Frank H. Cicerale
June 1, 2007
Photos By: Paul Rosner

When Sir Isaac Newton shot a beam of light through a prism, he proved that light alone is responsible for the colors we see. The result of his experiment were the many different colors of light being refracted by the angles of the prism. This light refraction is obvious every time a rainbow is seen in the sky after a summer storm. Sunlight protracts light rays through small droplets of water in the air, and a rainbow appears. That beautiful arc of red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and violet is also part of an old Irish tale of a leprechaun being stationed at the end of the rainbow with a pot of gold.

Dakota Wheeler had a rainbow and vision all his own, but his version of nature's light experi-ment had a leprechaun holding the keys to a wicked '93 Mustang at the end of it. Dakota works at a car dealership close to his home in Spring, Texas. Each day he goes to work and sees many different cars come and go. When he saw this particular Fox-body make at the dealership, it made an impact on him. "Back in 1999, this car was a trade-in, and it was sent to our wholesale lot," Dakota says. "I saw it and had to have it. At the time, it was black with chrome Pony rims."

The car's interior was mint, however the sheetmetal of the 6-year-old 5.0-liter LX was not. "The outside of the car had hail damage," Dakota says. "That wasn't a problem since repairing things like that is my profession."

With knowledge in his head, expertise in his hands, and cash in his wallet, Dakota turned the Stang into a rolling example of Newton's conclusions. Since sheetmetal repair is Dakota's forte, it was only natural that the Mustang's transformation begin on the outside. After installing a Competition Engineering six-point rollcage to meet safety specs, he worked his magic, repairing and replacing body panels as needed to rid the flanks of nature's shell damage. Once the body was smooth, he performed surgery on the passenger-side fender to incorporate a ram-air opening in the sheetmetal. The result was a clean yet functional inlet that gives the car a bit of attitude. Adding sex appeal is the Harwood 4-inch cowl hood that replaced the factory steel piece.

With the bodywork completed, Dakota shored up the chassis and suspension before hitting the Stang with the paint gun. With the cage already in, he welded in a pair of DND Motorsports subframe connectors. After doing a mini-tub job himself, it was time to install the suspension components. UPR lower control arms, coilover shocks, and a light K-member combine with Energy Suspension bushings and a Flaming River manual steering rack to suspend the front end and point it in the right direction. Complementing the front-end upgrades was a rear suspension overhaul that consisted of QA1 shocks and springs, Granatelli upper and lower control arms, and a modified Ford 8.8-inch rear. Speaking of the rear, Dakota massaged the housing by narrowing it 111/44 inches on both sides before welding on 9-inch ends and stocking it with 4.10 gears and Moser 31-spline axles.