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Killer Crimson Cruiser: Slammed, Blood-Red 2018 Mustang GT

In the process of building a car, every enthusiast has to decide where to start in the process. Do you begin with bolt-on performance mods to get a little extra "go" and some auditory satisfaction from the engine? Or do you start with tires, wheels, and suspension for the best bang for your buck in all-around aesthetic and handling improvements?

Bagged S550 Mustang GT front 3/4 view

We all know this hobby is a slippery slope, but knowing where to step first, and having the patience to know what to wait for, can make a difference in your enjoyment in the build process, as well as your overall satisfaction with the car when the project reaches a stopping point.

red, Bagged S550 Mustang GT rear 3/4 side view

When owner Raul Rodriguez (and Nitto Pit Crew member @rodriguez_5oh) originally purchased this 2018 Ford Mustang GT, he knew that he wanted to ultimately build it into a show car. While a manual-equipped muscle car might seem like an odd choice for a show build to some, the aggressive lines of the sixth gen Mustang lend themselves nicely for aesthetic enhancement and customization.

Bagged S550 Mustang GT front 3/4

First Go, Then Show

Raul was smart to realize, however, that a good show car takes more than just a wad of cash and a full online shopping cart. "The initial vision for the Mustang was to build a show car from the beginning, but the car went through a couple different looks before getting there. I wanted to enjoy the car before I went straight to a show car, and it took me about 4 years to get the car 'show ready' but it was well worth it in the end,” Raul said.

Bagged S550 Mustang GT rear 3/4

For any car with a Coyote V8, bolt-ons are a great place to start. The Mustang breathes in through a Roush cold air intake, while spent gasses are expelled through Kooks headers and a Corsa Extreme exhaust.

Bagged S550 Mustang GT with Roush intake

OEM++ Aesthetics

To match the new aggressive soundtrack, Raul chose exterior pieces that would build on what Ford released from the factory. An MP Concepts front bumper borrows aesthetics from the hotter GT350, while a 4” Cervini cowl hood enhances the aggressive look even more.

Bagged S550 Mustang GT with GT350 bumper

LiquiVinyl side skirt extensions and wickerbill work in tandem with the Roush side scoops to improve the profile of the car without ruining the stock lines. All together, the overall look registers a tick above OEM+; an aggressive look for a daily driver, and an absolute stunner when paired with the air suspension slammed.

Bagged S550 Mustang GT side shot

Completing the Look

Raul always wanted the suspension and wheels to be a simultaneous step for the car. "The modifications that I had the hardest time getting and purchasing were the wheels and the Airlift performance system because I wanted to do both at the same time. That way, I got a good fitment with the wheels and Airlift together. It took me 4 years to find the right wheels and save up the money to be able to do both wheels, tires, and Airlift all at once, but I think it was worth it in the end," he said.

Mustang S550 on Rohana Wheels

Nitto NT555 G2 for Proven Drivability

Ultimately, the Mustang was fitted with a set of split 5 spoke Rohana RX15 wheels. The fronts are 20x9.5" with 265/35R20 Nitto NT555G2 tires, while the rear sports larger 20x11" units with Nitto Motivo 315/35R20 rubber. “I went with Nitto tires on the Mustang because I was running Nitto tires on my truck at the time, and they performed great and had no issues during inclement weather. They also lasted a very long time. These Nittos on the Mustang have performed just as well, and have had zero issues with reliably putting the power to the ground,” Raul said.

2018 Mustang GT with Rohana wheels and Nitto NT555 G2 tires

The Whole Package

The interior of the car has been transformed, too, with carbon fiber accents around the cabin and a set of supportive Corbeau seats in place of the stock units.

corbeau custom seats in a 2018 Mustang GT

Despite the Mustang’s show car setup, the Raul was careful to choose modifications that still allowed for drivability. “My favorite memories are all of the shows and trips I have been on with the car. I love getting to meet new people and experience different types of car culture. Traveling with the car has always been a great experience, especially when going to shows out of state,” he said.

crimson colored 2018 S550 Mustang GT passenger side 3/4

Reaching a level of comfort with a modified vehicle to travel long distances involves a level of confidence with the modifications. Raul took his time, did his research, and chose quality the first time. The result is a Mustang that walks the line between show-and-go beautifully, while maintaining a comfortable ride on the road.

red 2018 S550 Mustang GT passenger side rear 3/4

Hard Facts

Vehicle: 2018 Ford Mustang GT
Owner: Raul A. Rodriguez Jr.
Engine: 5.0 Coyote V8, Kooks Headers, Corsa Extreme Exhaust, Roush CAI
Suspension: AirLift Performance suspension
Wheels and Tires: 20x9.5" and 20x11" Rohana RFX15 wheels, 265/335R20 Nitto NT555 G2 (F), 315/35R20 Nitto Motivo (R)
Exterior: Cervini 4” cowl hood, MP Concepts GT350 Bumper, Street Aero Diffuser, LiquiVinyl side skirts and wickerbill, Roush side scoops, all lights tinted, wrapped roof, trunk, hood in gloss black, and Glasskinz rear louver
Interior: Carbon fiber steering wheel, carbon fiber accents all around, Corbeau Seats, custom rear seat delete with custom speaker box for 2x12” subwoofers
  • Prefer a little more "go" than "show?" This blown S550 Mustang makes 900hp in a sleeper package!
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