2003 Ford Mustang Show Cars - Family Affair
Saleen And Roush Go Head To Head Under One Roof, And Everyone Wins
Well, actually, the cars are under two separate roofs, as each has its own garage, but both are attached to the same house. Hers is the '03 Saleen S281 coupe in Sonic Blue, while his is an '03 Roush/Boyd Coddington California Roadster of the same vintage in Black over Zinc Yellow.
The he and she in question are Robert and Amber Brooks of Altamonte Springs, Florida, and both are absolutely crazy about their respective mounts. Yet, during our photo shoot, we couldn't detect any mine-is-better-than-yours spats or verbal digs. 'Tis a peaceful household, in other words, despite the fact that Robert and Amber often compete against one another at the car shows they regularly attend. That both are successful should probably come as no surprise, even though Amber's Saleen is her daily driver. We discovered one reason for this success when we went to wash up after our photo shoot and couldn't find a hand towel in the Brooks household. According to Amber, Robert routinely "borrows" the towels for polishing and detailing both Mustangs. That's what nice, soft hand towels are for, right?
It all started one day when fate took Amber and Robert past Brandon Ford. The dealership, near Tampa, is one of Roush's biggest distributors. In the showroom, Robert laid eyes on the '03 Boyd Coddington ragtop. Although he's not a big fan of yellow cars, Robert was utterly smitten by the Roush/Coddington limited edition-at least until spying the $53,000 price tag. Figuring that to be just beyond their means at the time, the couple bought the Saleen S281. Nonetheless, Robert did research on the Coddington and determined that only 25 supercharged and intercooled Stage 3 convertibles had been assembled; only two of them were in the yellow/black combination.
Nearly a year later, Robert drove by Brandon Ford once again and was surprised to see the same Coddington languishing at the back of the dealership. The next day, he and Amber returned, took it for a test drive, and fell deep into automotive lust. As a bonus, it seems that sitting outside near Florida's Gulf Coast had taken a small toll on the car. As Robert explains: "It hadn't been taken care of. The rims were oxidized, and it needed a good detailing. We walked out with a very good deal."
At that moment, Robert's Saleen, number 130 out of about 400 made for '03, became Amber's, and she has resisted any temptation to modify it to any extent. It's a Saleen S281-how much modification does it need? The only nonstock item we could spot on the rare Sonic Blue coupe was a Pioneer Supertuner III stereo head unit in the leather-clad interior. With a bit more than 17,000 miles on the clock, the engine remains just as Saleen issued it, with a claimed 290 hp and 330 lb-ft of torque. In comparison, the '03 Mustang GT was rated at 260 hp and 302 lb-ft, with the Saleen gaining its extra oomph by way of underdrive pulleys, a performance air filter, upgraded exhaust system, and processor flash-recalibration. The S281 rides on Saleen's Racecraft suspension and the company's handsome, polished five-spoke, 18x9 rims on 255/35ZR18 rubber.
With only 2,877 miles on the odometer, you can probably guess that the Roush/Coddington roadster doesn't serve as Robert's daily driver. It's a pampered weekend toy and show car that spends most of its time in his air-conditioned garage. Amber's separate garage makes do without refrigeration; we think she should put A/C on her wish list, perhaps to make up for all those missing towels.
Many of the roughly 53 California Roadsters built came with a naturally-aspirated 4.6L V-8. Apparently less than 25 of them, including Robert's, started life as Roush Stage 3 cars and are therefore armed with a Roots- style blown Two-Valve boasting 360 hp and 375 lb-ft of grunt. You can tell the two versions apart without opening the hood, because the non-supercharged cars have a GT-style hoodscoop, while the blown units have a Cobra-style no-scoop hood, along with the word "supercharged" engraved above Jack Roush's signature on the rear quarter-windows.
The supercharged cars also bring along the rest of the Stage 3 chassis, braking, exhaust, and styling hardware. Coddington touches include the two-tone paint scheme (black/silver and black/red were also offered), interior upholstery stitched by Classic Soft Trim with "Boyd Coddington" embroidered near the headrests, Coddington's autograph on the standard Roush gauge package, and a serialized aluminum ID plate affixed just forward of the Roush shifter. Coddington's polished Smoothie II rims are also an integral part of the package. Up front, they measure 18x9 inches and mount 265/35ZR18 rubber. Out back are even larger 295/35ZR skins on 18x10 rims.
None of this has stopped Robert from adding personal touches of his own, though all can easily be removed should he ever wish to return the roadster to its valuable factory condition. His list of additions includes a JVC head unit/CD player, Rockford Fosgate speakers, two 900-watt Lightning Audio Bolt amps, a pair of Rockford Fosgate 12-inch subwoofers, a honkin' 1-farad capacitor to keep the bass thumping, and (wisely) a Viper security system. The cockpit has a Playstation PSP and a satellite radio receiver.
To the Brooks family, perhaps the most rewarding aspect of owning this tag-team of tuner Mustangs is that all three of their kids have, at one point or another, become involved in preparing the cars for shows and attending some. "It's become a family affair for all of us," Amber says. The trophies have been stacking up, including our own Editor's Choice award for late-models at last year's Silver Springs show.
Mom and Dad each with their own show-winning super Mustang? I guess I grew up in the wrong household.