Swoosh! Leaves fly off the side of the road as the Grabber Blue Mustang spools up its turbochargers while sitting line-locked in place. Bouncing between redline and bursts of the blow-off valve, the GT lets loose with a smoky trail of burning rubber left on the asphalt. This may have been the first official burnout for Bret Snow in his freshly built GT, but it was the last checkmark for a long journey to high horsepower.
I had a turbocharged 2009 Mustang GT, and I was stuck at 480 horsepower. — Bret Snow
Bret is no novice when it comes to Mustang modifications. Previously working at a Mustang performance shop, he had long-time ambitions to build up a Coyote Mustang.
“At the time, I had a turbocharged 2009 Mustang GT, and I was stuck at 480 horsepower,” he said. “I kept seeing how easy it was to make just 600 horsepower with the Coyote motor. You could practically slap a blower on and run 10s all day.”
Determined to get his hands on a Coyote, he began stashing parts at his work for his future project, including a JLT cold air intake, Bassani X-pipe, Bassani axle-back exhaust, rear seat delete and rear suspension upper and lower control arms from BMR.
Finally the day came when he purchased a Grabber Blue 2013 Mustang GT, from a local dealership in Desoto, Missouri. With the gathered parts installed, the car was ready for action. But to his disappointment, on the dyno it only put down 406 horsepower to the rear wheels, which left him wanting more.
So over the next four months he installed a 2.3 Whipple supercharger tuner kit, ID1000 fuel injectors and a Boost-A-Pump fuel pump voltage booster. After the parts were installed and the car was tuned, it was reaching closer to the numbers he expected with 596 horsepower on only 8 pounds of boost – but it still wasn’t enough.
Pushing for more, he installed long-tube headers and an X-pipe from American Racing Headers, along with switching the fuel system tune over to E85. Finally the Grabber Blue GT had reached the numbers he set out for by putting down 640 horsepower at the rear wheels, while still only running 8 pounds of boost. At this point it was time to hit the drag strip — but first, a few other changes needed to take place.
I got so used to that power level and I felt like I could just wave to the people in the stands that were watching. — Bret Snow
Prepping the car for the strip included swapping out the stock K-member and control arms for BMR tubular replacements, along with installing Corbeau Racing seats in the interior, supported by a harness-bar latching the five-point seat harness belts. Lastly, he threw on a set of Weld Racing Alumastar wheels wrapped in Mickey Thompson rubber.
“At this point, the car did what I expected it to,” he said. “I would drive it over an hour away to the track and it would run 10.60s at 130mph in the quarter mile all day long — but I got so used to that power level. I felt like I could just wave to the people in the stands that were watching.”
My first question was, how can we make this car over the top? — Ben Gamlin, F.A.B Performance
And, if you’ve ever been to St. Louis, Missouri, it’s no secret that high-horsepower Mustangs are commonplace on the streets. Although knowing his GT was a reliable 10-second street car, he felt there was still something missing – more power.
“I watched all these turbo Coyotes make 1,000-plus horsepower and as soon as I saw one run in person, I knew I had to have it!” Bret said. “I wanted to be the guy that pulled into the parking lot and everyone knew who I was, and how fast the car was… I wasn’t going to stop until that was complete.”
At this point, Bret turned to his friend Ben Gamlin, owner of F.A.B. Performance in Farmington, Missouri. Ben’s attention to detail and his fabrication skills for making cars unique is what Bret was looking for, and after explaining the situation about the making an impression and horsepower — Ben knew exactly what to do.
“My first question was, how can we make this car over the top?” Ben said.
The project began by pulling out the engine and shipping it off to Livernois Motorsports in Detroit, Michigan, where they freshened up the block with Manley Rods, Diamond Pistons, a Ford Performance Boss 302 crankshaft, and Boss 302 intake camshafts, all fastened by ARP hardware.
Meanwhile he ordered an On3 Performance twin-turbo kit with 62/66 Precision turbochargers and started designing the exhaust system.
“The exhaust for the turbo kit is designed to go out and under the car, and one night we were joking around and I said, it would be really cool to run the exhaust out the sides,” Bret said. “Ben looked at me and said ‘Yeah, let’s do it!’”
2013 Mustang GT Mods
• ARP fasteners
• Axle Exchange one-piece aluminum driveshaft
• BMR tubular K-member and A-arms
• BMR drag launch springs
• BMR adjustable upper and lower control arms
• BMR Xtreme anti-roll bar
• BMR adjustable pan hard bar
• BMR radiator support
• Circle D 3,500-stall converter
• Circle D transbrake
• Corbeau racing seats
• Corbeau five-point harnesses and harness bar
• Custom-fabricated, side-exit exhaust
• Diamond pistons
• Eboost2 controller
• Ford Performance Boss 302 crankshaft
• Ford Performance Boss 302 intake camshafts
• Fore triple-pump fuel system
• ID1300 fuel injectors
• Livernois Performance-built Coyote
• Manley forged H-beam connecting rods
• Mickey Thompson tires, 26-inch front runners and 10-inch ET Radial Pros
• On3 Performance twin-turbo kit with 62/66 Precision turbos
• Viking double-adjustable shocks
• Strange 10-way adjustable struts
• Weld Racing Alumastar 17×4-inch front wheels
• Weld Racing RT-S 15×10-inch rear wheels w/ beadlocks
Before installing the freshly rebuilt engine, Bret decided he wanted to free up space in the engine bay for the occasional car show.
“I knew Bret would be going to a lot of car shows, so I really wanted the car to have some expression and be very clean,” Ben said.
With that, he pulled all the wiring out of the engine bay and hid everything under the fenders.
“It’s a tedious job, but I took a lot of extra time to make sure it would be the way I would want it on my car,” Ben added.
Watching Ben cut holes in the fenders was by far the craziest thing that happened during the build. — Bret Snow
With the engine finally back in, Bret needed some drivetrain parts to hold up to the new additional power, so he opted for a Circle D 3,500 stall-converter with transbrake backed by an Axle Exchange one-piece aluminum driveshaft. He also installed drag-launch springs, adjustable upper and lower control arms, an Extreme anti-roll bar and an adjustable Panhard bar, all from BMR Suspension.
The final touch were adding some through-the-body exhaust outlets.
“Watching Ben cut holes in the fenders was by far the craziest thing that happened during the build,” Bret said. “But once they were done, I knew it was the right choice.”
With everything in place, Bret then called on Ken Bjonnes of Palm Beach Dyno to create a custom calibration to bring the whole package together. With support from a local Mustang friend Joe Holt running datalogs, Bret and Ken dialed in the car to a smooth-running state and an estimated 1,100 horsepower.
“Now that the car is almost finished, I can say I feel somewhat accomplished with it,” Bret said. “It’s the best feeling in the world when I’m out and people tell me good job, and ask questions about the build. Overall I love the amount of respect that people bring when it comes to a car that grabs your eye!”