Michael Johnson
Associate Editor, 5.0 Mustangs & Super Fords
May 1, 2005
Photos By: E. John Thawley III

OK, we're just gonna go ahead and say it, Mustang Bullitt, Mach 1, and '03-'04 Cobra owners are a different breed from the status-quo '89 LX notch Mustang owner. Until these specialty cars, we only had ultra-rare Cobra R models that basically no normal Mustang fan could own. Because of the Cobra R's limited production numbers, you hardly ever see one or have the opportunity to talk to the proud owner. But, with the introduction of the Bullitt, Mach 1, and '03-'04 Cobras, we've found that the owners of these cars are really proud of them.

The '01 Mustang Bullitt was the first of these specialty cars to come down Ford's assembly line, and it started the trend of buying a Mustang for status or social standing. Back in the day, no one ever bought an '89 notch to impress his or her neighbors, but these specialty cars have done exactly that. With these cars, most owners are quick to point out the car's production number at a whim, but who cares about the production number of an '89 LX (a former four-cylinder car)? Well, at least most of us don't care-those who do care are affectionately known as Mustang Melvins.

We bought '89 notches to terrorize the neighbors, and that's what Poway, California's Michael O'Donnell has done with his '01 Mustang Bullitt, number 1005. He's built it for speed. He's built it to handle. He built it to terrorize everything else on the show field, and that's why you're reading about the car right now, not because it's a Bullitt.

"I saw the Bullitt prototype at the San Diego Auto Show in 2001," Michael says, "and went straight to El Cajon Ford and placed my order for a Dark Highland Green [DHG in Bullitt-speak] '01 Mustang Bullitt." Right away he knew the factory 265 hp wasn't going to fit the bill. Michael did his homework before deciding how to make his Bullitt live up to its past reputation. "I found Allen Engine Development in Ventura, California, and went up for lunch," Michael says. AED offered to use Michael's Bullitt as a testbed for a Bullitt supercharger kit, and the car appears in AED's Bullitt instruction manual. AED recommended its 7-pound supercharger kit until he is able to fortify the Bullitt's bottom end with stronger components. Even so, Michael's Bullitt shot 100 more bullets down the road with the AED Eaton M90S Roots-style supercharger in its holster. With a Superchips 91-octane tune-up in the chip, Michael says the Bullitt really came alive.

Just as he did with his supercharger quest, Michael did a lot of homework before deciding what suspension system he wanted to add and who should do the adding. Michael asked around, which led him to GRC Performance in Mission Viejo, California. "I went and met with GRC reps to talk full-race suspensions," Michael says. The GRC owner recommended Maximum Motorsports' Maximum Grip in a Box in order to get all 335 horses to the pavement. GRC followed the Maximum gear with its own subframe connectors, and Kenny Brown jacking rails, matrix bars, and rear shock tower brace. Maximum Motorsports also supplied one of its six-point rollcages with swing-out door bars for easy entry and exit traits.

While GRC had the car up in the air for those suspension and chassis improvements, it was also a good time to install BBK long-tube headers with a corresponding X-pipe with cats, Ford Racing Performance Parts 3.73 gears and aluminum driveshaft, an Auburn differential, Superior 31-spline axles, an FRPP differential cover, and a Lakewood driveshaft safety loop.

With all this performance on tap, Michael couldn't resist stepping up the Bullitt's excellent braking prowess. He contacted D&D Motorsports for a set of Baer Eradispeed rotors and Hawk Performance brake pads. Russell braided lines also fortify the brake package, which still boasts the original PBR calipers.