Frank H. Cicerale
August 1, 2008
Photos By: Steve Baur

Any good chef knows that the presentation of food is as important as its quality. Throw in the desire and the creativity to do something different from the rest of those in the food-service industry, and you have the recipe for a wild dish with an unbridled kick of flavor.

Michael Cooper knows all about this. Every day, he goes to work, breaks out the pots and pans, and creates what can only be termed as edible works of art. But even after the day was done, and the excitement of the dinner rush had subsided, this chef still felt the need for a vehicle that would transport him swiftly around the streets of West Chester, Ohio. Michael couldn't hide his true calling, which was to create something different from the rest; hence the results you see here with his V-6-powered '01 Mustang.

Michael's Mustang is a two-person show only, thanks to the classy and stylish rear-seat delete kit. Instead of passengers, the rear portion of the interior now seats a pair of subwoofers and amps. Another pair of subs and amps, as well as a custom-painted nitrous bottle, reside in the trunk.

Did we say V-6? Darn right we did, and what an impressive piece of machinery this little six-pot has become. After picking up the car online, Michael decided that though it didn't have the extra two holes of the Mustang GTs, he wouldn't be outdone. After sourcing the needed parts from Super Six Motorsports, Michael handled the chore of supersizing the portion under the hood, starting with yanking out the stock 3.8L motor for an overhaul. The powerplant was completely disassembled, and in place of the stock crankshaft went a long-armed piece to bring displacement up to 4.2 liters. A set of Wiseco pistons and rods complete the rotating assembly and set the squeeze figure at a stout 10:1. Once the stock oil pan was slapped back on, the motor was flipped over, where final assembly began.

Michael stuffed in an RPM roller cam showcasing a duration of 216/224 on the intake and exhaust sides, respectively. Once the bumpstick was in, a set of Super Six Stage 2 aluminum cylinder heads were installed. The valvetrain was finished off with a set of Harland Sharp 1.8-ratio roller rockers.

Knowing that the increased airflow offered by the increased cubes and heads would require an increase in the fuel needed for the combustion process, a set of 24-pound injectors made their way into the fuel rails. A Focus 155-lph fuel pump makes sure the fuel travels from the tank to the engine, though an AEI regulator limits fuel pressure to 46 psi. A 70mm throttle body gets the MAC-filtered atmosphere into the engine, where the spark carried by Ford Racing Performance Parts wires is lit off the tip of the Autolite plugs. Helping to make up for the fact the little engine that could's powerplant is two cylinders short of its larger V-8 cousins, Michael had a Nitrous Express single-stage wet kit rigged up to spray in a 100hp shot of laughing gas at the press of a button. The combustion nasties are expelled via MAC shorty headers, which flow into a MAC H-pipe, Borla mufflers, and a full-on 21/2-inch exhaust system that exits on the sides of the car `a la Roush.

The stock five-speed manual transmission still resides behind the six-pot, though the stock clutch has made way for a Spec Stage 2 grappler, and shifting chores are now taken care of by a Steeda Tri-Ax gear selector. The 8.8-inch rear was beefed up with a set of 4.10 cogs. As for the suspension, simple was the name of the game, as a set of Drop Zone lowering springs were installed at all four corners.

Thanks to a whitewash of Oxford White paint and a host of awesome looking body components, this V-6 Mustang gives off an attitude as if it has more cylinders under the hood. Not only was Michael's '01 Mustang treated to the addition of a host of aftermarket body components, but its flanks were also graced with some outstanding, yet not too outlandish, graphics.

Knowing that the meal would be quite tasty, Michael set about giving his plate of horsepower an appealing look. He enlisted the help of Ron Leach at Ron's Custom Auto Body to spray the car and its soon-to-come body components. Ron began by installing the Z3-style front fenders, Cobra R hood, and new front fascia. He then rigged up the Ford Racing Performance Parts side-exit exhaust kit, and finished up the body makeover by securing a Steeda wing to the trunk lid. The car was then taken down to primer, prepped, and shot with a combined total of 10 coats of PPG Oxford White and clear. Next, the unique silver and gray checkered-flag graphics were applied to both driver- and passenger-side doors and quarter-panels. Standing out above all the rest on the flanks of the Mustang are the red stripes that were overlaid onto the checkered graphics. Completing the look is the rolling stock, which consists of Bullitt Replica 18-inch rims clad in 265/35/18 front and 295/35/18 rear Toyo Proxes hoops. Braking duties are dealt with by the factory calipers, which clamp down on a set of cross-drilled and slotted rotors.

With everything else on the menu shaping up to be a delectable dish, Michael went for dessert by having the interior reworked. Rick at Spade Kreations was tapped for this job, which resulted in the installation of a rear-seat delete, a set of red-faced custom gauges, beige leather-clad buckets, and a pair of Schroth four-point harnesses. Michael then hit up Auto Sound and Performance for the installation of a booming stereo system comprised of Alpine head and touch-screen navigation units, four amps, and a powerful quad set of subwoofers, two of which reside in the deck of the rear-seat delete, while the other two are located in the trunk.

Michael's car not only has the looks, but it has the punch behind it as well. With the engine singing at full song and the nitrous oxide spraying at full tilt, this car cooks to 373 rwhp and a best elapsed time of a 12.79 at 109 mph. It looks like Michael's cooking with gas now.