Upon meeting Tom Mee and his '01 Mineral Grey GT at last June's Carlisle Ford Nationals, it took no time at all to diagnose this Connecticut resident as classically obsessive-compulsive in his approach to the coupe's modifications and upkeep. But darned if he isn't creative, too.
Notice, for instance, its Ford Racing/Whipple twin-screw blower. Looks good, right? Trouble is FRPP never made a Whipple for the '01 GT--or any other Two-Valve modular--so it required mucho fabrication to fit. But maybe we'd better start at the beginning...
Tom bought the New Edge GT off the showroom floor late in 2001, and the ensuing decade's huge and time-consuming list of modifications began with FR500 seats/upholstery, front and rear, along with an FR500 steering wheel. But, like most of us, Tom fancied having a supercharger. Specifically, he wanted a positive- displacement type. Since he couldn't find any at the time, he ended up having a centrifugal blower installed. This was at 900 miles; at 1,300 miles, the engine blew.
"Out came the motor," says Tom.
Temporarily frightened off by forced induction, Tom decided his next combo would be naturally aspirated. A local shop built him another modular with some lively cams and a Bullitt intake, but it never seemed to run right.
"Out came the motor," says Tom.
He built the next long-block himself, constructed from new Ford factory components and topped with a Saleen supercharger. A respected tuner did the calibration, generating about 350 rwhp and 350 rwtq, and the combo ran well for a few months until a valvespring broke, taking out a piston.
You guessed it: "Out came the motor."
Of course, Tom wanted more power. This was when the polished Whipple 2.3-liter head unit and snout were acquired (FRPP's upgrade kit for the '03-'04 Terminator) with the initial idea to somehow mate it to the Saleen intake. That plan was dropped when Tom bought an F-150 Lightning intake--which would, of course, require much metal modification if it was ever to work.
Part way into that manifold surgery, Tom then found a Roush Stage 3 intake on eBay. "Seeing how that manifold was specifically designed for the Two-Valve motor," Tom says, "I bought it." Still, it took over a year to figure out how to make the overall combo work, and by then, he was into year five of ownership.
"After getting all the parts and pieces to work," Tom explains, "I was able to get the car up and running. I also took the opportunity to purchase tuning software--I figured if anybody was going to destroy this motor [by] tuning it, it would be me. The car ran great and I was able to tune it to 500 rwhp and 500 rwtq. Everything was great... then it happened--I lost the oil pump. Out came the motor."
Utterly frustrated, Tom then stuck the engine-less GT under a car cover for a full year, and even thought of selling it. Instead, he persevered.
We're running out of room, so we'll compress history a bit. After his year off, Tom then commissioned the now-defunct VT Competition Engines to build a new '03 Cobra-based short-block, while reusing the stock Two-Valve heads but with upgraded cams. Success! That combo is still in the car.
We're only scratching the surface here on what has to be one of the most time-intensive Mustang modification programs we've ever seen. As I recall, Tom told me he has over 4,000 hours invested in the car to date.
He sums it up this way: "This car is special to me. I've been through a lot with it; I've met many good people.
"My family and friends have always supported me. They laugh at how detailed I get, yet understand that I can't change the way I do things."
Keep doing 'em, Tom.
Horse Sense: Tom freely admits there's no way he could have built his ride without help, and offers particular thanks to Mike Sadlak, machinist and m`achine-shop owner; Ken Pressutti, "an incredible welder"; and Dave Gagnon, a "fantastic mechanic and electrical guru, who also talked me off the ledge more than once when I was ready to throw in the towel."
The Little Details
Our Tech Specs will describe many of the other components added to this insanely detailed GT, but we want to use our remaining space here to touch on some of the creativity and home-grown engineering that went into the engine bay.
The inlet tube is from C&L with all external connections removed, and their holes filled and smoothed. All connections are now on the back of the supercharger.
The bypass system required modification. The Whipple uses an external bypass, whereas the Eaton M90 that this Roush manifold was designed for uses an internal bypass. A 1-inch hole was drilled in the manifold; a mounting plate was fabricated for a vacuum actuator and welded in place. Any internal welds were smoothed to improve airflow.
The bypass tube itself is fabricated from old header primary tubes.
The blower is mounted to the Roush intake via a custom blower plate and riser plate.
Dual drivebelts are employed, the inner being a six-rib to run the power steering, water pump, and A/C; the outer an eight-rib running the ('03 Cobra) alternator, and the Whipple itself.
Charge cooling is handled by the stock Roush Stage 3 intercooler and a custom Spearco heat exchanger with extended tanks, all fed by a Ford GT supercar water pump. Coolant flows from the pump through the heat exchanger to a custom-painted Canton tank, then through the intercooler to another tank used to gravity feed the water pump, completing the circuit. Some of the maze of custom-fabricated (polished) stainless lines and fittings are visible in our photos.
Custom 304-stainless lines feed fuel to the rail, those lines modified to accept a mechanical fuel gauge. Says Tom: "On the driver side, there's a custom fitting created to allow the electrical fuel pressure gauge connection. With the mechanical gauge on the incoming and the electrical on the opposite side, I can see that fuel pressure is consistent." Guess he's bound and determined to not pull another engine...
Power steering lines run through the driver-side fender well to an '03 Cobra steering rack. Custom stainless lines and fittings connect to an '03 Cobra P/S pump and an FR500 power steering cooler mounted behind the heat exchanger.
5.0 Tech Specs
Engine And Drivetrain
Block '03 Cobra
Crankshaft Cobra steel
Camshafts VT Stage 1 with 0.540/0.550 lift, 224/226 duration, and 110-degree centerline
Power Adder FRPP/Whipple 2.3-liter twin-screw, 15 psi
Cylinder Heads Stock Two-Valve
Intake Manifold Roush Stage 3, modified
Fuel System '03 Cobra fuel pump w/ 60-lb/hr Siemens injectors, and Fore Precision rails
Exhaust JBA Shorty headers w/Bassani '03 Cobra catalytic H-pipe, and Dynomax Ultra Flo after-cat
Transmission D&D Performance T-56 w/SPEC Stage 1 clutch
Rearend Stock 8.8-in w/4.10 gears
Engine Management Stock w/Tom Mee custom tune using SCT software
Gauges Roush Stage 3 cluster, Innovate Motorsports A/F gauge, Auto Meter boost and fuel pressure in Saleen pod
Suspension And Chassis
Struts Roush Stage 3
Springs Roush Stage 3
Brakes Roush Alcon
Wheels Roush Stage 3, 18x9-in
Tires BFG T/A KDW, 265/35R-18
Shocks Roush Stage 3
Springs Roush Stage 3
Control Arms Roush lower w/stock upper
Brakes Ford Cobra
Wheels Roush Stage 3, 18x10-in
Tires BFG T/A KDW, 295/35R-18