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Special order 2011 Mustang

Sourcing the Right Parts The Easy Way

Joe Greeves - February 23, 2012 10:00 AM

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Creating a custom car can be an intensely personal experience, tailoring it to fit your every need.

Dean Stires, from St. Augustine, Florida, loves personalized cars and is a staunch Mustang enthusiast. He’s had at least one Mustang in the driveway (sometimes as many as three!) since they were introduced back in ’64. All of them had been modified in some way.

Following the natural order of things, where each is better than the last, creating a new “personal best” each time becomes a challenge. That challenge was made even more unique this time because of one element.

Dean was intrigued with the release of the latest 5.0 DOHC V-8, now with twin independent variable cam timing and four valves per cylinder. This engine could be paired with the new computer-controlled six-speed automatic. A stick shift guy for the last couple of decades, it was time for a change and that’s where the problems began.

Dean owned a Roush at the time and wanted another. Unfortunately, Roush cars were only available with standard transmissions, which wouldn’t have been a problem before. His next approach was to contact Palm Coast Ford in Palm Coast, Florida, and begin the special order process for a 2011 Mustang convertible, tailoring the car right from the start.

The image on the computer screen started it all. “I saw that car on the screen and knew it was the one, especially when combined with Ford Racing’s Black Track Pack 19-inch wheels and 40-series Pirelli tires.” Dean went through the list of factory options, selecting the all-important 5.0 V-8 and six-speed automatic, the premium interior and sound system, and the premium cotton convertible top.

Then he threw in a twist.

Rather than take delivery of the car and complete his “Dream GT” build at some later date, Dean chose to have the car shipped from the factory directly to the experts at Sherrod Motor Sports in Georgia, intent on adding some non-factory style to the muscle. As he did with the Ford dealer, he went through Sherrod’s menu, tailoring the car from their collection of Mustang-specific accessories, thoroughly enjoying the kid-in-a-candy-store feeling.

The team at Sherrod methodically worked the list, installing the front air splitter, billet grilles, hood scoop, heat extractor front fender vents, tunneled rear diffuser, rear spoiler, and convertible light bar. They upgraded the factory 18-inch wheels with gloss black 19 x 9 OEM aluminum rims, then painted all the new additions to match the black Mustang exterior. Side exhausts were also on the list but no one was making an aftermarket package for the 2010 or later convertibles since the extra stiffening crossmember complicates the installation.

Since Magnaflow was in need of a prototype car, Dean’s Mustang was in the right place at the right time to serve the purpose. While it was under construction at Sherrod’s, the Magnaflow team got a first-hand look at the complexity of the project. With five pieces on one side and four on the other, and having to route one pipe over the frame member and the other through it, they completed the installation but determined that the package was too costly and complex to offer as an aftermarket option. That meant Dean’s convertible and only one other prototype Mustang have the Magnaflow X Chamber side exhaust system with a 2½-inch cat-back system and rolled stainless tips, something not found in a catalog.

Once Sherrod and Magnaflow were finished with their portions, the car was delivered to Palm Coast Ford where Dean saw it for the first time. He was excited to finally see his creation. For the car to qualify as “Dean’s Best” however, there were a few more changes still on the list. Palm Coast engine technicians installed Ford’s Boss 302 conversion package with a new intake manifold and enhanced fuel system, extracting the maximum horsepower electronically with an SCT Performance Tune designed specifically for the Boss package. The tuner gives Dean a choice of either street or performance mode (he definitely prefers the latter). A Boss 302 Laguna Seca gauge pack on the dash added to the fun, providing quarter-mile times, 0 to 60 acceleration times, 60 to zero, g forces, and more. So far, the best quarter-mile times have been in the low 12s and zero to 60 times are hovering in the mid-four-second range. Dean is still perfecting his launch technique in order to minimize wheel spin, so expect the numbers to change for the better.

In the current state of tune, the naturally aspirated V-8 produces 470 hp and 430 lbs-ft of torque, a number that exceeds his former supercharged 4.6L Roush. Nearing the end of the Cinderella transformation, Palm Coast Ford lowered the car’s profile with Steeda Ultra Lite lowering springs, 1¼ inches in the front and 1½ inches in the rear. The LeMans stripes down the center became the perfect finishing touch.

How does it feel to build the ultimate factory custom? “Having had Mustangs since they were introduced in 1964, I have to say that this is the best Mustang I’ve ever owned,” Dean beamed. “I expected the convertible to have some cowl shake and maybe a few rattles, but there weren’t any. Even the wind noise is negligible. The automatic transmission is amazing with soft shifts when you’re light on the throttle and hard, fast shifts when you’re standing on it.” Dean’s car proves that whether you’re buying it or building it, it’s the careful personalizing process that makes all the difference!

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