Rob Kinnan
Brand Manager, Mustang Monthly
April 1, 2000
Photos By: Tom Wilson, Inform Design

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P84586_large 1999_Ford_Mustang_GT Front_Passenger_SideP84587_large 1999_Ford_Mustang_GT Front_Passenger_SideP84588_large 1999_Ford_Mustang_GT Rear_Quarter_PanelP84589_large 1999_Ford_Mustang_GT Rear_Driver_SideP84590_large 1999_Ford_Mustang_GT EngineP84591_large 1999_Ford_Mustang_GT Rocker_PanelP84595_large 1999_Ford_Mustang_GT Passenger_Side

"We are not making a Mustang-arossa!"

Those are the words of Inform Design's Ken Grant and Dave Dyke, the creators of the modified '99 Mustang GT you see here. The Mustang-arossa label refers to radical body kits that attempt to completely restyle an existing car. These guys have a different viewpoint when modifying the visuals on a Mustang, and it's based heavily in OEM experience.

Grant was the design manager for Ford on the Mustang program, and is one of the stylists who created the '99 Mustang from the ground up. Dyke was a manufacturer, contracted by Ford to produce the exterior plastic parts for the car. Quite a nice resume when it comes time to step out on your own with Mustang parts, don't you think? Knowing that some fiberglass companies would no doubt start building body kits for the new car (and thus, mess with their design), Grant and Dyke decided to break out of the Ford shadow and start their own company to build OEM- quality body parts.

But it goes deeper than that. "Our package enhances the vehicle's proportions, rather than adding to or detracting from it," they say. "Restyling is an attempt to make a vehicle something it's not. We do vehicle Imagineering." Their goal is not to knock your socks off with wild wings, scoops, and flares, but rather to more subtly make the car look 100 percent better. Grant says, "Our appearance packages are designed for each individual vehicle using the existing surface language as a foundation. The packages are developed to eliminate the proportional weaknesses of a vehicle while maintaining the design integrity."

For this reason, the modifications are not in-your-face obvious. They're "the tiny things that fix the car," such as an air dam, new rocker moldings, quarter-panel scoops (with screens), a rear spoiler (they hate the word wing), and quarter-panel extensions. They also crafted a bolt-on hood scoop, but are not sure that they'll build them to sell, for two reasons. One is due to the amount of competition for aftermarket hoods. The other is that old OEM-quality stipulation. A hood is considered a safety item, and to be completely legal in Ford's eyes, a hood must be crash-test certified. So, Inform made a bolt-on scoop for the stock hood instead of a complete hood.

All the Inform Design parts are injection-molded, just like the factory body panels, and Dyke stresses that the quality is equal to or better than the factory body panels. All the parts are also bolt-ons, and they require painting. "It's impossible to exactly match the paint from 1,000 miles away, so the parts are unpainted." They install just like factory parts, and do not require any hand-fitting, caulking, or fiberglass molding. Inform claims that the typical do-it-your-selfer can install all the parts in less than an hour, but we think that's a bit optimistic. Inform also has similar packages for the F-series trucks and Cougars. The Mustang kits are set to be released this spring. Pricing has not been figured out yet, but they tell us that the complete package will cost less than a decent set of wheels and tires.

To better accent the bodywork, Inform's Mustang was also equipped with a fantastic set of AZEV Type A wheels (from CEC) and BFGoodrich's latest, the G-force tires. The fronts are 245/40-18s on 18x8.5-inch wheels, and the rears are 295/35-18s on 18x10s. Hiding behind those wheels are big Baer brakes, a Roush suspension kit, Intrax springs, and Bilstein shocks. But the Inform Design Mustang is special for reasons beyond the pretty aesthetics.

This is the first '99 4.6 to be supercharged (with a Vortech S-Trim), which presented some problems. You see, the '99 has a returnless fuel system and a coil-on-plug ignition system, which required some intense work on the part of Paul's High Performance [(517) 764-7661]. Paul Svinicki spent four non-stop days putting the suspension and brakes on the car, and then installing the supercharger and tuning it. Interestingly, Paul said in stock condition, the '99 GT put 229 hp to the rear wheels, compared to 180 to 185 from a typical '96 GT, and the torque curve is much flatter, coming up at 2,000 rpm and remaining flat all the way to 4,000 rpm. The addition of the blower, however, required some serious computer work.

According to Paul, "The '99 computer is chip-less, so you have to go into the computer. With the blower, there's not enough fuel, and there's a timing issue, too." Because the returnless fuel system does not use a fuel pressure regulator, all the extra fuel must come from increasing the pulse width at the injectors. "The fuel pump is the strangest thing you've ever seen," according to Paul. Instead of messing with it, they added a Kenne-Bell Boost-A-Pump in the fuel line, but even that presented a problem. "You can only give it enough voltage to work, because the computer will pick up any excess voltage requirement." The ignition was equally difficult to deal with, as it is much more closely tied into the OBDII system. Paul figured out how to get over the hurdles, but he's not letting the secret out.

The result is 10 pounds of boost and a "glitchy" 320 hp. Because he only had four days to work on it, the peak power numbers are accurate, but the mid-range numbers can be radically improved with more dyno time. As this is written, the car is back on Paul's Dynojet under-going further tuning. It's also scheduled to get a Vortech aftercooler, so peak power will no doubt increase. The breathing ability of the motor has also been enhanced with a K&N filter and a set of Borla XR-1 race mufflers.

Of all the modified '99s at the SEMA show this past November, Inform's car was one of the cleanest and nicest. And it was by far the fastest, thanks to the huffer. It's also remarkable that they did everything--including designing, prototyping, installing and painting all the body parts, building the suspension, and getting the blower to work, in a mere 14 days. That's right, two weeks. After Janine Bay and Mike Ferrence from Ford got them the car, they had only a fortnight to finish it in time for the SEMA show. And it wasn't just a non-running showpiece either because, on the Saturday after the show, they invited us out to a dry lake outside of Vegas and let about 20 lead-footed journalists hammer the car around the lake. Because it was on dirt, there are no acceleration numbers, but it made obvious boost, didn't rattle, and the body parts stayed intact, a testament to all who thrashed on the car.

If you like what you see, Inform Design can be reached at (248) 589-3800, or you can get most of the information from their Web site at www.informdesign.net.