Rod Short
February 1, 2003

When you check out a souped-up Mustang, 99 times out of 100 you just know it'll belong to a guy. But that may not be the case if you travel through Aberdeen, North Carolina. There, along U.S. 1, you're almost sure to see a beautiful '94 'Stang belonging to horse enthusiast Rhonda King. Pull over and talk awhile, and you'll meet a lady with Blue Ovals in her eyes.

"I've ridden horses since I was three years old," Rhonda says. "As a young teenager, I even helped my dad break them in. Unfortunately, after having back surgery, I can't ride anymore. So the next best thing was a Mustang car.

"Mustangs are small, short, stocky horses known for their quickness. With the top down in the car, it just reminds me a lot of being on back of a horse-having fun with the wind in your face and being just a little bit wild."

Although her husband, Steve, was involved in drag racing Fords in the past, this was the first Mustang-and the flashiest car-Rhonda had ever owned. But it wasn't long before owning the Chrome Yellow GT wasn't enough. She decided she wanted to customize the car and put some graphics of a horse along both sides. She spent nearly a year working with a design studio in California to try to get the right look. But it was local artist Trent Kerns who came up with the design Rhonda had wanted all along.

"I wanted her to be a very young, female horse," Rhonda says about what she had envisioned. "She has long, luscious eyelashes; big eyes; and lips like she's ready to give a kiss before she takes off. There's even a ribbon flowing through her mane to give the vision of speed."

Rhonda's next project was to find someone to paint the car. It wasn't easy, as many painters were too afraid to tackle the job. But Earl Stone Graphics of Charlotte, North Carolina, did the job, which was then shot in clearcoat by Tom Schweitzer of Aberdeen. Color-coordinated wheels, GTS headlight covers, a Saleen rear wing, and yellow-faced gauges offer simple yet pleasing finishing touches to the car.

Steve did minor underhood modifications, such as installing an underdrive pulley set, a K&N filter, and a set of 3.27:1 gears in the rearend. The result is a stunning, reliable, and emissions-legal ponycar that turns heads everywhere it goes.

"At car shows," Rhonda says, "women stop and say that it's absolutely the most beautiful car they've ever seen. The guys they're with will walk up to my husband, but he tells them it's my car. My sons argue about who's going to get the car when they think I'm going to grow tired of it. I just tell them, 'Forget it, boys. I'll still be wearing my cowboy boots and driving that car even when I'm 80 years old!'"

While owning a Mustang GT may not be a perfect replacement for horses, it's certainly a great canvas for projecting what she once enjoyed so much. And it certainly sounds like more fun. For instance, rather than driving down to the corner store, Rhonda King saddles up and rides!