Michael Galimi
January 1, 2008
Photos By: Team MM&FF

2007 Mustang Of The Year!Last year, the MM&FF staff began what we hope will become a yearly tradition-picking the Top 10 Mustangs of the year. To accom-plish such a task, we scoured the biggest Mustang races and the vast street scene across the United States to make the list complete. We even scrolled through lots of Internet sites. After much debate, the list came down to a mix of sick street machines combined with some of the coolest race cars.

For 2007, we're back at it again, and our Top 10 Mustangs list includes the absolute sickest cars we've encountered in the 12 issues of MM&FF bearing an '07 cover date.

In our previous Top 10 list, we didn't rank the cars in any particular order. This year, we have, and we've also included two additional choices as honorable mentions. Fights erupted and arguments ensued among the MM&FF staff as to who should make the short list. We emerged from the meeting with minor cuts, bruises, and ultimately the final list of 10 cars that really rocked our world. It wasn't easy due to the outstanding machines that have been photographed by our staff, but we think the owners listed here built outstanding Mustangs.

You can bet we're already on the lookout for those who will grace the '08 list, so bust out the wrenches, paint gun, and buffing wheel. Can you make the Top 10? Only time will tell.

Honorable mentionsSutton High Performance, '05 Mustang GTCompiling a Top 10 list is extremely difficult-you, the readers, have built some incredible Mustangs. The Sutton High Performance crew deserves to be recognized for their efforts in late-model Mustang performance. They built an in-house test mule to be the first 9-second Three-Valve modular-powered S197 car in 2005. In 2006, they came out swinging in the NMRA EFI Renegade ranks with a Four-Valve modular engine under the hood, and they set the e.t. record in their first year in a class full of veteran racers. Their best time in competition has been an 8.56 at 161 mph. The team is currently in contention for the '07 NMRA title, and despite rule adjustments last winter, they're in the forefront of the category's performance benchmarks.

The team ditched the Three-Valve engine because at the time of the Renegade conversion, technology wasn't able to provide suitable com-ponents to run mid-8s. They turned to a Four-Valve Cobra engine and have never looked back. This year the team runs a Ford Racing Performance Parts Boss modular iron block to shed some 60 pounds off the nose. Inside the new block are a steel crankshaft, GRP rods, and CP pistons. FR500 cylinder heads direct the air that comes in via a Vortech YSi-Trim blower and '99 Cobra intake (with custom spacer). Fast Forward Race Cars installed the cage and performs all of the chassis modifi-cations, including keeping the Steeda suspension tuned up properly. A Dynamic Racing C4 trans-mission keeps all of the horses in order and transmits them to the Chris Alston 9-inch rearend.

Joe Cermin, '05 Ford GTTechnically, we couldn't include Joe Cermin's Ford GT on our list because we named it the Top 10 Mustangs of 2007, and his car is, well, a Ford GT. We had to break the rules and get him in this story, so here's one of the sickest street cars we've ever laid eyes on. Cermin had HP Performance build him an insane twin-turbocharged Ford GT that would destroy anything that lined up next to it. As you can expect, money is no concern with this project. The car owner caught the speed bug once Tony Gonyon and HP Performance added a shot of nitrous, exhaust, and upped the boost on the stock car. It got out of control from there. We featured the car when it was making 1,012 rwhp from a virtually stock engine with a custom intake and a pair of turbochargers.

Things have progressed even further these days, as Cermin lost self-control with this project. An Al Papitto-built 5.5L engine now sits in the back of the Ford supercar. It continues to wear the twin-turbo package, and power output is a lofty 1,451 to the tire. Don't think this is a dyno queen, though-Cermin drives this car as much as possible. Do a quick search on the Internet on him and you'll see plenty of videos of this car on www.streetfire.net and www.youtube.com.

Greg Murray, '06 MustangIt goes more than 200 mph and can be driven on the public roadways-how can this not be one of the coolest cars of the year? Greg Murray and Predator Performance have taken things to the next level of street performance with this '06 Stang. Some might call it a race car, but we think it's just right for street and race action. Murray was inspired by the Grand Am circuit (think: FR500C) and motivated by the glory of open road racing.

At the time of this writing, Murray and Predator had spent a week in a wind tunnel. They worked feverishly on the body's drag coefficient and optimized downforce for a 10-day road trip that included Bonneville top-speed testing and the running of the Silver State Classic. Power comes from a stroked and poked Windsor engine, which checks in at 408 ci and is pumped up by an intercooled ProCharger F1R supercharger. The suspension is full-on race-car stuff, and the interior carries the bare essentials and appropriate safety equipment. Murray's wild ride adorned the cover of our Oct. '07 issue.

Matt Guida, '92 Mustang LX Our June '07 cover car is perhaps one of the nicest Fox-body cars we've ever seen. It's not a wild, 2,000-horse combination that will suck the paint off the competition, but a well-rounded street Stang that represents what the average guy or gal can build. Guida's coupe is what people call "balanced," from a stout engine package (580 rwhp) to the sweet interior upgrades and the basic but cool paint. We found this car on the showgrounds at the '06 NMRA season opener in Bradenton, Florida. Despite being in the car show, it was far from a trailer queen. Guida regularly drives this Mustang, and it has seen time on the dragstrip.

The engine package consists of a 383ci short-block topped with a healthy Crane roller camshaft (0.558/0.564-inch lift), TEA-ported Edelbrock Victor Jr. cylinder heads, and a TFS R intake manifold. Boost is supplied by a Vortech S-Trim supercharger that sings to the tune of 10 psi. The 580 rwhp is funneled through a Tremec 3550 five-speed transmission and Spec Stage 3 clutch. Guida plans to upgrade the blower to a T-Trim unit and expects to run the chassis dyno up to 650-or-so rear-wheel horsepower. The body was repainted using PPG black, with silver stripes accenting it nicely. Other visual aids include BBS RK 18-inch wheels, a Cervini's cowl hood, and a subtle wing pulled off a Mustang Summer Edition convertible.

Evolution Performance, '07 Mustang Shelby GT500This GT500 makes the list because it was the first of its type to make it into the 11s, 10s, and 9s, and it did so using mostly bolt-on items and with an owner who could care less about devaluing the precious Shelby collectability. Nelson Whitlock of Evolution Performance is our kind of guy-he bought a GT500 from a Kansas City-based dealership and had it shipped directly to his Evolution Performance shop in Pennsylvania. The day the car arrived home, he wasted no time and went directly to the dragstrip for baseline runs.

What happened next was a whirlwind of custom-built parts, late nights, and hard work performed by the entire staff at Evolution Performance. The adventure ended with the shop knocking down every major barrier and basically writing the script for GT500 performance that many others would follow. The modifications focused on exhaust, serious boost, suspension upgrades, and naturally, a lot of computer tuning.

Much has changed since we spoke of Whitlock's adventure in the Mar. '07 issue. His shop, led by Fred Cook, has yanked the factory engine and replaced it with a fortified piece by Al Papitto. It boasts more cubes, ported Four-Valve heads, and custom camshafts. The factory blower was ditched in favor of a Kenne Bell 3.4 supercharger. It now makes approximately 856 hp at the wheels with a torque rating of 920 lb-ft. They have since dropped the best time on the full-weight GT500 to an impressive 9.86 at 145 mph, still with the factory six-speed transmission. More refinement to the suspension system and a little hit of nitrous should push this Shelby to low-9s and possibly high-8s.

Jon Huber, '79 Mustang To the untrained eye, Jon Huber's '79 Mustang looks like any other high-9-second car with a parachute hanging off the back and race gas in the tank. Those sentiments change once Huber pops the hood and reveals a four-cylinder engine. We photographed this car at the '06 World Ford Challenge where it stood straight up on the bumper virtually every time down the track. The car has been around a while, and Huber is well known for his prowess in the four-cylinder realm. Last year, he turned up the wick and ultimately ran 8.80s. He competed in both Wild Street and Open Comp at the '07 WFC event, a feat that required him swapping back and forth between slicks and DOT tires.

Going 8s seems easy these days, but to do it with a 2.3L engine is quite an accomplishment. The buzzing little four-banger relies on a Ford Racing Performance Parts tall-deck engine block that is normally found on circle tracks. An ARCA cylinder head has been ported to the max and a custom camshaft installed in the engine. Final displacement is a scant 179 ci, but that all changes once a Precision PT-74 turbocharger huffs approximately 30 psi of boost into the engine. Huber's Mustang has been the test vehicle for Spectre Performance's latest EFI system. This car is every bit a street ride as well, and Huber reports that it regularly gets 17 mpg on the street-yes, it's a street car. There are a lot of V-8 owners shaking their heads in disbelief over Huber's accomplishments on and off the dragstrip.

Ford Motor Company, '08 Mustang Shelby GT500KRWhile the other American-car manufacturers talk about building modern musclecars, Ford Motor Company is actually doing it. The GT500KR is proof that Ford wants to continue setting the bar in the performance segment of new-car sales. Coming off the highly popular Shelby GT500 platform, the GT500KR offers a little more power and a lot more intimidation. The car debuted at the New York Auto Show in 2007 and is set to hit dealers in spring 2008.

The GT500KR will hunt Corvette Z06s thanks to a host of upgrades that were sourced from the Ford Racing Performance Parts division. Boost output remains the same, but the engine inhales and exhales much easier. FRPP cold-air induction helps eliminate any inlet restrictions, and an FRPP axle-back exhaust system frees up the backpressure. Horsepower is said to be 540, while torque checks in at a lofty 510 lb-ft. The biggest jump in performance is the addition of 3.73:1 rear cogs. It's said the GT500KR will run in the low four-second zone (0-60 mph) in street trim. Team Mustang added a host of interior and exterior upgrades as well-including carbon-fiber pieces in various places. Production will be limited, but an exact amount had not been announced at press time.

SaleeN-parnelli Jones '07 Limited-Edition MustangParnelli Jones' legendary status goes back to the '60s on race tracks across the country, most notably as a Rookie-of-the-Year at the '61 Indy 500 and as a winner of the storied race in 1963. He has raced in so many varieties of sanctioning bodies on dirt and asphalt, that it's too difficult to chronicle in just a few paragraphs.

One of Parnelli's more historic racing achievements was the championship he won in Trans Am while driving a Grabber Orange '70 Boss Mustang. Steve Saleen and his staff decided to commemorate that classic Trans Am-winning Mustang by offering a Parnelli Jones Limited-Edition Mustang (featured in our May '07 issue). The Parnelli Jones and Saleen relationship dates back to the '80s when Parnelli was a driver on the SCCA Manufacturer Championship winning Team Saleen.

The PJ Mustang, as most call it, is a virtual clone to the Trans Am-winning Boss car thanks to the retro style offered by the S197 platform. Obviously, the Grabber Orange paint is standard, along with 19-inch wheels and other race car-inspired body upgrades. Filling the performance part of the retro-style is a Three-Valve-headed engine that now displaces 302 ci thanks to a 3.80-inch stroke crank, Saleen rods, and forged pistons. The heads have been fully ported, and Saleen spec camshafts are bolted to them. Output is a lofty 400 hp from this naturally aspirated street engine. The transmission remains stock, and 3.73 gears are installed in the 8.8-inch rear. The suspension has been treated with a Watts Link rear setup and full-on Saleen Racecraft shocks, struts, and springs. Saleen is limiting production to just 500 units.

Tim Matherly, '01 Bullitt Mustang Perhaps one of the coolest moves a drag racer can pull is a big wheelstand. Huge wheelies are a status symbol, and we love to chronicle them. Tim Matherly performs such feats of acrobatics on a regular basis with his NMRA Real Street racer. Not only that, but he also runs darn fast in this highly limited category. Matherly has the '04 championship and countless record-setting performances credited to his rsum.

The Georgia runner hits the track with a rare combination in the category-a Two-Valve SOHC modular engine that sits under the hood of his '01 Bullitt. The engine, built by Matherly's own MV Performance, has Ross pistons, a cast crank, and Mod Max I-beam rods. Up top, a set of MV-ported Two-Valve heads channel the boosted air into the cylinders. The boost is supplied by a non-intercooled ProCharger P1SC-2 supercharger system. A full line of Bassani exhaust components expels the spent gases. Class restrictions require the engines be equipped with stock camshafts, making this an even more impressive combination.

Another requirement is the use of a factory-style stick shift transmission-Matherly relies on a Tremec TKO-500 and RAM clutch to harness the supercharged horsepower. The stock suspension bites hard, and the 3,175-pound Mustang launches with wheels up. This past season, the car has gone a best of 9.79 at 137 mph in NMRA competition.

Dakota Wheeler, '93 Mustang LXNotchback Mustangs rock-especially when powered by a stroked and poked Windsor engine and with a slick custom paint job applied to the body. Dakota Wheeler built himself a wicked coupe that terrorizes the streets of Texas. PPG and House of Kolor paints were mixed to bring a stunningly beautiful design of blue flames and lime base color. There's no mistaking this car on the highway as you can see it coming a mile away. Boyd Coddington wheels, wrapped in Falken and Pirelli rubber, and a Harwood cowl induction hood enhance the custom bodywork.

Wheeler paid particular attention to the stance of his Pony, and he got it right thanks to a set of mini-tubs, Granatelli rear suspension components, and UPR front K-member and A-arms. This Stang gets up and goes using a 393ci Windsor engine that produces 456 rwhp and 417 rwtq. The engine, too, was highly detailed. A Ford Racing Sportsman block houses an FRPP billet crank (3.90-inch stroke), Eagle rods, Ross Pistons (4.00-inch bore), and a custom hydraulic roller Comp camshaft. Breathing air into the cylinders is the job of a TFS head and intake package. Wheeler uses a DFI Gen 7 computer to tune his beast. Transferring the power to the Pirelli rear tires is the job of an Art Carr-prepped AOD transmission. The combination of looks and performance is what earned Wheeler's Stang a spot on this Top 10 list.

J.J. Frederick, '02 Saleen MustangA street car boasting 540 rwhp from a Two-Valve modular engine displacing a mere 281 ci is quite impressive. J.J. Frederick's has just that as he has been on the Mustang scene for many years. Some longtime readers might recognize his name from the True Street ranks, particularly the FFW event in Commerce, Georgia. His latest street machine has been built using some of Georgia's best speed shops. For the engine, he turned to Steve Petty of Pro Line Race Engines-the shop powering some of the quickest Outlaw 10.5 cars in the world, including Tim Lynch's.

Petty took a Mach 1 aluminum block and dropped in an '03-'04 Cobra crankshaft, Eagle H-beam rods, and a set of a CP Pistons. The engine then went to Modular Powerhouse to get a set of its Stage 3-ported heads and custom Comp camshafts, designed for turbo use. Topping off the bulletproof engine is a Reichard Racing intake manifold.

Frederick had a custom single-turbo system built using a Precision T-76 Q-Trim turbocharger. He has limited boost to 15 psi at this point, and a Snow Performance meth kit keeps things cool and allows him to run pump gas in the tank. The result is the 540-rwhp rating on Modular Powerhouse's dyno. Backing the powerplant is a Performance Automatic 4R70W transmission with manual valvebody and 3,000-stall torque converter.

Sheer grunt in a great looking package, like Frederick's New Edge Saleen, is a sure way to make it on to our list. We love its subtle looks combined with its brutal engine combination.

Dan Saitz, '07 Mustang Shelby GT500Racing is a tough gig, and today's Pro 5.0 cars are arguably some of the coolest and most radical door-slammers in the world. We've seen plenty of neat Pro cars over the years, but none have impressed us more than Dan Saitz's latest entry in the mid-6-second slugfest. Impressive might be too light of a description for this GT500 replica. Jerry Haas is responsible for building the car, and Saitz's Hyperformance Motorsports handled the twin-turbo system, plumbing, and wiring. The car's best time has been a 6.51 at a stellar 223.85 mph, and it sees action in FFW, NMRA, WFC, NOPI, and various Pro Street events.

Haas built this car with a Pro Mod-style chassis that features double framerails and a long wheelbase. It's designed to withstand the rigors of the 2,400 hp small-block Ford engine sitting up front. A pair of Precision 88mm turbos blow into a Kuntz and Company-built 434ci engine. Hyperformance Motorsports handled the amazing series of tubes that connect the turbos to the Precision aftercooler and the engine. Saitz pulls the levers on a Lenco four-speed clutchless transmission. Expect him to push the limits of the small-block Ford engine once he gets more runs under his belt in the new car.