Michael Galimi
March 3, 2010

Today we are bombarded with saving the planet slogans and going-green laws-we cannot escape the madness. Last year, the government instituted the Cash For Clunkers program that was aimed at wiping out old cars deemed inefficient and bad for society. Under this program, a person was given credit towards a new vehicle if they turned in an older one that fell under the program's rules.

The goal was to rid the world of inefficient cars and replace them with better ones. We won't get into a political debate or get on our soapbox, but its positive environmental impact has been largely debated. The program crushed numerous Mustangs and even a highly-collectable Grand National GNX-what was that guy thinking? Some politicians touted the environmental gains, while others pointed to an economic stimulus effect.

Our goal this month was to take a car that was rendered useless and considered a clunker-by the government's standards-and turn it into a suitable and viable mode of transportation. This can even be considered helping our carbon footprint by restoring an existing vehicle rather than spending valuable resources on building a completely new car from scratch. We doubt the Sierra Club will be sending us a Christmas card, but bringing a wrecked Mustang back from the inevitable crusher certainly helps. We are just trying to do our part and have fun in the process.

We turned to our friends at Motor City (Newark, New Jersey) to revive a discarded and left-for-dead Mustang, effectively saving it from the crusher. For those who might remember, Motor City has painted several project vehicles for MM&FF over the years, including the Ice Box, Frightning, and Red Hot Chili Pepper. This time the gang in Newark was tasked with repairing an '02 Mustang GT.

"I found this car at an auction and it was in pretty bad shape. It had front and rear damage that would scare off most people, but we are used to bringing cars back from the dead," said Manny Costeira of Motor City.

The GT needed more than just a few dents removed. New fenders, door, nose, and rear bumper were procured from the local Ford dealer. We took advantage of the situation by adding a Cervini's Cobra R conversion kit since the entire Mustang needed to be repainted. It would help add a little style and flair for this once beaten, broken, and scarred ride.

We love the Cobra R program, which was activated in 1993, 1995, and 2000, as it represents everything that is right with Ford Motor Company. The program built street-legal race variant versions of the regular production Cobra models during those three years. The cars were stripped down versions with greater output (except in 1993 when it featured the same 235hp engine as the Cobra). We replicated the '00 Cobra R, which is based on a New Edge style body ('99-'04), like the banged up car at Motor City. "We've installed a lot of Cervini's parts over the years and each time they fit just as advertised," commented Costeira.

The outside might replicate the Cobra R, but underneath the skin we still had a stock 4.6L and wimpy suspension system.

The rolling stock consists of authentic Ford Racing Cobra R wheels, and as Ford Racing's Jesse Kershaw says, they are made in the U.S., unlike some R knock-off wheels on the market. We selected Nitto's latest NT05 tires as Costeira plans on street driving this vehicle, but there are also plans to make some laps on the dragstrip and drive it hard on the autocross courses in New Jersey. The tires are a blend of street and track, and according to MM&FF's editorial director, Jim Campisano, these tires work well in the rain. He knows from experience, and you can check out his review of the tires online at www.muscle mustangfastfords.com. Costeira added a billet grille from AmericanMuscle.com; he also had to pick up new headlights and taillights to replace the cracked stock ones.

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For some, turning to a wrecked Mustang is a low-cost option to buying one that is flawless. If you are capable of performing bodywork and don't mind working hard, there are many diamonds in the rough.

Costeira found this car at an auction that is not open to the public, however, if you browse sites like eBay and Craigslist there are cars to be bought at a reasonable price. But be warned, as Costeira stated, "This car was rough when we got it. It was bashed up and in real bad shape, but the chassis was straight and it just needed bodywork. For us, it was a natural fit since that is what we do and we went with a Cervini's '00 Cobra R body kit to replace a lot of the parts. We also added a Cobra rear bumper, and a new door and fenders."

He also told us that when picking up a salvage car, avoid cars with bent frames due to complex repairs. Also be aware that in some states it's harder than others to re-title a salvage vehicle. Costeira also suggested you really think it through before committing to a project of this caliber-everything sounds simple when planned out in your head.

We often look at the success with projects like the Recession Special, a recently completed project on the pages of this magazine. Senior Tech Editor Steve Baur bought an LX coupe that most of us would have definitely overlooked. A lot of time and care was spent on it, and the finished project speaks for itself. Costeira's '02 Stang will be added to our success folder as the before and after photos speak for themselves.

Picking up a wrecked or rough Mustang isn't a bad thing, but expect to work hard bringing it back to life.

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