The last 12 issues have been laid out and the boxing gloves laced up. That's right, it's that time again-time for our annual Top 10 list of America's hottest Mustangs. The MM&FF staff sat down with dozens of photos of all our feature cars, hashing it out until we whittled down the selections to our favorite Ponies of 2009.
It's been an exciting year in the Mustang world, which made this year's list so tough form. The Mustang turned 45, Ford released a redesigned S197, records were set on the dragstrip and road courses, and the show cars came out by the thousands. All in all, it was a great year for America's favorite Pony car.
Ricky Wilson '08 Gulf Livery Shelby GT500
Few cars embody Ford's racing history and racing heritage like Ricky Wilson's GT500. The popular Blue and Orange Gulf livery is an instant reminder of Ford's success at Le Mans with the GT-40 in the late '60s. Ricky's GT500 is a rolling (and roaring) throwback to Ford's dominance then and his dominance on the street now. This combination of heritage, style, and power has earned Ricky Wilson's '08 GT500 the No. 1 spot on our list of the Top 10 Mustangs of 2009.
Though its looks alone are impressive, Ricky's GT500 is more than capable of handling just about anything that pulls up next to it. With a fully built Four-Valve 5.4L being fed 22 psi of boost from a 3.4L Whipple supercharger, and a sick custom paint job, our June '09 cover car has earned its stripes and the top spot on out list.
David Salardino '91 Mustang Coupe
As soon as we set our eyes on David Salardino's Laser Red coupe, we knew it was something special. From its understated looks to its impressive power output, David's LX is arguably the perfect street Fox. The combination of 825 rwhp and extremely mild manners on the street make it perfect for cruising to the track and running well into the low 9s without so much as changing tires.
The Coast High Performance 347 hiding under the stock hood makes more then enough power to satisfy anyone's adrenalin needs, while the FB Performance AOD and custom camshaft give David's coupe an incredible level of driveability. Anytime "low 9-second e.t.s" and "daily driveable" are in the same sentence, we think its pretty awesome!
'08 Cobra Jet
Forty-one years after its historic debut at the '68 NHRA Winternationals, the Cobra Jet is back. The '08 Cobra Jet rolled into '09 NHRA Winternationals with some massive shoes to fill and raced into the top spot, with John Calvert taking the win at the coveted meet, as well as the No. 3 position on our list.
Ford produced a mere 50 FR500CJs designed around the NHRA Stock Eliminator class. Calvert, of Calvert Racing Suspensions, piloted Brent Hajek's '08 CJ to the victory in its first outing, running the A/Stock class. Ironically, the CJ was lettered as a tribute to Al Joniec's winning CJ from 1968. With a supercharged 5.4L under the hood and a conservative horsepower rating from the factory (425), Ford has jumped back into factory racing with both feet. Look for the '10 CJ to be even more lethal on the track.
Lidio Iacobelli '88 Mustang
Few cars captured the simplicity and innovation of the Fox-body movement in the late '80s and early '90s, as well as Iacobelli's LX. For the past 21 years, his Tropical Yellow '88 coupe has been on the forefront of Mustang performance. Since it was new, Lidio has used his coupe as a research and development tool for his shop, Alternative Auto Performance, and the Stang has been through many transformations. The car even graced the famous BFGoodrich ad (and subsequent poster) showing the basic profile shot, many years ago.
Over the last two decades, Lidio's LX has had multiple combinations on the road to its current turbo configuration. Big cubes and lots of boost help this terror stay on the cutting edge of street performance. With low 9-second e.t.'s and 843 rwhp, Lidio and his '88 LX have raced into the No. 4 spot on MM&FF's Top 10 Mustangs of 2009.
'08 Shelby Super Snake
Mean looks, 725 hp, 10-second quarter-mile times, great handling, and air conditioning-what else is there to say? If Shelby Automobiles hasn't created the perfect Mustang, it's come very close. When the MM&FF staff got its hands on this red tester, 10-second street performance was obtained with nothing more than a wheel/tire swap. Heck, we ran well over 130 in he quarter as well! As if that wasn't impressive enough, the Shelby did it with 93-octane in the tank. The Super Snake's extreme performance and overall total package definitely make it one of the Top 10 Mustangs of 2009.
For over 20 years, Steeda Autosports has been a leader in late-model Mustang manufacturing and performance. Most recently, it has capitalized on its winning name and released the latest Q500. Assembled as a performance and handling package to add to any Mustang GT, the Steeda Q500 offers an incredible balance of power, handling, and styling. Though it's comfortable enough to be driven on a daily basis, the suspension and power upgrades give it the versatility to excel on the dragstrip, road course, and through the cones at an autocross. Few aftermarket packages achieve the performance of Steeda's Q500, and again, Steeda is a force to be reckoned with. This is a car with OE driveability that can run 11s on the strip, then turn corners with the best of them, which is makes it a sure bet for our Top 10 list.
Mike Ivy '05 Mustang GT
Our no. 7 car comes from the great state of Texas. Mike Ivy's addiction to boost has yielded an incredible street-machine that graced the pages of Muscle Mustangs in the July '09 issue. This '05 Mustang GT not only has twin turbos hiding under the hood, but they feed a hungry Three-Valve 5.4L Triton V-8. The home-built hot rod laid down an impressive 750 rwhp on pump gas with only 15 psi of boost. Mike hopes to be in the 900-rwhp range with the addition of some extra boost and race gas. We liked the subtle almost understated looks and the big punch under the hood.
Brian Baur '89 Mustang LX
It seems super-clean Fox-bodies are becoming more and more scarce, but Brian Baur's '89 LX is proof that they do exist. While looking for a more street-friendly hot rod, Brian traded his classic Nova for this LX back in the mid-'90s, and he's been bolting on horsepower and hand-polishing parts ever since, constantly improving on a solid foundation. It has all of the key ingredients a 5.0L enthusiast could want-a Vortech supercharger, Flowmaster mufflers, and the notchback body, all wrapped in a vibrant, custom paint job. Not everyone can write a check for a buildup-for the average guy, Brian's coupe is a great example of how dedication over time can turn out a well-executed, show-quality build.
'08 Jim D'Amore II Saleen S302E
There's something special about a two-ton Mustang blasting down the quarter-mile in the 9-second range that just makes you say WOW! Attach the term "street car" to that claim, and you really have a winner. As if that wasn't enough, Jim D'Amore II's S302E Sterling Edition Saleen is 26 in a run of 25. How is that possible, you ask? This S302E is the only Saleen to ever run down the assembly line and be built specifically for drag racing. JDM's anniversary Saleen sees more then its fair share of track time and is a regular contender in the JDM Engineering Super Stang class in NMRA competition. S7 supercar seats, a clean rollbar, and really classy looks made us drool over this one. We even had the chance to hop in and bust off a few 9.80/133-mph passes ourselves.
With the release of the redesigned '10 Mustang came a revamped '10 GT500. SVT engineers pushed the limit of Mustang performance, then the crew at the AAI assembly plant in Flat Rock, Michigan, assembled these beasts. SVT gave the wanting public exactly what they needed-more power, enhanced style both in and out, and much improved handling to boot. This ultra-refined S197 packs the same power as the special edition '08 GT500KR, albeit with a far better interior. With 540 ponies ready to gallop at a moments notice and all the creature comforts one could ask for, the '10 GT500 is arguably the perfect street car. With the rebirth of the Challenger and the Camaro, the GT500 still packs more punch than the so-called competition. It can run 11s off the showroom floor or mid-11s with sticky tires. Naturally it can handle the twisties and you can take out your best girl for a night on the town when the action's done. If Ford hit a home run with the base GT, the GT500 is a grand slam!
Jim Richezza '88 Mustang LX
Jim Richezza is in no way new to the Mustang game. As a long-time Ford and Mustang enthusiast, Jim's newest project graced the cover of MM&FF in the May '09 issue. His '88 LX started as a budget racecar and is now a serious showstopper. Jim's coupe even took the Best In Show win for racecars at the '09 Fords at E-town. With one of the cleanest engine bays we've ever seen, Jim's LX is definitely one of the top Mustangs of 2009.
Tom Archambault '04 Mercury Marauder
In our opinion, there isn't much better than a low 10-second daily driver. Tell us it's a four-door, 4,500-pound Panther chassis and you've got our full attention. Tom Archambault's '04 Marauder is a prime example of an incredible daily driver. Huge power, good looks, and lots of attitude all add to the appeal of this street monster.
Joe Donnelly '02 Mustang G
Joe Donnelly turns up the heat with his flamed-out '02 GT convertible. With a stout boost-fed 302ci mod mill under the hood, the custom airbrushed flames aren't the only thing that's hot. This Two-Valve terror has blasted down the quarter-mile to a healthy 10.60 at over 134 mph with a mild 1.8-second 60-foot time. With that kind of performance and such a conservative short-time, better numbers surely are in Joe's future.