Muscle Mustangs & Fast Fords
2007 Ford Mustang GT - Master Vader
Though not dressed all in black, Christopher Merkel's '07 GT is just as sinister and mysterious as the Star Wars antagonist.
It had a slew of other bolt-ons, from almost every piece out of the BMR Suspension catalog, to a set of 20-inch TSW wheels. He dubbed the dark horse Mr. Vader.
But when then-Floridian Christopher received the news in 2007 that his mother had been diagnosed with cancer, the only child moved to Brighton, Colorado, to be with her. Not sure how soon he'd be able to get back into the workforce once there, Christopher sold his house, boat, '69 Mustang, and Mr. Vader.
Settling into his new life in Colorado, Christopher found himself missing Mr. Vader. Before he knew it, his mother's prognosis was much better, he had a steady job, and it was time for Christopher to re-join the Mustang world.
So he went to the local Ford dealership and asked the salesperson, "What's your most obnoxious color?" The salesperson revealed a Grabber Orange '07 GT, and Christopher bought it right away. He couldn't wait to begin transforming it into an extreme street machine.
Knowing he wanted his new project to be just as intimidating as its predecessor, Christopher planned out his new build, piece by piece. "I sat down and laid out a pretty detailed plan," he says. "Since my last car had a Kenne Bell, I decided to go with the 2.3L Whipple to make it different."
Christopher had Next Generation Performance of Longmont, Colorado, rebuild his Three-Valve with an Eagle rotating assembly. The new compression ratio is a boost-friendly 9.0:1. NGP did some mild porting on the stock heads and topped the fresh long-block off with a pair of Comp Cams bumpsticks.
Christopher didn't stop under the hood, though. He put just as much time and money in the appearance of his new steed as he did the performance. Outside, he added a custom front splitter, custom steel front fenders, carbon-fiber mirrors from Carbign Craft, a carbon-fiber decklid and hood from Seibon, Silver Horse Racing quarter-window louvers, and a Street Scene rear diffuser. He had all the components accented to match, and then added 20-inch Zinik wheels and BFGoodrich rubber to finish the look.
Inside, Christopher had K Dezines stitch the black and orange leather upholstery to match the exterior. He added gauges, a custom rear seat delete, and many shiny accents. He also had a custom trunk panel made to hold the body-color nitrous bottles that allow Christopher to spray a 100-shot of juice when the Whipple isn't enough.
With the help of practically every part that BMR Suspension makes for the S197 Mustangs, along with 627 rwhp, Christopher's orange villain has been as quick as 11.50 at almost 121 in the quarter-mile. But he doesn't always take it to the track to race. "I probably do [at least] 30 car shows a year," he says. "In three years, it has won 111 times."
Christopher is not done, though. This winter, he planned to add even more boost. "I'm going to do a compound boost setup with twin 66mm turbos and the Whipple," he says.
Hopefully, by the time you read this, the snow will be melted and Christopher and his now-cancer-free mom will be cruising the streets of Brighton in style.