One of our friends recently traded his '01 Mustang GT Bullitt and supercharged '65 Mustang coupe for a '74 DeTomaso Pantera--the fantastic Ford-powered, mid-engine Italian exotic you rarely see these days. However, once that transaction was complete, he was left without a daily driver to commute back and forth to work as a county sheriff's corrections officer.
Still an avid Mustang lover (even though he now owns that radical Pantera), his dilemma was solved in the form of a creampuff '95 Mustang GT coupe he scored for the screamin' price of $5,200. And since the car was 100 percent stock, it serves as the ideal subject car for a series of sensible but effective upgrades that will make it more fun to drive on the street.
Since our buddy's SN-95 5.0 also represents the final year of pushrod 5.0 production, it's an even more interesting car to work with. We decided to begin with the installation of a complete exhaust system, which in our case included a set of BBK shorty headers, a BBK two-cat X-pipe, and a DynoMax after-cat exhaust that includes mufflers and tailpipes, all of which are available from California Mustang. A solid, well-proven combination that resulted in a mellow but still authoritative tone, we also wanted to test the setup on a dyno to see what power gains might be achieved even though the car was otherwise bone stock (see sidebar).
There were issues with the car that had nothing to do with the parts we installed, so our results weren't what one would expect. But we pressed forward, knowing we could correct the car after the system was installed.
Furthermore, we had the pleasure of working with X2C Motorsports, a competent late-model Mustang performance shop in the Los Angeles area. The techs at X2C made it look easy, having the whole system on the car in well under four hours, even though we stopped them often to photograph the installation.