Blank Slate Blowout: 700+ Horsepower 2013 Mustang GT in an OEM+ Package
Open up a modern Mustang catalog and you’ll be greeted with an overwhelming number of options to order Ford’s classic pony car. Besides the powertrain options and color variations, Ford offers a host of special editions that appeal to the different wants and needs of all kinds of buyers. Want to evoke the aesthetics of the ‘60s? Check the box for the Bullitt edition. Prefer the modern look of Vaugn Gitten Jr’s drift machine? Ford designed the RTR specifically for that enthusiast.
This wide variety of different interpretations of the Mustang brand has created an interesting opportunity for Mustang tuners. While an owner could see this as a chance to get a head start on the direction of the build by purchasing the relevant offering, the more interesting realization is the enormous catalog of OEM grade aesthetic and performance parts available for use. This entire selection of pieces that are guaranteed to both fit well and look good are there to mix and match at the owner’s desire.
A La Carte Aesthetics
And that’s exactly what owner Aaron Bickel has done with this 2013 Mustang GT. Starting life as a base model with Ford’s Sync in-car entertainment system as the only option, the Mustang has been transformed into a visual remix of Aaron’s favorite fifth generation S197 Mustang special editions.
Up front, the Mustang’s base fascia has been swapped out for Roush upper and lower grille inserts, as well as Roush side splitters. The fog light kit is from a California Special. In the rear, the Mustang was fitted with a GT500 rear valance, and the RTR deck panel, giving the pony car a much sleeker rear angle. Peeking out down below are a set of GT500 mufflers that provide some sonic hints that the OEM+ trends are limited to the exterior.
Supercharged Coyote Power
While subtlety is the modus operandi for the aesthetics, Aaron wanted the performance of the Mustang to reach past any of Ford’s factory offerings. The Coyote V8 has been supercharged with a Paxton 2200 SL kit that is currently pushing 11.5psi with an 8 rib pulley set. Dyno tuned by Palm Beach Dyno, the Mustang currently puts down 699 rear-wheel horsepower on pump 93-octane gas and a stock bottom end.
Utilizing the stock fuel pump, Aaron did upgrade the system to use ID 1000 injectors with a VMP Performance Fuel Pump Booster. A UPR dual valve catch can ensures that recirculated air is clean and ready to go back into the system, allowing for greater power sustained throughout the rev range.
Turning again to Ford’s catalog, a shaved and painted Boss intake supplies air to the supercharged powerplant, and spent gasses are evacuated via JBA long tubes, a JBA H-pipe, and the aforementioned 13-14 GT500 mufflers that allow for a reasonable decibel level while driving on the street.
To get the power to the wheels, the GT’s transmission received a stage II upgrade including a custom PST 4” drift shaft. The clutch and flywheel combo is a McLeod RST unit that routes the nearly 700hp to the wheels while still remaining streetable. Ford 3.55 gears help improve off-the-line acceleration, and an MGW X-spec short shifter allows for lightning fast shifts.
From the Streets to the Strip
For the street, Aaron has focused on turning the base GT into a respectable performer when the road gets curvy. Turning to the renowned Mustang tuning experts at Steeda, he has fitted Steeda Pro Action shocks and struts, Steeda Ultra Lite springs, upper adjustable strut mounts, and an adjustable rear upper control arm. The system is supported by pieces from BMR and Eibach that further stiffen the chassis. On the strip, the suspension is swapped to double adjustable rear Viking shocks and a removable front sway bar.
Last in the line of power to pavement is a set of 20” HRE Flowform wheels wrapped in Nitto rubber. Up front, Aaron has fitted Nitto’s 275/35/20 INVO ultra high performance street tires that provide reliable traction with a unique, aggressive tread pattern.
On the business end of the car, a set of 305/35/20 Nitto NT555RII D.O.T.-compliant competition drag radials keep the car planted to the pavement.
Aaron bragged on the tires, noting that since swapping to the Nittos he noticed a vast improvement in traction both in performance and daily driving settings. They balanced nearly perfectly without weights, hold the power with no problem, and continue to handle corners with hardly any sway at high speed.
Looking inside, the Mustang has been kept comfortable, and signals a return to the OEM+ focus of the exterior. A Boss 302 gauge cluster took the place of the more plain GT piece.
More Bite than Bark
While Aaron’s Mustang would certainly never pass as a sleeper, the dedication to factory Mustang aesthetics has led to a subdued, nuanced presence that belies the massive power and handling gains beneath the skin. The problem with OEM+ builds of most other models is that there is often a concession to be made in creativity in exchange for sticking with OEM or OEM adjacent pieces. When there are only a few different lip kits or spoilers available, there are only so many combinations before everyone’s clean build essentially looks the same (*cough cough* modern VW and Hondas).
Aaron has utilized the catalog to his advantage though, building what to many looks like another special edition Mustang with aftermarket power modifications, but upon closer look, showcases a wealth of knowledge, ingenuity, and passion for the Mustang brand.
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