Marc Christ
Brand Manager, Modified Mustangs & Fords
January 11, 2010
Photos By: Peter S. Linney

In the world of building and customizing dream machines, California has always been on the cutting edge of technology and design. Phil Smith and his company FRP Customs is no exception. Custom body modifications, wild paint jobs, deafening sound systems, and performance modifications are some of the common alterations that can take a ride from wimp to pimp.

So when the team at FRP Customs were planning to build a vehicle to display at SEMA in Las Vegas, it had to select a platform that would sample a little of everything FRP Customs offers. While visiting Southern California and still in deliberation for the vehicle type, Phil had the opportunity to purchase an '05-'09 Mustang custom body kit from Chip Foose of Foose Design (Huntington Beach, California). Since Foose is well known for his designs, and because this kit was one of only three in existence, Phil snagged it.

After returning to the FRP Customs headquarters in Redding, California, with the body kit in hand, Phil immediately purchased the victim-a brand-spanking-new black '08 Mustang GT coupe. With the project chosen, and body modifications underway, Phil began outlining the rest of the build. Knowing that it had to be completed by the end of October to be ready for SEMA, the entire crew concentrated on the project, codenamed "Tequila Sunrise." Little did anyone know what a brew it would become.

Since Foose designed the body kit, Phil enlisted him to draw a rendering of what the finished product "should" look like. The only thing Phil asked of Foose was to make it the most eye-catching toxic green ever seen. Meanwhile, the FRP Customs crew was hard at work putting the finishing touches on the body kit and removing the roof panel to make way for a glass roof by Classic Design Concepts.

With a Squires Turbo Systems (STS) twin turbo kit on its way, the crew dropped the engine and transmission for some internal fortification. The engine was sent to Ardon Machine Works (Redding, California), where it was overhauled with an Eagle stroker crankshaft and Manley pistons and H-beam rods, bringing total displacement to 5.0L.

Back at FRP Customs, the crew reused the Tremec TR3650, but it ditched the stock clutch for a Centerforce piece and mated it to a Fidanza aluminum flywheel. MasterShift sent over a prototype sequential shifter, which features a bump shifter in the console and remote paddle shifters mounted to the steering wheel.

The entire suspension was scrapped in lieu of an Ridetech air bag kit, BMR tubular K-member and control arms, and stock GT500 sway bars-all ceramic coated, polished, and installed by FRP Customs. The team modified the stock 8.8-inch rear to accompany the Ridetech kit, welded the axle tubes to the carrier, and upgraded the gears to 3.73s. They also bolted up Foose 20-inch wheels wrapped in Nitto INVO rubber and aired out the bags.

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With the drivetrain and suspension in place, the STS kit could then be installed. Quite different than most turbo systems, the turbos are mounted under the car near the rear tires. FRP Custom handled the entire installation, including the maze of plumbing. Phil estimates the kit stepped up the stroker's power output to about 650 hp.

Inside, the FRP Customs team reskinned the stock seats with custom-stitched Katzkin upholstery. Made with black Tuscan leather, black suede, and orange stitching to match the orange pinstripe, which breaks up the candy green and black exterior. Pieces of the dash were painted candy green to match, modified to house the Ridetech controls, and then signed by Chip Foose.

The last modification was the sound system. ARC Audio supplied the speakers throughout, including a 12-inch sub mounted in a sealed box in the trunk. The head unit is a Visualogic VMOD on-board computer, which features navigation, a web browser, games, music, and videos.

The result is a one-of-a-kind showpiece that displays the company's talent and abilities. It was completed in an astonishing six weeks and was a big hit at SEMA 2008. The blending of Foose's design and FRP Customs' hard work resulted in this concoction that is undoubtedly lethal to all who combat it in show or on the street.

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