2004 Ford Mustang GT - Canyon Lust
An unfortunate rendezvous with a tree inspired Brad Wintermantle to build a hot Mustang handle
Brad Wintermantle's Toyota Corolla was a nice little commuter car, but fell short in terms of handling when driving to work through the twisting arteries of Southern California's canyon shortcuts. Brad learned the hard way when he stuffed his Corolla into a tree. It was a tough way to get the Mustang GT he preferred in the first place.
Brad admits he always wanted a Mustang GT. And he's convinced that had he been driving his 2004 Mustang GT when he encountered that ugly turn, he would have steered clear because, as the first order of business after acquiring the Mustang, he improved its braking and handling.
During a visit to Willow Spring International Raceway, we were drawn to Brad's Competition Orange Mustang GT because of its understated yet all-business demeanor. A small WSIR decal on the rear decklid subconsciously confirms what this car is all about. Strangely, the Mach 1 spoiler up front with spoiler delete at the rear combines for a purposeful look. You can say the same for the black replica Saleen 18 x 9-inch wheels wrapped in P255/40ZR18 BFGoodrich radials. A peek through the spokes reveals factory four-wheel disc brakes with EBC pads and rotors.
While searching for a 1999-2004 Mustang to replace his banged-up Corolla, Brad was concerned he'd never find something that wasn't already blinged or cobbled up. He eventually found his blank canvass—a factory original Mustang GT he could tailor to his own agenda. With vivid memories of an out-of-control Corolla in mind, Brad threw the factory suspension components on the shelf and replaced them with KW Automotive coil-over springs. Then he went with a Maximum Motorsports front K-member to improve geometry along with solid mounts, rack bushings, offset control arms, and Steeda sway bars.
When Brad hits the track, he keeps the 4.6L engine revved high for the torque needed to roar out of turns and down the straights. So far, the engine remains stock other than a K&N cold-air induction system, a Steeda underdrive pulley set, and SCT tune.
"I was focused on handling more than power," Brad admits. "I just purchased an 2003 Cobra independent rear suspension that will go in next."
Brad's message is to keep your priorities in order when you buy a Mustang for on-track fun. Plan for improved handling and brakes in the interest of safety before adding power, because it's meaningless if you don't have control.
"I'm more interested in learning how to drive the car with the power it has," Brad tells us. "I love the car the way it is now, but I still have a lot planned. The most challenging part was the car's stance. I wanted it to stand out without a lot of modifications."
To Brad we can say—mission accomplished.