Amie Williams
Associate Online Editor
December 3, 2013
Photos By: Marc Christ

Most car folks already have visions swirling in their heads when signing the paperwork on a new ride, but that wasn't the case for Chris Stano from Advance, North Carolina, and his Atlantic Blue 2000 Mustang GT.

It took some misguided luck to open his eyes to the world of modding Mustangs.

Just two months after purchasing his new GT, with the help of a little sand on the road and a bit of high-spirited driving, Chris hopped over a curb and took out two dumpsters in the process. With damage done to the nose and scratches down the whole right side, he was told that two-thirds of the car needed to be repainted.

"I told them to spray the whole thing. It turns out that the incident was a blessing in disguise. When I got the car back the paint was absolutely beautiful, way better than the factory job. And that's when the obsession began," Chris tells us.

Over the next few years, he added the usual bolt-on mods, such as a set of Privat 18-inch wheels, a CAI, after-cat exhaust, gears, and a tune to tie it all together. He also installed Eibach lowering springs, but the end was far from near.

Then, in November 2008, the intake manifold cracked, which had Chris in search for a replacement. While a polished blower was always on the dream list to cover up that Two-Valve motor, he stumbled across a Saleen blower setup for sale on eBay. With eBay being an international website, it was meant to be when Chris noticed that the guy selling the blower was located in his town.

"The engine bay of these 4.6 Two-Valve Mustangs leaves a lot to be desired, but I was determined to change that," he stated. "My hope was to create one of the cleanest Two-Valve engine bays around."

After getting his new blower assembled under the hood, Chris drove the car to Lamotta Performance in Longwood, Florida, where they performed the final touches and strapped the car on the dyno. With a 66mm pulley on the blower, his Mustang put down 348 rwhp and 352 lb-ft of torque.

While on a mission to create a clean engine bay, Chris started hiding wires and relays. When he purchased a polished alternator, he shaved the unused mounting ears right off. A Tork Tech intake was added and the logos were shaved off and smoothed over. After a battle to keep the polished intercooler and radiator coolant reservoirs clean, he decided to have them chromed.

Chris rewrapped the wiring harness and lifted it off of the valve covers, which were painted to match the body. He tucked the MAF into the wheel well and pieced together his own custom CAI using several manufacturers' parts, one being a tractor-trailer smoke stack. "Now it was really starting to look like something special."

Still adding and customizing performance goodies, a Chicane intercooler was added and Chris mildly ported the intake manifold. With all of the intake mods in place, he was off to Lamotta Performance for another tune. While there, Kook's long-tube headers and a catted X-style midpipe were added before throwing the car on the dyno. This time it ran a best of 393 rwhp and 394 lb-ft of torque. On a friendlier street tune, it made 382/385, which "wasn't too bad for a little Saleen Series II blower," he added. With the Eaton M-90 supercharger increasing intake temps, the plan is to add a water/meth injection system sometime in the near future.

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While the exterior paint still looked great, it had picked up a few battle scars. Chris whipped up some ideas that would likely cost a pretty penny from any shop, so in the summer of 2011, he started stripping the car apart piece by piece inside his garage. With a bunch of new parts awaiting installation, nothing looked the way he envisioned, so he modified almost every new part himself.

The front bumper, rocker moldings, rear bumper, and decklid were all customized by Chris. He also went ahead and modified the stock rear spoiler to follow the lines of the car. Since nobody made a chin spoiler for the '01 Cobra front bumper, he made his own and cut holes inside the bottom to force more air to reach the heat exchanger.

A '99 anniversary-edition hoodscoop was added; Chris made it functional by cutting a hole in the hood to let out some heat, as well as offer a peek at what is sitting underneath. The GT emblems and antenna were all removed, and he installed headlights with clear corners and eliminated the side reflectors to really amp up the appearance.

Getting deep into body work, the rest of the car still needed a few things. The brakes were upgraded to Baer two-piece rotors. Chris alsomodified some MGP caliper covers and placed them over the ugly rear calipers.

Chris made a custom radiator cover out of fiberglass that extends all the way up to the hood hinges. He had some billet wiring harness covers made and then relocated the power steering reservoir with a custom cover made to go over it.

The interior features Corbeau CR1 seats redone in two-tone leather. He painted the door panels in a unique pattern and then installed all new carpet and floormats. The gauge bezels were painted to match the body, and Chris made the shift knob out of a lapel pin and some clear resin. Even the Cervini speedster cover wasn't left untouched.

After finishing what he could, Chris had the car loaded onto a flatbed truck and sent off to Color Key in Winter Park, Florida. "Billy Stroud worked his magic by putting the final touches on all my handy work and spraying it with Dupont's Atlantic Blue. He also sprayed the engine bay black to allow the painted parts to really stand out," says Chris.

During the whole process, Chris had plans to move to North Carolina. When he landed a job in June of 2012, he was forced to move before the car was finished. He returned a couple weeks later to have the car towed to his previous residence for final reconstruction.

"I had put so much time and effort into creating this car that I didn't want the painter to reassemble it, I wanted to be the first to see it finally come together. It was probably one of the most hectic weekends of my life trying to put my car back together and finish moving out at the same time. But I managed to get it done in time for one last cruise around Orlando before loading it up on a trailer and heading back up to North Carolina," Chris explains.

After finishing up some final details, Chris started bringing it to shows around the area. So far it has won Best in Class at every show he has attended.

"What I really appreciate, though, are the compliments I get on the overall design. During the build I often worried that my vision of the ultimate New Edge Mustang might in the end only be appreciated by one crazy, obsessed man. But it turns out I wasn't crazy after all. I had a dream to build a truly unique Mustang, I stuck to it, and the results are better than I ever could have imagined."

Chris wanted to thank Jim, a friend who was there to lend a helping hand and offer moral support throughout the build process. Also, Chris sends thanks to his girlfriend, Kam, and children, Tiphani and Addison, for having patience and hanging in there while he fulfilled his dream.

"I've had to teach myself how to weld plastic, lay fiberglass, polish aluminum, and even did a little powdercoating. So all this hard work has convinced me to launch my own company—Lone Horse Designs," says Chris. "The first piece available will be the Cobra chin spoiler."