Teresa Sanderson's 1995 Mustang GT Convertible
"Someone really needs to start an 'addiction house' for people like me," Teresa Sanderson told me as I marveled at her family's Mustang collection. "If I could stop buying every Mustang that comes along, I would retire, stay at home and act more like a grandmother should."
It's true that Teresa doesn't look, nor act like a grandmother, but then my granny never ran through an eighth-mile in 7.80 seconds in an '83 5.0-liter with drag slicks for traction and a pending upgrade to 4.56:1 gearing. That strip-ready gray hatchback is just one of more than a dozen Ponies that have followed Teresa and her family home during the last 30-plus years.
There is a restored black 1964-1/2 convertible that served as Teresa's daily commuter in the '70s (with matching pedal car, of course). Sitting on blocks in the basement is a '66 coupe her oldest son, Darrell III, drove to high school, where it earned him the nickname 'Pony.' It is scheduled to become a vintage racer shortly. Her husband Darrell has nearly finished transforming another '66 - this one a fastback - into a Shelby G.T.350 clone. The year 1967 is represented by a GTA coupe and a restored blue convertible (Teresa and Darrell were engaged and married in this car; 29 years later son Chris became engaged to and married his wife Lisa in the same car). Chris (aka 'CJ' - now that's a Mustanger name if ever I've heard one) and Lisa own a maroon '91 LX hatchback that's been dressed up with a Saleen wing and chevron stripes, plus Cobra wheels and a Stormin' Norman hood. The '92 coupe I saw was a retired Florida Highway Patrol cruiser. Two yellow '95 GTs - one a convertible, the other a coupe - both wear Cobra R rims, but otherwise look like totally different animals because of their body panels and striping. Two '97 Cobras - one black, one red - give the collection its SVT representation.
Oh and by the way, this list doesn't count the many, many diecast models or collectible rarities such as the red '94 GT go-kart the family has.
The choice of so many nice rides would paralyze most people with indecision, but Teresa has a real affection for her black '95 GT convertible - a car that came to her attention while she was test-driving a different Mustang.
"In the summer of 1996," she told me, "Darrell and I went to Jim Skinner Ford in Birmingham and drove a GT coupe. That new 4.6-liter didn't thrill me too much, but I figured we could modify it and enjoy it just the same.
"We pulled into the lot after the test-driveat the same time as a black '95 GT convertible. I jumped out of the new car and pointed atthe '95 and said, 'I want that one!' It waswearing Xenon ground effects and a wing -I had never seen anything like it on the new generation of Mustangs."
Her enthusiasm for the car created an awkward moment for the salesmen, who were afraid she and the GT's owner might just strike up a private deal right there in the parking lot. The owner's asking price was "a little on the high side" so Teresa waited more than an hour while he bargained with the dealership on a new truck. When the dust settled, Teresa bought the car from her salesman for less than the original quote.
"I wound up paying more for the '95 convertible with all its mods than I would have spent on a stock new '96 coupe," she said, "but I felt it was worth it - besides, I really wanted to get a final-year 5.0-liter more than the new 4.6."
Someone had obviously spent a ton of money on the '95. Those Xenon panels had been professionally molded into the Mustang's body, giving the car the appearance of wearing unique front and rear caps as well as side skirts - an expensive technology that was not being widely used at the time. The spoiler was a one-piece kick-up design that beautifully elongates the car in profile, and the convertible was wearing an aftermarket light bar.
The first owner had done a top-notch job of lowering the Mustang two inches with Eibach springs, which he complemented with a set of KYB struts and shocks. Against the mirror-black paint, the wheels he chose shine like jewels - chromed AZE deep-dish rims measuring 17 x 9-inch front and 17 x 10-inch the back. Just short of being true bling-bling, the wheels wear Nitto 555 radials that measure 245/45-17 in front and 275/40-17 in the rear.
Teresa treats her cars as though they were fine china, but the GT taught her a valuable lesson one day about taking care of such high-dollar wheels.
"One of the tires had a flat while I was out, so I immediately pulled over and stopped so nothing would get damaged," she recalled. "The car sits so low that a regular jack - even a shop floor jack - will not fit under there unless the car is driven onto some two-inch-thick boards first.
"I had a can of something that is supposed to patch a flat and inflate the tire long enough to get you home, so I used that. By the time my mechanic pulled the tire off to fix it, the goo had completely eaten the chrome off the inside of the rim. The company that made the wheel wanted $800 to sell me a new one, so we paid to have it re-chromed instead. Nobody could ever guess now what it looked like after that goo got to it."
Teresa and Darrell have further improved the looks of the convertible by adding a Saleen Speedster cover, Cobra hood, side scoops, smoked headlights and billet grille. The black leather Ford interior received white-face gauges, various auxiliary gauges and billet accents (window and door switches, climate controls and steering wheel cruise control pads). The B&M short-throw shifter was dressed up with a custom knob.
Because Teresa wanted a little more 'go' in her GT, the 5.0-liter received a few strategic upgrades, including a Professional Products 70mm throttle body, BBK On-road cross-pipe with 2.5-inch tubes, high-flow catalytic converters and a 3.27:1 Richmond final drive. Headers are BBK equal-length units with 1-7/8-inch tubes, but the most significant power adder came at a price for Teresa.
"Five years ago, I had the choice of getting a ceramic kitchen floor installed in my home for my birthday," she told me, "or a Roots-type Kenne Bell supercharger. I can still cook just fine without the tile," she says with a smile.
The Mustang, however, cooks even better with the blower, which - after custom tuning by Doug Studdard at Bama Chips - boosted output to 320 rear-wheel horsepower. So eager were Teresa and Darrell to feel the enhanced 5.0-liter work that they forgot to re-gap the Autolite sparkplugs.
"We kept blowing out the spark at around 4,000 rpms," she recalled. "When we adjusted the plugs to .035-inch, it solved the problem. We had tremendous help from the Kenne Bell technicians during and after the installation of the supercharger."
To dress up the engine compartment, the couple added chrome pulleys for the crankshaft, water pump, power steering and alternator, and they chromed a few carefully chosen covers and fasteners. A chromed BBK strut tower brace was added to improve chassis stiffness. The only immediately plans for more changes include a larger mass air sensor, bigger injectors, a smaller boost pulley and a custom dyno tune.
Although it doesn't show so much as a speck of road wear, the black GT became Teresa's daily driver, taking her back and forth to her accounting job. It also saw success on the show circuit, garnering a first-place trophy during the 1998 World of Wheels event in Birmingham. In addition, the whole Sanderson family is active with the Magic City Mustangs group as well as the Mustang Club of America, attending many shows each year throughout the Southeast. She retired 'Pure Power' (its official nickname) from commuter duties in January of 2000.
When I photographed Teresa's '95 GT for this article, she told me the yard, garage and driveway were full of Mustangs and that she had bought her last car for a while. A month later, when I called to ask some follow-up questions, she admitted to finding room in her collection for a 2003 Mineral Gray Saleen S-281 S/C with an automatic transmission.
Teresa, you definitely have a Mustang monkey on your back. Seek help! I, for one, will gladly take a few of those cars off your hands!
Interior / Exterior
Teresa Sanderson's 1995 Mustang GT Convertible
Xenon panels, professionally molded; one-piece spoiler; light bar; Saleen Speedster cover; Cobra hood; side scoops; smoked headlights; and billet grille
Black leather Ford interior; white-face gauges; various auxiliary gauges; billet accents (window and door switches, climate controls and steering wheel cruise control pads); B&M short-throw shifter; and custom knob
Eibach springs; KYB struts and shocks
Wheels And Tires
Chromed Aze deep-dish rims (17 x 9" front and 17 x 10" the back); Nitto 555 radials 245/45-17 (front); 275/40-17 (rear)
Special thanks to Doug Studdard at Bama Chips; Kenne Bell; Darrell Sanderson Jr.; Chris
Teresa Sanderson's 1995 Mustang GT Convertible
Ford 5.0-liter V8
Professional Products 70mm throttle body; BBK on-road X-pipe with 2.5" pipes; high-flow catalytic converters; BBK equal-length headers with 1-7/8" tubes; Roots-type Kenne Bell supercharger
Factory Ford EEC-IV
3.27:1 Richmond rear axle gear; Ford T-5 five-speed manual transmission