Rob Reaser
September 1, 2001

Walk down the late-model rows at any Mustang show and you'll quickly notice the cars that receive the most lingering attention are usually those with extensive body and drivetrain modifications-it's only natural. The biggest, loudest, and most audacious cars always grab the eye and the notoriety. But there's something to be said for elegant understatement. Virgil Griffith's '94 GT is one example of how the right modifications in the right places to the right base package can steal the headlines from even the more radical Mustang set.

When Virgil, a resident of Elizabeth City, North Carolina, purchased his Rio Red hatchback from a dealership in Temple, Texas, he had a pretty good start in the head-turning game. Aside from sporting the 5.0 GT package, the car came with a striking red interior. It's an uncommon color combination for the '94-and-up models, yet is uncommonly snappy to the eye. With that kind of lead, many folks would likely leave well enough alone. But Virgil had a vision, adding a carbon-fiber dash kit inside the Pony, as well as a carbon-fiber shifter knob atop a B&M Ripper Shifter. To put a fine point on the interior upgrading, Virgil installed a Pioneer CD system.

These interior mods naturally led to some customizing on the sunny side. A Ford Racing Performance Parts hood and rocker panel stripes added an elegant swipe to the Rio Red topcoat. Additions such as the GTS carbon-fiber headlight covers and aggressive-looking 16x8 wheels-by American Racing Custom Wheels-wrapped in Copper tires further complemented the red/black color scheme. To snazz up the Mustang's profile, Virgil went with Saleen's S351 rear wing and a front chin spoiler. All of this ratcheted up the "Whoa!" factor quite a few notches.

With the appearance component well in hand, Virgil decided to match the brawn with the beauty; nothing serious, mind you-just a little spice in the form of March pulleys, an ACCEL coil, a K&N filter kit, a Flo Tech exhaust, Taylor wires, and Split Fire plugs to give the GT that extra umph! A bit of chrome and polish work, along with some creative underhood painting la Jackson Pollack, rounded out the engine compartment workup. Finally, to help the Mustang handle as well as it looked and ran, Virgil installed a Jamex 2-inch drop suspension kit, including springs, struts, shocks, and bushings, along with Hotchkis camber/caster plates.

Gonzo? Nah. Remarkably balanced? Oh, yeah! Radically red? You'd better believe it!