Muscle Mustangs & Fast FordsProject Vehicles
1988 Ford Mustang GT Project Hypersilver - Exterior Assembly
Unmistaken Identity - National Parts Depot and Spike’s Performance & Refinishing team up to assemble the exterior of Hypersilver!
There's something about a disassembled car that makes it seem not real, even lifeless. It's a skeleton of what was once a brand-new, vibrant automobile.
We know that Hypersilver once was very much alive, and we can sort of picture what it looked like. Someone once stared at the original Bright Regatta Blue hue and turbine wheels as it sat gleaming on the lot and couldn't live without it. He or she probably rumbled down the road listening to the 5.0L howl and jammed out to Whitesnake or Skid Row.
We're not sure what happened after that, except that in 2012 it popped up on Craigslist as a sand-blasted bare shell on a rotisserie. We subsequently purchased it for a mere $1,800.
It seems like yesterday that we wheeled that rotisserie off the trailer at Demon Motorsports, which was eight months before the project needed to be completed for the 2013 SEMA Show. And being a SEMA build destined for our parent company's booth, we had to hit it out of the park. Besides, it's a Fox-body, and we knew some would underestimate it.
So over the remainder of spring and all of summer, we trudged along at the chassis shop, and finally at the paint shop, Spike's Performance & Refinishing. It was a great feeling in late September when we saw the Lightning Silver hue sprayed onto the skin, but we were still far off. It remained lifeless, merely a skeleton of something. At that point, instead of being a skeleton of what once was, it was the skeleton of what it could become, which helped kick all of us into high gear.
We only had four weeks before loading it onto a Reliable transport truck bound for Vegas. We hoped that we had all of our ducks in a row.
By the third week in October, the powertrain, suspension, and brakes were installed. We had it rolling on all four, but there was still much work to be done. We hadn't even touched the interior yet, but we wanted to get the exterior complete and give Hypersilver a face, some other existence than a hunk of steel on a rolling cart.
We set aside an entire weekend, and the crew assembled at our Tech Center and MM&FF headquarters in Tampa on a Friday evening. The team consisted of your author, Dean Santiago and Marco Lorenzo of Spike's, Matthew Laszaic of NPD, Tech Center Manager Darrell Kunda, and Santiago's father Paul. We worked late into the night Friday, put in a 14-hour day on Saturday, and concluded with 8 hours on Sunday. Editor Smith even pitched in and brought us lunch.
By the end of the day Sunday, Hypersilver had come to life, not in the traditional sense with the turn of the key, but in the visual sense. It looked like a real car and had taken on it's own identity and personality—and we loved it. We achieved these impressive results thanks to a loyal team dedicated to perfection, quality workmanship, and a slew of restoration and aftermarket parts. Next month, we'll move to the interior.
01. National Parts Depot (NPD) sent us practically every exterior piece we needed, including door hardware, trim, seals, clips, and even quarter windows. Here’s just a small bit of what it sent our way for this build; we were surprised by how comprehensive NPD’s Fox-body catalog actually is.
02. Here’s the new NPD latch next to the old latches that Laszaic removed from Hypersilver. He also checked and straightened the linkage rods and replaced the linkage clips.
03. NPD’s own Matthew Laszaic offered up his services for our weekend of thrashing on Hypersilver. Here he’s replacing the door latches and door hardware, supplied by NPD.
04. He also installed a new lock cylinder set in black (M-21984-13A; $54.95) with matching OEM-style keys.
05. Spike’s Performance & Refinishing spent the weekend at the helm. Spike’s Marco Lorenzo is seen here installing the ATL fuel filler door with the help of Darrell Kunda.
06. We contracted Auto Glass of Mid-Florida to install an OEM windshield. Owner Mike Bush came out and installed the glass himself. He also installed the hatch glass while there.
07. Spike’s Performance & Refinishing owner Dean Santiago uses a rivet gun to install the rivets that hold the outside door handles to the doors. NPD supplied the handles, rivets, and rivet gun. Marco Lorenzo taped off around the handle to prevent the rivet gun from scratching the paint.
08. Here, Laszaic is installing the brand-new Carlite quarter glass from NPD. At $259.95 each, these are a bargain and just like the factory originals.
09. Here, Santiago and Lorenzo painstakingly install the fenders without scratching anything.
10. Santiago had painted the fender braces, and Lorenzo installed the restored pieces using new factory-style bolts from NPD.
11. They used the same NPD-supplied bolts to attach the fender to the chassis as well.
12. Here, Lorenzo installed the drip rail molding from NPD, which come as a pair for $74.95.
13. After installing the molding, Lorenzo ran a plastic tool between the molding and body to unfold the molding into place.
14. Lorenzo then installed the rest of the door and window hardware. Here he’s installing the window run channel, which NPD also supplied.
15. In the front, we had to reuse the bumper reinforcement, which attaches to the absorbers, which we replaced with new pieces from NPD.
16. They then moved on to the front fascia. We introduced this Stalker nose ($624.99) from Cervini’s in an earlier issue.
17. To give Hypersilver a unique and trend-setting look, we turned to Classic LED’s for one of its LED sequential taillamp kits. Here, automotive electrical guru Darrell Kunda installed the kit into taillamp housings that we refurbished from MPS Auto Salvage.
18. Kunda installed factory GT-style lenses ($83.95 each) from NPD. We wanted something different than the usaual ’93 Cobra-style lenses, so we went with the unpainted cheese graters.
19. Laszaic installed the taillamp assemblies using original hardware and NPD’s taillamp installation kit.
20. Moving on to the Cervini’s 2.5-inch cowl hood ($599.99), it was installed using polished Scott Drake hood hinges from NPD.
21. They installed the hatch and shimmed it to fit properly.
22. NPD also supplied windshield and hatch glass moldings, which Santiago and Lorenzo also installed.
23. They moved to the Cervini’s ’93 Cobra side skirts ($429.99).
24. PDI Auto Parts provided these new headlamp assemblies. We ended up using the headlamp from this kit and the turn signal and parking light assemblies from the OEM-style kit to mix it up a bit.
25. Here’s the finished product. You can’t see it in this photo, but the interior was still bare at this point. We’ll tackle that in the coming months.
Raiding the Depot
National Parts Depot (NPD) was founded in 1976 by Jim Schmidt in the basement of his home in Gainesville, Florida. Having been active in the restoration hobby since his high school days in the late-50s, Jim began selling '55-'57 T-bird parts. When he realized he could make a living like this, he immediately turned his attention toward Mustang parts, which turned out to be a prophetic decision. NPD currently employs 140 full-time staff with four warehouse/stores across the nation.
NPD's '79-'93 Fox-Body Mustang catalog debuted in 2011 (led by Laszaic), and follows directly in the footsteps of its '65-'73 predecessor. It strives to offer everything a restorer and/or enthusiast would need to comprehensively repair, maintain, modify, or restore a Fox-body. "Our goal is to not just carry the obvious stuff, the fast-movers and current trends, but to also dive deeply into hard-to-find and critical details," says owner Rick Schmidt, Jim's son. NPD also maintains a strong, decades-old reputation among restorers for dedication to quality and the best possible sourcing.
As you may remember, Spike's Performance was located in Ocala. Well, the business has moved—to Plant City, Florida—and is now Spike's Performance & Refinishing.
The recently acquired 5,000-plus-square-foot facility is just minutes from I-4 between Tampa and Orlando, making it easily accessible. As part of the deal, it now has chassis dyno capabilities and a full machine shop.
"I'm really excited about this move," says owner Dean "Spike" Santiago. "This new facility will allow us to provide not only paint and body work, but also performance modifications and custom tuning." Renowned tuner Tony Gonyon will be contracted to do Spike's tuning.
Auto Glass of Mid-Florida