Jim Garrett's 2005 Mustang “GTA”
Remember the 2000 movie Cast Away, where Tom Hanks flies around the world setting up branches of the overnight delivery service FedEX? His character visited just about every continent on the face of the planet, always improving productivity in one location before moving on to the next outpost.
Then one foggy Christmas Eve (where's Rudolph when you need him?), Hanks' management career began a four-year hiatus when his airplane crashed in the Pacific, during which time he stabbed fish with sticks, lost 40 pounds and befriended a volleyball named Wilson.
Watching Cast Away in the theater, Jim Garrett realized the first 20 minutes of the movie were the closest he would come to getting his own life captured on film. He had just retired early from a 27-year career with FedEX that had moved him and his wife to Toronto, Honolulu, Sao Paulo, Scottsdale, Memphis, Orlando, Virginia Beach and Folsom (of Prison Blues fame), California, to name only a few. Like Tom Hanks, Jim had been the guy upper management called when a district needed special attention, but the desert island part of the movie was just Hollywood imagination.
"I was lucky enough to have an equal number of takeoffs and landings while working for the company," Jim joked.
He's also been lucky enough to have owned a long string of high-performance vehicles. The list is an eclectic one, proving that either the man has broad interests or an incredibly short attention span. It includes several Chevrolets (a '65 Corvette with 327 V-8 and a '67, '68 and '69 Camaro), a 330-horse Sunbeam Tiger ("a monster to drive with that short wheelbase, but fun!"), a '56 Ford resto-mod pickup, a '60 Mercedes-Benz 190SL roadster and "a lot of foreign stuff." Jim has put a few miles on some exotic two-wheelers as well, such as his BMW RS1000, Kawasaki Z1, a couple of British BSAs, a Norton Golden Commando and a '93 Harley Fat Boy.
"Nothing could beat that Kawasaki in a straight line when it came out," Jim recalls. "I ran it at the dragstrip a lot. My Fat Boy had some serious grunt by the time I finished modifying it - more than 100 horsepower at the rear wheel!"
Jim's most powerful foray into performance mods came when he bought a 2003 Saleen S-281 in Florida and had it shipped directly to HP Performance in Roswell, New Mexico, a company whose name is synonymous with aftermarket turbochargers. He had originally signed on for a single turbocharger, but when the owner told him by phone about a new twin-blower system, Jim agreed to the upgrade quicker than you can say "overnight delivery."
With its all-new plumbing and a good tune, the S-281 put 488 horsepower and 570 ft-lbs of torque to the rear wheels with virtually no boost lag. Jim added a color-matched, powdercoated rollcage and hit the dragstrip. A few months later, during a Fun Ford Weekend at Bristol Motor Speedway's quarter-mile, Jim threw caution and a lot of engine parts to the wind while attempting a personal best time. The twin-turbocharged V-8, to put it mildly, was trashed.
Not one to repeat himself, Jim and his engine shop built a beefy, normally aspirated engine to install in the Saleen - the idea being to generate as much horsepower as before without forced air. Before the Loctite was even dry on the new V-8, Jim saw a 2005 Mustang GT at his Ford dealer and his attention deficit disorder kicked in.
"We put the new engine in the Saleen one day in December of 2004," Jim recalls, "and I sold it a week later. Then it was 'Merry Christmas to me' and I bought a Satin Silver '05 coupe with an automatic transmission."
Having enjoyed the crisp handling of Racecraft suspension on his '03, Jim immediately ordered and installed Saleen's performance-engineered springs, shocks and bushings for the '05.