December 22, 2011

With the release of the Boss, the hot GT500, and the peppy V-6, this has been a great year for Ford, its Mustang, and our readers, who are the owners and builders. The base GT, GT500, and Boss are awesome in stock trim, but it's been amazing watching what our readers and the performance builders have done to make them accelerate harder, corner faster, stop quicker, and look better.

Needless to say, great things are coming from FoMoCo, and it's only getting better. With advanced technology in design and manufacturing, Mustang racers keep getting quicker and faster, and home-built cars are of a quality we've never seen before. With the help of the amazing aftermarket, race tracks and show fields are littered with the nicest Fords for you to read about. This translates into amazing story lines and feature cars for us to attack with our cameras.

From our adventures at tracks and shows, and with the help of the Internet, we are always on the hunt for the most interesting late-model Ford iron we can find. There is quite a lot out there, so as you can imagine, picking the top 10 cars is not an easy task. We all have our likes and dislikes, and narrowing the list often leads to a heated debate between staff members.

For each feature car, we look for something special, a trait that sets it apart from the pack. Actually, we are often asked what it takes to have a car featured in MM&FF. The answer is simple: Build something that excites us. We prefer Mustangs and fast Fords that are modified and have custom touches throughout the car.

To make the top 10 list means the Ford in question either set a new mark for performance, appearance, and/or customization. These cars excited us and pushed the boundaries. So after hours of being locked in the MM&FF war room, we bring you the Top 10 Mustangs of 2011. Enjoy!

1. 2012 Boss 302

Easily the most anticipated Mustang in recent years, the '12 Boss 302 pays homage to the moniker's Trans Am pedigree of the late '60s and early '70s. The Boss 302 expands on Ford's newest 5.0-liter Mustang powerplant with ported cylinder heads, increased rpm capabilities, a completely redesigned intake manifold, suspension upgrades, as well as numerous interior and aesthetic enhancements completing its retro look and feel. It's got 444 hp from the factory from a naturally aspirated 302, and with the exhaust baffles removed, it is one of the best-sounding Mustangs ever. From the Boss-only graphics, to the Boss-specific Recaro seats, to the engine and suspension changes, the Boss is just that--the Boss. On track it is a screamer. The Boss 302 can eat up a road course and run low 12s (perhaps even 11s), making it an all-around performer. It gives you the feeling of being king of the road. We hope Ford continues to produce these winners, because for 2011, it's our favorite.

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2. Evolution Performance 2011 Mustang GT

Evolution Performance has made a name for itself by pushing the limits of late-model Mustang performance and for its boldness on the Internet. Being one of the first shops to get its hands on an '11 GT, Evolution instantly increased the horsepower and hit the track. The Kona Blue GT seen here was the winner of our 2011 Mustang GT shootout, and with a best e.t. of 8.89 at 148 mph from a built motor with 23 pounds of boost from an F-1 ProCharger, we believe it to currently be the quickest Coyote-powered Mustang. According to Fred Cook of Evolution, the car now has nitrous and will go even faster at the NMRA Finals at Bowling Green. Keep an eye out for the upcoming event coverage..

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3. Angel Padilla 1993 Mustang LX

It's not surprising the MM&FF staff has a soft spot for any Mustang that runs in the class we created, Tremec True Street. As we ushered in the '11 NMRA season, many people were hoping to see the first 7-second average at an NMRA event. Joel Cura and Angel Padilla towed from Texas to Bradenton, Florida, with the car to do it. After numerous 7-second test passes, the duo endured the 30-mile cruise and then blistered the track, where they ended up with an 8.05 average. Although just shy of the first 7-second average, this was still the quickest three-pass average ever in True Street competition. We like the basic look, smart turbo combination, and outstanding performance.

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4. 2011 Shelby GT350

Despite our love for drag racing, at MM&FF we enjoy all forms of performance and racing, and it was our intention to put the latest Shelby GT350 through all types of on-track testing. The '11 GT350 offers a unique design and in our office it was controversial, but no one can deny the performance. After rigorous testing, it proved to be the quickest Mustang we tested on the road course at Gainesville Raceway. Furthermore, it ran mid-11s at over 120 mph in the Florida heat! The new Shelby combines a unique retro front fascia and overall look, with 624 horsepower from a supercharged 5.0L engine and a much-improved handling/braking package. The feel of the Shelby was race-car like, with sharp, neutral cornering and braking that could suck your eyes out. The supercharged Coyote, six-piston brakes, and Watt's link suspension make this one serious daily-driveable track terror. It's comfortable and powerful, and built in limited quantities, which can make it a great edition to any Mustang or Shelby collection.

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5. 2011 Steeda Sport Edition

In a world of 1,000hp Mustangs, it's refreshing to see a company come out with an affordable performance package, and Steeda's version of the Mustang is obtainable to virtually everyone. The '11 Steeda Sport Edition Mustang expands on Ford's extremely versatile GT, albeit with improved power and overall performance. It's enhanced with a Steeda cold-air intake and custom calibration, which laid down the factory flywheel-rated 412 hp at the rear wheels on our in-house Dynojet! Combine that with the upgraded suspension, wheels and tires, and appearance pieces, and the Steeda Sport is a home run. We enjoyed the on-demand, snappy power, and the nimble feel of the chassis and suspension. Our tester ran 11s and also flew around our test road course with amazing speed.

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6. Fastlane Motorsports 2007 GT500

Fastlane Motorsports' (Benson, North Carolina) '07 Pro-Street GT500 is jaw dropping to say the least. Fastlane's blue beast is anything but sedate. It melds real-world power with the Pro Street look that was popular in the '80s and '90s, yet it pulls it off perfectly in 2011. Under (and through) the hood lives a built 5.4L with an old-school 6-71 BDS blower hanging out for all to see. Twenty-inch Budnik wheels sit in all four corners, with the rears measuring a sick 22.5-inches wide! The blue hue is bright and grabs your attention from any angle. We like the fact that is a totally different combination that is powerful and fast.

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7. Mike Matarazzo 2008 GT500

There is not much better than having a streetable Mustang with 1,031 hp, and being able to drive the car wherever you want. That is what this Shelby is all about. Mike Matarazzo's '08 GT500 seamlessly blends racecar performance with street car driveability. Mike has owned many Mustangs, from Shelby GT500s, to 9-second SVT Cobras, to a 9-second LX convertible, but for this build he wanted something different. With the help of Walsh Motorsports, this white Shelby looks the part, and can back it up with 20 pounds of boost coming from a compound-boost setup consisting of a 76mm Precision turbo, which feeds the stock Eaton Roots-type supercharger. The combination makes over 1,000 hp, and has gone a best e.t. of 8.70 at over 158 mph. Like all Mike's other Stangs (at least most of them) it is plain understated in basic white, but has knock-out power and show-quality detail.

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8. MMR 2010 Twin-Turbo Shelby

Throughout his racing career and his company's tenure as a modular engine powerhouse, Mark Lutton and MMR have become big names in the Mustang world. The Shelby they prepared was outfitted with enough rollcage tubing for a 25.3 chassis certification, 5.4-liters of MMR-built modular Mustang muscle, and 160mm of Garrett turbochargers, which is enough to propel this GT500 to a best e.t. of 6.99 at 205 mph. It still retains the majority of the factory interior (from the driver's seat forward), including the stock dashboard and all of the stock body panels. Lutton even takes the car for a joy ride around Camarillo, California, before every outing as a pre-race ritual.

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9. Terry and Julie Allen 1984 T-top Coupe

We're always on the prowl for unique Mustangs and fast Fords. And for us, few measure up the rarity of the T-top Fox-body coupes. Terry and Julie Allen have built this slick twin-turbo example that has finite detail and loads of custom touches. The car was a mess at the start of the build and was almost completely home-built by the Allens. It's powered by a Boss 302-based 331 with twin 57mm turbos. While the paint is glossy and hot, we love the stock-looking gray color (most of which is powedercoating) and painted pieces, as well as the smoothed emblems. The engine is backed by an AOD and it's mini-tubbed, and looks perfect going down the road. What's not to love?

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10. Tiger Racing 2011 Boss 302S

After 7 of the 8 SCCA World Challenge GTS events (11 races at 7 events), Paul Brown and his '11 Tiger Racing Boss 302S have sealed up the driver's championship, team championship, and helped Ford take the manufacturer championship in 2011. The driver of Tiger Racing's Boss has finished third or better in eight of the 11 races run so far this season. He has taken the win five times in the process, which ties Brown for most wins in a Boss 302 in a single season with Parnelli Jones. "The car Ford supplied us with is great!" explains Paul. "We've simply taken what Ford has given us and tweaked it." He has been dominant all year, and it's no surprise that he has already sealed up the 2011 SCCA World Challenge GTS championship.

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Honorable Mentions

Ken Block 2011 Fiesta

Ken Block has made himself famous doing donuts flying around obstacles in the Interwebs for years, but he is quite the accomplished racer. His car control abilities are second to none, and now that he's teamed up for Ford, he is a force to be reckoned with in World Rally Championship. Block's Gymkhana World Tour now allows fans to see his driving antics in person, along with many other types of extreme motorsports. Our editor, Evan Smith, even rode with Block on a short thrill course at SEMA in 2010 and Smith came home speechless!

Mike Lohmeyer 1999 SVT Lightning

SVT Lightnings have never gone out of style. Although Ford stopped producing these high-performance haulers at the end of the '04 model year, enthusiasts still build some extreme machines with these pickups. Mike Lohmeyer's single-turbo '99 SVT truck is a perfect example. It is 100-percent streetable with aggressive good looks, a perfect stance, and simple race-inspired interior--and with over 1,000 hp to back it up, Mike's truck is no laughing matter.

2011 Mustang V-6

With the new 305hp 3.7L V-6 engine, Ford has made serious performance available to people with almost any budget. The '11 V-6 Mustang has changed V-6 performance with its 3.7-liter displacement, 305hp output, 31-mpg, and available Performance Pack with 3.31 rearend gears; upgraded wheels and tires; and Mustang GT brakes, shocks, springs, and sway bars. With the support of the aftermarket, V-6 Mustangs have broken past the 12s and into the 11-second quarter-mile zone. With a starting price of $22,310, the V-6 Mustang a true performer at an affordable cost.

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