Steve Turner
Former Editor, 5.0 Mustang & Super Fords
April 1, 2003
Photos By: E. John Thawley III

Horse Sense: It's a new one on us, although it's not a huge surprise knowing Ford is constantly tweaking its products. Dennis says that an aid in the tuning of his ride came courtesy of a move to a '98 Mustang EEC V PCM. According to Dennis, the '98 EECs include more parameters than their predecessors, which allowed for greater fine-tuning via an Autologic chip.

Dennis is particularly proud of the polished bits under his hood. Included in the shiny crowd is the radiator cover and the entire radiator overflow tank and power-steering pump reservoir. If that weren't enough flash to keep Wenol in business, the strut brace, the alternator, and, of course, the Vortech S-Trim all sport a mirror finish, as does the mandrel-bent inlet pipe for the supercharger. The Vortech in question was spooled up to 15 pounds of boost courtesy of a 3.125-inch pulley. That boost travels through a Sean Hyland Motorsport/Spearco air-to-air intercooler en route to a Ford Racing Performance Parts 70mm throttle body. When it's not cranking out boost, the extra air is funneled back to the inlet via a Vortech Racing Bypass.

Have you ever found yourself daydreaming while reading one of the wine-and-cheese auto mags and wishing you could own one of those million-dollar supercars, or even something as comparatively attainable as the new Ford GT? It's OK. We won't report you to the local Ford or Mustang club if you've thought it might be cool to have a Viper or a Porsche. Just remember-if you only thought about it, it's not a crime. Dennis Hall actually followed through in his youth and drove several modified Porsches.

However, after the sanity that can only be bestowed by kids and mortgages, Dennis found himself away from hot cars for a while. By the time he was able to start burning rubber again, it was a return to his first love. It's amazing how we all flash back to our youth for inspiration, and for Dennis it was his dad's '66 Mustang. It was the first car he ever drove, and it sent him speeding down the path toward automotive debauchery. Along the way, he nurtured his need for speed at So Cal Trans Am races, and he eventually began playing with that German hardware.

In the late '90s-20 years after giving up performance cars-Dennis found himself in the market for a Mustang. "Once I found the car-it had to be a black-on-black Mustang GT coupe to harken back to those teen years-I knew it had to be tricked out in every way," Dennis says. "The issues were 'what' and 'when.' 'How much' never entered into it because the modification program is never done, as we all know. So began a careful and deliberate process all 'Stang enthusiasts are intimately familiar with: planning, parts acquisition, waiting, down time, tweaking, and in some cases fixing and redoing."

A huge help in making Dennis' extensive plans come to fruition was Eric Cheney of Xtreme Mustang Performance in Aliso Viejo, California [(949) 305-6550; www.x-m-p.com]. Eric performed nearly all the modifications to this car with his own hands and tools, and you can imagine the attention to detail required by a customer as thoroughly consumed with his Mustang as Dennis. In the end, their creation is a California- smog-legal corner carver with a show-winning lineage few could match.

As such, Dennis' Mustang is a perfect example of the kind of incomplete art the Mustang canvas presents. Among a sea of copycats, you really can make one all your own. "I could have had a cookie-cutter, high-end Viper, Vette, BMW M3, or old Porsche, but not one of those would possess that very important characteristic of being unique," Dennis surmises. "With careful planning and a serious outlay of money, I've created-and put into reality the smarts and trick skills of XMP's Eric Cheney-a hot rod like no other."

It's a bold claim, but we agree that Dennis has created an Xtreme Mustang all his own.

Dennis is particularly proud of the polished bits under his hood. Included in the shiny crowd is the radiator cover and the entire radiator overflow tank and power-steering pump reservoir. If that weren't enough flash to keep Wenol in business, the strut brace, the alternator, and, of course, the Vortech S-Trim all sport a mirror finish, as does the mandrel-bent inlet pipe for the supercharger. The Vortech in question was spooled up to 15 pounds of boost courtesy of a 3.125-inch pulley. That boost travels through a Sean Hyland Motorsport/Spearco air-to-air intercooler en route to a Ford Racing Performance Parts 70mm throttle body. When it's not cranking out boost, the extra air is funneled back to the inlet via a Vortech Racing Bypass.

Obviously, profiling is as big a part of Dennis' Mustang experience as performance. Though the stock seats still hold court, much of the rest of the interior was augmented with aftermarket assistance. Enough Auto Meter gauges to keep tabs on an F-15 share space with billet-aluminum accents from UPR and carbon-fiber trim from California Mustang. The B&M Hammer shifter with the polished T handle is attached to an Art Carr-prepped 4R70W automatic with a 2,200-stall converter. Schroth harness belts keep Dennis from sliding off those leather seats when he makes the most of his brakes and suspension.

Obviously, carrying four passengers isn't a priority for Dennis, but a stiff, squeak-free chassis is. Part of that solid foundation is this six-point, chrome-moly rollbar from Scott Performance in Irvine, Cali-fornia. It extends through the floor to mate with custom "tri-ladder" subframe connectors, also from Scott Performance. In addition to the cage and subframes, Scott welded and reinforced the torque boxes and bolstered the front suspension's tubular A-arms. "Through a conscientious and tenacious approach over time," Dennis enthuses, "we've chased down and eliminated any squeaks, leaks, or rattles. That's saying something for a Fox-4 with a full cage, urethane throughout, low-profile rubber, and a sick amount of custom pieces and systems."

5.0 TECH SPECS
ENGINE AND DRIVETRAIN
Block Stock
Displacement 281 ci
Heads Stock
Camshafts Stock
Intake Stock
Throttle Body FRPP 70mm
Mass Air Pro-M 80mm
Fuel System Fuel Safe 22-gal Cobra R fuel cell, Vortech T-Rex inline pump,
255-lph in-tank pump, Paxton regulator,
UPR fuel rails, 42-lb/hr injectors
Exhaust XMP custom headers, Bassani X-pipe, Borla Cat-Back w/turndowns
Power Adder Vortech V-1 SQ S-Trim
Transmission Art Carr 4R70W
Rearend 8.8 with FRPP diff, TA girdle, Moser 31-spline axles, and 4.10 gears

We haven't seen many Mustangs with mesh wheels since the '80s, but these HREs certainly make Dennis' Mustang stand out from the crowd. If you want a set just like 'em, don't head out to your local wheel store-these are custom pieces measuring 18x9.5 inches in front and a whopping 18x11 inches in back. Massive Michelin Pilots provide the grip, and despite the scant 11/42 inch of fender clearance, Dennis reports these wheels do not rub. Behind the big wheels are the obligatory Baer Braking Systems stoppers, including the massive four-piston Alcons up front.

To say Dennis is a fan of Griggs Racing's suspension setups would be a gross understatement. The undercarriage of his '97 GT wears every piece of the Griggs GR40 Street System. Naturally, this is the front suspension view anchored by Griggs tubular K-member and rounded out by urethane bushings, tubular A-arms, and a coilover spring conversion. The only non-Griggs gear in the neighborhood are the Eibach sway bar and Baer brakes. The keen eyes in the audience have already noticed Dennis had all his Griggs gear powdercoated Deep Atlantic Blue to match the Mustang's flames and underhood accents.

Out back, the suspension story is much the same-the entire Griggs package is powdercoated in Deep Atlantic Blue. Of course, there are different parts involved here, with the famed Griggs torque arm anchoring the system. It controls vertical axle motion, while a Griggs Panhard bar controls the lateral motion. The system is rounded out by Griggs lower control arms (no uppers are used), Griggs urethane bushings, Griggs coil-over springs, and Koni double-adjustable shocks. Students of the sport will note Dennis' car employs the torque arm designed to work with a TA rearend girdle, and that the girdle is plumbed for a diff cooler.

ELECTRONICS
Engine Management '98 EEC V w/Autologic chip
Ignition MSD DIS-4, ACCEL coil packs, Taylor Pro 409 wires, and NGK plugs
Gauges Auto Meter
SUSPENSION AND CHASSIS
FRONT SUSPENSION
K-Member Griggs Racing
Struts Koni double-adjustable
Springs Griggs Racing coilovers
Brakes Baer Braking Systems four-piston Alcons
Wheels 18x9.5-in HRE 540s
Tires 265/35ZR Michelin Pilots
REAR SUSPENSION
Traction Device Griggs Racing torque arm
Shocks Koni double-adjustable
Springs Griggs Racing coilover
Brakes Baer Braking Systems
Wheels 18x11-in HRE 540s
Tires 295/35 Michelin Pilots