A lot of time and consideration went into the modifications of the StangNet Shelby GT500. We wanted to make changes to this unique Mustang, but wanted to keep the root design and feel of the car intact, as to not steal away from what it really is: a GT500. Most of the changes are subtle, and as a whole they make the car look like what should have come off the assembly line originally. This is no knock on Ford, Shelby or SVT… the GT500 was awesome to start with; we just turned it up a few notches. Below we will describe all the changes completed to date. We have received numerous questions about specific modifications, so now we are releasing all the details so you can see for yourself how it was all accomplished.
This is what started it all: one phone call to Classic Design Concepts (CDC) asking them if they wanted to cut a hole in the roof of a GT500—they responded “Sure!” The trick was the handling and reapplication of the overhead striping. What should be done? Currently, we are using perforated vinyl on the outside of the glass to give the appearance of a solid roof with stripes. But from the inside you can see out as though looking through tint. CDC is currently working on an option to have the stripes sandwiched inside the glass. Stay tuned for this future engineering improvement. We also elected to paint the side trim pieces to give the car a solid white feel.
The Le Mans Stripes
The factory “sticker” stripes were not going to cut it. We removed the factory stripes, and during that process, we outlined the original lines with painter’s tape to make sure we kept the same pattern. We chose a different blue (a top secret hue) from the factory Vista Blue color and chose not to use a metal flake type base to give it a deep smooth look. There are NO lines or edges to the stripes. All the body parts that have painted stripes were clear coated again to give a smooth finish. Another benefit is there are no “breaks” in the stripes. From the factory, the stripes are applied after the car is assembled, so the decal stripes have to go around everything instead of being solid and continuous. This attention to detail results in an incredible finish to this GT500.
All of the body paneling and parts were wet sanded and polished. Doing this removed all the orange peel from the factory clear coat. The car is now smooth and shines like no other. We suggest anyone looking for the ultimate look for your Ford Mustang have someone trustworthy wet sand and buff out the car’s paint.
We wanted to keep the stock front GT500 spoiler. We just chose to key color (painted body color) the lower spoiler and apply the GT500 stripes (painted). The factory piece was hand sanded to remove the factory molded texture and then painted with stripes to match.
At first glance, you would assume that nothing changed from the vinyl factory side stripes. Well, since we changed the color of the Le Mans stripes, they had to match right? So new stripes were created by Artworks Graphics and applied. Even here, subtle becomes significant. The factory pieces stop and start down the side, causing breaks in the graphics. These new graphics were designed to ‘wrap’ around all the edges, giving it a continuous look.
We chose the Classic Design Concepts C-Pillar louvered scoops. These fit the overall design strategy of the project. They are profile in appearance and from the inside, you can still see through them to check for traffic (or the loser being passed).
Lower Front Grill
This modification is quite the trick and is a one-off currently. We wanted the factory fog light locations to become functional brake ducts, yet wanted to maintain the effect and illumination of lower driving lights. So the factory lights were removed and brake ducts were hand fabricated and made functional to feed air to the big Brembo brakes. We then took the factory lower grille and fabricated sockets for some driving lights. These lights are from the Mustang ‘Pony Package’ found on V6 Mustangs. The bezels and mounts are hand fabricated to hold the lights in a centered position between the Le Mans stripes. Again, it’s all about the details.
There is a lot of talk about how huge the factory mirrors are. We weighed several options on these mirrors and opted to have them key colored. Some people prefer to just use the upper “stick on” inserts to give them some color. Painting the mirrors solid giving them a smaller appearance in the profile, allowing them to better blend into the car.
The factory GT500 spoiler was not ideal for the package we were putting together for this car. We know there are design limitations imposed on Ford when designing a car that has to be produced on an assembly line. We chose to go with the Foose Ducktail wing, as its design allows for the factory holes in the rear deck to be covered. We used Computer Aided Design (CAD) techniques to redesign the wing and get the look that we have now. The spoiler itself was actually modified by hand. First, several measurements were made and the cutting began. We then notched out the indentation you see below and filled it in with ABS plastic, then molded it to shape. No bondo used here. CDC is currently looking at a way to mass produce this part. If you are interested in this beautiful addition, let them know. Market interest is important in these types of decisions.
Lower Rear Valance
The lower rear factory valance is a solid black plastic piece. We wanted to continue the white down the side of the car, bringing its overall stance and girth down to the ground. The piece was hand sanded to remove the factory texture and then painted to match. The center section was painted a satin black to get that “look”.
(see pics above for details of rear valance)
To keep with the white on the bottom of the car, we obtained some V6 painted white rockers from NewTakeOffParts.com. We then wet sanded them and polished them out.
There were several ideas to change the lights. Jaguar lights? Paint the bezels inside? Well at the time, we had heard that Ford was bringing an HID option to the 2008 Mustang line. We contacted Ford and told them of our project and they got on board with us. These will be available late this year as far as we know. The lights do a great job and they are adjustable. Some have asked if it’s a straight swap–there are actually some harness and module requirements. A nice added feature is the high beam “get out of my way” flick. The lights actually strobe twice, much like strobe flashers do. It’s just not a rapid on and off cycle.
We shopped around for a long while for a wheel/tire package for this GT500 project. We always have believed the ideal wheel size for the new S197 body package are 19″ rims. 18’s don’t quite do it and 20’s are really just too much wheel. Width was an issue as well as we needed meat meeting the ground. Most aftermarket wheels that would fit the GT500 are actually narrower than the factory 9.5″ wheels. After many wheel combinations, we decided on the CCW SP20 wheels. They are a CNC machined aluminum wheel. They are dramatically lighter than the factory wheels. On the rear, we have 19×11 wheels and up front are 19×9.5. The tires selected were BFGoodrich KDW’s. 275/35 up front and 295/35 out back. This combination maintains the factory wheel height; a nice touch.
We knew the stock height had to be changed. We needed to sit the GT500 lower and improve the handling, yet maintain the factory quality of low amounts of road noise. We opted for the new Steeda Coil Over Suspension. We were able to set the car at a good ride height, tune the strut rebound and set our camber alignment. The Steeda setup allowed us to do this perfectly. D-Spec struts control the dampening–they are currently set to medium adjustment, and spring rates are 225 up front and 200 for the rear. The overall ride quality and handling are superb.
Mass Air System/Tune
More power? Why not? We went with C&L for the Mass Air/Tune change. C&L is a trusted source in our Mustang community and we knew what they were bringing to the market would be done right. We got one of their first GT500 Mass Air systems and we must say the quality was there just like we expected. Fitment is perfect, the look is perfect, and the performance gain is respectable. The tune change came via C&L’s custom tuned Diablo predator. We have not dynoed the car yet for number changes, but C&L internal testing is showing a 60-80 RWHP gain on back to back runs, given the variable of blower heat soak. Drivability remains normal, but the power gains are very noticeable.
A deep tone and a rumble: both are very important characteristics of a Ford Mustang. We researched many options before settling on the following combination. We replaced the factory x-pipe with catalytic converters with an H-pipe option from MRT. We then mated a Magnaflow axle-back to the setup. The combo is perfect. We have increased the airflow in and out of the engine. We have a deep rumble, a bark when we romp on the throttle and no drone at cruising speeds. We got the DNA right.
Bonus! We painted the factory strut brace white and striped to match the Le Mans stripes. It’s in the details!
2000 Watts! We knew on a project of this magnitude, we needed the ultimate sound system. We have been long time lovers of Rockford Fosgate products. We contacted them on this project and asked what solutions they may have to offer. They told us about a new package they are testing exclusively for the Mustang and offered us to test and display the feasibility of such a package. The combination of components exudes the appearance of a stock system as opposed to an all out flashy job. This was ideal for this project. Factory locations were mostly utilized and trunk space was not sacrificed. It goes like this… the factory head unit was left untouched. We used line level converters at the head unit to send front and rear outputs to the trunk. The front output is fed into a Rockford T400-2 amplifier to power two 8″ subs in the front doors. Then a throughput from the T400-2 is passed to the Power1000 amp to feed midranges and highs to the front 6.5″ component speakers and tweeters located in the doors and front A-pillars. We then fed the rear output to the Power1000 which then feeds midranges and highs to two rear deck mounted P162 6.5″ component speakers. The low range is then taken from the rear output and fed to a Punch 12″ sub woofer from the Power100 amp in a custom enclosure in the trunk. A custom rack was made to hold the T400 amp and an enclosure for the Power100 amp is from Rockford Fosgate–all part of the package they are working on for the Mustang. Power is fed to the amps from a 1 gauge wire feeding off the battery located under the hood. Amplifier adjustments of DB Gain and the Subwoofer cutoff frequency are located in the center console. The setup and system performance is impeccable. We are Mustang enthusiasts, but are also Audiophiles… the performance of these speakers and amps is BRILLIANT! We hope that Rockford Fosgate will make this package available to all Mustang owners soon.
We would like to extend a special thanks to Classic Design Concepts and crew for their long, hard hours in making this project come to life. We also want to thank the following sponsors and contributors to this project!