Michael Johnson
Associate Editor, 5.0 Mustangs & Super Fords
August 1, 2008

Horse Sense: Aside from the one-off UPR Products billet steering-wheel hub, other one-off pieces on Chris Merkel's Mustang GT include the air-intake pipe, the supercharger intercooler tank, and the washer-fluid tank.

I've been a diehard Mustang guy for 20 of my 36 years on this planet," Chris Merkel says. We're not sure if he's ever spent time on another planet, but when we first laid eyes on his '06 Mustang GT we thought it was out of this world. UPR Products' Jeremy "Pimp Shades" Martorella first pointed us in the right direction, and it didn't take us long to point our camera at it.

Chris spent some quality time in the interior of his '06 GT, but we don't have to tell you that. Courtesy of a one-off UPR Products billet steering hub, the GT boasts an Isotta steering wheel in place of the factory direction pointer. Chris and his son get comfortable in Cobra Misano AL sport seats while looking at a chrome dash kit and a multitude of UPR Products and MGW billet interior items. A plethora of Auto Meter Nexus gauges light up the night.

"When the '05 Mustang first came out, I knew I had to have one," Chris says. He has memories of his dad's '69 Mach 1, and of course, the S197 design closely represents that of '60s Mustangs. "That's why I wanted to get my hands on one of these and make it something special." He owned a Sonic Blue '03 Mustang GT when the '05s hit dealerships, but that car quickly went up for sale to make room for the new model. "I knew an '05-and-up Mustang was the one I really wanted to have and keep."

Before making the S197 plunge, Chris laid out a plan for his new steed. "I planned the buildup for more than a year," he says. During planning, Chris decided on the type of supercharger, wheels and tires, exhaust, and paint and body modifications. The Sonic Blue GT finally sold in February 2006, enabling Chris to purchase the black '06 GT you see here.

"I began with the brakes and suspension," Chris says. He then moved to the drivetrain and horsepower modifications, following up with the paint, body, and interior changes. "A little over a year later, it's mostly done," Chris says with a hint of sarcasm; every Mustang owner knows they're not really ever "done." Interestingly, it took Chris a year to plan the car's build, and roughly a year for it to come to fruition.

"The car has a timeless style. In 10 years or so, I can pass it on to my son," Chris says. If that's the case, it doesn't look like the GT will be his son's only Mustang.

Steve Petris from Nickee's Body and Paint added the silver stripes, which Chris is proud to say are painted on and not vinyl decals. A Harwood 3-inch cowl-induction hood covers the supercharged Three-Valve. A Roush Performance rear wing and MRT rear louvers, as well as a Classic Design Concepts front chin spoiler and Street Scene center-mount foglight kit add an aggressive slant front and back. The sides are accented with an LSD vertical door kit and Cervini's Auto Designs quarter-window and sidescoops. Since we believe the S197 swallows wheels like Shamu gulps down fish, we're glad Chris outfitted the car with TSW Nagaro 20-inch wheels. The wheels up front are 20x9 while the rear fenderwells play host to 20x10 examples. BFGoodrich g-Force T/A KDW treads reside at each corner.

Choosing not to dig into the engine, Chris focused on adding power courtesy of a Kenne Bell 2.6-liter big-bore supercharger combined with an NOS wet-nitrous kit. The Kenne Bell is pulley'd to make 10 pounds of boost while the nitrous is pilled for 75 hp. A custom-fabricated 4-inch intake tube provides air to the Three-Valve, and JBA Shorty headers evacuate the burnt air/fuel mixture into a MAC exhaust system. A SPEC Stage 3 clutch transfers the Three-Valve's power to a stock 3650 transmission through a JPC Racing one-piece aluminum driveshaft. A Kenne Bell-tuned SCT XCalibrator II program holds the key to power output, which numbers deep into the 500s.

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5.0 Tech Specs
ENGINE AND DRIVETRAINGauges
BlockAuto Meter Nexus boost, fuel,
Stockand nitrous pressure gauges
Displacement 
281ciSUSPENSION AND CHASSIS
Rotating AssemblyFront Suspension
StockK-member
CamsBMR Fabrication tubular
StockControl Arms
HeadsStock
Stock Three-ValveStruts
IntakeStock
Kenne BellSprings
Throttle BodyEibach Pro-Series
StockCaster/Camber
Mass AirStock
{{{Ford}}} Lightning 90mmBrakes
Power AdderBaer 6S kit w/15-in rotors
Kenne Bell 2.6-liter big-boreWheels
supercharger, intercooled, 10TSW Nagaro 20x9-in
pounds of boost, custom 4-inTires
intake tube and intercoolerBFGoodrich g-Force T/A KDW
reservoir, NOS 75hp wet nitrous kit255/35
Fuel SystemRear Suspension
Stock, Kenne Bell Boost-a-Pump,Shocks
39-lb/hr injectorsStock
ExhaustSprings
JBA ceramic-coated ShortyEibach Pro-Series
headers, MAC ProChamberControl Arms
H-pipe and mufflersMetco Motorsports adjustable
Transmissionupper and lower control arms,
Stock 3650, SPEC Stage 3 clutch,polyurethane bushings, BMR
Hurst shifter, JPC Racing one-Fabrication heavy-duty rear sway
piece driveshaftbar and adjustable Panhard bar
Rearendw/ brace
Stock 8.8 and Traction-Lok; FRPPBrakes
3.55 gears, stud girdle, andBaer 14-in slotted and drilled rotors
aluminum cover; 31-spline axlesWheels
 TSW Nagaro 20x10
ELECTRONICSTires
Engine ManagementBFGoodrich g-Force KDW 285/30
Stock computer, Kenne Bell-tunedChassis Stiffening
SCT X-calibratorBMR Fabrication full-length,
Ignitionboxed subframe connectors
Stock