M5lp 1302 2013 Mustang GT Front End
Steve Turner
Former Editor, 5.0 Mustang & Super Fords
February 1, 2013

It's funny how there's an ebb and flow to everything in the world. From fashion to music to cars, trends move in and out of popularity with the times. They say the more things change, the more they stay the same. That really seems true for the cars we love.

Since the dawn of hot rodding, the idea was to buy the lightest car with the biggest engine and squeeze every last drop of performance from the stock hardware until it gave up. As we entered the early stages of the 5.0 era, the idea was to buy the lightest car with the fewest options and pour on the power till it broke. That usually meant buying a 5.0 LX with no A/C, manual locks, and roll-up windows.

As our Mustangs have evolved to include more and more power and complexities from the factory, the emphasis remained on performance, but most of us would prefer to keep all the technology and creature comforts that we've gained along the way. Moreover, most people want to bolt on as much power as they can without breaking the car. New cars aren't cheap after all.

There certainly seems to be a giant fiscal chasm between the older Mustangs that brought us into this game and the latest, and arguable greatest Mustangs on the dealer lots. It makes the prospect of planning a project trickier. Obviously, if you have the wherewithal, you can buy any new Mustang you like. If the amount of your payment is a concern, then picking the right car is all the more critical.

For several years I have thought that the move with a newer Mustang is to reach as high as you can and then build on that. Starting with say a GT500, makes the power gains bolt-on simple and the durability, to a point, is built in from the factory. That makes for a great combination of huge power and maximum streetability.

Making that move has become a pretty big investment, with the latest GT500 sticker prices on the rise. With all that factory goodness comes a hefty price tag. Of course, you could notch down slightly to a Boss 302 and get a potent handler with a factory-built engine. It's a great starting point as well, though adding boost is a bit more labor intensive.

Of course the trick for serial modifiers, like the readers of this fine publication, is that even when you start with the best the factory has to offer, you can't just leave well enough alone. If you think you might be tempted to better the suspension or swap the transmission anyway, you might consider going old school and starting with a GT.

In the month or so leading up to this column I spent time in a stock '13 GT, a stock '13 GT500, the Steedafied Boss 302 featured in this issue and the Hellion-boosted '12 GT last detailed in our Dec. '12 issue ("Four by Two," p. 76).

This little tour de force provide a lot of perspective on how I would approach a modern Mustang project. For clarity's sake, I'm not making any car moves in the near future. This is just a little project fantasy.

I really dig all the new Mustang variations. Even the six-cylinder has its merits. However, for the purposes of this little work of fiction, I'm limiting it to picking just one car to virtually build up. However, rather than just going top-shelf, I'm also trying to put forth a logical plan to make the most of my fantasy budget.

After tossing all the variations around, I drew on recent experience and decided the move would be to start with a Mustang GT Premium. I love the toys, and you can't get some of those in a Boss. However, I'd want to add boost, upgrade the transmission, and upgrade the suspension, so why not just start with a GT and avoid wasting all the factory engineering put into a Boss? From there I'd take a play from Mr. Urist's playbook and strap on a turbo kit to a built Coyote engine. However, I'd back it up with a Tremec Magnum, and round it out with a full suspension makeover.

That is the gist of an awesome modern Mustang. Sure, I could ramble on about other detail and appearance mods, but the idea of a stealthy super 'Stang with all the toys on board sounds like a winner. Hit me at 5.0mailbag@sorc.com with your ideal modern project ideas.