Frank H. Cicerale
June 1, 2007

For those who've read the Bible or are semi-religious, you might remember the parable about the prodigal son. If you're not religious and are wondering, what the heck does religion have to do with Muscle Mustangs and Fast Fords, cut us a bit of slack and stay with us.

The parable of the prodigal son is about two brothers, both of whom were given a prodigious fortune by their father. The older brother took his money, cultivated it, and used it to further his ambitions and make a bit more money every day. The younger brother took the same amount of money, left the nest, and squandered his fortune. Eventually, when all the money was gone, the younger brother went back home to face the music. Instead of being lambasted by his father for wasting his riches on lavish, unnecessary things, he was welcomed back with open arms.

So what does this have to do with Shaun Strayer and his '99 Mustang GT convertible? Just as the younger brother in the parable returned home to open arms, Shaun did as well, in a manner of speaking. "I know I'm going to get heckled for saying this," he explains, "but I started out in the scene as what is known as a 'ricer.' I had the Altezzas [lights] and neon hood lights. Time went by, and I learned my lesson. I am now very much into clean rides that aren't overdone." You could say the final result of his SN-95 drives that point home.

Shaun's Pony was a stray itself after its previous owner decided to trade it in for a Mercedes. Not content to let the car go to an unwanted stable, Shaun picked up the Stang-with just 12,000 miles on the odometer-for a good price. Since it already sported a Saleen Speedster kit (light bar and tonneau cover) and Saleen floor mats, Shaun decided to Saleen-ize the steed.

The original Two-Valve was switched up in favor of a VT Engines GT Sportsman short-block. Topped with the factory heads and a blower-friendly 8.5:1 compression ratio, it didn't take long for Shaun to introduce the stock-displacement 4.6L mod motor to forced induction. A Kenne Bell 1.7L twin-screw was bolted on between the cylinder heads. Running a moderate amount of boost, the little engine that could pumped out a respectable 390 rwhp with 400 lb-ft of torque. The supercharged Ford powerplant ingests oxygen through a De Molet cold-air intake, an Accufab 75mm throttle body, and an SCT BA-2400 MAF. Cooling the intake charge from the blower is a Gord's heat exchanger, handling the fuel-delivery chores are '03 Cobra fuel pumps and a Kenne Bell Boost-A-Pump, and keeping the tune at the optimum level is an SCT tuner. The exhaust is spewed out through a pair of JBA shorty headers that were promptly linked to a Borla Stinger after-cat exhaust system complete with a MagnaFlow x pipe system. The rest of the drivetrain is stock, save for the Ford Racing Performance Parts aluminum driveshaft and 3.73 cogs in the 8.8-inch rearend.

In keeping with the Saleen theme, Shaun had the crew at StangWerks (Rancho Cucamonga, California) wave the magic wand over the Pony's flanks. Adding to the previously installed Speedster kit is a Saleen 281E hood and Saleen S281 front and rear bumpers. Adding some personality to the car was accomplished by removing the Saleen lettering in the rear bumper along with all the emblems and badging. Completing the exterior look is a Mach 1 grille-delete kit and a USA-themed running-pony grille emblem.

The car was originally Bright Atlantic Blue, and since Shaun flat-out loved the hue, he had the car fully repainted. "A lot of people ask me about it because you don't see that many around in that color," Shaun says. "I love the color and couldn't be happier with it." Once the paint was dry, Recaro seats out of a Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution 8 (a reminder of his long-lost days in the wilderness) were bolted to the floorboard on custom brackets fabricated by Wedge Engineering. Shaun then threw in a few painted interior trim pieces (Bright Atlantic Blue, of course) and an instrument panel full of Auto Meter Cobalt 2 gauges to complete the look. Pumping the tunes above the performance exhaust system is a Panasonic head unit wired up to a Fosgate subwoofer and a HiFonics Zeus Z400 amplifier.

The awe-inspiring stance of the Pony can be attributed to numerous suspension enhancements. H&R Sport springs drop the car on all four corners, while improved handling comes in the form of Maximum Motorsports caster/camber plates, subframe connectors, and lower control arms. Bullitt Mustang-spec calipers and TCE two-piece rotors were installed up front, while out back the stock GT braking system remained. The car graces the pavement thanks to DPE R05 polished 18x9 front and 18x10 rear rims. The five-spoke wheels are wrapped in BFGoodrich KDWs all around, with 265/35/18s under the fenders and 295/35/18s under the quarter-panels.

"Cruising around in the Mustang is so peaceful at night," Shaun says. "The car looks badass with the top down and the Auto Meter gauges lit." As is the case with most, this Mustang isn't done yet. "I always try to push myself to bring it to the next level," Shaun says. "I still live at home, which is the only way I can afford this hobby. Being compulsive and having an eBay account doesn't help much either."

Even if Shaun did leave, it wouldn't be for long. His stray Pony knows its way back home.