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Moderator Dude!
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Congratulations to @2008GT500 for being FordGT500’s December 2019 ROTM! Here is his story and his fantastic 08:

I can’t keep up with some of the cars before me, but my loving wife bought me a photo shoot as a gift, so maybe I’ll have some better pictures to entertain you guys. I have waited all these years to submit to ROTM because there is always something new on the horizon, but you can’t wait forever. I’ll walk you guys through a few of my projects below.

As a kid, all I wanted to do was run to the car aisle in the toy stores (when those existed), Matchbox, Hot Wheels, R/C, anything with wheels. That led to my first car (aside from driving mom’s Camry), which was a ’99 Chevy S10 Xtreme that my folks bought me my junior year of high school to help build our house. You would be amazed how overloaded an S10 is hauling a house full of lumber J. I loved that truck even though it was super slow (4 cyl), had rubber floors, and roll up windows, but man did it look good. (Not my truck, I need to scan in some old pictures, but this is the closest I could find online) (see pic collage below)

Come senior year, the house was built, I had received a scholarship to college, so the folks said I could apply some of the money I saved to a car. I was dead set on a ‘99 Camaro SS, but everything I found was just beaten to death. One weekend I was out with dad and we swung in a Chevy dealer to see what they had and a ’98 Triple Black Cobra Convertible was sitting there with 14,000 miles on it. Needless to say, she came home with me that day and the Ford story began. (See pic collage below)

My parents went out of town, so I stole my dad’s work truck, drove down to Steeda and bought their full G-Trac suspension, exhaust, and a few other goodies as the mod bug spread quickly. They surprised us and came home early as the cars exhaust and suspension was spread through the garage and driveway. Dad was not amused and let me know that the car better go back together. Luckily my brother and I got it back together and I enjoyed the ’98 through college. During/after college, we built my folks a new house and built my house. The Mustang wasn’t great for that, so I found a leftover ’04 Harley edition F-250. I had also always wanted a motorcycle, so I got my endorsement and bought a new ’06 Ninja ZX-6R. The bike ended up being my nice weather ride, so the Mustang sat a lot. Finally decided to let the ‘98 go as home building was my planned career.

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Once the house was complete in January of 2008, the economy was tanking, so my home building dreams were fading away. That meant I no longer needed a truck, so I decided I needed a C6 Corvette to commute to my new engineering job. I was shopping and shopping, trying to keep about a $30k budget, but once again, the Chevys just weren’t up to my standard in that price range. I upped the price range to $35k and took mom to look at a newer C6. She hated it and asked me if they still made something like my ‘98 Cobra. I told her that the Shelby had just come out, but way out of my price range. She insisted we go to the dealer and test drive one while we were out (I was shocked they let me drive a new one). I spent the next few days scouring the country for a deal as most were still listed at sticker or higher, even used…nothing. Then it happened… I found a used one only a hundred miles away with a couple thousand miles on it that the dealer was about to wholesale (I assume for inventory or some accounting game). The internet manager put it online at the wholesale price more than $5k under sticker (I saw it listed a few days earlier $10k over sticker). I called him, told him to hold it, and picked it up that day. On the bright side, I only blew my budget by 40% which has become a trend in my car shopping ever since.

Now that I had the car, it was time to make it mine. I did the basic Florida requirement and got the windows ceramic tinted and ordered my custom SN4KE tag (stolen from the line in Gone in 60 Seconds). On to the real mods, first on the list was I wanted to replicate the Pro 5.0 shifter I had in my ’98, so that was immediately installed. It was way better than stock, but it never felt as good as the ’98 due to the different transmission layout. About this time, I found out about Don’s Horsepower on the Horse Farm, so I registered for his event and took 2nd in the extremely minor modified class.

I didn’t want to be stock anymore, so off to more serious mods. I wanted to support good vendors, but the market was pretty new, so I tried to test them. I ordered the Bassani 3” X-pipe and exhaust through Evolution Performance. I was less than impressed with their delivery time or customer service, so they did not get my future orders. I read some horror stories years later, so glad I ran my test. Searching for customer service led me to VMP and they were local, so I thought I’d go check them out. I went up there to do a baseline dyno and get a feel for Justin and the team. (444hp/453tq)

I really enjoyed talking to them, so ordered their pulley, C&L intake, and a tune. Wow, what a different car. I was totally in love, but the suspension was definitely lacking and wheel hop was atrocious. My 40% over budget car purchase then turned into basically dumping an extra $1k per month in mods on top of it (luckily I was single back then). I was familiar with Steeda suspension and decided to go that route for upper 3rd link, control arms, adjustable panhard, and a set of coil-overs. Looking back, I wish I had known about Griggs or Cortex at the time, but the Steeda stuff certainly does the job. So I could go, I could handle, I was done, right? Of course not… I added a few appearance mods with the Shelby plaque signed by Carroll, billet door sill inserts, centered rear deck letters, billet antenna, clear corners, and Redline hood struts.

I decided the stock wheels had to go, so I went back to Steeda and picked up the Spyders because they were the only 11” wide rear I could afford at the time and wrapped them in Nitto Invos (they’re a nice street tire). While I was down there, I had them weld in the LCA brackets also. I decided to try and quiet down the interior (the Bassani 3” is ridiculously loud), so I gutted the interior and put Dynamat extreme throughout the floor and trunk area.

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This didn’t help much with the exhaust, but it did make the Shaker 1000 sound way better which surprised me. I really needed to add the Dynamat foam and different density layers if I wanted to try and tame that exhaust. Being in Florida, heat is always an issue, so Van at Revan Racing had just helped develop the new heat exchanger and I definitely needed one of those. I of course ordered it through Shelby so I could have those wonderful letters exposed in the lower grill.

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Those were some great mods, but which ones did I want to do again? As the years go by, the “better” or different mods come out. I never loved the Pro 5.0 like I did on my ’98, so I decided to give the MGW (1st gen) a try…ehhh, about the same. Oh well, had a fun day playing with the car. Shifter didn’t work out great, but that exhaust is just too loud, so how about doing better on the exhaust? I loved the Dynomax sound on my ’98, so gave them a try…not even close to the ’98 sound (different motor, different muffler location), so not good. I can definitely do better, so I called Justin and ordered a set of Dynatech headers, then played around between the Dynomax and stock exhaust for a while never loving it. The best thing about the headers other than the extra power is that they got delivered with a MaxJax lift for the garage…funny how that happened.

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In the midst of this, driving home from work one night, the dreaded clutch slip began. Tried to accelerate in 5th or 6th and just revved, so I ordered a Mcleod RXT which has been awesome.

Justin then partnered up with PST, so I definitely needed a carbon fiber driveshaft, which has also been awesome.

While putting the driveshaft in, I noticed on the lift that the wide wheels would rest on the factory bump stop plates and be difficult to turn, so this led me to Zombeast’s relocation brackets. The Invos were wearing out, so I put in Steeda X5 balljoints, eyeballed alignment, and decided I wanted to try out Michelin’s Pilot Super Sports for round 3 of tires. They were a slightly better tire, but still not ready for 600hp at the wheels. The mods were slowing down (I got married), but I went to see Justin and picked up the Ford Racing twin 65mm throttle body and hit the dyno to see what it could do. Stock blower with only a 2.65 pulley put down 616hp/603tq, so I was happy.

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I picked up an Optima battery tray from UPR and a Red Top and I am still using it 7 years later, but I don’t like how close to the hood it puts the battery terminals, so I will be looking to update this too.

Still not happy with the exhaust, I decided to listen to the masses and ordered the Borla Touring when Shelby had it on sale…far better option than the others. I think it’s as good as this engine can get with an open exhaust path, no drone, quiet enough to crawl through a neighborhood, and will wake the dead wide open. I wish it had a little more rumble at idle (not sure if I want deeper or louder), but I haven’t been willing to risk the other characteristics, so it’s been this way for 6 years now. I would like to try the Corsa’s one day, but haven’t found a deal on them yet.

Added some bling with a Ford Racing Axle Girdle and Lube Locker gasket (loved that gasket). Updated the lighting inside to LEDs and found LED fog lights to match the headlight color. American Muscle then came out with the 2013 style tail lights, so I picked up a set of those and smoked the rear corners to match. Being married, I needed to protect the car better in the garage, so my friends at Autogeek sent me a Covercraft cover with the snake logo embroidered on it. Finding more things to tinker with, I added the JLT oil separator and VMP stainless brake and clutch lines. I also decided it needed to handle better, so I pulled off the Ford Racing axle girdle and put in a Cortex Watts link, highly recommended. The car is much more predictable with this setup.

The factory radio was starting to look a little dated, so I dropped in a Kenwood head unit with Navigation, Bluetooth, rear camera, and idatalink to display the car’s gauges which really brought the interior up to modern standards.

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The exhaust wasn’t the only thing I changed more than twice, as MGW released their 2nd Gen shifter, I had to have it. They basically applied the Corvette design to keep everything centered and eliminate the wiggle, a way better mechanism and I love it almost as much as those fond memories of my ’98.

Since I’m more of a street than track guy, I went with pretty Baer drilled/slotted rotors with the rear upsized bracket.

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Since I could stop better, I wanted to get ready for more go and ordered the JLT 123mm carbon intake. To pretty up her butt a little, I got a nice trunk mat and installed a carpeted trunk lid liner.

Next on the list, I saw my voltage start jumping around (thank you idatalink and Kenwood), so I placed an order for a Nations alternator and some Gates belts. Since the current output was so large, I had to upgrade wiring, so I took out all of the factory cables and ran my own to terminals which will allow me to go with an audio system in the future. (see pic collage above)

As for future projects, the car is ready for more power, but I usually talk myself out of spending the money since I can’t use what I have. I would like to order a set of forged wheels with sticky tires all around which may make me revisit the power question (VMP or Whipple and fuel mods). I would also like to take advantage of the alternator and do a full stereo system. For the speakers, I would like to do something custom with the door panels and get rid of Ford’s awful spray glued leather that keeps falling off. I have a brand new squeal when cold, so Tim and John have probably talked me into BPS pulleys and a Thump tensioner as an immediate future project. Appearance wise, I go back and forth on replacing all the exterior plastic with carbon fiber and painting the stripes, but the cost just doesn’t seem worth it. I would also like a better set of coil-overs, but feel the money is better spent elsewhere, like on a 2021 after Tim fixes everything that breaks on the 2020.

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Normally, I would never keep the car this long, it’s not really a collector, but I can’t replace it with anything close for the money and just enjoy playing with it. I took it out of daily driver service back in 2010 when I picked up an ’02 SVT Focus. The Focus rattled me to death and I wanted something comfy and quiet, so in came the Lexus IS350. The wife’s car was dying (we will not mention that she owned a Pontiac G6 before marriage), so she took the Lexus and I finally got my C6 Corvette. The Vette was fun and handled like it was on rails, but we bought a boat, so enter the Jeep SRT. The Jeep has been around over 3 years and we no longer have a boat, so in comes the???

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Hmmm…nothing has made me pull out the checkbook to replace the Jeep. It’s fast, practical (aside from MPG), but it is an aging Chrysler product, so it needs to go. And although it handles pretty good for an SUV, I kinda miss the Vette handling. I’m sorting through a long list, but nothing has impressed me much…maybe I’m just getting old and hard to impress, or my practical side is fighting me to just by a commuter. I want a GTR, but not as a daily driver. I’m interested in the RS5, but not for $40k plus a Jeep. We sold our house and are looking to build again, so maybe the house (and more importantly garage)uncertainty is holding me back. Either way, the Shelby stays as it’s just too much fun to let go. Who knows, maybe it will be my daily again…

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1,646 Posts
What a ride! Congrats on joining the ROTM club.
You certainly have the mod thing figured out & the new blower will up the fun factor just a bit more!
 

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I have always felt working on my car was just as fun as driving it. Appears you feel the same. Congrats on ROTM well deserved.
 

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Premium Member
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Congrats on the ROTM selection. Lots of tasteful mods.
 

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Whoa!!! Congrats on ROTM — I think it is safe to say you qualified!!! Awesome, dude.


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