KJ Jones
February 10, 2014
Contributers: KJ Jones

We don't have any doubt that most contemporary Mustang enthusiasts are more than capable of using the term carbon fiber in a sentence. When you think about it, that's the easy part. While almost everyone involved with our hobby has some awareness of the material, there aren't many who can give us a sentence that accurately describes it. For our uninitiated 'Stangbangers, carbon fiber technically is a strong, light, cloth-like material made from thin strands of carbon that's used in automotive applications (for performance and appearance purposes).

CF, as it is called as in many circles, is used as a performance component because of its strength (it's said carbon fiber is stronger and stiffer than steel), and the fact that in the grand scheme of things, it weighs almost nothing—qualities that undoubtedly are appreciated by hard-core racers. However, we realize not everyone with a Mustang is a racer, and enthusiasts who are more focused on looks appreciate carbon simply because it's downright sexy.

One of the variables that makes using carbon fiber (for either application) somewhat difficult is its cost. Using real CF parts requires that money be no object for a Mustang owner. For this project, however, we're operating in the real world, where funds allocated for upgrades are always a serious concern, and using affordable alternatives to the pricier real-deal parts is the best move.

This month we're working with a really cool set of pre-cut carbon-look vinyl overlays for all '10-'14 Mustangs (V-6 and V-8). AmericanMuscle.com's kit (PN 26365; $134.99) is a 42-piece collection of die-cut, 3M DiNoc vinyl trim parts (the same stuff that's used for vehicle wraps) that simply peel away from their backing and are placed on just about every panel, bezel, and hard-plastic surround in a 'Stang's cabin . These pieces can transform the interior's appearance from stock and relatively boring to one that mimics the more-expensive carbon-treated cockpit of an exotic supercar.

The photos and captions attest to the simplicity of this makeover, which GTR High Performance's Ricardo Topete completed in a little more than an hour.

Here’s a look at the complete kit (PN 26365; $134.99), a collection of die-cut, 4mm, wrapping-cast PVC vinyl pieces that literally cover all of the primary (and many secondary) trim areas in a ’Stang’s interior.
This is our project Mustang’s dash/instrument cluster panel. Note the metallic appearance and color.
Installing the carbon-fiber graphics basically follows the same procedures as applying vinyl signage to a Mustang’s windshield/glass or body panels. Everything in the set is easily identified and peel-and-stick simple to fit.
A spray bottle filled with a soap/water mixture is one of the only tools necessary for installing the AmericanMuscle.com dash kit. Spraying the concoction on the adhesive side of a graphic allows it to slide onto the surface, so you can confirm its alignment and position are perfect.
Each kit contains a couple packs of 3M Adhesion Promoter that must be applied to panels and parts that the overlays are being affixed to.
Ricardo installs the CF graphic around the Sync nav screen in our test Pony. AmericanMuscle.com provides overlays for standard and navigation-equipped radio head units, as well as console pieces for automatic and manual transmissions.
All of the graphics feature something that AmericanMuscle.com calls Air Release Technology. Basically, miniature air channels on the adhesive side of the vinyl allow air to easily be squeezed out from beneath the overlay for bubble-free installation and a smooth, wrinkle-free surface when installed. A soft, microfiber towel is used to absorb moisture released through the channels.
Do you remember our ’Stang’s instrument cluster in its untouched, original state? Go back and take a quick glance; then look again at this image of the same piece, now covered in AmericanMuscle.com’s faux-carbon vinyl. The set definitely makes a nice difference, transforming and improving a Mustang’s interior in a short time with little effort.