Inspired by the Warbird


The word “Mustang” is synonymous with ruling the skies and the road.

In October, 1940, the airplane that would become known as the P-51 Mustang flew for the first time. Three years later, the P-51 Mustang helped turned the tide of the war in Europe. Mustangs were able to escort B-17 and B-24 bombers into the heart of the Third Reich, all the way to Berlin. Today, the P-51 Mustang is recognized as one of the best fighter aircraft of all time.

In April, 1964, the first Ford Mustang was introduced to an eagerly awaiting public at the New York World’s Fair. The brainchild of Lee Iacocca, the Ford Mustang went on to become one of the best-selling nameplates of all time and was responsible for defining the category known to this day as the pony car. The Mustang remains the only pony car to have an uninterrupted production run from its inception.

Dubbed “The Right Stuff” by its builder, Detroit Muscle out of Hudson, Florida, this 2012 Mustang GT combines heritage, history, and high performance in a package that is sure to inspire Mustang aficionados. The warbird-inspired paint adds even more to the picture.

The Right Stuff Mustang serves as a comprehensive showcase for the latest in Mustang upgrades. The current generation 5.0-liter Mustang engine has had its output raised from 425 to 700 horsepower with the installation of a Kenne Bell 2.8-liter positive displacement, liquid-cooled, twin-screw supercharger. That system is engineered to meet the stringent CARB Certification requirements that enable it to be 50-state street legal.

A free-flowing JBA low restriction cat-back dual exhaust system is capped off with large diameter bright exhaust tips that exit conspicuously at the rear of the vehicle. When we fired up the engine, it was apparent that this wasn’t a stock 5.0 Mustang. It sounded much more like a classic big-block Mustang muscle car from the ’60s.

The Right Stuff Mustang stops as well as it goes, as its factory upgraded disc brakes are dressed up with MGP red powdercoated caliper covers. While the stock Mustang handles well, it is constrained by the balance that any OEM must be mindful of, the balance between cornering and ride comfort. In this case, the balance is tipped more in the direction of performance with the installation of a performance-tuned suspension by Hotchkis Performance. The suspension, lowered about an inch, makes it an even more superbly balanced driving machine.

The exterior is enhanced with the installation of a standout set of wheels. Inspired by the original alloy wheels of a ’60s Mustang GT, these 20-inch wheels are a lightweight design that evokes the look of the classic-inspired originals, something that doesn’t always translate well when a vintage design is reinterpreted. Of course, a ’60s Mustang can only dream of the grip provided by modern tires, in this case, low-profile, ultra-high performance Toyo directional radial tires, 255/35ZR20s up front, 295/30ZR20s in the rear.

Just like certain factory paint schemes, the exterior appearance is clearly a love-it, hate-it affair, as it emulates the paint scheme of an actual P-51 fighter. It starts with the Ford Racing Laguna Seca lower front fascia and air dam, punctuated with Rapid Red paint fore and aft, applied over a silver repaint with PPG Envirobase paint. The overall scheme is further accented with the top of the hood wearing Satin Black paint to minimize glare.

On the inside, the interior is re-trimmed with glove-soft black hides and accented with red suede inserts and embroidered headrests that come courtesy of Katzkin. Matching red carpet mats by Designer Mat complete the theme. The console sports a six-speed shifter mounted in the Mustang’s traditional center console. The interior trim additions address one of the primary complaints that the interior is underwhelming of any production-based Mustang.

With the 50th anniversary of the Mustang approaching, we’re certain to see many more Mustang tributes.

The Right Stuff edition Mustang GT is the first of a proposed production run by Detroit Muscle and is owned by Duffy’s Collectible Cars based in Hiawatha, Iowa. Because it was a customer-owned car, we were not able to fully wring it out and explore, as Mustang P-51 fighter pilot legend Chuck Yeager would say, the edge of its performance envelope. But we got enough time behind the wheel to know that this is no ordinary Mustang.

Here’s a warning to the “enemy”: The Right Stuff edition Mustang GT has its gun sight set on you.