Eddie Maloney
June 17, 2016

Under the bright lights of Las Vegas stands a unique drop-top 2013 California Special edition Mustang. Todd Rupert, an FAA Air Traffic Controller from Las Vegas, originally purchased this car as a retirement gift for himself and his wife to cruise the summer nights on the Strip. For 2013 only 150 Race Red Mustang GT/CS convertibles were built. Even in limited production, Rupert did not want his to look like any other Mustang out there, so the CS stripes came off and the appearance modifications began. Looking at the car now, you would have no idea that the car is an original California Special edition.

The passion for Ford automobiles runs in Rupert’s family. His wife Susan is the current retail manager of the Shelby American gift shop located at the Shelby Automotive main facility in Las Vegas. This is where Rupert got the inspiration to install numerous body panels and engine dress-up accessories. Carbon fiber front splitter, rear diffuser, hood, and fenders were installed and paint matched by Pacific Custom Paint of Las Vegas. Custom snake-eyes headlight cover graphics were added, as was a Cobra graphic similar to those found on the factory Cobra Jet Mustangs to round out the unique appearance.

When he originally purchased the car in early 2013, one of Rupert’s six sons convinced him to make a pass down the quarter-mile. A few weeks later, he took the convertible to Las Vegas Motor Speedway’s Midnight Mayhem program. After running a few mid 13-second passes, he was hooked and ready to step up the performance of his GT. While at the event Rupert took notice of other fast Mustangs on the track, each sporting a “Voodoo Racing” windshield banner. The next morning he woke to over a dozen messages from one of his sons trying to persuade Dad into some go-fast modifications. A phone call to Frank Yee of Voodoo Racing Innovations, and Rupert was convinced to let Yee work his magic on the stock 5.0 Coyote powerplant.

Yee went to work strengthening the stock engine with the addition of Manley rods, JE pistons, custom ground roller cams, and a new crankshaft from Ford racing. A D-S1C Stage II ProCharger setup with intercooler would breathe life into the fortified engine, complemented by an upgraded fuel management system to handle the added boost. A JMS ignition system was installed to manage the bigger BBK 85mm throttle-body, and a Snow Performance methanol system was paired with a small nitrous system for an extra shot of power. For exhaust, Hot Rods & Horsepower of Las Vegas installed a pair of JBA long tube headers attached to a JBA X-pipe. Wanting to keep the stock location of the exhaust, Rupert paired it all up with a quad axle-back system from MRT.

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Now with a more powerful engine program in place, it was time to upgrade the chassis and suspension. With the help of his sons, Rupert installed a six-point roll bar and factory Recaro race seats with five-point racing harnesses. He and the boys were able to do most of the suspension modifications in their home garage. They selected Steeda adjustable upper control arms, Eibach lower control arms, and a full Eibach R2 Multi-Pro Kit to transfer the power to the pavement. A BMR Panhard bar and driveshaft safety loop were added to keep things safe and secure.

Axle Exchange outfitted a custom one-piece aluminum driveshaft that directly connects to Ford’s 6R80 six-speed automatic transmission, including an aftermarket 3,000-stall torque converter.

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All that power gets put down via a set of 275/60R-15 Mickey Thompson Drag Radials mounted on 15x10 SVE wheels. To clear big Brembo brakes up front, Rupert decided to mount SVE’s 17x4.5 front-runner-style wheels.

To date, Rupert’s best pass has run 10.39 at a tick over 133 mph. While he has mainly been running the local test and tune sessions with the car, he already has two championships to his name. In 2015 and 2016, Rupert won the Pony Wars class at the Prestigious Muscle Cars at the Strip event. With Frank Yee of Voodoo Innovations calling the shots, Rupert expects to be running deep in the 9-second zone by the end of the season.

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Rupert is still undecided what style of racing he wants to do going forward, but he has plans to defend his title at the 2016 Muscle Cars at the Strip event. He may even make an appearance in the small-radial-tire, heads- up class at this year’s Street Car Super Nationals. Whether cruising the Las Vegas Strip or blasting down the speedway, Rupert’s Red Hot supercharged screamer is one special convertible.

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