Steve Turner
Former Editor, 5.0 Mustang & Super Fords
July 16, 2014
Photos By: Chad Burdette

Most of us have been there. A project car starts off with a rush of passion and enthusiasm. We can't wait to get out to the garage and make it happen. Then life gets in the way. Whether it's the pressure of budgets, the commitments of work, or the need to spend time with family, there just isn't the time we need to move the car along as quickly as we had hoped.

Often this sort of life-versus-project-car battle can bring us to a crossroads. We can either persevere—until the budget, passion, and time find us—or we can cash it in. Many partially finished projects have changed hands due to project-car burnout. Often it's another fellow enthusiast that picks up the pieces and benefits from the efforts of the last owner. It's far less often that a shop brings back a fallen project from the brink and turns it into a rolling business card. However, that's just what happened to this gorgeous Mustang.

The Saleens were some of the best-looking New Edge Mustangs of the era. While Kurgan Motor-sports’ ’02 Mustang GT isn’t a real Saleen, it does feature all the real Saleen body parts and chrome Saleen wheels. The House of Kolors Majestic Blue paint really brings out the lines of the car and makes the chrome wheels pop.

"The car originally started off a stock yellow '02 GT that belonged to a customer of ours. We were contacted to consult and help in an ultimate street car build," according to the team at Kurgan Motorsports. "… Long story short, the original owner got burned out on the project and the car was never completed. Bob was contacted by the owner about him selling the car; a deal was reached and the car came to our shop in Braselton, Georgia."

Now don't think that this car was in a complete state of disrepair. In fact, a lot of time, effort, and money had been dedicated to beautifying it. Despite those efforts, the project hung in stasis, but perhaps it's the impressive looks that helped the car find the finish line it was meant for all along.

We all know that a supercharged 5.4 is a stout combo in a GT500, but strapped with two 67mm turbos and dropped into a lighter ’02 Mustang, it’s an all-out animal. However, it wears all the creature comforts, including air conditioning, power steering, and power windows.
The two Precision Turbo 67mm turbos feature billet impellers and each are good for supporting up to 800 horsepower, so they are well within their sweet spot working together to support 800-1,000 rear-wheel horsepower on the KMS ’02 GT.

"Before the car got to us, it had already been fully taken apart and painted with the beautiful House of Kolors Majestic Blue paint, so we just had to plan how the car was to be finished," notes a KMS team member. "The original plan for the car was to build a high-horsepower street car, so we stuck to that plan…"

The crew at KMS put their heads together to come up with the strategy to fulfill this car's complete street car destiny. Its goal wasn't just high performance, but it was meant to become an ultimate street car. From our experience with the King of the Street competition, we are all too familiar with how difficult it is to create one of these masterpieces. The KMS crew was confident they had the right plan, and KMS' Jim Jarrad and Mike Kollander handled the construction.

Enhancing the GT’s street cred is a pair of gorgeous Corbeau seats with suede inserts, but the interior does show its serious side. A rear-seat-delete kit supplants the rear couch, however, it’s not all business—it helps conceal a full custom audio system.

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Central to this build was the installation of a Four-Valve 5.4L modular engine in place of a pedestrian Two-Valve 4.6. The process was started by the original owner, but KMS took it to the next level. This is no stock 5.4 or basic crate engine. Bob is a racer at heart, so the KMS crew turned to noted race-engine builder Proline Race Engines, which constructed a stout short-block filled with a forged crank, Oliver billet rods, and custom Diamond pistons. It is topped by a pair of ported Navi heads and cammed by KMS-spec turbo 'sticks.

Now, for some it might have been impressive enough to have a stout 5.4 under the hood, but that certainly doesn't make for an ultimate combination. To get it there, the combo is boosted by a custom twin-turbo system anchored by two Precision 67mm turbos pushing boost through a custom intercooler.

“The car is now complete. It stays at the shop and gets the most attention from customers…,” said a KMS rep. “(Also) Bob’s young son, Justin, sits inside of it when he visits and pretends to be a race car driver just like his dad.”

Once the car was finally complete, Bob strapped it on the in-house Dynojet and put his legendary tuning skills to work, fine-tuning the perfect driveability he is known for worldwide," explained a KMS rep. "Once he had it to where it drove as smooth as a stock car, he got to work making power—and it made huge power."

The power was indeed massive, no matter what fuel was in the tank. On everyday 93 octane, the initial combo laid down 830 rear-wheel horsepower with only 16 pounds of boost. With the boost cranked up to 22 psi and race gas in the tank, the KMS Dynojet lit up like a slot machine as this '02 GT fulfilled its ultimate-street-car destiny by crossing over into the four-digit zone that gives any street car ultimate credibility. Of course, Team KMS isn't quite done yet.

"Since the photoshoot, we worked with DIY Autotune on its plug-and-play MS3 engine management system," Bob added. "The car made 1,000 horsepower on 93- octane."

Tech Specs
Vehicle: '02 GT
Engine and Drivetrain
Block: Iron 5.4L modular
Crankshaft: Forged steel
Rods: Oliver billet
Pistons: Diamond custom
Camshafts: Custom KMS turbo (Specs: "Yeah, right.")
Cylinder Heads: Navigator Four-Valve aluminum
Intake Manifold: Ported Sullivan w/ custom aluminum elbow and 75mm throttle body
Power Adder: Twin 67mm turbos w/ custom air-to-air intercooler
Fuel System: Magnafuel pump w/ Sullivan fuel rails, a Magnafuel regulator, and 80-lb/hr injectors
Exhaust Custom turbo headers
Transmission: TKO-900 five-speed manual w/ SPEC Stage 3 Plus clutch, and Pro-5.0 shifter
Rearend: 8.8-in w/ Cobra differential, 3.55 gears, and Strange 31-spline axles
Electronics
Engine Management: Megasquirt MS3 plug-and-play standalone EFI w/ built-in boost controller and two-step rev limiter
Ignition: Stock coil-on plug
Gauges: Auto Meter
Suspension and Chassis
Front Suspension
K-Member: Team Z Motorsports tubular
A-Arms: Team Z Motorsports tubular
Struts: Strange adjustable w/ Maximum Motorsports camber plates
Springs: Strange
Brakes: '03 Mustang Cobra
Wheels: 17-in Saleen
Tires: Goodyear
Rear Suspension
Shocks: Strange adjustable
Springs: Strange
Control Arms: UPR w/ spherical bushings
Brakes: '03 Mustang Cobra
Wheels: 17-in Saleen
Tires: Goodyear


Horse Sense:
After the photos of this car were taken, the Kurgan Motorsports (www.kurganmotorsports.com) crew shipped it over to MegaSquirt maker DIY Autotune (www.diyautotune.com) to act as a development vehicle for the latter company's new plug-and-play standalone fuel-injection system for modular Mustangs.