Rob Kinnan
Rob Kinnan Brand Manager, Mustang Monthly
May 16, 2019
Contributers: Rob Kinnan

Ford in a Ford!

That is our standard mantra whether talking about a Mustang or a 1932 roadster. It's infuriating when we see Ford vehicles built with non-Ford engines, especially the latest trend of sticking a stupid General Motors LS-series engine in a Fox-body Mustang. That demands an instant middle-finger salute from any true Ford loyalist.

Then what, you may be asking, is this thing doing in Mustang Monthly? A 1968 Mustang hardtop with a cough Ferrari engine in it? Seriously? Yes seriously, for a few reasons.

For one, the bodywork involved in this build is radical enough that we thought Mustang Monthly readers might gain some ideas for their own custom car builds. It's not often that you see a chopped top on a Mustang (rightly or wrongly). There are so many subtle and not-so-subtle body mods on this '68 that they demand some attention, and a lot of what you're looking at here was 3D-printed with the "modern fabricator's tool." Secondly, this Mustang was the talk of the 2018 SEMA Show and also the 2019 Grand National Roadster Show, the latter of which had it sitting among a field of the best and most expensive custom cars built in the last year. Thirdly, because it creates emotions and controversy on both sides of the spectrum, and that begets conversation.

But let's start at the beginning. Tony Arme Jr. runs American Legends Hotrods and Muscle Cars (alhotrods.com) in Phoenix, Arizona, and he bought this 1968 hardtop in 2004, driving it for a year or so until the engine let go, at which point he parked it. You know how it goes with a non-running car—he would stare at it occasionally and come up with ideas. Tony says, "I got the itch to chop the top on it, and over the next two to three years, many modifications were done to the car, including the chop, a custom firewall, steel laid-back trunk spoiler and quarter extensions, rear bumper, and some suspension work."

With all that custom bodywork done, it got to the point where Tony had to decide on which drivetrain to stick in the Mustang. He says, "The time and money weren't there at that point though, so the car sat again for around 10 years." Then inspiration struck. Tony continues, "We decided while at SEMA 2017 that we would finish and debut the car at SEMA 2018." On our way back home, we actually started the purchase of the 4.3L Ferrari powerplant, and my wife, Casey, came up with the name Corruptt, as the idea of mixing Ford and Ferrari was something no one in their right mind would combine. From that point, we spent countless hours working on the car and designing, fitting, and making all the components to make everything work together. As the car evolved, we started adding more and more special touches to set it apart from most of the custom Mustangs built. From the acrylic taillights to the one-off dash, we tried to leave no stone unturned."

The body mods on Corruptt are numerous, as you can tell by looking at the photos. The most obvious is the 2.5-inch chopped top, but less noticeable are the flush-mounted glass, laid-back rear window, reworked wheel openings, side exhaust panels, shaved everything, molded-in rear bumper, scratch-built rear ground effects, custom grilles, narrowed hood (by inch), front and rear wheel flares, and a whole lot more.

Under the skin is a stock Mustang chassis upgraded with RideTech air suspension to slam Corruptt in the weeds when stopped. Of course, subframe connectors, a custom export brace, and front and rear interior structural supports were added, but Tony stopped short of throwing a complete aftermarket chassis under the Mustang. The interior was the scene of far more fabrication, however. Between American Legends and Stitched Envy Interiors, Corruptt's cabin is loaded with 3D-printed parts and pieces and lots of carbon fiber, Alcantara, vinyl, and leather in a design that seamlessly melds Mustang and Ferrari.

About the Ferrari inspiration. That bright yellow engine is a 4.3L V-8 from a 2006 Ferrari F430 with a pair of Nelson Racing T-4 turbochargers, controlled by an MS3Pro stand-alone ECU. The engine is otherwise stock as built in Maranello, and with its factory-rated power of 483 hp and 343 lb-ft, Tony estimates that adding 8 pounds of boost from the turbos bumps the power level to around 700 hp. A Tremec T-56 six-speed manual was adapted to the Ferrari mill and has an S1 sequential shifter (s1sequential.com) for speedy shifts.

When we asked Tony, "Why a Ferrari engine?" He replied, "Why not?" Fifty years after handing Enzo Ferrari his ass at Le Mans, Henry Ford II may be rolling over in his grave at the thought of one of the Italian sports car's engines under the hood of one of Dearborn's finest—and many readers out there may be equally offended, but nobody can argue that the car doesn't draw a crowd. And the level of craftsmanship and use of modern technology rivals the best of the best. For that reason, Corruptt deserves a place in a Mustang Monthly issue featuring the wildest of the wild.

Yes, that's a Ferrari engine in a Mustang. Sacrilege! The engine is from a 2006 F430 and displaces 4.3 liters; it is stock internally but stuffed full of air by a pair of Nelson Racing symmetrical T-4 turbochargers with turbo blankets from Heatshield Products to cut down on underhood heat.
Here you can see the dramatic effect that a 2.5-inch chop has on a Mustang hardtop. Less noticeable are the shaved driprails, frameless side glass, reworked and laid-down rear window, shaved wiper and cowl vent, custom side-exit exhausts, shaved door handles and locks, shaved mirrors, shaved marker lights, custom bumpers, custom grilles, LED headlights, narrowed hood (by inch), custom set-back sidescoops, and bigger wheel flares.
American Legends custom-built the side exhausts.
One of the first mods that Tony did to Corruptt was to create the all-steel decklid spoiler and quarter extensions.
The taillights are one-off units made in acrylic with LED lights.
The Nelson turbos feed into an intercooler before the chilled air enters the Ferrari intake through Vibrant Performance tubing and couplers with Forge Motorsport water-cooled wastegates and blow-off valves. An AMP/EFI MS3Pro ECU controls the vitals through AMP coil packs and Taylor wires with hand-stitched leather looms. American Legends also fab'd the 1 -inch headers from Schedule 10 stainless steel. Flowmaster mufflers dump the exhaust.
A Vibrant Performance catch can for the oil vapors from the dry sump and valve covers is mounted to the firewall directly behind the intake manifold.
The wheels are Avant Garde forged three-piece wheels, 18x8 front and 20x10 rear, with Toyo R888R tires (225 front/285 rear). The brakes are 14-inch Wilwoods custom-painted school bus yellow to match the engine, and the Corruptt logo is incorporated as well. The rearend is a 9-inch with Yukon 4.56:1 gears.

Photography by Rob Kinnan