I have a disease. It’s called “modifyitis”. This rare affliction affects people across all classes and demographics, but seems limited to the sub-species of humans known as “gear-heads”. I’m unsure where exactly I caught modifyitis, as no-one in my extended family seems to be a carrier.
Yes, most “normal” people buy a car and just drive it as-is. They figure that there must have been some reason that the engineers put it together the way that they did, and that’s good enough for them. Of course most people also see a car as a transportation appliance, designed to get them from A to B and back again. I suppose that it’s fine, not everyone has the bug to change their car in any significant way.
Now there are grades to the modifyitis bug. It ranges from someone who just stops at the nearest Pep-Boys and goes for the tackiest seat covers and the range of stick-on fender vents, to the hard-core folks who change everything including bodywork in the wildest ways imaginable. I fall into the middle ground, those with some sense of taste and a propensity to want to highlight certain performance or aesthetic design features of the car.
In September of 2016 I got a promotion at work. In October I bought a 2017 Mustang Ecoboost.The thing when you buy a Mustang is that everyone has one, or knows someone who does. It’s one of the world’s most popular sporty cars, for good reason, but if you have one it’s not really unique until you make it yours.
So then things began to get modified. It was slow at first, after all this was a new car, with no miles on it and a brief break in period is only appropriate.
That didn’t last long though.
Before too long I had dropped in a high-flow air filter and bought a Cobb Accessport V3 to re-tune the computer for more power. Ford left a bit of performance in their stock settings, and I wanted it.I follwed this up with a set of hydraulic lifters for the hood, to get rid of Ford’s cheap prop-rod.
Around this same time I decided that I wanted to try my hand at autocross again. I had participated a few times in the late 90's with a Datsun I had modified and built up, and from everything I could see and feel in the Mustang it should do well and be a lot of fun in the process. By the end of January 2017 I had joined the local autocross club, bought a helmet, and saved up enough money for the first serious round of performance modifications; Eibach Pro-Kit springs, Steeda Strut brace, lower K-Brace, and subframe alignment bushings. I ran one event before lowering the car. Dropping an inch from the ride height as well as stiffening up the front end made turn in on an autocross course much tighter, leading to a couple of nice spins during the autocross season.
Having done a ton of research and armed with my experience with previous cars and modification routes I made sure that I had a plan, and that it would get me where I wanted to be with this car. Cold Air Intakes are a standard upgrade that everyone makes on a modern car, but a lot of them are really hot-air intakes with open filter elements inside the engine bay. I didn’t want that, so found one that had a longer than stock pipe that put the filter down low into the fender with a well blocked off air-box to keep that heat out. The shiny aluminum pipe is a pretty side-effect.
Since I had suspension pretty well taken care of, and the car had already come with upgraded brakes and cooling due to the Performance Package installed at the factory, now I needed wider rubber and some non-factory wheels. Enter LMR.com with a nice set of their house brand SVE Drift wheels in 19 x 9.5 with a set of Nitto tires that look really aggressive.
Having now spent a good chunk of change, I went easy on my budget for a couple of months, putting in some lighting upgrades with the reverse light and rear-side markers going to some products from Diode Dynamics, to enhance both visibility and appearance. Then came a little plasti-dip on the rear pony emblem to subdue the only chrome on the back of the car, and the addition of a carbon fiber rear window spoiler from eBay as an appearance upgrade. I’m under no delusions that it does anything for aerodynamics, though I can show that it changes the airflow over the rear window.
Then I got serious. Another couple of months (and a line of credit later) and I tackled the car’s most known issue, the undersized intercooler. I picked a nice upgrade from Custom Performance Engineering, and since I had to remove the nose of the car in the process it also got new intercooler piping from Mishimoto (shiny aluminum!) and a modified grille from a Mustang GT with a black front pony to finally get rid of the last of the exterior chrome. All of this took about 5 hours in my driveway.
In between all of this of course I was going out to autocross, and made it to an SCCA Track Night at Circuit of the Americas in August of 2017!
After all of this there were still some things to be done. I rented a lift from a local shop for an hour and put on a full cat-back exhaust, going from a resonator and dual mufflers, down to a single mid-mount muffler. It increases flow as well as produces a nicer sound than the super quiet stock setup. I then modified my stock turbo diverter valve with a kit from Go Fast Bits from Australia and changed out the wastegate actuator with one from TurboSmart, before going with a full custom tune from Adamtuned.com to wrap up my 2017 calendar. This is now a completely different car than the one I bought. It has performance and feel entirely different than and stock Mustang I’ve ridden in since.
This year’s income tax return bought me some new autocross tires on the old stock wheels, in a futile attempt to extend the life of my daily driven tires.
The rest of this year’s changes are all cosmetic, and no-where near complete. It’s gotten a new fuel door, a leather wrapped steering wheel, and a new shift knob so far. It will soon be getting custom made leather door panels and center console arm rest to match the steering wheel. The leather is here already, waiting for me to take the doors apart...
And of course, Autocross is addicting, so I’m still doing that.
My moral for all of you out there? It’s your car, don’t let it be just an appliance! Get out there and make it uniquely yours!