The quest to make a modern ride stand out from the crowd can be a tricky path to navigate. These days, bone-stock factory offerings can be shockingly capable in nearly every aspect of measurable performance, and toying with the delicate balance between performance, reliability and comfort that an automaker’s engineers have established for a vehicle can have some element of risk.
But for enthusiasts like Ron Cody, that’s never really been a deterrent. You see, he got his start modifying cars during an era when car companies left customers with no choice but to look to the aftermarket for a higher level of performance.
“I bought my first car in 1992 when I was 17,” Cody told us. “It was a 1983 Buick Regal. Growing up in Philly, I was mostly into cruising while blasting my music at extreme levels, so my first few cars had stereo systems worth more than the vehicles themselves.”
I’ve never really had a plan for the car – I just wanted it to be fast, look cool, and be somewhat unique. — Ron Cody
Over the years, Ron’s taste in cars and his desire for performance evolved, eventually leading to this; his sinister-looking 2012 Mustang GT coupe, a car which has garnered enough recognition from the car community to be used as a display vehicle for the 2016 and 2017 Philadelphia International Auto Shows. But don’t assume that just because this S197 sports a low, mean look that it’s a victim of form over function. This Mustang can go every bit as well as it shows.
Joining The Fray
Though Cody’s early enthusiast leanings focused more on the soundtrack to the journey rather than how quickly he got there, the go-fast bug would eventually find him, too.
“It wasn’t until a few years and a few cars [after the Buick] when I bought a 1991 Eagle Talon that I became really interested in the performance aspect of a car,” he said. “Since then, I’ve had several cars that I’ve enjoyed customizing. Some of those cars included a few Mitsubishi Eclipses as well as a 1995 Dodge Avenger in which I installed many mods including a body kit, TVs, coilovers, and a custom turbo kit with a manual-transmission swap.”
It wasn’t long before Cody heard the siren’s song of the Blue Oval and the vast aftermarket available to Mustang enthusiasts.
“My first Mustang was a 1998 V6 that I bought through eBay – yes, eBay,” he recalled with some humility. “I only got to enjoy it for a few months before deciding to sell it. My second Mustang was a stock Mineral Grey 2001 convertible GT that I bought in 2009.”
This time the wrenching started to take on a stronger focus in the form of performance capabilities. Cody would play on the Mustang’s strengths, adding a full exhaust system to let the 4.6-liter modular roar, a Vortech V2 supercharger to add some haste to its pace, and an array of bits and pieces from the likes of Saleen, Roush, and SVT to bolster the car’s overall aesthetic.
“This was a beautiful car that really opened me up to the Mustang world, and the endless modifications that could be done to these cars,” he explained.
While the ’01 GT had satiated Cody’s appetite for performance and style, his aspirations had continued to expand over the years. As 2011 was drawing to a close, he was ready to move on to an entirely new project.
Beastly GT Specifications
Cylinder Heads: Stock
Power Adder: VMP TVS 2.3-liter TVS supercharger
Fuel System: 47 lb/hr Ford Performance injectors
Exhaust: Hearttrob muffler deletes, custom tail pipes
Engine Management: Stock, tuned by Justin Starkey of VMP Performance
Ignition: NGK Iridium plugs
Struts: Air Lift Performance adjustable air suspension
Springs: Air Lift Performance adjustable air suspension
Wheels: 20×9-inch Rohana RC22 wheels custom powdercoated white by Vibrant Finish (Street), 15×10-inch Racestar Industries (Track)
Tires: Delinte D2 Thunder 255/35-R20 (Street)/Hoosier QTP 28×10 (Track)
Shocks: Air Lift Performance shocks
Springs: Air Lift Performance Digital adjustable air bags
Wheels: 20×10 Rohana RC22 wheels custom powdercoated white by Vibrant Finish (Street)/17×4.5-inch Racestar Industries (Track)
Tires: Delinte D2 Thunder 285/30-R20 (Street)/M&H Racemaster 26×4.5×17 (Track)
Impressed with the car’s performance right out of the box, Cody would initially focus on the car’s aesthetic, swapping over to a Street Scene front fascia and side skirts, along with a Saleen body kit for the rear, and added a custom stereo system to give his tunes the proper thump. But it wasn’t long before the urge to make the car faster shifted his focus.
Being only 20 minutes from Maple Grove Raceway, I was frequently able to run the car down the strip. — Ron Cody
“Being only 20 minutes from Maple Grove Raceway, I was frequently able to run the car down the strip,” he explained. “With just a pair of drag radials a FRPP tune, I recorded a best time of 12.09. However, since speed is addictive, I later decided to up the car’s power.”
Cody would install a VMP Performance Stage 2 supercharger kit that brought the Mustang’s output to 594 horsepower at the rear wheels, and he would later post a personal best e.t. in the manual gearbox-equipped GT of 10.99 at 132 mph.
While that kind of pull is certainly impressive, Cody says his favorite modifications designed to improve handling rather simply boosting engine output.
“One of the most noticeable additions I made to the car was an Airlift Performance suspension,” he explained. “Having the ability to cruise low when I want, raise it high when I need, slam it when parked, and cut a 10-second quarter-mile pass, is just – excuse my language – way f*ckin’ cool!”
Like most performance projects, it’s anyone’s guess as to whether or not Cody is done with the Mustang yet.
“In the five-plus years that I’ve owned this car I’ve invested a lot of time, work and money into it that I will never get back, but I have zero regrets and I love how it has turned out,” he told us. “I’ve never really had a plan for the car – I just wanted it to be fast, look cool, and be somewhat unique. I’m also proud to say that all of the work except for the paint and clutch install was done by myself and my son, which was most of the fun.“
So what’s next? It should come as no surprise that Cody has yet another project in the works.
“I’ve recently purchased – or should I say ‘rescued’ – a 1987 Mustang GT T-top that my son and I are going to restore to its former glory,” he said. “We’ve created a YouTube channel called Beastly Garage to document this process. Although we don’t expect many people to watch, it should be an interesting experience for both of us.”