I've encountered a certain level of resentment, disdain, and even downright anger regarding the
appearance of my car. It started right after I had the body kit, hood, and blue stripes put on the
car. A Shelby owner at a car show was talking to his buddy about my car, and his buddy thought it
looked nice, to which the Shelby owner claimed that it was "a lame attempt at making a Shelby".
Keep in mind that it merely had blue stripes on it with no markings that claimed a Shelby pedigree.
This attitude was even more prevalant on various Mustang forums. Once again, there was not yet any
Shelby badging on the car.
The curious part of the whole thing is that I was getting more heartburn from people that didn't
even own a Shelby (and never had). I find this truly bizarre, and to be honest, if you're one of
these people that care more about what's on the car than the effort, time, and cash required to
build the car out, you can pretty much kiss my redneck ass.
A 2012 Shelby (on the left) compared to my 2012
Mustang (on the right) - beyond the color and stripes, there's really no way you can uunderstandably think my
car is a Shelby - I don't understand the confusion on the part of Shelby owners...
The situation got so bad that I finally caved in and put "SHELBY" on the car. Yeah, I paid $120
for two sets of letters, and (GAK!) made my own spacing template, and then had the temerity to
actually apply the letters. I really hate it when I unintentionally piss someone off, so to make
myself feel better and to give the ass-hats something to justify their absurd opinons, I went
ahead and gave you a reason. If it bothers you, good. If it doesn't, good. However, if you REALLY
hate it, and want me to take the letters off my car, I still have about 45 payments left on it,
and if you want to pay the car off for me, I'll be happy to remove the letters.
In my mind there are three categories of the "faux" Shelby:
- Replica - Webster's Dictionary defines a replica as "an exact reproduction". A
Shelby "replica" is a Mustang that started out life as a non-Shelby, but was modified so
extensively to look like a Shelby that unless you noticed the absence of the Shelby number
plate(s), you wouldn't be able to tell them apart. The owner of this car would not claim that it
was a Shelby when asked, but would instead admit that the car is a "replica".
- Tribute - Webster's Dictionary defines tribute as "something (as material evidence
or a formal attestation) that indicates the worth, virtue, or effectiveness of the one in
question". A tribute car is one that does not fit the role as a "replica", yet pays hommage
to the idea behind the Shelby through appearance. There may or may not be Shelby badges or other
markings on it, but it's general appearance would bring forth the mistaken impression that the
car is a Shelby. Again, the owner of this car would not claim that it was a Shelby when asked,
but would instead admit that the car is a "tribute". (This is where my car sits in the grand
scheme of things.)
- Fake - Webster's Dictionmary defines fake as "a worthless imitation passed off as
genuine". Yes, it's possible to lump a replica and a tribute car into the "fake" category, but
notice the last four words of the definition - "passed off as genuine". This is where a fake
is separated from the other two categories - the owner will attempt to pass off his car as a
real Shelby instead of what it is (either a tribute or a replica). At this point, it's not
the car's nature that puts it into the fake category, but the owner's false claims of
When I tried to explain this on one of the Mustang forums, I had some kid from Denton,TX tell
me I was "making shit up to make myself feel better". To him - whatever blows your skirt up,
As special edition owners, you guys are a LOT less likely to modify your cars. Again, that's
understandable, especially if you're concerned with collectability or resale value. I would personally
be reluctant to purchase a used Shelby or Boss that has been modified in any way. In my eyes, they're
special and rare in their stock form, and should be left alone. For those of us who don't want a
special edition, we have a lot more freedom to do as we please with our vehicles.
At one (heavily populated) end of the Mustang spectrum, we have the vast majority of Mustang
owners that don't take the time or effort to mod their cars - just count the number of bone stock
Mustangs on the road, and you'll see what I mean. They're riding too high on stock wheels, with
factory exhaust, and no exterior adornments of any kind. They're dirty. They're dented. They're "just
transportation". In some instances, the owners simply can't or won't pony up the disposable income to
do anything to their cars, even something as simple and inexpensive as a stripe package. Whether you
want to admit it or not, most special edition owners are at that end of the spectrum as well, but for
entirely different and obvious reasons - they don't want to ruin the originality of their cars because
they tend to retain their resale value that way (and they take much better care of their cars, to
Then there are people (like me) that exist on a completely different plane of thought. We buy
our Mustangs with the express intent of modifying them in one way or another. In my case, I had a very
distinct view of what I wanted my car to look like, and this page clearly illustrates the path I took
toward achieving that goal (and there's more yet to do). Other people go a bit more extreme, and make
all kinds of driveline modifications, but leave the outside of the car alone. As a group, we actually
do something you guys don't do - we put time, money, and effort into our cars way past the original
date of purchase, and way beyond reason. (I'm not saying you special edition guys don't mod at all,
but if you do, the changes are more nuanced due to the nature of your car).
When we mod our cars, we are using stuff that's available to the market at large, and it's much easier
to do nowadays, as opposed to the 60's-80's when you almost had to be a master fabricator to achieve your
ultimate goals. It's not like we're stealing the parts, or buying them while pretending to own the car
for which they're actually manufactured. Hot rodders have been doing this since hot rodding began more
than 70 years ago. We do it because we perceive value in the parts. In the end, our modern "hot rods" -
either intentionally or subconciously - are more likely to take on the form and/or function of a car that
the part(s) originally came on, mostly because the parts are so easily obtainable. In my eyes, that's
okay, and sometimes, even necessary or expected.
In the world of Mustangs, it's actually quite difficult to come up with something that hasn't been
done before, yet doesn't transform the car into a hideous monstrosity, especially considering all of the
special edition cars that are available when combined with the popularity of the platform itself. Add to
that the length of time a given body style is available, and you can probably see that building a
Mustang has pretty much been done every way that makes sense (and many ways that don't). A lot of us like
the styling cues of the Boss and Shelby as much as owners of those cars, but let's face facts - we simply
can't afford to buy such cars right off the bat, and even if we could, Ford wouldn't be able to ramp up
production to meet demand.
So here we sit, us outlaw Mustangers who have something that resemble a Shelby or Boss and
might TOO closely resemble them for your comfort level. Guess what. We don't care how comfortable you
are with it. Yeah, some of us may go as far as adding the (in)appropriate badging and/or vinyl touches that
push the car right to the extreme edge of imitation, but hey, who really cares? IMHO, even having "Shelby"
or "Boss 302" on the car doesn't mean it's been taken too far by the owner, so there's no reason for you
guys to be complete asshats (and I've encountered more than my share of Shelby and Boss owner asshats).
Even the non-special edition guys get all butt-hurt over it, and act like complete douches. Quite
frankly, I get a pretty good chuckle out of it. If you can't appreciate a Mustang for what the owner made
it, go buy a Chevrolet or Dodge, because those guys already don't like Mustangs.
RICE (Race-Inspired Cosmetic Enhancements)
You've probably seen at least one of these - a small econobox car with an outrageous spoiler, an
obnoxious (and seemingly semi-installed) body kit, a gigantic hood scoop, imitation carbon fiber parts,
and a whole host of a-pillar gauges. Everyone refers to these cars as "ricers". Today, these ex-ricers
are discovering the Mustang, and after buying one, refer to any non-functional body modification to a
Mustang as being "rice".
Have custom wheels? That's rice. How about OEM faux brake ducts, an OEM chin or rear spoiler,
Recaro seats, or even Le Mans or FIA stripes, or a blacked out hood? Rice, rice, and more rice. Of course
hood scoops and side scoops are rice as well, as are aftermarket gauges. In fact, if you have a car
that's never seen a track, is "street legal", or has ANY comfort items (like A/C, radio, or stock seats)
and that has any mods on it at all, it's rice - technically speaking.
My car is a street car, and I drive it every day. I've made appearance mods, and against my actual
desire due to a lack of options available for 2010+ cars, I've mounted a-pillar gauges. The side scoops
are fake (like everyone else's side scoops on S197 cars), the front fascia has faux brake cooling ducts
that only cool the fender liners, and the hood just has useless scoop inlets, but only because the
manufacturer hasn't yet released the "ram-air" kit for the hood. The gauges are functional, but in
reality, they're not absolutley necessary. If you want to refer to my car as rice, feel free.
Click image for full size version, and more pics.
Back in the day, I was REALLY into fast Fords, and my favorite car has always been (and still is)
the 1965 GT-350 R-Model Mustang, especially when painted in the iconic white with blue Le Mans
stripes. In my eyes, NO Mustang looks better, and no amount of dicussion is going to change my mind
on that. I once had a '65 fastback that I modified to look like one. I loved that car.
Fast forward to 2004. I had just moved to Texas, and wanted to get a car that was "reasonable", so
I bought a Crown Victoria . Not wanting a completely boring car, I insisted on getting the Sport
variant with bucket seats and a floor shifter. I drove that car for eight years and 107,000 miles, and
when the A/C starting making noises like it was about to start giving me (expensive) problems, I
decided it was time for a change - a new Mustang.
Click image for full size version, and more pics.
In November of 2011, I had to take my Crown Vic in for service, and while meandering around
the parking lot, I saw this car, and caught a really bad case of gotta-have-it-SOON. There were
some things about the way this one was done that I would not have done, but beyond that, it's a
great looking car. The pictures were taken with my phone (sorry about the low quality - the phone's
camera sucks in low light conditions). The primary mods here were a 3D Carbon body kit and
center-mount fog light grille. It turns out this car is a V6.
Click image for full size version, and more pics.
When I went in to actually buy my Mustang, they had this red V6 car (they seem to be unwilling
to modify a GT for display). I'm not a fan of the headlight splitters, or the Saleen-like rocker
stripes on it, but it sure is pretty (they did a white with red stripes as well, but sold it before
I got to see it). This is more like what I want to do to my car as far as stripes are concerned.
All that was missing (in my humble opinion) was a proper hood.
The American proclivity for hacking and modifying their automobiles is an amazing thing to witness.
No marque is safe from a man with a vision of what it should actually look and perform like. From
low-rider Corvettes to 4x4 SMART cars and Mini-Cooper stretch limos, nothing should surprise you by
now. Muscle cars are especially revered by the American male, because Ford, Chevy, and Dodge have taken
proactive steps to fuel the aftermarket and build excitement for their respective brands.
I wanted a car that isn't exactly like anyone else's car, and that's really hard to do when you
add popular appearance items to a popular car like I wanted to do. Fortunately, there doesn't
seem to be too many Performance White Mustangs around (in my area at least), with people usually
picking black or some other "performance-inspiring" color. However, yours truly is a charter member
of the "old school", and I happen to like a more traditional color scheme, especially where
Le Mans stripes are concerned (besides, there's a lot to be said for a white car in Texas where heat
frequently exceeds 100 degrees day after day). In short, the car HAD to be white, and the Le Mans
stripes HAD to no only be blue, but they had to be Guardsman Blue.
Someone on a forum implied that the blue over white scheme was reserved for Shelbys, but in all
actuality, blue over white is the international racing colors for the US, and Shelby appropriately
adopted those colors while participating in races at Le Mans. Besides, when was the last time you
saw a late model GT-500 in the "correct" color combination? I certainly haven't seen any locally.
When I bought the car, everybody accepted it with no huffing or raising of eyebrows. But when I
started describing the desire to modify the car, almost everybody my age (or older) - and that
included my wife - thought I was crazy, and they all seem to be eager to tell me about it...
"It looks great the way it is." - I agree.
"That's an awful lot of money to spend." - Yes, it most likely will be.
"But you didn't modify your Crown Vic." - Actually, I did.
"You'll put your eye out." - No, I won't.
Given the way gas prices have been going, I elected to purchase a V6, and because I didn't
really think I needed all the fancy extras, I got a base model (even considering all of the
annoyances listed above). I'm not really interested in going faster than the car will already
go, so I feel like the brakes and motor are fine as they are. Finally, I'm not going to be
"tracking" the car, so there's no real need for improving the sway bars and other running gear
at this time. I might still replace the driveshaft simply for the weight savings and improved
reliability, but that's about as far as I intend to go with driveline changes.