Steve Baur
Former Editor, Modified Mustangs & Fords
November 9, 2006

Step By Step

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Mmfp_0612_01z 1999_ford_mustang_gt Front_view_passengers_sideMmfp_0612_02z 1999_ford_mustang_gt Passengers_side_viewMmfp_0612_03z 1999_ford_mustang_gt Engine_view
While nearly everything else on the car has been improved over factory, the stock cylinder heads and camshafts are still employed and help (or hinder) the motor produce 435 rwhp.
Mmfp_0612_04z 1999_ford_mustang_gt Replica_fr500_wheel
Behind the Wheel Replica FR500 wheels are Baer Racing brakes with 13-inch rotors.
Mmfp_0612_05z 1999_ford_mustang_gt Rear_view_drivers_side
This Mustang wears super-wide 315/35/17 BFGoodrich rubber out back, and thanks to the perfect offset from the wheels, Tony reports no issues with clearance.
Mmfp_0612_06z 1999_ford_mustang_gt Interior_view_gauges_and_shifter

With the performance of factory production cars increasing by leaps and bounds these days, there's an awfully high bar to jump over if you want to rule the old-timers and the young guns. Heck, even Nissan Altimas and Honda Accords have more power than some Mustangs of recent vintage, so to stay current with the times and be able to safely merge in traffic (and not be passed by Mom's grocery getter), we need to bolster our Pony's power.

Back in the much-heralded musclecar era, automobiles possessed something called torque, thanks to their rather large engine sizes that ranged anywhere from 350 to 455 ci. While the venerable 5.0 packed just 302 ci of displacement, it made great torque due to its long-runner intake, and excellent camshaft and head combo. The low 3.35 First gear found in the T5s also helped, but then Ford went with the 281-inch modular engine, and our latest Pony lost quite a bit of engine displacement. It also porked up by a couple of hundred pounds. Not even a long-runner intake can cope with that one-two punch. But SVT's "Terminator" Cobra of 2003-2004 brought back those fun days of being planted in the seat thanks to its Eaton Roots-style supercharger, which provided stump-pulling torque.

Tony Marcotullio of Brampton, Ontario, Canada, remembers what torque felt like, so after taking time out of the hobby to raise a family, he wasn't going to settle for 281 measly cubes of no-torque technology. Purchased in 2000, his '99 GT was gently modified in the looks department, while Tony conducted his research into late-model Ford performance. The Stang received numerous billet-aluminum accents both in and outside of the car, while a Cervini's Auto Designs Stalker hood muscled up the front end. A Steeda spoiler was bolted on and modified with some home-whittled aluminum end plates to add flair to the backside. Soon thereafter, the 8.8 axle was stuffed with a 3.73:1 ring-and-pinion gearset, and a set of short-style headers were added along with a Bassani midpipe and MagnaFlow mufflers.

Looking for the low-end grunt of yesteryear, Tony purchased a Kenne Bell supercharger with water-to-air intercooler, Boost-a-Pump, and Boost-a-Spark. The Lysholm twin-screw blower huffed its 14 psi of pressurized atmosphere into stock Two-Valve cylinder heads actuated by the factory camshafts.

About six months post blower install, Tony felt the rear axle needed to be fortified, so the axle tubes were welded up and A&D Performance tub braces were installed. A Ford Racing 31-spline diff was installed to rotate the Moser 31-spline axles, and a set of 4.30 gears multiplied the torque a little faster.

The factory five-speed transmission was heaved in favor of a Viper-spec, T56 six-speed gearbox from D&D Performance in Wixom, Michigan. "I like the double Overdrive," Tony says. "The car is my daily driver for most of the year. We take it on lots of trips, and the six-speed knocks the 4.30s right down." A Spec Stage 3 clutch clamps down on a Fidanza billet-steel flywheel, and power is transferred through a Ford Racing aluminum driveshaft with upgraded U-joints.

The GT's Parchment interior has received a bevy of Auto Meter white-faced gauges, along with a Steeda Tri-Ax shifter to stir the gears in the T56 transmission. Tasteful aluminum accents were the car's first mods.

Once you start making good power with your Pony, its weaker points begin to show, and often the suspension is one of the first areas to reveal that it's not up to the task. To that end, Tony installed Steeda Sport Springs with Tokico Illumina struts and shocks, and a pair of Steeda antisway bars works with their upper and lower rear control arms. Making sure the front-end geometry is optimized is a Steeda bumpsteer kit with X2 ball joints.

As you might have noticed, Tony is going for the stealthy, undercover look, which may have something to do with him being employed by the Toronto Police Service. The Mustang's slick, black color has bled onto the Wheel Replica FR500 wheels, which measure 17x9 inches up front and a wide 10.5 inches out back. While the front rubber consists of 245/45/17 Firestone SZ50s, the rear tires are BFGoodrich KD meats sized 315/35/17. "With the 10.5-inch wheel, they fit real well, and I probably have plenty of room for a 335," Tony says.

With the exception of the wheel lips, all of the polished pieces on the Mustang's exterior will be retouched in a black chrome to aid in the sinister appeal.

Having enjoyed his Mustang's most improved acceleration characteristics, Tony decided to upgrade the short-block, despite the stock engine's tip-top running condition. VT Engines in Lansing, Michigan, beefed the GT's iron block with a forged-steel crankshaft, Manley connecting rods, and CP forged-aluminum pistons. When combined with the stock cylinder heads, it produces a 9.5:1 compression ratio.

On a chassis dyno, the GT turned the rollers to 435 hp and 478 lb-ft of torque, but the duty cycle of the injectors was maxed out. Tony informed us that he recently upgraded the fuel system with a Cobra twin-pump arrangement that feeds a -8 braided stainless feed line and UPR billet-aluminum fuel rails. Now that the system has volume, Tony plans to revisit the dyno to see if he will need to swap out the 42-lb/hr injectors for something a tad larger.

Steeda's spoiler was added out back, and Tony and a friend made their own polished-aluminum end plates for it.

As a member of the Greater Toronto Area Mustang Club, Tony takes his GT to many car show events with his wife, Jane, and their daughter, Sarah, who owns an '05 Mustang. He also races it quite a bit at St. Thomas Dragway. To date, the GT has run a best of 12.18 seconds at 109 mph while wearing sticky Mickey Thompson ET Drag tires. Tony estimates the new fuel system should allow the engine to produce closer to 500 hp at the rear wheels when all is said and done.

While it looks as if Tony's Mustang has it all, projects are never finished, and he's looking into water/methanol injection and possibly some cylinder-head port work and a pair of mild supercharger cams. But the Brampton Bruiser isn't short on torque by any means, and any future modifications will only improve upon its bully status.