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!'"
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.
With all the body parts in-hand, Toby had the body shop fix the car's dings and dents, and respray the car in its original Chrome Yellow. Toby admits, "It took the body shop four months to finish, but it turned out better than I had anticipated!”
While waiting for the bodywork, Toby had plans for something new under the hood. "I started reading about a Tork Tech Terminator GT supercharger kit that added a '03-'04 Cobra blower to a 4.6-liter Two-Valve. I chose it because I prefer the look of the Cobra's Eaton M112 supercharger best. I wanted to not only go faster, but go faster with style.”
The centerpiece was a take-off Terminator supercharger and throttle body that Toby shipped to Stiegmeier for its Stage 6 porting treatment. Though many of Tork Tech's building blocks for the supercharger kit remain, most of the ancillaries received Toby's touch. "I used a Meziere intercooler pump, an AFCO dual-pass heat exchanger, a JLT True Cold Air kit, a 90mm Lightning mass air, and a Saleen intercooler expansion tank. I also had the pulley bridge and lower intake manifold powdercoated silver.”
Toby wasn't excited about the included coolant crossover solution, so he put his engineering skills to work. "I decided to create a custom coolant crossover tube that fit under the blower snout, behind the pulley bridge, and connected into the right cylinder head. Then the coolant would flow back to the radiator with an in-line thermostat housing."
To help with the layout and check for interference, Toby used some sophisticated measuring equipment and design tools at his disposal. "I used a laser scanner and ‘3-D mapped' the assembly into my computer. Then I used computer-aided design software to design the crossover tube so it cleared everything and connected to the three coolant ports on the manifold."Apparently "shade-tree"is absent from Toby's vernacular.
"I sent my crossover tube CAD model and prints to companies that specialize in making custom silicon hoses,"but when he received some staggering manufacturing quotes, Toby decided he'd save the money and fabricate the crossover himself. "I printed my CAD prints full-size, and headed to the hardware store. I sat in the plumbing section and matched up different copper fittings until I had what I needed."With the copper fittings, parts from the Tork Tech kit, some HPS silicon hoses, a Meziere Inline thermostat housing, and (after an auto parts store scavenger hunt) a coolant hose for a '92 GMC Typhoon, Toby had his solution.
In addition to his coolant crossover, Toby is also proud of another subtle modification. "I disliked the factory's ‘bird's nest' of wiring and hoses. So, I removed the engine wiring harness and completely covered it in expandable sleeving, which turned out to be time-consuming! It's one of those modifications that took a ton of time."We think it was time well spent because Toby's harness cleans up the engine compartment's appearance.
His well-thought-out GT is right at home on the street and hitting the local cruise spot, but Toby has bigger plans: "My overall goal is to hit 200 mph at Bonneville's Speedweek with the car in full street trim."For that, Toby will have to make safety upgrades. "This winter I'm installing a Maximum Motorsports six-point roll bar, and a fire suppression system."Toby's yellow GT will need more than its current 405 hp and 410 lb-ft of torque at the wheels to crack two bills on the salt. "I'm going to build a short-block to handle a lot of boost and power."A stroker kit, Trick Flow heads, a Whipple supercharger, 3.55:1 gears, and a Tremec Magnum T-56 transmission are also on Toby's wish list.
Surely Toby Thompson would've preferred to avoid the fire hydrant that smashed his Mustang, but Toby turned a bad situation into an opportunity. So, when life hands you a lemon squeeze out a Terminator-blown Lemonator. 5.0
Horse Sense: Chrome Yellow was only offered on '98-'99 Mustangs.
5.0 Tech Specs
Engine and DrivetrainBlock
Tork Tech (powdercoated silver) w/ JLT cold-air intake, Lightning 90mm mass air, and polished '03-'04 Cobra throttle body
Stiegmeier Stage 6-ported Terminator Eaton M112
'03-'04 Cobra baffled fuel tank w/ '03-'04 Cobra pump assembly, and Bosch 42-lb/hr injectors
MAC long-tube headers (wrapped) w/ Greyhound Performance high-flow catalytic converter X-pipe, and Magnaflow "Magnapak"after-cat system
Stock five-speed w/ Centerforce Dual Friction 11-in clutch, and Hurst Billet/Plus shifter
Stock 8.8-in w/ 3.73:1 gears
ElectronicsEngine management Stock PCM w/ SCT tune
Stock w/ ACCEL coils
'99 Cobra gauge cluster w/ Auto Meter fuel pressure, boost, and air/fuel ratio