Tom Shaw
March 1, 2008

They say lightning never strikes twice in the same place, but one thing's for sure: Twisters do.

In Kansas City, Missouri, right in the thick of tornado alley, a new round of racy Twister Special Mustangs is about to stir things up. Tracing their roots back to the first generation of Twister Specials that were based on the '70 Mach 1, Kansas City's tradition of super-powered Mustangs is as thick and rich as a plate of KC barbecue. For 2008, the Twister Special story adds a powerful new chapter.

It has been 38 years since the original Twister Specials were created, and until now, the concept of a regional specialty Mustang was long overdue for a revisit. As before, the new Twister begins with Ford's top-gun Mustang and adds some high-impact graphics. But unlike the originals, which remained stock under the skin, the new Twisters make many improvements to the factory engine and chassis to kick the driving experience up to a higher level.

The new Twister will be designed and built by R&A Motorsports in Lee's Summit, Missouri. R&A has been building national champion Shelbys and high-end Mustangs since 1975.

The new '08 Mustang is the perfect vehicle to begin with. It has an unequaled blend of modern tech-nology and engineering carried forward in a package shaped by vintage inspirations. For those drawn to the Mustang GT but finding themselves craving more exclusivity and personal touches, the Twister may be just what the doctor ordered.

Grabber Orange '08 Mustang GT coupes and convertibles are converted into Twister Specials at R&A Motorsports.

The exterior starts with a Grabber Orange GT premium coupe (premium adds step-up interior appointments), then adds the Twister Special package. The familiar Twister tornado graphic is there, moved from the rear quarter up to the front fender, where it surrounds the GT badge. Along the side is a three-rib side stripe, done on a smaller scale than the originals.

Up front is a black chin spoiler and a custom blacked-out grille with Shelby-esque center headlights and the classic running pony emblem off to the side. The hood, which dispenses with the prop rod in favor of struts, is a lightweight widow's peak design with black graphics and accommodations for the functional Shaker hoodscoop that also bears an engraved Twister logo.

Aft is a ducktail spoiler with a logo stripe, blacked-out finish panel between the sequential turn signals, and a pair of C-pillar scoops.

The biggest mod is the Glassback, standard on all Twister coupes, which replaces the sheetmetal roof with a tempered glass panel. Convertibles get a logo lightbar. Big 20x8 1/2-inch Foose five-spoke mags with logo centers and 235/5 ZR20 Pirelli tires complete the exterior.

Together, the effect is striking. Coming or going, the Twister is a hot number. Its stance, thanks to a lowering kit, gives it a lower center of gravity for improved handling and an aggressive look in motion or at rest.

There are other mods that aren't visible at a glance. Underhood, the GT's 4.6L Three-Valve V-8 is fortified with a ram-air Shaker scoop, racing exhaust, and some tuning tweaks that deliver around 315 hp. If that's not enough, the Twister Special is being offered in five levels of performance, named for the Enhanced Fujita scale that measures tornado intensity:

EF-1. Base Twister Special. Around 315 hp.

EF-2. Adds steep gears (3.73 for five-speeds; 4.10 for automatics), a throttle body mod for better response, super tune, and a push-start button. Around 325 hp.

EF-3. All of the above, plus shorty headers, high-flow cats, front/rear sway bars, high-performance springs, shocks, and struts. Around 345 hp.

EF-4. All of the above, plus a Paxton supercharger, a one-piece driveshaft, and a driveshaft safety loop. Around 450 hp.

EF-5. A Supercharged 5.4L engine, a new transmission, a full rollcage, and a Bible. More than 500 hp. Only two will be made.