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2000 Ford Mustang GT - Bad Karma
When not building precision tactical weaponry, Tom Miller can be found fabbing parts for his custom 900hp GT.
As a firearm research and developer for Spike's Tactical in central Florida, Tom Miller is all about precision.
Spike's builds serious weapons, but after a hard day, Tom's attention turns to his fully modified Mustang GT. He's also been drag racing for 14 years.
He has a history of working on his own racecars. When he decided to build a sick Stang for the street, his goal was great earth-ripping power and amazing customization. And when we saw this mad machine in person, we were not disappointed.
Six years ago, Tom joined Spike's Tactical team; he also brought over his '90 notchback Mustang that had an 88mm turbo and ran 8.50s. Soon after arriving, he decided to unload the Mustang because of its racecar characteristics, and acquire something with more street pedigree.
A deal was finally struck for a trade with a seller in Texas—the car in question was a '00 GT Two-Valve with an HP twin-turbo setup. Unfortunately, this is when the nightmare started—one that continued for three-to-four years.
It started with the GT not being quite what the seller advertised, as he dealt with major engine management issues and then blown engines. "It was so bad that my wife named the car ‘Bad Karma,'" said Tom. "She joked that I was being punished for all the bad things that I'd done in my life." The decision was made to start from scratch.
"The goal was to have a very reliable, daily driven, true 8-second street car. I didn't build the car for track racing—it was built to be a super-sneak-attack vehicle for spirited street driving."
The appearance needed to be modified to match Tom's taste and uniqueness. A lot of the transformation parts came from the '03-'04 Terminator, including the front bumper, side skirts, mirrors, and rear spoiler. The radio antenna was shaved. The hood was switched out for a Steeda Q400 that was integrated with gauges and LED lights. Hoodpins were threaded directly into the top core support to hold it in place, and the foglight location was filled with Rigid LED lights.
Out back, the rear fenders were rolled, and the rear bumper cover was tricked out with a spot for a quick disconnect parachute mount. And when not in use, a rear-view camera resides there.
Paint and body duties were handled by Pro Tree Kustom. The paint used was a Sherman Williams Ultra and finishing the exterior mods is a 3M Dynoc Carbon Fiber wrap of the roof, performed by WBC Graphics.
With the exterior covered, attention was turned to the inside. The interior starts with a seat upgrade. The front seats were swapped out for Corbeau versions covered in black microfiber. The rear seat was custom built by Tom to accommodate three people. "We had to be able to have all the kids ride," he said. "I covered it in a matching Corbeau material."
The interior trim was done in real carbon fiber, with all of the switches and knobs converted to matte-nickel-plated billet aluminum. Rounding out the interior, the tachometer and gauges were replaced with a Racepak IQ3 dash with a clear cover.
A street vehicle would not be complete without some tunes, so Tom started with two-to-three layers of sound dampening throughout— including the roof. He then converted his single-din dash opening into a double-din dash opening. This allowed the install of a Pioneer DVD/Nav unit with rear backup-camera capabilities. The Pioneer feeds power to the JL component sets, both front and rear. A JL Audio HD 750/1 amp powers the JL 6W3's residing in the trunk area.
Moving from sound to suspension, he installed a QA1 tubular K-member with Maximum Motorsports tubular A-arms. To achieve the proper stance, Afco double-adjustable struts (PN 30030) were used with 275-lb/in chrome coilover springs topped off with Maximum Motorsports caster/camber plates.
"I was lucky enough to be part of Afco's R&D team," said Tom. "Afco had tested these struts on straight-up racecars prior to me getting them, but there hadn't been much street testing. That's where I came into play. I must say, these are amazing. By the time you read this, they will most likely be available for sale. I highly recommend checking them out."
The wheels of choice on Tom's GT were Saleen replicas, powdercoated satin black. Up front, 18-inch wheels were narrowed to 6-inches and wrapped with Mickey Thompson 26/8R18 rubber. On the rear are 17-inch wheels, widened to 12 inches, modified with bead-locks by Champion. The bead-locks secure M&H 325/45R17 drag radials. Stopping comes via 14-inch Roush/Alcon calipers clamping Hawk pads against Baer two-piece rotors. Rear braking consists of 13-inch Roush/Alcon calipers clamping Hawk pads against 13-inch Alcon rotors.
When it came to building a powerplant for the GT, Tom enlisted John Mihovetz and Fred Grochulski of Accufab Racing. All parties involved agreed a Four-Valve mod motor was the way to go and Accufab would determine all the specifications.
The block is a Teksid aluminum 4.6 piece with a 3.555-inch bore and a 3.543-inch stroke, equaling 282 ci of displacement. It's filled with a Kellogg crankshaft, Manley billet rods, and JE flat-top pistons, rounded out with Total Seal rings. The heads are Ford-B casts, prepped and ported by Accufab. Comp Cams beehive valve-springs and titanium retainers are used. Valve sizes are 38mm on the intake and 32mm for the exhaust.
Completing the heads are Ford GT cam followers arms and lifters. A Hamilton Clark short-runner intake manifold, ported by Accufab, is used to feed the heads. Managing the inlet on the HCI is an Accufab billet oval-blade throttle body. The final compression ratio ends up being 10:7:1.
The power plant is impressive enough, but let's take a look at the power adders. Two Precision 6262 turbos with billet CEA wheels and dual ball-bearings are used. Custom piping was made with a 2.5-inch crossover pipe and 3-inch downpipes, all coated with a black velvet cerakote and wrapped with header wrap. It also has a front-mount air-to-air intercooler with two 38mm Tial wastegates and two billet Bosch-style blow-off valves. The system is capable of 32 psi of boost and is controlled by a Rick Goss custom CO2 boost controller.
A power plant of this magnitude needs proper capacity and delivery of fuel. Handling the job are three Walbro 340 pumps housed in a Fore triple-fuel pump hat. The pumps feed into a Fore triple-Y-block, pushing the fuel through a Fuelab filter and into an -8 feed line. At the front of the vehicle, the feed line enters an Aeromotive fuel-pressure regulator before filling the Aeromotive fuel rails. Precision 160-lb/hr injectors handle the spraying duties, with a -6 return line sending back any unused fuel.
With capacity handled on the fuel system, delivery was addressed. With some bad past experiences with engine management systems, Tom elected to go with Big Stuff 3.
All the power in the world is useless if it isn't transferred through the proper drivetrain. Power leaves the motor and enters a Freddy Brown 4R70W with a 9.5-inch PTC torque convertor with a 4,600 stall speed. The tranny is topped with a highly modified stock Mach 1 shifter.
"I built the car to be user friendly," said Tom. "For instance, the car has a transbrake button that needs to be pressed for Reverse. I integrated this feature into the stock shifter."
Power then leaves the tranny through a custom carbonfiber driveshaft by the Drive Shaft Shop, and spins the 4.10s in the Ford 8.8. The rearend contains a Detroit Truetrac differential and Moser 31-spline axles, attached to the body with UPR tubular control arms. The rear suspension also sports Afco double-adjustable shocks, Eibach springs, a Wolfe torque arm, and Maximum Motorsports heavy-duty torsion-style rear sway bar.
With all the pieces of the puzzle in place, it was time to find a tuner. Tom started with Willie Figueroa. "Willie spent many weeks coming to my house helping me with the baseline street tuning. We mostly concentrated on driveability."
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With the driveability dialed in, the car was then taken to Jay Meagher of Real Street Performance in Longwood, Florida. "Jay is an amazing tuner," said Tom. "The car makes great power and lives, which is the hard part. We haven't broken a single part on the car due to tuning issues. In fact, the motor hasn't been apart since it's been installed."
Let's look at the numbers. With 93-octane and 12 psi, the GT put down a modest 656 rwhp. Even more impressive is the 24 mpg that this setup produces. With VP C-16 and 26 psi, it netted 968 rwhp! "We just converted to E85 [fuel]," said Tom, "but we haven't dyno'd it yet. We're shooting for 1,100-1,200 rwhp at 32 psi."
The GT has had an 1⁄8-mile best of 5.77 at 110. Its best quarter-mile time has been 10.45 and a best mph of 162. These times were achieved at a vehicle weight of 3,715 pounds.
"It's been finished for almost a year now—a least, finished enough to start enjoying it. It will always be a work in progress and we intend to push the boundaries as much as possible," said Tom.
In addition to those who worked on it, "I would like to thank my amazing wife and three children. I would also like to thank my boss, Spike. If it wasn't for our endless resources, I wouldn't have been able to do a lot of things I've done with the car."
It's not every day we come across a serious twin-turbo New Edge GT, and this one packs all the punch we could ask for. With a multitude of machined hardware and 968 rwhp, all that's left is to get in there with Tom and let him pull the trigger.