Steve Turner
Former Editor, 5.0 Mustang & Super Fords
April 2, 2014

Horse Sense

If you want to run big wheels and tires and a pavement-scraping ride height like PVT does, you need an adjustable suspension. In the case of this ’08 GT500, it runs on Steeda’s GT500 Mustang Coilover System (PN 555-8127-4; $1,849.95). This system will allow running stock ride height or up to 2 inches lower.

Regular readers will recall that Project Vapor Trail is your editor’s beloved ’08 Shelby GT500 project. For your scribe, it is the first car to approach the mental image of the ideal Mustang project in the real world. It was also as close to “done” as a project can get.

All that said, you can imagine how painful it was when the car hydroplaned, pirouetted, tagged a bridge, and spun to a stop in the median. As days go, it was not a great one. If you want the fresh, raw feeling, just flash back to the Bench Racer column in the Sept. ’13 issue (“Love Hurts,” p. 10).

In the end, I was happy to have made it out alive and that it was a single-car event. No one was hurt. Even better, the damage to the car was largely superficial and completely fixable. Plus the damage was primarily at the right rear of the car. It was a great relief that the front of the car was unmolested.

Of course, one real casualty of the wreck was a broken passenger-side rear wheel. Sadly the wheels on PVT were limited-edition units, so it proved too difficult to find a replacement rim to put it right back to its old look. Besides, it seemed appropriate for the car to take a different path. As your author searched high and low for the right wheel, I kept coming back to the Bravado Tribute wheels shown in an ad in this magazine. Suddenly the idea of these wheels in flat black became the vision. It was time to give PVT a more menacing visage.

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Of course, with a new set of wheels, it was the ideal time for a new set of rubber. It seemed like time for a change here too. After reviewing all the choices Nitto Tire has available, we landed on the Invo, which offers the right sizes, along with great dry/wet traction, and great ride quality. Along the way we also added a fresh Optima battery and a rear-seat X-brace.

Read on to see how PVT’s rebirth turned out.

Having tires installed on fresh wheels always makes us nervous, but our local Discount Tire has all the latest equipment designed for damage-free installs on large wheels. Here, store manager Justin Newby installs the Nitto Invo on our Bravado Tribute wheels. They went on without a hitch.
Modern tire stores, like Discount, are set up for safety as well. This cage offers protection in the unlikely event of a tire explosion while it is being inflated.
With the tires mounted and inflated, it’s crucial to get them properly balanced. Here Monte Marzilli of Discount Tire does the job. They were prepared with blacked-out wheel weights for our Tributes, so we don’t have a shiny eyesore on those flat-black wheels.
Before installing the freshly mounted and balanced wheels, it was necessary to pop in these hubcentric rings.
As you know, PVT had a little mishap, which destroyed one of its limited-edition wheels. Since those couldn’t be replaced, we installed the stock rims to get it back out on the road. It’s been a while since it had this look. It was nostalgic, but it couldn’t stay that way.
Your scribe wasn’t sure about black wheels on PVT, but once the Tributes were on the front, with matching black lugs, the car had a whole new demeanor.
Out back, those 20x11s with 315 Invos are a tight fit, but the look is dramatic.
Those big hoops out back needed a bit more breathing room. Fortunately, PVT is equipped with Steeda’s adjustable suspension. Loosening the locking ring and applying a spanner wrench raised its rear up a bit. Take care to add the same number of turns to both sides.
With new Tire Pressure Monitoring Sensors in place, PVT had to be reprogrammed to do so, using this Ford reset tool. To start the process, you turn off the ignition, press the brake on and off, and turn the ignition from Off to On three times, finishing at On. If you did it right, then you can start programming. To do so, start on the left front tire. Hold the tool by the sidewall and press the button till the horn honks; that means the sync is complete. Then move to the right front tire, then the left rear, and then the right rear. Done.
Before putting on the new wheels, it was apparent that PVT’s long layover in the body shop took a toll on its battery. To ensure she has plenty of juice for starting and all its extra audio and intercooler fans, Optima’s YellowTop D34/78 battery (PN 8014-045; $249.99) got the nod.
After its little altercation, it couldn’t hurt to add a little chassis rigidity to PVT with Steeda’s new Mustang Rear Chassis X-Brace (PN 555-5093; $279.95). This clever brace fits behind the rear seat, so you don’t have to give up on rear passengers. The first step to installing it is removing the rear trunk trim and unbolting the top shock bolts.
With the top shock bolts and rubber isolators removed, the X brace mounts to the chassis right over where the shock bolt protrudes through. If you can’t wiggle the brace in place, you might have to jack up one side of the car and let the shock droop a bit to gain the necessary clearance.
After slipping the lower brace mounts over the shocks, push the top of the X brace up to meet the trunk opening frame.
Hold the top of the brace up to the inner structure and mark the inner two holes for drilling. The outer hole is reserved for welding.
Maneuver the brace back out and drill the four mounting holes with a unibit.
After vacuuming all the stray metal shavings from the fresh mounting holes, the final step is bolting in the brace and reinstalling the shock bolts. When it comes to the upper mounting bolts, it helps to fold down the rear seats so you can sneak the bolts in on the back side.
With the brace bolted in and the factory trunk trim reinstalled, the Steeda X-brace looks right at home in PVT’s trunk. The polished logo plate at the center of the brace dresses up the area.
The final leg of PVT’s comeback trail was a trip down to Steeda for the company’s Stampede open house. We arrived the day before so they could give the suspension setup a once over. While a local dealer aligned PVT for the body shop, things weren’t quite as they should be. Fortunately Steve Chichisola and Matt Bouyea properly set up the Watt’s link, added a bit more rear ride height, and gave her a fresh alignment. Now PVT is good as new. 5.0