Steve Turner
Former Editor, 5.0 Mustang & Super Fords
February 1, 2009
Keith Doughty of K Dezines dreamed up this enclosure for our Pioneer Premier in-car entertainment. The red LED treatment is courtesy of three strips of Plasmaglow's Lumaflex (PN 10671; $89.95). On a switch so it can be set aglow for display purposes only, it's meant to mimic the Ambient lighting and doorsills in the interior. The paint matching is courtesy of Vanderpools Auto Body.

Horse Sense: If K Dezines sounds familiar, the company is best known for its Mustang rear-seat-delete kits. The company offers them for Fox to present Mustangs, including the S197s. That kit is designed to interface cleanly with the trunk kit seen here.

For me, cars and loud music have been intertwined since the day I got my driver's license. A car offered the freedom to leave home, and the venue to play my music as loud as I wanted. In fact, my first traffic ticket was for violating the City of Clearwater's noise ordinance while cruising the strip alongside the beach-and that was all from a cassette deck, an amp, and a pair of 6x9 speakers. That practice, like my first car, is long since gone, but even after I finally got my first Mustang, I still loved to blast my tunes at high volume, and to do that properly usually means aftermarket audio.

Most every car I've owned gets an upgrade of some kind, be it better speakers, a head unit, or at least a plug-and-play satellite-radio unit. You know I love Mustangs, but I love music, too. They are my vices, and thank goodness I sometimes get to feed both of them on the job.

That brings me to my latest obsession, Project Vapor Trail. It's hard not to get worked up over a GT500, but it's a bit easier to be nonplussed by the factory audio offerings. You can either get Shaker 500 or the bass-heavy Shaker 1000. At least they have aux audio inputs these days, but still no Sync for iPod control.

Granted, the Shaker systems are head and shoulders above the old "Premium" sound systems, but the lack of Sync availability made me take a hard look at the aftermarket options for PVT. Some might ask why I'd go to the trouble, but that's like a non-car guy asking why you "need" 600-plus horsepower. For some of us, stock just isn't good enough. That's why we love Mustangs in the first place. They were made to modify, and fortunately the Mustang audio system is still relatively easy to replace.

The best part of Keith's creation is that it all disappears beneath this factory-appearing false floor. While it gives up a bit of depth, the K Dezines arrangement levels out the trunk floor and leaves plenty of usable space while protecting the audio gear from harm.

After a quick look at the audio landscape, I was afforded the opportunity to check out Pioneer's latest F-series navigation head units. These technological wonders store navigation data on a solid-state drive, so the CD/DVD drive is free to play, plus they connect with your cell phone over Bluetooth and offer voice control over your iPod. Sound familiar? Moreover, the F900BT I picked out adds the cool MSN Direct palette of features, which not only directs you around area traffic jams, but also shows you gas prices, movie times, and weather. Furthermore, you can upgrade it for Satellite radio, HD radio, or both. For a gadget freak like me, this unit is perfect.

As a longtime fan of the Pioneer brand-Pioneer built those 6x9s that garnered me a ticket-it made sense to round out the system with Pioneer's top-of-the-line Premier gear.

You already saw in the previous PVT installment that I first installed the F900BT with the factory amps and speakers with a kit from Crutchfield. To take the system to the next level, I needed help, and that help comes from Keith Doughty of K Dezines. You might recall that Keith worked his magic on KJ's T-top Coupe project, and this time around I encouraged him to expand his talents to the S197.

I think you'll be as impressed as I was with how it looks, and the sound is out of this world. This is by far the best audio system I've ever had in a Mustang. There's nothing quite like have 600 hp under the loud pedal and 2,400 watts behind the volume knob-it goes to 11 now.

If you checked in on the detailing from the last PVT installment ("Inside Out," Jan. '09, p. 58), you know that I had the door panels off and the back seat out to install various bits. However, when making the leap to a custom system, Keith wasn't shy about pulling the interior and trunk apart, so off came the console, door panels, doorsills, rear seats, rear quarter trim panels, the package tray cover, rear trunk panels, trunk liner, and more. He and his wife, Holly, did work around the seats and carpet.

PVT's system is built from a robust selection of Pioneer hardware and Scosche wiring. This is but a sampling of our hardware, which includes two 10-inch Premier subwoofers (PN TS-SW1041D; $180 sug. retail), two 6 1/2-inch Premier component speakers (PN TS D1720C; $220 sug. retail), two 5 1/4-inch Premier component speakers (PN TS-D1320C; $200 sug. retail) on a Premier four-channel amp (PN TS-D4200F; $500 sug. retail), and one Premier mono amp (PN TS-D1200M; $500 sug. retail). Meanwhile, Scosche supplied enough of its high-performance EFX wire to string the phone company-or keep Keith satisfied-including 0-gauge power wire (PN P0RC50), 4-gauge power wire (PN P4BC125), 12-gauge speaker wire (PN 250S12), plus all the necessary terminals, fuse blocks, power distribution blocks, and RCA patch cords to hook up the whole system. Most of our stuff was bulk to meet Keith's needs, but Scosche offers handy amp-wiring kits if you want a package deal.

With the interior gear out of the way, the K Dezines team ran all the necessary Scosche wiring. Power wire had to be routed under the passenger-side carpet through the rubber boot for the factory wiring harness and up to PVT's Optima. Keith fed new Scosche speaker wire under the driver-side carpet to the doors. Meanwhile, he routed the Scosche RCA patch cords feeding the signal from the F900BT to the Premier amps under the console and up the middle of the car. Separating theses wires helps reduce the chance of interference.

Keith is a clever guy: He built this adapter plate to mount the tweeter from the 6 3/4-inch component package. The plate also serves as an ideal spot to neatly hide the crossover in the door. The crossover separates the high and low frequencies between the two specialized speakers, so they can both excel. These tweeters utilize a rear chamber that is said to extend its midrange capabilities and improve its vocal staging. That means it sounds great.

The other half of the component package is this 6 3/4-inch woofer, for which Keith built an adapter plate to fit the larger opening in the door, yet still receive the factory cover. If you notice these speakers look a bit different, that's because they are. Normally, it might be hack to say your new speakers rock, but these Premier speakers' cones are partially constructed from volcanic rock. They are built from what Pioneer calls an aramid/basalt fiber, which is created when basalt rock is combined with ceramics at 2,700 degrees and drawn into fibers. These fibers are then fused with an injection-molded polypropylene cone. All that high-tech creation is designed to make these speakers sound great, and they do.

I've always viewed the stock speaker grilles on the S197 as one of the few blights on the interior, the other being the bland center stack. In any event, it was a pleasant addition when Keith added his K Dezines metal speaker grilles.

Before going any further in the trunk, it is important to dampen the sheetmetal so it doesn't vibrate when the woofers are pumping. There's nothing worse than a rattling trunk lid to ruin the sound of your system. Our solution is Ultra Damping pads from HushMat. The company's sound-dampening product is built to OEM specs and offers peel-and-stick installation. Holly Doughty applied the Hushmat, and then used a roller to mold it to the sheetmetal. I ordered a trunk kit (PN PF 300B; $149.95) and a door kit (PN PF 200B; $99.95). After determining Ford did a great job with the S197 doors, Holly focused on the trunk floor, package tray, and trunk lid, using every bit of it. In retrospect, we'd order the 50-sq-ft bulk kit to make sure we have plenty.

In back, K Dezines' Keith replaced the factory 5x7s with another custom adapter plate that houses both the tweeter and 5 1/4-inch midrange woofer. These Premier components offer the same top-drawer features as those used in the doors, including the high-tech aramid/basalt construction. According to Keith, the front speakers are crucial for staging, or presenting the music to the listener, while the rears are there to fill in the gaps, so that's why we can get by with smaller mids in the rear. These will handle a maximum of 180 watts, while the fronts will withstand 260.

With no room on the adapter plates, Keith opted to mount the rear crossovers directly to the package tray. As you can see, Holly already applied the Hushmat to the tray to keep the tray from rattling when the woofers hit hard.

If you know about K Dezines from Keith's rear-seat-delete kits, you aren't the least bit surprised at the design he cooked up for the S197 trunk. Knowing the box would occupy the spare-tire well, my first concern was where to put the pump. Well, Keith came up with these cubbyholes on either side of the woofer box-one for the pump and one for whatever you like. This shot also illustrates how the K Dezines false floor extends from the back of the seat rather than dipping down like the real trunk floor.

With the two sides of the false floor in place, Keith mounts the woofer box to the spare-tire well with a pair of carefully placed screws. Keith built the box to the dimensional needs of our Premier woofers and the mounting needs of our Premier amps, but this part is semi-custom depending on the hardware you select, as is the beauty cover, which was painted to match our car. Standard kits come painted with a fleckstone finish. Carpeting and color options add to the bill. The base trunk kit runs $895, and the matching rear-seat-delete kit is an additional $295. That's before audio equipment, but considering the Shaker 1000 is a $1,200 option, it's not out of the ballpark.

We're getting close to tunes as Keith wires up the Premier 10-inch shallow-mount subwoofers. These babies are great for tight spaces, as they only need 2 7/8 inches of mounting depth and an enclosure of less than 1 cubic foot. Keith routed the Scosche wire from the amp into the box; then sealed the box and mounted the subs.

After mounting and wiring up the amps, we were ready to make some big noise. Keith left the beauty covers off to dial in the gain on the amps. We fired up the head unit, cranked up the tunes, and Keith used his experienced ears to tune the system. Essentially it's like setting the timing on a Fox 5.0-just keep adding till the car pings. In this case, keep adding gain till it distorts; then back it off a bit.

SVT saved a bit of weight in the GT500 by forgoing a spare tire in favor of this small air pump that refills a damaged tire with air and sealant. Normally this unit is stored in a styrofoam carrier mounted in the spare-tire well. Since the K Dezines woofer box fills that space, Keith built this hidden cubby to store the pump. He even included straps to keep the pump in place. There's a matching cubby on the other side for storage, and it houses my SCT X3 handheld tuner.