October 1, 2007

When Santina Giuliano picked up her 2000 Performance Red Mustang, it must have seemed like a dream come true. After all, what 20-something media sales professional wouldn't want to be seen cruising around the urban centers of New England in a red supercharged convertible? The three-year-old car had already been an attention-getter before the Saleen blower went on with advice and assistance from fellow members of the Late Model Mustang Club of Connecticut.

Unfortunately, when things can't get any better that sometimes means that they can get worse. And so they did. Under pressure from the blower, the stock bottom end of the motor decided to take a vacation from reality. Obviously, there were going to be some bills to be reckoned with. In true Mustang enthusiast fashion, though, Santina didn't really see this as a mechanical disaster, but as an opportunity to fund some new upgrades under the hood. Doubtless, there was plenty of advice to be had from her fellow club members, but when it came down to actually making things happen, she relied on Scrivener Performance in Middletown, CT.

Bill Scrivener, the owner, operator and fabricator of Scrivener Performance, has been building race engines and chassis for more than three decades, so practicality is equally balanced with performance in his work. There was little doubt that Santina wanted to keep the Saleen blower, so stronger pieces for the engine internals were put on the 'Buy' list. These included Manley forged connecting rods, Diamond forged aluminum dish top pistons and pins, as well as ARP hardware throughout.

Moving On, Smartly
As Editor Evans knows well, the Brits have a saying - "In for a penny, in for a pound." Since the engine was apart, replacing a few more components was going to cost a lot less now than doing it later on. As a result, the Buy list was expanded to include a set of Scrivener's Stage III ported and polished cylinder heads, VT Engines' Stage II blower cams and a set of Comp Cams' valve springs to keep things right. As is the case in most parts of the country, good engine builders are in short supply, so rebuild jobs take time. After stripping down the engine in her 'vert, some of the major pieces to be reused, as well as the top end of the Saleen power adder, were to be modified. Santina's boyfriend was helping out through the process and took these pieces away. An ill wind was blowing, but nobody knew it yet.

Those engine and blower parts were to be taken to another shop, but before he could deliver them, the boyfriend's car was broken into and the pieces cleaned out of his trunk. Santina was devastated. "So that killed me - two bad things to happen to me in one year," she told us. Her pride and joy Mustang had suffered two disastrous incidents, not to mention the financial load of recovering from them. It was a tragedy, for sure. Still, Mustang owners are made of sterner stuff and Santina was no exception. "Oh well. So, I sucked it up and ended up getting a 1.7-liter Kenne Bell supercharger. Best move I did!" With the rebuilding of the bottom end already in progress, the new blower was a great fit to where the engine was going.

Some additional changes were put in place to create a powerful, but street friendly motor. A BBK 65mm throttle body and Ford Racing 42 lb/hr fuel injectors would help out on the intake side. A set of Bassani's new (at the time) mid-length headers and 2.5-inch crossover pipe were tasked, in addition to a set of Flowmaster American Thunder mufflers, to handle the exit side of the mill. To handle output to the driveline, a S.P.E.C. Stage III clutch disc and pressure plate set was called for. The remaining energy output of the engine would be in the form of heat, so instead of relying on the factory equipment, a new Fluidyne aluminum radiator was installed.

Once the engine was back together, the car had to be sent over to XX Tuning in East Hartford - about 20 miles away. The SCT custom tuning wizards there did their thing and were able to coax 438 RWHP, along with 420 RWTQ, out of the engine. With that work completed, Santina fell in love with her car all over again. "My car is so much fun now. Even though I had a string of bad luck, it was all worth it. It gets so much attention now, it's an awesome car - better than before." Just in case you might think that this 'Stanger could be so smitten by a simple engine change, you need to know that there is a whole lot more to this Pony than just a rebuilt motor.

Beyond Skin Deep
Along the way, Santina has been investing in balanced street performance. The most significant project was the conversion of the 'vert's back end from a Mustang's regular stick axle to the independent rear suspension from a 2003 SVT Cobra. This is just the thing for cruising the Connecticut byways on a sunny day, regardless of whether you're just chilling or needing to squeeze it a little bit. Along with the IRS came the additional benefit of bigger rear brakes and Bilstein gas pressure shock absorbers. Not to leave the front end out of balance with the rear, our Santina has also upgraded the front binders to set of Rotora 6-piston brake calipers and 14-inch rotors.

Attached to those brake rotors are a set of classic 18-inch by nine-inch, chromed 2000 Cobra R wheels, shod with 275/35-18 Yokohama performance radials. This combination admirably does the job of looking great and handling well. A set of Maximum Motorsports' subframe connectors contributes mightily to the handling capability as well. Rounding out this car's suite of enjoyable capabilities are a Pioneer stereo head unit, augmented by a pair of 10-inch Solobarics subwoofers.

When you measure up this car, the only conclusion you can come to is 'well rounded.' Santina has brought this Pony along from a factory stock example to a worthy street cruiser - one that has the brawn to back up its good looks. Even though life has taken a couple of swipes at her, she has rolled with the punches and recovered well. Should misfortune darken your doorstep sometime in the future, remember this example and, as Santina did... suck it up. After all, life is too short to drive an ugly car.

Santina Giuliano's 2000 Mustang GT
Engine
Ford 4.6-liter SOHC V8

Engine Modifications
Manley forged connecting rods; Diamond forged aluminum dish top pistons, piston pins; VT Engines' Stage II blower cams; Comp Cams' valve springs; Stage III port & polished cylinder heads by Scrivener Performance; ARP hardware for mains and cylinder head studs; Kenne Bell 1.7-liter supercharger with 8 lb pulley, intake manifold; BBK 65mm throttle body; Ford Racing 42 lb/hr fuel injectors; Team Breed cam covers; Bassani mid-length headers, crossover pipe; Flowmaster American Thunder 2.5" mufflers; Fluidyne aluminum radiator; SCT custom tuning by XX Tuning, East Hartford, CT

Driveline
S.P.E.C. Stage III clutch disk and pressure plate; B&M short shifter

Chassis
Maximum Motorsports' subframe connectors; 2003 SVT Cobra rear brakes; Rotora 6-piston front brake calipers with 14" rotors

Interior
Pioneer head unit; Solobarics 10" subwoofers

Suspension
2003 SVT Cobra independent rear suspension; KYB-AGX front struts; Bilstein rear shock absorbers;

Wheels And Tires
Chromed 2000 Cobra R 18" x 9" wheels with Yokohama tires

Numbers
438 RWHP, 420 RWTQ