Your On-Ramp to the Mustang Aftermarket Highway
by Jason Giacchino
Ok, here's the situation. You pick up your new Ford Mustang and are enamored with your purchase. Trouble is you want this car to be yours, unique to you, something to set it apart from the masses. Let's face it, when starting from scratch, there are almost too many areas to target with your limited customization cash. Don't let yourself get overwhelmed!
Here we'll take a look at some of the easily achievable visual and performance enhancing tips and tricks to get you on your way to a custom ride without breaking the bank.
Product: Performance Tires
Difficulty: Moderate to Effortless
If you are looking for stronger bite in corners, increased traction upon take-off, and in many cases spruced up appearance; new tires can be the right move. Pricing can vary greatly with this mod, depending on intended purpose, as can the difficulty of the installation. For a mechanic at home (with the proper equipment), an afternoon should be required. Many tire shops include the cost of installation and disposal of old tires in the cost of the new rubber and can have you on your way in under an hour.
Just like you or I, internal combustion engines depend upon the ability to draw in fresh and expel spent oxygen for maximum performance and, aside from freeing up the air intake track (by installing a performance air filter), there is generally big performance to be gained in an after market exhaust. Additional benefits include weight savings and "tuned" sound. Like most modifications of this nature, the money you sink into it can vary greatly, depending on the degree of performance sought and whether you decide to replace the entire system or just the muffler/ tail pipe. Difficulty of installation depends again upon how much of the system you opt for and whether you decide to tackle the work itself or have a shop install it for you.
Product: Lighting Accompaniment
Plastic smoked headlight covers, and taillight trim are excellent ways to customize your 'Stang without doing anything permanent to affect the body or interior. These bits are commonly available at most auto parts stores and can be installed in under an hour with minimal mechanical know-how. The only downside is that headlight covers are illegal in some states to be sure to check with your local authorities before covering lights (or license plates).
Product: Chips/ Tuners
Difficulty: Moderate to Difficult
When it comes to altering the way your Mustang makes power, there are few mods as instantly rewarding as installing a performance chip or investing in a tuner. Tuners can be used to alter the ignition curve and even fuel delivery of the engine's management systems to accomplish a wide variety of tasks from increased output to maximum fuel economy. Simple units operate as "plug & play" devices and come equipped with the most common presets while advanced models can actually require a laptop computer and are infinitely customizable.
Product: Body Kits
When it comes to the Ford Mustang, there is no shortage of trick little buts that can be attached to the car's body to separate your car from that of the masses. The difficulty of installing these items varies greatly as some items are simple bolt-ons while others can require professional installation and matched paint jobs. Among the notables: Hoods, window louvers, fuel doors, side & hood scoops, front (chin) and rear spoilers, grilles, hood pins and so on.
Difficulty: Moderate to Difficult
Handling of the car can be greatly affected by dropping the stock suspension in favor of aftermarket coil-over units. In fact a wide variety of kits exist for specific applications from street use to race-ready performance. This modification can get quite pricey however, often ranging in price from several hundred dollars to over $2000 for the units alone (not counting installation). The difficulty of the install depends heavily upon the condition of the units being replaced. Excessive rust and corrosion could result in having to cut the stockers off before being able to install the new units.
Product: Miscellaneous Style Bits
Lastly there are certainly a wide variety of little items designed to give you a custom look that are affordable and an absolute breeze to install. Among the notables- Custom valve stem caps, custom shifter knobs, fresh weather-stripping, window decals and so on. And while it is perhaps the easiest mod in automotive history, we are reluctant to recommend the rearview mirror fuzzy dice!