Dale Amy
October 20, 2014
Photos By: Scotty Lachenauer

In the mid-1990s, Nitto Tire (then a little-known division of Toyo Tire & Rubber) was the new kid on the performance block and, like any rookie, had to earn some street and strip cred before being taken seriously.

It took surprisingly little time for the company to earn that credibility—in sticky, hard-launching style—and the late-model Mustang crowd was among the very first to enthusiastically embrace this upstart new tire line.

Looking back, I can remember thinking, What the bleep are these Nitto tires and why would I want to put them on my Mustang? Silly me. This was back around 1994-1995 and I'm sure I wasn't alone in this initial skepticism, since gearheads of any persuasion are highly particular about what components deserve to be on their rides.

Today, Nitto hasn't forgotten that it was our Mustang community that helped give the company its North American, uh, launch (sorry, couldn't resist).

Photo Gallery

View Photo Gallery
Nitto specifically chose its max-performance NT05 tires for the project, and wanted to keep rim diameter reasonable (no 22s, please) in view of the car’s functional road/track theme.

Think of this Race Red 2014 GT coupe, built initially for the 2013 SEMA show, as a corporate tip-of-the-hat to Nitto's solid Mustang customer base, and part of the company's involvement in the 50th-anniversary celebration of the world's premiere pony car.

Speaking with Chris Mangum, whose Mangum Automotive Designs (MAD Industries) shop is responsible for the project's overall conception and construction, it seems that Ford Motor Company and Ford Racing were both very receptive when Nitto advanced the idea of creating this sort of "thank you" Mustang.

It was soon agreed between all parties that the project should not turn into an over-the-top show Pony, but rather a reflection of the true dual-purpose—street and track—capabilities of the modern Mustang. Furthering this true performance theme, Steeda also came onboard with an array of its proven chassis bits, and Wilwood lent a hand with some serious new binders.

Once decided that it would be displayed in FoMoCo's own SEMA booth where supercharged Mustang variants were already going to be well represented, Ford Racing specifically wanted Nitto's GT to be naturally aspirated, in order to showcase the Cobra Jet intake for those who don't feel the need or desire for a blower.

At first, FRPP provided Mangum with a regular production CJ intake but then, at the last minute, decided to whip up something special in the form of a manifold with prominent SEMA show-specific embossed lettering. This was a rapid prototype part—Ford Racing "grew" just two of these exclusive SEMA manifolds out of plastic polymer on a 3D printer and sent one to Mangum's MAD Industries in raw form just days before the show.

The Coyote is factory issue save for a Gibson exhaust and that unique SEMA-lettered Cobra Jet intake that is one of only two in existence.

Mangum's crew then finished the intake in matte black, contrasted by the undeniably distinctive red and blue lettering. Mangum admits he was a little nervous about the possible installation fragility of a printer-grown intake but was assured by the folks at Ford Racing that he could wrench on it just the same as any other composite manifold.

Ford Racing says this about the 3D-printed intake: "We have a high level of confidence in this process even in extreme conditions. We actually run these rapid prototypes on some of our road racing engines. For small batch builds, they are an economical way to go." To make it work, Tune Logic prepared a specific calibration for this Coyote's combination of CJ manifold, 65mm billet throttle body and cold air kit.

Though the coupe was red from the factory, MAD Industries completely disassembled it, installed a 3dCarbon body kit, and had LGE-CTS Motorsports resquirt the GT in BASF R-M Race Red (a 2015 Mustang color), broken up by some asymmetrical top stripes. Notice that the color pattern reverses on the roof and in the (Classic Design Concepts) grille.

Interior: Red and black share almost equal real estate in the cabin which, like the exterior, favors functional sportiness and practicality over bling.

The red and black pairing continues indoors with an interior that is certainly distinct without being unnecessarily blinged out. The factory buckets were re-covered in Katzkin Tuscany leather, with perforated inserts and "Nitto" logo on the seat backs. Gone is the rear seat, replaced by a Ford Racing delete kit that is custom painted to match the red console and dash trim, and the steering wheel is a leather- and Alcantara-wrapped replacement from DSV.

The entertainment system is embellished with a Raxiom 7-inch touchscreen display, along with Punch amp and driver upgrades from Rockford Fosgate. Like previous MAD Industries projects, the GT's overall detailing is upscale and refined.

So, it looks good. And with Steeda coilovers and adjustable antiroll bars, it no doubt handles well. And we're betting repeated braking shouldn't be an issue with Wilwood's new 14-inch Aerolite-series brakes onboard at each corner. And at this point you might be wondering why we're blathering on about vehicle dynamics on a show car.

Well, even though Nitto's coupe started off as a SEMA display, upcoming plans for the car include participation at many venues around the country, including some Formula Drift events and the annual Hot Rod Power Tour. So it's going to hit the pavement. Better yet, someone out there is soon going to take the coupe off Nitto's hands. Yup, they're giving it away as part of Nitto's commemoration of 50 years of Mustang. For details, stay tuned to Nitto's Facebook page, or look for the very cool website www.mustangstories.com.

Oh, and we're pretty sure this racy red coupe will be delivered to its new owner on a fresh set of sticky Nitto NT05 rubber.

Tech Specs
Vehicle: 2014 Ford Mustang GT Coupe
Engine and Drivetrain
Block: Stock Coyote
Crankshaft: Stock
Rods: Stock
Pistons: Stock
Camshafts: Stock
Cylinder Heads: None
Intake Manifold: FRPP Cobra Jet with 65mm throttle body & cold air inlet
Power Adder: None
Fuel System: Stock
Exhaust Gibson X-shaped crossover and stainless exhaust
Transmission: Stock, manual
Rearend: Stock, with Mag-Hytec magnetic-dipstick diff cover
Engine Management: Stock, with Tune Logics calibration
Ignition: Stock
Gauges: Stock
Suspension and Chassis
Front Suspension
K-Member: Stock
A-Arms: Stock
Struts: Steeda coilover
Springs: Steeda coilover
Brakes: Wilwood Aerolite Series 6-piston calipers, 14-inch rotors
Wheels: Niche Vicenza 3-piece, custom finished, 20x9
Tires: Nitto NT05, 275/35R20
Rear Suspension
Shocks: Steeda coilover
Springs: Steeda coilover
Control Arms: Steeda
Sway Bar: Steeda Ultimate, adjustable
Brakes: Wilwood Aerolite Series 4-piston calipers, 14-inch rotors
Wheels: Niche Vicenza 3-piece, custom finished, 20x10.
Tires: Nitto NT05, 315/35R20