Let's face it; most of us can only fantasize of being given carte blanche to build our ultimate Mustang. We either fall short in terms of money, resources, time, or all of the above. To actually build your dream Mustang, you either need to have a ton of cash available or a job that somehow allows you to do it for a living. The good news for Steve Carpenter is that he has the latter. Steve is the sales manager for Galpin Auto Sports, the performance division of Galpin Ford, which happens to be the largest Ford dealer in the United States. It's also the same Galpin that modifies vehicles on the Pimp My Ride television show. While Steve's personal car may be void of excess television monitors and spinning wheels, it certainly has no shortage of aftermarket upgrades.
Of course, building this Mustang wasn't only fun for Steve, but part of the job as well. "It gives me a chance to test all of the new bolt-ons out there and see what works," he says. He uses his firsthand experience to help GAS customers decide what's right for their Mustangs, and since Steve has owned two S197 Mustangs before this car, he knew exactly what he wanted to do with this one. "The goal with this project was to build a car that you can drive every day that was reliable, wouldn't overheat, and could go fast, both in a straight line and around corners." From sampling this beauty ourselves, it appears Steve has very much accomplished his mission.
Given the late-model Mustang movement has been with us for nearly two decades and the technology now available, it has become relatively easy to make big power with the Three-Valve modular found in S197 Mustang GTs. Adding a supercharger or a turbocharger can safely net up to 200 additional ponies without replacing any internal engine components. Going without forced induction, however, makes it quite a bit harder. "Anybody can put a supercharger on a new Mustang, but to make horsepower without one is a lot more difficult," says Steve, who admits he wasn't afraid of a challenge. To achieve the power level he wanted while still keeping the engine normally aspirated, he enlisted the help of Ford specialists JDM Engineering of Freehold, New Jersey, who shipped out a brand-new Three-Valve engine to the West Coast, complete with an eight-bolt JDM stroker crankshaft, Manley forged connecting rods, and Manley forged-aluminum pistons, resulting in an honest 302ci mill. The stronger internals also allowed for Comp Cams Stage 3 camshafts, a JDM cold-air intake, Steeda underdrive pulleys, and Granatelli Motor Sports coil packs. Helping the V-8 to breathe better are ported cylinder heads and a full Bassani exhaust system, including long-tube headers, high-flow cats, and Bassani's street mufflers. The setup is good for 420 hp at the wheels, and Steve also added a 200-shot of Nitrous Pro-Flow giggle gas just for good measure. "The nitrous is fun to use," he says. "Sometimes it's like having somebody lunge a baseball bat in your back while at other times it's like taking the traction control off and all hell breaking loose."
With all that extra power, a beefier driveline was a must. The Galpin crew installed an RPS aluminum flywheel as well as an RPS 10.5-inch carbon-fiber clutch with a billet-aluminum housing. An aluminum one-piece driveshaft from JDM helps keep things spinning quickly while knocking off a bit of mass in the process.