where your opinions are noted, and then summarily ignored

After a 20-year absence from the Mustang scene, I finally returned with a 2012 base V6 Coupe (automatic). Yes, I would have preferred to get a GT, but gas prices and the price of the car forced me to economize, and besides, there were no white 2012 GTs available by the time I did this. Being on the downhill run to 60, my reflexes aren't what they used to be, so I thought a GT would have simply been a bad idea overall (not to mention an almost complete waste of machinery on an old fart like me). (Witness my change of heart here - 427w swap.)

The following content will document changes made, and the cost of those modifications. As modifications are made, they will be removed from the list of desired mods at the bottom of this web page. Here's what it looks like right now after all currently applied mods):

Current Mod List

427ci Windsor Swap Project
The list of changes to the car is so extensive as a result of the engine swap, that I simply left the associated parts list at the bottom of the swap page.

  • 3D-Carbon Boy Racer body kit
  • 3D-Carbon E Grille (I call it a GT500 grille)
  • Cervini's Type IV ram air hood
  • Paint-on-vinyl gaurdsman blue stripes
  • OEM black-bezel headlights
  • Polished stainless "427" fender emblems
  • SHELBY letters (front and back)
  • Body-color mirror covers
  • 3M ceramic window tint (35%)
  • AmericanMuscle 18x9 wheels
  • Michelin Pilot Sport 255/45ZR18 tires
  • Speedhut custom gauges
  • Speed-of-Sound A-pillar three-guage pod
  • Pioneer AVH-X5500BHS double-DIN head unti
  • Kenwood 6x9 speakers (front and rear)
  • Scosche Console panel
  • Leather 2010 Shelby steering wheel
  • Electrochromatic rear view mirror
  • Cipher Auto Racing Harness Bar
  • RaceQuip 5-point Racing Harnesses
  • 427 Windsor (Dart block, AFR heads, TrickFlow cam, QuickFuel carb, Accufab headers)
  • SCT XF3 Tuner
  • Magnaflow Streets cat-back
  • Tremec T56 Magnum XL
  • Axle Exchange aluminum driveshaft
  • Eibach Pro springs
  • Koni STR.T shocks/struts
  • Maximum Motorsports catser/camber plates
  • Eibach adjustable sway bars (front and rear)
  • FRPP adjustable panhard bar
  • Whiteline panhardbar support brace
  • Whiteline LCA relocation brackets
  • SR-Performance adjustable LCAs
  • Steeda bump-steer kit
  • Steeda front LCA
  • Fays2 Watts Link
  • Brake Performance slotted/dimpled rotors (for GT)
  • GT front caliper brackets
  • FRPP Boss 302 brake lines
  • Hawk HPS brake pads
  • ATE Super Blue brake fluid
  • FRPP 3.73
  • Bearing Install kit
  • 2011+ rear pinion bearing

Cost: $21,580 (out the door)

I purchased the car new at Jordan Ford in San Antonio for $21,580 (out the door). Even though I went down there with my own financing and a credit score of 840, it STILL took almost six hours to drive out of the dealership parking lot with the car. Most of the time was spent waiting on paperwork. It takes an hour to sign all the paperwork involved with buying a house, but it takes more than five hours to buy a car. They REALLY have to do something to streamline this process.

Update: I paid the car off two weeks before it was a year old.

Click image for full size version, and more pics.

4:01pm - First Mod: Stripe Delete

I ripped the rocker stripe from the car. AWAY, DAMN STRIPE! (My first official mod.) I don't like the pedestrian look of the "MUSTANG" rocker stripes, but my wife did. What does she know? SHE'S A GIRL! Besides, I was intending to put rocker stripes back on it when I got the Le Mans stripes to rid the car of the "slab-o-white" appearance.

I've encountered a certain level of resentment, disdain, and even downright anger regarding the appearance of my car. It started right after I had the body kit, hood, and blue stripes put on the car. A Shelby owner at a car show was talking to his buddy about my car, and his buddy thought it looked nice, to which the Shelby owner claimed that it was "a lame attempt at making a Shelby". Keep in mind that it merely had blue stripes on it with no markings that claimed a Shelby pedigree. This attitude was even more prevalant on various Mustang forums. Once again, there was not yet any Shelby badging on the car.

The curious part of the whole thing is that I was getting more heartburn from people that didn't even own a Shelby (and never had). I find this truly bizarre, and to be honest, if you're one of these people that care more about what's on the car than the effort, time, and cash required to build the car out, you can pretty much kiss my redneck ass.

A 2012 Shelby (on the left) compared to my 2012 Mustang (on the right) - beyond the color and stripes, there's really no way you can uunderstandably think my car is a Shelby - I don't understand the confusion on the part of Shelby owners...

The situation got so bad that I finally caved in and put "SHELBY" on the car. Yeah, I paid $120 for two sets of letters, and (GAK!) made my own spacing template, and then had the temerity to actually apply the letters. I really hate it when I unintentionally piss someone off, so to make myself feel better and to give the ass-hats something to justify their absurd opinons, I went ahead and gave you a reason. If it bothers you, good. If it doesn't, good. However, if you REALLY hate it, and want me to take the letters off my car, I still have about 45 payments left on it, and if you want to pay the car off for me, I'll be happy to remove the letters.

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Is it a Replica/Clone, Tribute, or a Fake?

In my mind there are three categories of the "faux" Shelby:

  • Replica - Webster's Dictionary defines a replica as "an exact reproduction". A Shelby "replica" is a Mustang that started out life as a non-Shelby, but was modified so extensively to look like a Shelby that unless you noticed the absence of the Shelby number plate(s), you wouldn't be able to tell them apart. The owner of this car would not claim that it was a Shelby when asked, but would instead admit that the car is a "replica".

  • Tribute - Webster's Dictionary defines tribute as "something (as material evidence or a formal attestation) that indicates the worth, virtue, or effectiveness of the one in question". A tribute car is one that does not fit the role as a "replica", yet pays hommage to the idea behind the Shelby through appearance. There may or may not be Shelby badges or other markings on it, but it's general appearance would bring forth the mistaken impression that the car is a Shelby. Again, the owner of this car would not claim that it was a Shelby when asked, but would instead admit that the car is a "tribute". (This is where my car sits in the grand scheme of things.)

  • Fake - Webster's Dictionmary defines fake as "a worthless imitation passed off as genuine". Yes, it's possible to lump a replica and a tribute car into the "fake" category, but notice the last four words of the definition - "passed off as genuine". This is where a fake is separated from the other two categories - the owner will attempt to pass off his car as a real Shelby instead of what it is (either a tribute or a replica). At this point, it's not the car's nature that puts it into the fake category, but the owner's false claims of pedigree.

When I tried to explain this on one of the Mustang forums, I had some kid from Denton,TX tell me I was "making shit up to make myself feel better". To him - whatever blows your skirt up, little girl.

Further Comments

As special edition owners, you guys are a LOT less likely to modify your cars. Again, that's understandable, especially if you're concerned with collectability or resale value. I would personally be reluctant to purchase a used Shelby or Boss that has been modified in any way. In my eyes, they're special and rare in their stock form, and should be left alone. For those of us who don't want a special edition, we have a lot more freedom to do as we please with our vehicles.

At one (heavily populated) end of the Mustang spectrum, we have the vast majority of Mustang owners that don't take the time or effort to mod their cars - just count the number of bone stock Mustangs on the road, and you'll see what I mean. They're riding too high on stock wheels, with factory exhaust, and no exterior adornments of any kind. They're dirty. They're dented. They're "just transportation". In some instances, the owners simply can't or won't pony up the disposable income to do anything to their cars, even something as simple and inexpensive as a stripe package. Whether you want to admit it or not, most special edition owners are at that end of the spectrum as well, but for entirely different and obvious reasons - they don't want to ruin the originality of their cars because they tend to retain their resale value that way (and they take much better care of their cars, to boot).

Then there are people (like me) that exist on a completely different plane of thought. We buy our Mustangs with the express intent of modifying them in one way or another. In my case, I had a very distinct view of what I wanted my car to look like, and this page clearly illustrates the path I took toward achieving that goal (and there's more yet to do). Other people go a bit more extreme, and make all kinds of driveline modifications, but leave the outside of the car alone. As a group, we actually do something you guys don't do - we put time, money, and effort into our cars way past the original date of purchase, and way beyond reason. (I'm not saying you special edition guys don't mod at all, but if you do, the changes are more nuanced due to the nature of your car).

When we mod our cars, we are using stuff that's available to the market at large, and it's much easier to do nowadays, as opposed to the 60's-80's when you almost had to be a master fabricator to achieve your ultimate goals. It's not like we're stealing the parts, or buying them while pretending to own the car for which they're actually manufactured. Hot rodders have been doing this since hot rodding began more than 70 years ago. We do it because we perceive value in the parts. In the end, our modern "hot rods" - either intentionally or subconciously - are more likely to take on the form and/or function of a car that the part(s) originally came on, mostly because the parts are so easily obtainable. In my eyes, that's okay, and sometimes, even necessary or expected.

In the world of Mustangs, it's actually quite difficult to come up with something that hasn't been done before, yet doesn't transform the car into a hideous monstrosity, especially considering all of the special edition cars that are available when combined with the popularity of the platform itself. Add to that the length of time a given body style is available, and you can probably see that building a Mustang has pretty much been done every way that makes sense (and many ways that don't). A lot of us like the styling cues of the Boss and Shelby as much as owners of those cars, but let's face facts - we simply can't afford to buy such cars right off the bat, and even if we could, Ford wouldn't be able to ramp up production to meet demand.

So here we sit, us outlaw Mustangers who have something that resemble a Shelby or Boss and might TOO closely resemble them for your comfort level. Guess what. We don't care how comfortable you are with it. Yeah, some of us may go as far as adding the (in)appropriate badging and/or vinyl touches that push the car right to the extreme edge of imitation, but hey, who really cares? IMHO, even having "Shelby" or "Boss 302" on the car doesn't mean it's been taken too far by the owner, so there's no reason for you guys to be complete asshats (and I've encountered more than my share of Shelby and Boss owner asshats). Even the non-special edition guys get all butt-hurt over it, and act like complete douches. Quite frankly, I get a pretty good chuckle out of it. If you can't appreciate a Mustang for what the owner made it, go buy a Chevrolet or Dodge, because those guys already don't like Mustangs.

You've probably seen at least one of these - a small econobox car with an outrageous spoiler, an obnoxious (and seemingly semi-installed) body kit, a gigantic hood scoop, imitation carbon fiber parts, and a whole host of a-pillar gauges. Everyone refers to these cars as "ricers". Today, these ex-ricers are discovering the Mustang, and after buying one, refer to any non-functional body modification to a Mustang as being "rice".

Have custom wheels? That's rice. How about OEM faux brake ducts, an OEM chin or rear spoiler, Recaro seats, or even Le Mans or FIA stripes, or a blacked out hood? Rice, rice, and more rice. Of course hood scoops and side scoops are rice as well, as are aftermarket gauges. In fact, if you have a car that's never seen a track, is "street legal", or has ANY comfort items (like A/C, radio, or stock seats) and that has any mods on it at all, it's rice - technically speaking.

My car is a street car, and I drive it every day. I've made appearance mods, and against my actual desire due to a lack of options available for 2010+ cars, I've mounted a-pillar gauges. The side scoops are fake (like everyone else's side scoops on S197 cars), the front fascia has faux brake cooling ducts that only cool the fender liners, and the hood just has useless scoop inlets, but only because the manufacturer hasn't yet released the "ram-air" kit for the hood. The gauges are functional, but in reality, they're not absolutley necessary. If you want to refer to my car as rice, feel free.

No, I'm never happy with anything as delivered from the manufacturer. I really like the car, but there are a few things that kind of annoy me. I know - you're first question is probably going to be, if these things annoy you, why did you buy the car?"

The answer is quite simple - because it's a Mustang - and that thought process may have blinded me to just how limited the base car is. I knew what I wanted to do to the car, and quite simply, there were no body mods available (and as of April 22, there still aren't that I know of) for the 2013 model. As you read this section, keep in mind that the 2013's were starting to hit the dealerships in larger numbers, making the choices available to me more limited every day I waited to buy it. I also wanted a white car, so this limited my choices even more. In any case, here's the list (and you'll notice that all but one of these issues has been resolved):

  • It came with some sort of half-assed appearance package that includes the "MUSTANG" rocker stripe and a bump on the deck lid they like to refer to as a "spoiler". This is the most useless pair of appearance items on the planet. If they'd had a white coupe on the lot without this option, I would have bought it instead, but alas, mediocrity has been thrust upon me. (FIXED)

  • At first, the instrument cluster really disappointed me. The speedo is a half-sweep instrument to allow the bottom half of the guage to house idiot lights. It's moderately difficult to determine how fast you're going because all the tick marks are so close together. Further, there is just one faux gauge - for water temperature. This is supposed to be a sports car. Where are the oil pressure and volts gauges? I've since discovered that the Premium equipment group includes a dash cluster with six gauges instead of four. It's going to cost at least $350 at Ford to replace it (that's the going price for the 2010 cluster, so I assume the one for 2012 will cost at least that much). If the ACU has to be re-programmed, that's another $100. It has now become a question of whether I want to go that way (the easiest way by a long shot), or try to fabricate something (since the gauge pod manufacturers appear to have abandoned the 2010+ models). On the PLUS side, the speedo goes to 160 MPH - on a V6. I already know the car will easily do 115, and even faster if I replace the drivesahft and remove the speed limiter. (FIXED)

  • There is no gas cap. Yes, that's right, NO GAS CAP. They call it a convenience feature. I call if overly aggressive cost-cutting. It's easy to fix with the purchase of an inexpensive locking gas cap. (FIXED)

  • The stero head unit is a monstrosity. It's HUGE at 9-3/4x7 inches. Why didn't they put something more compact in there and give us some real gauges? There is no way to connect a simple thumbdrive or flash card to the factory stero (any of them, it seems, even the Shaker units). Unfortunately, this calls for a completely new head unit AND a replacement console face plate (an extra $250-300 added to the cost of the head unit). (FIXED)

  • The car has no spare tire. Instead, it has an air pump and stop-leak, which does nothing but destroys the TPMS sensor under the valve stem. Way to go Ford. The ironic part is that there's actually a space in the trunk for a full-size spare (and this is where the goo-spewing air pump lives). Since Ford wants to extort $500 from me to buy a compact spare tire kit, I'm going to just buy a tire that fits oone of my OEM V6 wheels and that's small enough to fit in the spare tire cavity. Then, I'll go to a local salvage yard and buy a jack from a wrecked Mustang. Problem solved.

  • The interior rearview mirror distorts the reflected image in such a way as to make the cars look narrower and taller than they really are. I think I'm going to have to get an auto-dimming mirror. I really liked the one in my Crown Vic. Fortunately, this can be rectified by purchasing an aftermarket mirror for $100-150 (with auto-dimming and a compass). (FIXED)

  • The steering wheel is slippery. I don't know what it's made out of, but I'm not a fan. I've heard that the Bullitt sterering wheels are leather and have the same controls on them, so I'll be looking for one of those. American Muscle also sells an early GT500 wheel with the appropriate button configuration ($75 cheaper than the Bullitt wheel from Ford). (FIXED)

Back in the day, I was REALLY into fast Fords, and my favorite car has always been (and still is) the 1965 GT-350 R-Model Mustang, especially when painted in the iconic white with blue Le Mans stripes. In my eyes, NO Mustang looks better, and no amount of dicussion is going to change my mind on that. I once had a '65 fastback that I modified to look like one. I loved that car.

Fast forward to 2004. I had just moved to Texas, and wanted to get a car that was "reasonable", so I bought a Crown Victoria . Not wanting a completely boring car, I insisted on getting the Sport variant with bucket seats and a floor shifter. I drove that car for eight years and 107,000 miles, and when the A/C starting making noises like it was about to start giving me (expensive) problems, I decided it was time for a change - a new Mustang.

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Loins, Stirred - not Shaken

Click image for full size version, and more pics.

In November of 2011, I had to take my Crown Vic in for service, and while meandering around the parking lot, I saw this car, and caught a really bad case of gotta-have-it-SOON. There were some things about the way this one was done that I would not have done, but beyond that, it's a great looking car. The pictures were taken with my phone (sorry about the low quality - the phone's camera sucks in low light conditions). The primary mods here were a 3D Carbon body kit and center-mount fog light grille. It turns out this car is a V6.

Click image for full size version, and more pics.

When I went in to actually buy my Mustang, they had this red V6 car (they seem to be unwilling to modify a GT for display). I'm not a fan of the headlight splitters, or the Saleen-like rocker stripes on it, but it sure is pretty (they did a white with red stripes as well, but sold it before I got to see it). This is more like what I want to do to my car as far as stripes are concerned. All that was missing (in my humble opinion) was a proper hood.

My Vision

The American proclivity for hacking and modifying their automobiles is an amazing thing to witness. No marque is safe from a man with a vision of what it should actually look and perform like. From low-rider Corvettes to 4x4 SMART cars and Mini-Cooper stretch limos, nothing should surprise you by now. Muscle cars are especially revered by the American male, because Ford, Chevy, and Dodge have taken proactive steps to fuel the aftermarket and build excitement for their respective brands.

I wanted a car that isn't exactly like anyone else's car, and that's really hard to do when you add popular appearance items to a popular car like I wanted to do. Fortunately, there doesn't seem to be too many Performance White Mustangs around (in my area at least), with people usually picking black or some other "performance-inspiring" color. However, yours truly is a charter member of the "old school", and I happen to like a more traditional color scheme, especially where Le Mans stripes are concerned (besides, there's a lot to be said for a white car in Texas where heat frequently exceeds 100 degrees day after day). In short, the car HAD to be white, and the Le Mans stripes HAD to no only be blue, but they had to be Guardsman Blue.

Someone on a forum implied that the blue over white scheme was reserved for Shelbys, but in all actuality, blue over white is the international racing colors for the US, and Shelby appropriately adopted those colors while participating in races at Le Mans. Besides, when was the last time you saw a late model GT-500 in the "correct" color combination? I certainly haven't seen any locally.

When I bought the car, everybody accepted it with no huffing or raising of eyebrows. But when I started describing the desire to modify the car, almost everybody my age (or older) - and that included my wife - thought I was crazy, and they all seem to be eager to tell me about it...

"It looks great the way it is." - I agree.

"That's an awful lot of money to spend." - Yes, it most likely will be.

"But you didn't modify your Crown Vic." - Actually, I did.

"You'll put your eye out." - No, I won't.

Given the way gas prices have been going, I elected to purchase a V6, and because I didn't really think I needed all the fancy extras, I got a base model (even considering all of the annoyances listed above). I'm not really interested in going faster than the car will already go, so I feel like the brakes and motor are fine as they are. Finally, I'm not going to be "tracking" the car, so there's no real need for improving the sway bars and other running gear at this time. I might still replace the driveshaft simply for the weight savings and improved reliability, but that's about as far as I intend to go with driveline changes.