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where your opinions are noted, and then summarily ignored

Window Tint

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I went to 494-TINT (15055 Judson Rd), and got 35% 3M ceramic all around. I thought I could get something darker because of the 2009 law change here in Texas that increased the darkness of the tint to 25%. The tint guy explained that the reason it was increased was because 35% tint was often resulting in an actual over tint of greater than 30%, so the law was changed to accomodate that. It turns out that the 35% tint I got really did help, so it's all good at this point.

Note: The pictures also show the new tires/wheels because I had them done the same day as the tint. In all honesty, I think the car looked pretty good with the new wheels/tires, even before I lowered it.


Body Kit, Hood, and Stripes

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Day 01 (04/23/2012) - I dropped the car off at Jordan Ford so they could install the following body mods:

  • 3D Carbon Boy Racer 5-piece body kit (front fascia, rear fascia, side skirts, spoiler)

  • 3D Carbon Center-mount Fog Light grille

  • Cervini Type 4 Ram Air hood (will billet heat extractors)

  • Guardsman Blue 10-inch Le mans stripes and matching rocker stripes
Side Note: I received my Maximum Motorsports Caster/Camber plates today, and I'm now ready to lower the car that isn't sitting in my garage right now.

They said it would take five days, and it took 11. On the fifth day, they offered to give me a loaner car until mine was finished - a new Fiesta. The following is just some of the never-ending stream of humor coming from my wife.

  • Day 1 - When we went to the dealer to get the loaner, the dealer rep pointed out the big plate glass window at the Fiesta and said, “There’s your loaner”. My wife said, “Where?”, and she chuckled.

    After following me home from the dealer, she said, "When that SMART car got between us on the freeway, I lost sight of you. And by the way, I think I saw some guys at the Ford dealer laughing and pointing as you left the parking lot. I know I was laughing."

    Before dinner, she looked out the front window: "Hey! I just realized we could get more than 20 of those into our driveway. You could start a club and have all your little friends park in the driveway."

    Just after getting into bed for the night: "So, honey! Where are you going to go tomorrow in your little car?"

    I have a real comedienne on my hands…

  • Day 2 - When we got up in the morning, I looked out the window, and said, "It's still there." She replied: "Car thieves are probably afraid you'll be able to chase them down - even while using crutches - a day after you find that the car is missing."

    Later in the morning: "I went out to feed the deer and stubbed my toes on what I thought was a rock... and then I realized it was your little car."

    A couple of hours later, and the wife says: "Looks like it's gonna rain - don't you think you should go out and tie your little car down so it doesn't wash away?"

    She's a laugh a minute...

  • Day 3 - She started laughing all of a sudden this morning, and says, "You might want to leave for work early in case you have to push your little car up any hills."

    As I was leaving for work, I gathered up my lunch, a thermos, and my laptop, and headed out the door. She yelled after me, “HEY! Aren’t you afraid you’re gonna overload your little car?! Maybe you should consider making two trips!”

    Laughs all around, and it caught the attention of the neighbors, so everyone is now in on the joke(s)…

    I forgot my access badge for work this morning and had to come back home to get it, and my wife met me at the end of the driveway. As I pulled up, she was laughing, and I said, "What's so damn funny?"

    Her answer was, "Really? You need me to actually say it? It looks like a clown car."

    As she started back toward the house, I heard her say, "Ring-a-ding-ding-ding-ding!", and she laughed even louder.

    Har-dee-har-har...

Final Comments

I was disappointed when the Accessories guy called and said that extending the stripes down in front of the hood scoop openings was going to be problematic - I REALLY wanted the stripes to go all the way down both ends of the car. However, it still came out VERY nice. I simply cannot say enough good things about Rick Flores (the accessories guy), John McDonald (the guy that sold me the car), and especially the guys in the paint/body shop at Jordan Ford.

To compensate for the blank area in front of the hood scoop, I ordered the 1967 stick-on "FORD" letters, and for the trunk lid, stick-on 1965 "MUSTANG" letters. The hood didn't come with either scoop opening screens or the ram air kit (which I thought it would have). Since the scoops are pretty much useless at the moment, I'm planning on fabricating a panel to block them off to keep the engine a bit cleaner, and free of small animals and children that might happen to wander into harm's way.

Follow-up: Neither set of letters worked out, so they didn't go on the car.


Fog Light Harness

The V6 Mustang does not come from the factory with fog lights (including the required wiring harness) unless you order the appropriate equipment package. So, if you want to put a GT grille on your V6 Mustang, you have to either hack up your existing wiring harness, or purhase the Starkey wiring harness. I did the latter, and ordered the Starkey harness that supports the H10 light bulbs found on the GT.

According to the instructions provided with the harness, you're supposed to perform all of the underhood stuff first, and finish up inside the car by replacing the factory headlight switch with the one provided in the kit. I did it backwards because I wanted to work backwards from the firewall to make sure that I had enough wire to properly route the harness under the hood. Initially, I thought I was going to have to make the driver's side pigtail shorter, but I was able to coil up the excess, wire-tie it, and hide it behind the center of the grille. Finally, I also took this opportunity to replace the OEM light bulbs with Silverstars.

When I initially tested the harness, I was surprised when it didn't appear to work, and then I realized I had to actually turn the car on for them to actually come on. In any case, installation only took about an hour.


Mirror Covers

Since there' not much to say about body-color mirror covers, I'll merely mention that I got them, and it took about 10 minutes to install then. After installing them, I was disappointed to see that because they weren't painted black on the inside, I could see sunlight punching through the white paint and the white plastic. Since I still have my stock covers, I figure I'll eventually get them painted when I need something larger painted - like the car itself.


Emblems and Badges

Putting (or NOT putting) badges on a car is probably the single most important appearance aspect of building a car. My car came with absolutely no badges which is preferrable for car modders. The dilemma was what to do about it.

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  • Custom Badges? - I was trying to come up with a custom badge that nobody elese would have, and even came up with a decent design, but couldn't find anyone to do it for me, Yes, I know about Billet Badges, and even Emblem Art, but Billet Badges claimed that the word "Coupe" was trademarked (bogus claim by the way), and after a while, wouldn't return any of my emails. Too bad, because I was gonna drop a lot of mney on them. As far as Emblem Art was concerned, they were simply too expensive. So, I had to resort to other ideas.

  • Grille Badge - I ordered and tried the ubiquitous tri-bar running horse fender emblem. The result (due to the 3DCarbon grille) was the emblem could not be made to be mounted straight, and the tail of the horse just kinda hung out there in space because the grille bends and there is no plastic base between the emblem and the grille. I drove around with it on the grille for a couple of weeks and then took it off because it bothered me so much.

  • Fender Badges - To break up the appearance from the side of the car, I chose the new-style "Powered By Ford" badges. Normally, these are $135, and the cost alone was going to force me to get the old-style that they used to use on A/C Cobras. However, i found a guy selling some spare sets he had for just $48. SCORE! After careful measuring, I applied the badges. This was a piece of cake and doesn't require any special knowledge or tools. I think it does a good job of breaking up the "slab-o-white" on the side of the car.

  • (Evil) SHELBY Name Plates - Let me preface this section by saying MY CAR IS NOT A REAL SHELBY. I don't even consider it to be a Shelby clone, tribute, or replica. However, the car is repeatedly mis-identifed as one, even by Shelby owners (who should honestly know better). Shortly after having the stripes put on the car, some Shelby owners started having issues with the car, and keep in mind that this was even before applying the "Powered By Ford" badges.

    I'm aware that putting badges on a car that indicate it might be something that it's not is generally frowned upon by a small number of people who think their opinion should have an effect on my mods. If they want to take over the payments on my car, I'll be happy to make the car the way they want it (with the caveat that I get to do anything I want to the car once it's paid off), but until then, they should just hate (and secretly admire) the car from a distance and shut the fuck up. I will not be adding the Cobra badges or the letters "GT-XXX" to the rocker stripes because that would be a bit over the top, even for me. So, you haters out there are allowed to hate, but I'm honestly not interested in your opnion, so express it somewhere else.

    Fitment - I've seen a lot of discussion regarding the spacing between the letters, and settled on one that specifies a 2-7/8 inch gap between letters. To mitigate the effect of the hood scoop splitter on the front of the car, I decided 3-3/4-inch gaps, and besides, the newer Shelby's appear to use something close to that. In case you were wondering, the letters are 1-1/8 inches tall, and widths approximately measure as follows:

    • S- 1-7/8
    • H- 1-7/8
    • E- 1-5/8
    • L- 1-5/8
    • B- 1-15/16
    • Y- 2

    I think paying $25 for templates is ludicrous, so I obtained some 7/16-inch wide plastic strips from a local hobby store and marked out the letter positions. The hood has a center splitter that prevented me from using a single piece of plastic strip, so I made one strip for each side that spaces three of the letters the appropriate distance.

    On the deck lid, the letters are placed below the 3rd brake light, and appears to follow the slight curvature of the deck lid. Application on the back of the car was simple, but the front was more problematic given the compound curves on the hood coupled with the scoop dividing spear.

    All together, the whole thing took about an hour to do. My wife was pretty much against it when I told her about it, but after seeing it, she agrees that the big white space in front of the hood scoop really did need to be broken up a little, and the SHELBY letters look good.

Custom Splitter

I decided I wanted a splitter on the car, and because I have a Boy Racer body kit, there aren't any pre-made splitters available. This means I have to make my own. There are several materials you can use, suchas as ABS, aluminum, plywood, or Sintra (a rigid foam board). Of all of these, Sintra was my choice. It was cheap ($25 for a 70x24-inch sheet), the lightest (lighter by 30% over ABS), and was the least likely to damage the rest of the car if I ran into something with it.

The splitter is under construction, and when completed, this section will be updated.


OEM Black-bezel Headlight Assemblies

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Ford has a bizarre habit of doing things for no apparent reason. Case in point - cars that come with halogen headlights that have black bezels. It seems that there is no rhyme nor reason that can be used to determine what models of the Mustang come with these types of headlights. Some ((but not all) GT's got them, and some (but not all) Boss 302's got them, but in both cases, there doesn't appear to be any identifying trim package that says "black headlight bezels". I've even seen some V6's that have them.

To make matters worse, going online to a Ford dealer's web site (like Tousley Ford parts Depot) makes it pretty much impossible to determine which headlight you're going to get if you just order them from there because there's nothing identifying which headlight you're ordering, except for which side of the car it goes on. Beyond that, Ford wants WAY too much money (over $500 for the pair) for them, especially since they're just halogen lights.

I wanted to see if I could get some used take-offs. I figured I could get the lights cheaper than if buying them new, plus I'd be helping someone out that was trying to sell parts they didn't need. As a result, I figured I'd try to find some used becaus it seems like everyone EXCEPT me wants HID lights.

Ripped Off

First Time

I put out feelers for halogen headlight assemblies with black bezels, and within 24 hours, someone (in Canada) contacted me off the AllFordMustangs web site. I paid them $50 via PayPal for the assemblies, and was promised immediate shipping. Suffice it to say that I never got the headlighhts, and none of my emails were ever answered. So ends ripoff #1.

Second Time

Still in hunting for "a deal", I found some black bezel headlights locally, and met the person over by Sea World to effect the exchange. I looked at one of the lights to make sure they were in fact black bezels, and they were so I paid for them and took them home. The next evening I was cleaning them up, and noticed that the top mounting tab on the driver's side light was missing (aka, broken off). I contacted the seller to see if she could look for the tab to at least allow me to effect a repair, and failing the locating of the tab, allow me to give the lights back and refund my money. You might guess the result - she never answered back other than to say that she would not refund my money.

It's a real shame that people are no longer compelled by integrity and honor to simply "do the right thing" nowadays. If Maria (who works at Lackland AFB at the time of this writing) is reading this, she should really learn to be more trust-worthy because one of these days, she's going to rip somone off that isn't as law-abiding as yours truly, and she will pay dearly. In case you're wondering, she drives a black 2010 GT with black OEM wheels. DO NOT deal with this person.

Fuck It - I'll Just Buy New Ones

You guessed it. I finally broke down and purchased new parts. I found them for just $139 each at Auto Parts Warehouse. The part numbers are REPF100111Q and REPF100112Q, and they even come with lightbulbs (garbage though they might be). If you order them as a set, it will cost you $30 more than if you buy them individually. Also, be sure you're not getting the ones with the 5-year warranty (both part numbers end in "ATG"), as they will cost more than twice what these cost. (For the record, Ford wants $500 for the pair - that's just stupid.)


Installation

Installation was stupid. In order to change out the front headlights, you MUST remove the front bumper cover. For OEM bumper covers, I'm sure this is but a minor inconvenience, but for the 3D-Carbon Boy Racer front bumper, it was a pain in the ass. However, one you have your front bumper cover off, replacement of the headlights is simple and straightforward. Each one is held on with three bolts. The top bolt has a plastic pin next to it that serves for initial alignment (for the top bolt), as well has support so you can thread in the bottom bolts.

I would be remiss if I didn't mention the delicate nature of the top mounting tab. It just hangs out there with no bracing and if not treated with car, and EASILY be snapped off the headlight, making it (the light) completely unmountable. BE CAREFUL.

The whole process takes about two hours if you're by yourself. Make sure you remember to re-align the headlights too.


What you're about to read is an amazing story. It took a full calendar month to actually be able to say that I had completed this mod. Read and be amazed.

Day 01 (04/01/2012) - I ordered these 18x9 wheels from American Muscle (Gloss Black 2010 GT500 Wheel 05-12):

I didn't ordered them because they were "GT500" wheels, but because I actually like them better than anything I've seen before or since. I'm also glad they're gloss black, because that makes them pop a little more than matte black parts.

Day 05 - A word about American Muscle's free shipping - it takes a full week (yes, SEVEN days) for me to get something from them (using the free shipping, and time is only counted after they actually post a shipping notice), even something small, like a pack of lug nuts. I know it's not their fault, but that's a long time considering it's only going half-way across the country.

It's now more painfully obvious that lowering is required (tires are an inch shorter than stock), even though the new tires resulted in lowering the car by 1 inch. No worries, because I've already ordered a set of Roush springs for $125(!), but they won't be going on the car until I get the new shocks and other components.

Getting the wheels was my first experience with ordering something from American Muscle. Given the weight of the wheels, I was really glad they offered free shipping, but there's also a downside - it takes FIVE DAYS to get from Pennsylvania to central Texas. Ugh.

UPS did their usual bang-up job during shipping of the wheels, and I do mean "bang-up". I took the car down to Discount Tire to have them mount tires on the wheels, and when before doing the last one, they found a significant chunk of material missing from the edge of the wheel. American Muscle sent a replacement, and I got it installed on 04/21. Or so I thought.

When I was about to box up the damaged wheel to ship back to AM, I noticed that the missing chunk of material was no longer missing. Upon checking the car, I realized that the defective wheel was STILL ON THE CAR. They had swapped out the wrong wheel, so it was back to Discount Tire to have them swap out the correct wheel. It was clear to see that luck and good fortune had both found seats on the last bus out of town, because Discount Tire managed to damage the replacement wheel, so they had to order me another one. God knows when I'll get it, but when I do, it will be noted here. So far the process of adding new wheels/tires to the car has consumed three weeks, and three trips to Discount Tire.

Update Day 29 - I still haven't heard from Discount Tire. I guess I'm gonna have to slam their collective dicks in a door to get things moving over there.

Update Day 33 - I still haven't heard from Discount Tire, so I called them. Brain (the guy I've been dealing with) told me that the wheel wasn't in yet because they hadn't ordered it yet. So this means the asshole LIED to me two weeks ago when he said he'd ordered it before I even left the store. THIS time, he said that he ordered the wheel on his own personal credit card, but as you might guess, he opted for free shipping, and that means he won't get the new tire until the Day 45.

Final Update Day 45 - Discount Tire called to tell me they'd received my replacement wheel, so I went down to pick it up and took it across the street to NTB to have it installed. I think this part of the modding process is finally done - after 45 days.

Final Comments

If you order wheels from American Muscle, make sure you inspect each one before letting the UPS guy leave your front porch. UPS is none too careful when handling packages, and each time I got a wheel from American Muscle, the box was torn up BAD. I sent an email to AM about their packaging, and have never received a reply.


Wheel Caps

Ford Racing Running Pony Tri-Bar Center Cap - Large
$50 EACH!? WTF?!

You guys are aware of the choices we have, and the over-the-top costs associated with the "officially licensed" caps. In my eyes, if I'm gonna spend $200 (or more) on plastic center caps for my wheels, I want them to be unique. Paying that kind of money for caps that have the tri-bar pony emblem on them is simply ridiculous. Even the Shelby caps cost less (and when SAI charges less for something than someone else, you KNOW that the price for the non-Shelby part is too freakin' high.

Sure, we can just go ahead and advertise for American Muscle with their standard caps, but I'm not one to really do that. So I sat down and gave it some thought, and the following is what I did.

Knockoffs (some incorrectly call them "spinners")

I ordered one chrome knock off and two towers so I could see what it looks like on the car. When I hold it up to the wheel it looks good, but it's really hard to telll for sure until you can stand back. The knockoff itself is a screw-on type, and unfortunately, the short tower is too short, and the tall tower is too tall, so there are two options left to me:

  • Find a way to make extensions for the screw-on parts. This will probably be REAL expensive, since not only do I have to procure an appropriately-sized pipe, but I have to pay for the machining of said pipe (threading the outside and tapping the inside). Since we're talking about four extensions, I'm assuming the cost will exceed $200 ($70 for the knockoffs, and the rest for material/machining).

  • Get the bolt-on knockoffs and build a simple spacer to allow the knockoff to be spaced far enough away from the wheel to avoid having the knockoff's wings damage the wheel's spokes. The only requirement is that the spacers be cut square to it's center. They can be made out of any material that's handy (like PVC pipe). One issue with the bold-on knockoffs is with the front wheels, where a bearing cover may require a too-tall tower to be used in order to accomodate the attachment method.

My head hurts - at this point, Ihaving second thoughts about knock-offs because it's a lot of effort for something that I may not even like once it's done. I think I'm going to chalk this up as a failed experiment that fortunately didn't cost a lot ($40) to try out. I'm not counting the cost of this test at the bottom of the page because I ddn't actually follow through and get all four caps.

Star Caps

My second attempt at unqiue wheel caps involves a conglomeration of parts. The idea was inspired by the KMC wheels that you see on trucks.

First, I had to find a 3-dimensional star that would fit in the available space (about 2.5 inches). Without these, my idea was toast before I even began. I got luck and found some at Clarion House for just $1.50 for a pack of three. They're "rusty", but that's just paint, and easy to remove.

Next, I had to find an existing wheel cap that I could remove the emblem from, and replace with my own. I settled on the SR caps from American Muscle ("Chrome 2010 Style SR Center Cap - Large"). They're cheap ($7 each), and the center is nothing more than a plastic disk secured with 3M tape.

The final piece of the puzzle required me to find someone that could make me some replacement disks that would serve to replace the original disks, as well as allowing me to center the stars precisely on the cap. I found a guy up in Rhode Island that performed that task.

Part 1 - Parts and Test Fitment

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After finally getting all the parts in one place, I had to make sure my idea was sound (via test fitting), and decide on colors to be used. Since I had the parts, test fitting was the logical next step, so I put the new disk into my test cap, and placed a star on it. It's really too bad that I couldn't find a star that was just a touch larger, but hey, beggars... choosers... you know the drill. Here are some pics of the test fitting.

Part 2 - Preparing the Parts

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Painting requires prep work, and this particular job is no different. The first step was to sand fake rust off the stars, and that took the better part of a day to complete for all 12 stars. I suppose i could have used a chemical stripper, but where's the fun in that? Anyway, the next step was to disassemble and de-chrome the donor caps.

Note: The "fun" in that meant i wouldn't have to do it later, which I had to do, because the rust was apparnely real rust. I wenbt ahead and got some Gumout rust remover, and after an hour, the stars were almost completely free of anything that wasn't bare metal. So, handy tip - use a rust remover - it'll be A LOT faster.

To disassemble the caps, I drilled a hole through the plastic base, and used a scre driver to fracture the plastic disc that was originally used on the cap. At that point it was a simply matter to remove the disk in pieces using a flat bladed screwdriver. The discs were held in with 3M tape, and much of the tape remained on the cap after removing the disk, so I applied some Goo-Gone to soften the tape, and used a single-edged razor blade to remove most of the tape, and then a final helping of Goo-Gone to remove the residual "goo". The surface had to be prefectly clean before applying the new disks.

The final step in preparing the bases for paint was to remove the chrome. Since the bases are plastic, I didn't want to use any really harsh chemicals for fear of destroying the base itself. I decided that I'd try an old plastic car modeler's trick, and use some oven cleaner to dechrome the bases. Long story short, that didn't work. I wasn't really interested in waiting around for a couple of days while trying other techniques, especially since there was no guarantee that any of them would work, so I decided to just sand the caps with some 400 wet-or-dry, enough to knock the chrome down to a brushed appearance, and then prime/paint the caps.

Part 3 - Painting

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Note: - All paint was from Dupli-Color.

After a judicouse wipedown with isopropyl alcohol, I assembled the disks into the caps, and sprayed by the caps and the stars with sandable primer gray. All of the parts got two coats, just to be sure I covered everything evenly. I let the primer dry for 24 hours.

Next, I sprayed the caps with three coats of gloss black, and the stars with four coats of Performance White.

Part 4 - Final Assembly

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I glued the a set of stars to the cap using Super Glue, and then the painted stars to the star bases. Once that was dry, I sprayed several coats of clearcoat on the caps.

Part 5 - Installation Onto the Car

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Finally, I jacked up the car to remove the wheels, and replaced the original American Muscle wheel caps.