Miles Cook
June 23, 2003

Step By Step

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173_0306_1z 1997_Ford_Mustang_GT Front_Passenger_Side173_0306_2z 1997_Ford_Mustang_GT Engine173_0306_3z 1997_Ford_Mustang_GT Interior173_0306_4z 1997_Ford_Mustang_GT Center_Console173_0306_5z 1997_Ford_Mustang_GT Amp

Once into the vintage side of things with the '73 Mach 1 they owned several years ago, Mark and Jeannette Salinas paid off their '97 Mustang GT in December of last year. "Look out," Mark told us as we can imagine what he means now that the payment book has been tossed into the round file. He's already off to a good start with this smooth, show-piece/daily-driven SN-95 round-body car that packs nearly 400 ponies of heat by way of an ATI Procharger blower and a big three-core, air-to-air intercooler.

Tuned by Eric Cheney and the rest of the team at Xtreme Mustang Performance in Aliso Viejo, California, Mark also has his good friend Wayne Kreps help him out with some of the wrenching at Lompoc Ford in Lompoc, California--the same dealership where Mark took delivery of the car in December of 1997.

Although Mark's car is one of the earlier SN-95 Mustangs that doesn't have the PI (performance improvement) heads and other goodies of the '99-and-newer cars, that didn't stop him from going the distance with this machine and forging it into the head-turner you see here.

In addition to the Procharger P1-SC polished huffer that's pullied to make about 10 psi of boost, the supporting cast of bits include FRPP 30 lb/hr fuel injectors and an in-tank 255 lph fuel pump that helps out an externally-mounted ATI 255 lph pump. Other notable items in the horsepower and tuning cause are a Pro-M 80mm mass-air meter, a Kirban adjustable fuel-pressure regulator, an FRPP 70mm throttle body and NGK Iridium spark plugs. XMP fine tuned the combo with an AutoLogic chip that runs piggyback with the EEC-V processor. Added power output and a racier sound are provided by a Bassani X-pipe and a Flowmaster exhaust system. Keeping tabs on everything mentioned above are Auto Meter boost and fuel pressure gauges mounted on the driver's side A-pillar, while Mark rows the T45 five-speed trans with a Pro 5.0 shifter.

With plenty of Wheaties for a straight line helped out by 3.73 gears in the 8.8-inch axle, Mark didn't leave things status quo in other areas of the car. With a full plate of suspension mods slated for later this year, current updates to the chassis include custom sub frame connectors, Eibach springs--which lower the ride height about 1 inches--and Tokico shocks. The car's original 17x8-inch wheels are now chromed and look the part with 245/45ZR17 Goodyear Eagle F1s all around in most situations. Mounted on another pair of wheels, Mark sometimes runs Nitto Extreme 555RS drag radials out back as was the case the day we photographed the car. They are a 275/40R17 size.

Moving inside, Mark has outfitted a complete custom audio/video system that neatly tucks out of the way when he's on the road. Eclipse bits include a 7001 video monitor, a 3101 in-dash DVD player and a 5122 12-disc CD changer. A Kenwood KAC-606 power amp supplies the sounds to an eight-inch trunk-mounted subwoofer and the car's original Mach 460 speakers.

Showing the car about 10 times a year, Mark and Jeannette haven't let the upgrades go unused as they have ticked up more than 50,000 miles since buying the car new more than five years ago. "There's lots of other things I still want to do to the car," Mark told us. "Suspension, brakes and maybe more engine bits are some of goodies I have my eye on. I might even one day swap in a '99-and-up long-block into the car and really get serious about making some big power. A set of 18-inch wheels and tires are also in the works." Sometimes the best--and most enjoyable--projects really are the ones that turn out to be a constant work-in-progress, wouldn't you say?