Mark Houlahan
Tech Editor, Mustang Monthly
February 22, 2012

Steve Strope
Owner of Pure Vision Designs

Pure Vision Designs may not sound familiar to many of our readers, but that's all about to change with its latest build, the Anvil Mustang. While this is only the shop's second Ford-based project, Steve's designs have won accolades at major shows like SEMA and have even been made into die-cast cars and Hot Wheels cars!

If there's one thing Steve stressed to us, it's that the most important thing to consider on a car build is the vehicle's theme. The theme will determine time frame and cost of the project. Steve has seen too many times people have a "pie in the sky" mentality to build some uber-custom Mustang, and then they get in way over their heads and run out of money, ending up with an empty bank account and nothing to show for it. To add further insult to injury, the uncompleted project is often sold off. "This is supposed to be fun and not ruining marriages or preventing you from buying groceries," Steve lamented.

Let's say your build theme is a GT350 clone. Have you looked through a Mustang catalog to price out the key visual parts for the conversion? "That's where you can determine if you can actually afford your project. See if you really can afford your theme; if not, then consider a different theme," Steve added. If you can't afford your initial theme, then change to a theme you can afford, or budget and save until you can afford the original theme. A theme can also solve some of your build problems. For example, one of Steve's early builds had a hole in the hood from a blower and the grille was more or less sandblasted from road use. He opted to put a fiberglass scoop over the hole and blacked out the grille with matte black paint. These items worked with the theme and saved him a lot of money not having to get the grille re-chromed or buy a whole new replacement hood.

"You will pay someone to paint it; you will pay someone to cover custom panels, and so on," Steve said, referring to the small number of people who can truly do everything in their home shop. "A really nice custom-stitched leather interior over stock panels can run you $8,000-$10,000, so know what you want and how much it will cost." Everything else can happen after you have a plan for a theme and know you can afford the major parts and what you can do labor wise. Research your plan/theme on cost and time. Do you have the tools? Do you have the money? "If you're on the road six days a week for work, when will you have time to build the car? Maybe you have to pay to have the main paint and bodywork done," Steve suggested. "We use the exact same thought process here at Pure Vision; it's just different amounts of money. It's all forecasted and bullet pointed to our customers."

Part of the theme process can include design and color work Steve told us, but that doesn't mean you have to spend big bucks on a rendering. In the early days Steve would hang out at a Kinkos photocopying wheels and other parts, then tracing the car's body on paper and glue it all together. Finally he'd use colored pencil or crayons to color in the body. Today you can use the Internet and photo software to create your own images of what your theme will look like. There are ways to do it without having to pay big bucks for a concept drawing at the start. "Find a theme you can afford, be your own designer, and then tack it up in your garage and get to work," Steve explained.