KJ Jones
August 10, 2011

Our primary aim is to cover all aspects of the Mustang hobby, but we admit to often focusing more on the performance side of 'Stangbanging (think of it as channeling our inner Uncle Joe), and not giving products and procedures that improve a Pony's appearance their just deserves. The truth of the matter is that there are more ways to hop up a Mustang's appearance than methods of improving a Pony's mechanical prowess. And, like the changes that help make bigger steam, the budget spectrum for Mustang makeovers is as broad as your imagination and wallet allow.

Switching out the stock running gear with an aftermarket wheels-and-tires package is somewhat comparable to adding a cold-air induction system to a Mustang's engine. It's an entry-level mod that makes an immediate visual impact and doesn't hit the war chest all-too hard, especially when you select one of the many affordable, ready-to-bolt-on packages from AmericanMuscle.com.

The same project/cost parallels hold true when other changes are made to a 'Stang's exterior or interior. The amount you'll spend depends on how elaborate you go with your upgrades. Ideas for modifying a 'Stang's looks typically are found in magazines, on the Internet, at car shows, and, as you can imagine, definitely on the street. Of course, your personal thoughts on how you want your Mustang to look are the most-important variables to consider when you're ready to make appearance upgrades. Inside and especially outside, we're big fans of the clean approach, in which mods are tastefully done and don't completely transform a Pony into something that looks like it starred in one of The Fast and the Furious movies.

We recently found ourselves at the appearance crossroads with our '02 Mustang GT project car. The ProCharged Pony's hood and rear wing were victims of failing (peeling) clearcoat, which had us weighing the cost of refinishing those parts or taking the big leap and giving our 9-year-old Mustang's body a subtle beauty makeover. Many of you may be facing this same dilemma--you want something "new," but you aren't in a position to drive off in a brand-new whip.

Making appearance changes certainly is a great way of achieving a sense of newness for your Pony. In some instances, it's a case of aligning a 'Stang's appearance with its actual speedy demeanor. For example, our '02 project GT puts out 650 hp at the tires. However, despite being lowered and sitting on 17-inch, FR500-style wheels, the Mustang's appearance was unassuming. Its visage would not lead a person to think there was much power lurking under its hood.

While we've had a good run with the sleeper persona, it's now time for our supercharged 'Stang to visually say, "Yeah, I'm fast!" It will do so via a new hood, spoiler, window/body scoop package, and incidental accessories from our friends at MrBodyKit.com, and a step up to 18-inch running gear, with '10 Shelby GT500-style wheels and Nitto 555 tires (305/35 rear, 275/35 front) from AmericanMuscle.com's ready-to-mount collection.

Reviewing the product options and putting together a cool dress-up package is as simple as dialing up websites. However, preparing everything for installation is a bit more involved. When you want aftermarket body parts to fit and look like they're meant to be on your Pony--pieces like the MrBodyKit.com Mach 2 hood (PN 99HOOD-MA2; $349.99), upper/lower sidescoops (PN 12710 and 12720; $299.99), and Saleen S281 rear wing (PN 99WING-S281; $199.99) we're using--you want them to look as good as they can, and that usually means going with a pro installer.

Unfortunately, our level of expertise is lacking when it comes to body and paint work. With this being the case, we called on the crew at Ford Auto Body in Van Nuys, California, to detail how to properly get this job done. Repairing accident- damaged Ponies is FAB's specialty. However, as the behind-the-scenes team responsible for nearly all of Galpin Auto Sports' modified Mustangs (some of which have appeared on the cover of this magazine), they're intimately familiar with the custom side of body and paintwork.

Trust us, there’s a lot more to the install process than simply spending a Saturday with a case of beer and a few rattle cans of paint to get it done, which is why we strongly suggest you get with a pro shop like FAB (in Southern California) or your local auto-body shop once you receive all of your cosmetic hotness.

Follow along with our photos and captions as we take you through our project Mustang’s physical transformation.

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