Dale Amy
January 1, 2010

In our non-stop efforts to scour the earth for interesting subjects, we try and bring you everything from SEMA show cars to unique and interesting daily drivers. It's not often that we stumble across a Mustang that serves in both roles, but occasionally, we do.

This '06 GT coupe has made two appearances at SEMA's annual Las Vegas blow-out, but still manages to serve as good-weather transportation module for its owner, David Simpson. David, who has a regular day job like most of us, also has a side business, Niche Performance Industries, catering to the S197.

Looking at our photos, Niche PI's most obvious product is its prototype GT500 Composite Widebody Kit, which provides those impressively flared fenderwells that easily envelop a custom set of three-piece, 19-inch rims from DP Engineering. These lightweight hoops aren't outrageously wide (9.5 inches up front, and 10.5 out back), but they have an amount of negative offset not often seen these days, giving a nice deep rim and the illusion of much greater wheel width. On an S197 of normal width, such shallow backspacing would have the rims and skins jutting wildly outside the fenders, but Niche PI's widebody kit certainly takes care of that little problem. On top of its show and street duties, David has even open-tracked the coupe in an attempt to ensure durability of his widebody components. They're still there, so we take that as a good sign.

His GT was also used to prototype the company's new high-temp silicone hose kits, as well as its carbon-fiber strut tower brace. The fact that the latter is no longer underhood is due, we presume, to the Ford Racing/Whipple screw blower (with Extrude-Honed lower manifold) that these days sits atop the GT's 4.6-liter Three-Valve, which has strengthened internals and FRPP's CNC-ported, high-flow Three-Valve heads (M-6049-463P). Greg Vanpeenen, of Lansing (Michigan) Community College's Advanced Engine Program, did all the engine wrench work, including fitting its Cobra crank, Oliver rods, and Diamond pistons.

With a multi-role machine like this that travels between show carpet and Midwestern potholes, the ability to alter its ride height is a useful option. Rather than facilitate this with traditional coilovers, David opted to go with Air Ride's Level 2 pneumatic suspension, which lets him perform pushbutton altitude adjustments from a keypad located between the two center HVAC outlets on his dash. With it he can adjust each corner height individually, or simply choose one of a trio of preset heights and let the system do all the work. Slick.

A more traditional approach was taken with the brakes, however. Up front is Baer's Extreme-PLUS setup, with its 14-inch drilled and slotted rotors and mighty MonoBlock six-piston calipers. Baer's EradiSpeed rotors finish off the show-and-stop theme out back.

The cabin, too, is fit for most any duty, re-skinned in a set of yellow and black leather seat hides from Classic Soft Trim, complete with contrasting stitching. Speed of Sound's distinctive gauge pods now line the A-pillar, filled with instruments from Ford Racing and AEM. And speaking of sound, it is upgraded with Rockford Fosgate amps and speakers, still commanded by the factory head unit.

We suppose it's fair to say that with his widebody show commuter, David Simpson has indeed carved his own "niche." (Insert groan here.)

2006 GT
5.0 Tech Specs Engine and Drivetrain Block Stock
Bore Stock
Stroke Stock
Displacement 281 ci
Crankshaft Forged Cobra
Rods Oliver
Pistons Diamond
Compression Ratio Stock
Camshaft Stock
Heads FRPP M-6049-463P
Intake FRPP/Whipple, Extrude-Honed
Power Adder FRPP/Whipple screw blower (PN M-6066-M117)
Fuel Pump GT500 (twin)
Fuel Rails CPR (PN 4001032)
Headers JBA long-tube
Exhaust JBA
Transmission Stock TR-3650
Clutch McLeod MCL6908-07
Rearend Stock, with Auburn Pro diff

Electronics
Engine Management Stock, with FRPP tune
Ignition Stock, with MSD coil packs

Chassis and Suspension
Front Suspension K-member Stock
Control arms Stock
Springs/Struts Air Ride
Brakes Baer Extreme-PLUS, 14-in, six-piston
Wheels DP Engineering three-piece, 19x9.5-in
Tires Michelin Pilot Sport Cup, 265/30-ZR19
Rear Suspension Springs Air Ride
Shocks Air Ride
Control arms Stock
Brakes Baer EradiSpeed rotors and pads
Wheels DP Engineering three-piece, 19x10.5-in
Tires Michelin Pilot Sport Cup, 325/30-ZR19