Steve Temple
May 3, 2007

Step By Step

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Mmfp_0706_stain_01_z 2004_ford_mustang_gt_convertible Front_viewMmfp_0706_stain_03_z 2004_ford_mustang_gt_convertible Engine
The Kenne Bell-blown 4.6 puts 460 hp to the rear wheels.
Mmfp_0706_stain_05_z 2004_ford_mustang_gt_convertible Rear_viewMmfp_0706_stain_07_z 2004_ford_mustang_gt_convertible Panhard_bar
An adjustable Panhard rod keeps the rear located under extreme cornering.
Mmfp_0706_stain_04_z 2004_ford_mustang_gt_convertible Interior

Top-down motoring in a convertible Mustang can be a fantastic sensory experience--wind in the hair, sunshine on your shoulders, and blue sky overhead. But don't forget the shudder in the cowl, too. This latter trait has been a problem with Mustangs (except for the latest model, which was designed with extra chassis rigidity). Previous models relied more on the hardtop structure for chassis stiffness, so if it's chopped off and replaced with a cloth top, the result is a flexible flyer, even with reinforcements the factory added to compensate. Even the extra weight of the bracing didn't exactly make for agile handling.

Nevertheless, a convertible has undeniable appeal, especially on a road trip or on a warm, sunny day near the beach. So when Mike Jonas of Stainless Steel Brakes decided to go on the Hot Rod Power Tour, he went shopping for an open-top Mustang at his local dealer in Buffalo, New York. Considering this city has some of the heaviest annual snowfall in the United States, convertibles are not exactly in high demand, so it came as no surprise that there was only one on the lot, and the dealer wasn't ready to part with it.

That irked Mike, and it led him to start the tour driving a modified Integra. Since a Japanese import would hardly be the belle of the ball at this annual celebration of American iron, one of his company reps hooked him up with a Ford retailer in Texas that happened to be the largest F-150 dealer in the country. Among the acres of pickups, Mike came across several yellow convertible Mustangs. After picking out a GT, and with a bit of negotiating, he charged the sales price on his American Express card and joined the tour on its northern passage.

While the convertible GT fit in better than the tuner car with all the domestic musclecars and hot rods, Mike still heard a lot of ribbing for bringing along a stock "sissy car." Not used to driving plain vanilla, he faded to the rear of the convoy. But right then and there, he vowed to return with an utterly transformed ride, one with impressive power and road-course performance, despite the lack of a hardtop.

The three-month buildup began at the foundation, starting with a Kenny Brown suspension setup welded to the undercarriage. Mike welded to the B-pillar a lightbar from Chassis Design Concepts. Strut tower braces could not be fitted, though, because they would interfere with the supercharger he planned to install.