Rob Kinnan
Brand Manager, Mustang Monthly
October 1, 2000

Step By Step

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P97930_large 1995_Ford_Mustang_GT Front_Passenger_SideP97931_large 1995_Ford_Mustang_GT Front_EndP97932_large 1995_Ford_Mustang_GT Rear_SpoilerP97933_large 1995_Ford_Mustang_GT Side_MirrorP97934_large 1995_Ford_Mustang_GT Rear_WheelP97935_large 1995_Ford_Mustang_GT InteriorP97936_large 1995_Ford_Mustang_GT Front_Passenger_SideP97937_large 1995_Ford_Mustang_GT EngineP97938_large 1995_Ford_Mustang_GT AmpsP97939_large 1995_Ford_Mustang_GT Trunk_Subwoofers

The prospect of getting on the cover of a national magazine will make some car owners step beyond sanity and do things they normally wouldn't consider. Take, for example, Stephen Barone, of Laurys Station, Pennsylvania. We were shooting a feature on his '95 GT at the World Ford Challenge this year, and he kept asking us if he could get the coveted cover spot. Now, a Mystic-painted car is tough enough to shoot, what with getting the angle just right so that the colors are all there. And since we're trying to do mostly action covers these days, there was only one situation in which his car would work for the front-most page. So, we politely put him off a few times. But like a true soldier, he wouldn't give up.

"Okay," we told him, "if you can hold the car in place and do a big, nasty, smokey burnout, we'll try to shoot a cover." Thinking that had ended the matter, he shot back, "No problem. I've got a line-lock and over 500 hp at the wheels." Nuts, now we were committed.

So, we go out to a secluded spot in the south-forty of Route 66 Raceway, clear of onlookers and overzealous security guards, and light 'em up. Sure enough, Stephen's line-lock keeps the car planted perfectly in the sweet light, and the 295/35ZR18 BFGs go up in a blaze of glory. We do this twice, and thinking we have a good shot, begin to pack up while Stephen surveys the damage. Over half the life has been shed from the tires, and there is still smoke rising from the pair of trenches we've dug into the asphalt.

With a concerned, almost childlike, look in his eyes, Stephen keeps repeating, "Oh man, I've gotta drive home on these tires. I hope it doesn't rain. Now, you will put it on the cover, right? Right?" Since photography, especially cover photography, is never a sure thing, we can't give him a definite answer. "We'll see" is as committal as we'll get. Well, to make a long story short, he made it onto the September '99 cover, but due to space and time considerations we couldn't get the feature in the mag until now.

The car was going to make it in the magazine whether it made the cover or not, because its coolness goes deeper than the spectacular paint and bodywork. But, the appearance is the initial attraction to Stephen's car, so let's start there. The '95 GT was fitted with a full Saleen S-351 body kit, which includes the very cool front air dam, side skirts, and gilled rear valence. Stephen chose the radical two-level wing to make an even more aggressive statement, and finished off the bolt-ons with carbon fiber mirrors. Then came the paint. And what fantastic paint it is. Applied by Todd Schaffer of Schaffer's Auto Body in Slatington, Pennsylvania, the custom DuPont Mystic-like color is truly schizophrenic, flip-flopping through eight different colors but never deciding on just one. It's the definition of a traffic-stopper. To get the right stance, Stephen dropped the car with a complete Saleen Racecraft suspension. The wheels are also from Saleen, chrome units measuring 18x8 in front (with 245/40ZR18 BFGs) and 18x10 in back with the 295s we talked about earlier.

To make sure his car is as much bite as it is bark, Stephen had Frank Soldridge of PSI Performance in Slatington install a set of Trick Flow Twisted Wedge heads, a Comp Cams custom-grind cam, a ported and polished GT-40 intake, 38-pound injectors, a 190-lph in-tank fuel pump helped out with a T-rex pump, and a Paxton regulator. The 302 short-block was left stock. Next up was a Vortech S-trim supercharger pullied to 15 pounds of boost and an MSD 6AL to keep the spark from getting blown out. Before the Trick Flow heads and custom cam, the car made 522 hp at the wheels on Second Street Speed's dyno, so it should be good for somewhere between 550 and 600 hp now. The transmission is an AOD that's been heavily modified by Level 10, and the converter stalls at 2,400 to 2,800 rpm, but flashes to 3,000. Power gets to the axles through 3.73 gears in an otherwise stock diff.

Last summer, Stephen says he drag-raced the car nearly every weekend, running a best e.t. of 12.22 at 114mph. He even runner-up'd at the Island Dragway (New Jersey) gamblers' race. That, too, was before the heads and cam, so he thinks he should be safely in the 11s now. At the time we shot these photos, he hadn't had a chance to dyno or track-test the car post-mods. And remember, the suspension on this car is road-race spec, not dragstrip friendly, so this is truly a triple-threat machine. Actually, throw in the wicked Phoenix Gold/JL Audio 1,700-watt stereo system (custom-built by Mike Haines of Bryn Mawr Stereo), and the car is a quadruple-threat Mustang. Showcar, drag racer, road racer, and stereo-competition annihilator. What more could you ask for? Oh yeah, and now it's a cover car.