Frank H. Cicerale
September 1, 2007
Photos By: Joseph P. Greeves

In high school, there are always people grouped together in cliques. There are the popular kids, the smart kids, the artsy types, those involved in the band, the cheerleaders, the football players, the jocks. Add in the after-school-activities nuts, and high school is like a bag of Skittles with a flavor for everyone. As Sly and Family Stone sang way back in the day, "different strokes for different folks."Then there are the kids who dig fast cars, loud exhaust systems, and a ride showcasing the coveted running Pony on the grille. There's always one car that stands above the rest, much like that one kid who racks up perfect attendance along with a 4.0 GPA and is voted valedictorian. For Brian Tordik, that car was a fellow student's Mustang.

"My Mustang hobby began when I was in high school," Brian says. "I saw a classmate roll up in a black '97 GT. After seeing the sleek, curvy lines of the car and hearing the rumble of the exhaust, I was hooked. I had liked Mustangs before; my first car was a '94 coupe. It was just a plain, basic car, but I kept it up and added a few minor things to make it unique. After a while, the six-popper just wasn't cutting it."

Combine the image of that '97 GT and the fatigue of driving a Pony with two less cylinders than desired, and it was to be expected that Brian would commence a search for a car to take him to the head of the class. "After seeing that '97, I knew what I wanted. It had to be black, it had to be loud, and it had to have a five-speed."

The Indialantic, Florida, native searched the want ads for the perfect Pony, but it was while on a road trip with his father that he spotted his dream car, a '98 GT convertible. The Mustang sat in the parking lot of Advantage Ford in New Orleans, but it wouldn't remain in the land of the blues for long. After taking the SN-95 for a spin, Brian fell in love, and the rest, as they say, is history.

Once he got the car back to Florida, Brian started work on making the Pony his own. "As I became more familiar with Mustangs, I took notice of the special-production Stangs such as those made by Roush, Saleen, and Steeda," Brian says. "The Saleen convertible really caught my eye. I knew then that I wanted to build one but with a few different twists."

The modifications began with a roll call of power-producing speed parts for the 4.6L mod motor. D.S.S. Racing took the 281 modular Ford, balanced and blueprinted it, and then filled the bottom end with a D.S.S. forged crank. Rotating on the crankshaft's main journals are D.S.S. forged 4340 H-beam rods topped by Probe pistons. A D.S.S. oil pump lubricates the rotating parts of the engine. Topping the eight holes are Ford Racing Performance Parts P.I. aluminum heads that feature a pair of Sean Hyland Motorsport camshafts. The bumpsticks advertise a 242/232 duration spread and 0.550-inch lift across the board.

Oxygen makes its way into the cylinders first through a BBK cold-air intake kit, a Pro-M 80mm mass air meter, a BBK 75mm throttle body, and a Trick Flow intake. Fuel is introduced via a custom tune and Steeda 24-pound injectors. A Nitrous Oxide Systems two-stage wet kit was wired and plumbed. With both stages good for a 125 hit of the sauce, the mighty little Ford will pass its SATs quite easily. The homework of expelling the exhaust gasses was assigned to FRPP shorty headers that dump the fumes into a 211/42-inch-diameter system stocked with a Bassani off-road x pipe system and MAC Pro-Dump mufflers.

Spinning inside the bellhousing is a Fidanza flywheel, a Spec pressure plate, and a Stage 3 clutch. The beefed-up power-transferring equipment allow the stock T45, which has its gears motivated by a Steeda Tri-Ax shifter, to transmit the power to the 3.55-geared 8.8-inch rear. Keeping the rear alive when the giggle juice is activated are welded axle tubes, while both rear tires see tire-spinning oomph thanks to an Auburn limited-slip differential and Moser 28-spline axles. Steeda Sport springs dip the car 2 inches, and the company's caster/camber plates add a measure of adjustability and stability to the front end. The stock brakes remain, but the original wheels were set aside in favor of 17x8 Cobra rims that roll along surrounded in Pirelli 245/45/R17-sized P7000s.

There was no way Brian was going to let his Mustang be all go and no show. The stock hood was replaced with a Cobra R-style piece fabricated by Kaenen, while the front headlights are now Cobra-style pieces with clear corners. Wanting to give his Pony the Saleen look, Brian added a Saleen front bumper and body kit, as well as an S-351 rear wing. He tinted the windows 20 percent to go along with the menacing black paint. Every time the top drops, the Classic Design Concepts style bar is noticeable. Also seen are the Auto Meter gauges and their home in a custom-made center gauge pod. Sprucing up the interior are black-painted door handles, anodized gauge bezels and HVAC knobs, and custom-made Cobra floor mats. It goes without saying that Generation X-ers like loud, thumping stereo systems, and Brian is no different. An Alpine head unit kicks the tunes through a Kenwood amp and MTX Blue Thunder speakers. Enhancing the low-end bass is a 10-inch subwoofer.

"I spend most of my time with the car, entering it in shows and cruising around the beaches on weekends," Brian says. He's also guiding his Mustang to the head of the class, one chewed-up and spit-out Brand-X machine at a time.