Michael Johnson
Technical Editor
December 2, 2016
Photos By: Trevor Jolin

There are a couple different ways we fall in love with Mustangs. It could be the way they look that sets the hook for us, or it takes a little deeper inspection from behind the wheel to turn us into a Mustang fiend. Usually though, one drive is all it takes, and there is no turning back.

For Bryce Conkle, prior to joining the United States Air Force in 2012, he mostly looked at cars as a means to get him from point A to point B. “I had always dreamed of owning a really nice vehicle that expressed my personality and that I could take pride in and make my own,” he says, “but at the time the lack of a real career did not allow such a luxury.”

That all changed when Conkle joined the USAF. He says, “I had a career, I had a future, and more to the point, I had the means to purchase a really nice ride.”

After his 2012 GT was totaled in an accident with a semi-truck, Bryce Conkle started over with this 2014 GT. Wanting a well-rounded performance vehicle, Conkle didn’t merely focus on horsepower. The GT’s exterior level of modification matches that of what’s under the hood. He has added a Cervini’s cowl hood and upper and lower grilles, a Roush front chin spoiler, Raxiom smoked HID projector headlamps, and a GT500 rear valence with a corresponding MagnaFlow Street Series axle-back exhaust. GX Auto’s Mike Ji did the car’s paint and body work.

Even at that time, though, he was still unsure of which car to choose. Conkle set out to drive all the cars on the market to narrow down his decision. “After test driving many cars from many different manufacturers I found myself behind the wheel of a 2012 Ford Mustang GT. The second I slid behind the wheel cradled by the leather seat I was almost certain that my search was over.” With a turn of the key, Conkle says, “It was a done deal. It was as if the car chose me.” He ended up purchasing the Mustang, and his life as an automotive enthusiast began. He was officially a Mustang guy.

With the USAF relocating him from his Florida home to Holloman AFB near White Sands National Monument in New Mexico, he was able to enjoy a lot of time behind the wheel of his 2012 GT. “What a joy it was being on the open road . . . just me and my GT traveling through some of the most scenic landscapes this country has to offer.”

He was stationed in New Mexico roughly a year, modifying the Mustang while enjoying it throughout the mountainous and flatland areas around the base.

A custom-painted engine bay plays host to a stock Coyote powerplant with a Boss 302R intake and a Hellion Power Systems twin-turbocharger kit. Chris Holmes from Forced Motorsports tuned the combination to make 580 rwhp. Plans call for a built engine, a more robust fuel system, and a Snow Performance water/meth system to take full advantage of the Hellion turbo kit. Conkle likes to use products from Lucas Oil in many mechanical areas of his Mustang. He credits Tom Miller for him wanting to build a “badass car.”

In March 2014, Conkle had the enviable position of being stationed at Joint Base Pearl Harbor Hickam, Hawaii. (Yeah, we hate him, too.) Unfortunately, in Hawaii it appears there is not enough room for both Mustangs and big trucks. Conkle had no sooner arrived in paradise when a semi-truck decided it wanted to be in the same lane as him and his Mustang. Now, for those scoring at home, a semi-truck against a Mustang isn’t a fair fight. Therefore, when the semi-truck squeezed Conkle’s Mustang between itself and a curb, the Mustang lost.

Conkle says, “After a brief period of mourning, I went to the Ford dealer and fell in love all over again.” This time his object of obsession was an Oxford White 2014 Mustang GT Premium with the Track Pack option. He still missed his 2012, but the new 2014 GT was an upgrade.

The 2014 GT has undergone a myriad of upgrades, the biggest being a Hellion Power Systems twin-turbocharger kit with a pair of Precision 5562 turbos with Turbosmart wastegates and bypass valves. Fuel is fed to a set of ID1000 fuel injectors with the aid of a JMS PowerMAX V2 fuel pump booster. To keep things cool on the tropical island, Conkle added a Boss 302 oil cooler and radiator.

Knowing that the power from the Hellion turbo kit would shorten the lifespan of many stock parts, Conkle made sure to beef up the GT’s drivetrain with a McLeod RXT clutch, a lightweight flywheel, a stainless clutch line, and a Steeda Autosports 95-pound clutch spring. Further upgrades include an MGW race-spec shifter, a Boss 302 Torsen differential, and 3.73 gears. Ford Performance springs work with a BMR Panhard bar and Nitto 555R drag radials to fight for traction, while the car wears replica 2013 GT500 Performance Pack wheels.

The interior of Conkle’s GT features many custom-painted trim panels, a Sony XAV-712HD 7-inch display, Metra touchscreen A/C controls, and LED All The Things dome/map lights.

Of course, Mustang guys and girls are never done modifying our cars. As such, Conkle has a laundry list of future modifications. “I am very meticulous when modifying my car,” he says, “making sure everything is perfect and nothing is done subpar. I will never do something that isn't absolutely perfect. Everything is thought out before the purchase and install.”

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