kit for the car. Toby recalls, "I wanted the Saleen "sail panels" but there was only one OEM Saleen set left nationwide, and the passenger-side panel was broken. Luckily, few weeks later a customer returned a set to Stage 3 Motorsports because the driver-side panel was broken, so now a complete set was available! Needless to say, I bought them immediately." The only exterior deviation from Saleen-spec was a Cervini's Cobra R-style hood.