Scotty Lachenauer
November 24, 2016

Gary Tibbitts of Albany, New York is one of those guys that’s been wrapped-up in the performance Pony Car hobby since his formative years. He traces his love of all things Mustang back to age 14, and the time he purchased his first car. It was a 1965 ‘Stang; a tired but restorable ride that he and his dad wrenched on day and night, and then put back out on the street. And it was no docile doormat out there on the pavement, as this ride was armed with a potent small block, topped with one juicy 6-71 blower! The hot Blue Oval was certainly not a bad way to get initiated into the Ford Nation to say the least!

When Gary finished high school he was back in the garage and soon elbow deep in the tool box, as he purchased another Mustang to be modified. He found a needy 1987 GT, and then got to work turning the 5.0 powered Pony into a legitimate street terror. And knowing this was going to be no slouch at the track, Gary thought ahead and built a full cage for it. Under the hood, a small-block, decked out with Dart heads and a Vortech supercharger up top, pushed the Fox-body Mustang to low 10 second et’s. Gary was happy with his accomplishment…well he was happy until his buddy showed him his new purchase…a 2002 GT. He was hooked the moment he laid eyes on it, and had to have one for his own.

In September of 2002 Gary belly’d up to the salesman’s desk at Balise Ford in Wilbraham, Massachusetts and ordered his new Torch Red 2002 GT. Out of the gate he loved the performance that his new Pony delivered, as the Mustang was a great performer out on the local byways. He was so content with his new ride that the only add-on the owner splurged for was an aftermarket exhaust system, which helped deliver some added performance, as well as a deep tonal note to the stock ‘Stang.

The first “major” change was in 2006 when he added a supercharged setup to the mix. The extra boost up top brought out even more ponies from the 5.0, all which helped Gary wreak even more havoc out on the streets, and better times at the track. This change made the owner quite happy with the car’s performance… well, for the time being. The winds of change would come howling around six years later, as Gary decided that a major overhaul was in the cards for this Pony.

In 2012 Gary decided to go all in on this Mustang and build it to the hilt. He tore out the GT’s powertrain and started fresh. L&M Race Engines of Hatboro, PA built Gary a 323ci stroker small-block with TFS heads topping the cylinders. A Logan sheet metal intake graces the top of the motor and sports an Accufab Twin throttle-body. Juice is supplied by Injector Dynamics 1300cc injectors. The dual hair dryers are supplied by a Hellion Turbo Kit, with 64/66 turbos providing the boost. Steve from Quantam Race Works did the plumbing up front, and Gary’s best bud Bill Tetrault cut the holes in the bumper and helped with final assembly.

Shifting is done by a Dynamic Transmission C4 racing trans and Pro Torque 4,500 stall torque converter. The power is sent outback to an 8.8-inch rear stuffed with 3.27 gears. A 12 point cage supplied by Wild Rides keeps Gary safe and out of harm’s way. This beast runs on Ignite 114 e85 based fuel and is fed by a pair of Magna Fuel 4303’s. Pro Edge tuning of Wallingford, Connecticut did the killer tune on this mad machine, aided by Pete over at Performance Dyno in Loudon, New Hampshire. A Flex-a-lite radiator and fan combo keeps the ride cool even during the stuffy east coast summers.

Aesthetically Gary did some neat modifications. He decided to keep the color stock as he feels the OEM paint was done right the first time from the factory. An Terminator Cobra nose was grafted on up front while a 4-inch hood adds to the aggressive look. Outback, a Saleen rear wing adds a subtle flair to the build. Gary liked the original light gray interior and stuck with it, adding Corbeau front seats an array of gauges needed to keep track of vitals. A Hurst Pistol Grip shifter gets this ‘Stang through the gears.

Out on the flanks, Gary runs Weld wheels shod in Mickey Thompson rubber. A chromoly tubular K-member and tubular control arms make up the mods on the front suspension. Aerospace brakes help with the stopping power up front, and the car still has the original set up out back. Parachute was added for extra stopping power. Gary’s run a best of 9.20 in the quarter-mile.

What’s in-store for the future? Well Gary’s added some new pieces to this horsepower puzzle. A new water to air intercooler, along with more boost and timing will get this Torch LIT on the track this spring. With more than 1,000hp at hand, the owner expects this 2V to jump into the 8’s in the months ahead.

Last but not least, let’s give a special shout-out to Gary’s wife Lisa, who’s put up with his scarlet “Mustang Mistress” for the last 14 years! She’s now got her own 2015 Mustang EcoBoost to do her daily chores. And let’s not forget Gary’s son; he’s an apple that didn’t fall far from the tree. With his dad’s help, he’s wrenching on an already modified 1989 GT. No doubt this family surely bleeds Blue…

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