Shocks are Koni coilovers at all four corners, and the brakes are upgraded four-piston calipers in front and back. The discs have also been replaced for performance. The fronts are outfitted with 13.5-inch two-piece rotors and the rears are a one-piece design with a 12.19-inch diameter.
Handling has also been improved by making several changes to reduce weight. Besides cutting out practically everything in the interior except for the dash, Melhado even gutted the doors and airbags. More weight was cut by swapping out the stock hood for an '01 Cobra fiberglass hood. The diet even extended to the wheels, where Melhado uses lightweight Forgeline three-piece units, 18x9.5 up front and 18x10.5 in the back. Depending on conditions, Melhado says he usually runs either Hoosier R6 tires or Toyo Proxy RA-1s.
Of course, the full rollcage puts a few pounds back into the car, but if you plan to go all-out on any racetrack, a well-built cage is a necessity. Without the driver in the seat, this Mustang weighs in at a relatively svelte 3,219 pounds.
The engine has also seen several modifications, but surprisingly, no big changes have been made to really up the available horsepower. Instead, Melhado has so far concentrated on making the modular mill as reliable as possible. The 4.6L engine already has a Roush supercharger; since purchasing it, Melhado has added a Canton 7-quart racing oil pan and a remote oil filter to make sure it never starves of oil. Other racing-specific fitments include a Fluidyne aluminum racing radiator and a Fluidyne heat exchanger, an A/C delete with a Steeda eliminator pulley, solid motor mounts made by Griggs, an upgraded fuel pump, and an 11-inch McLeod aluminum flywheel fitted to a Spec Stage 3 clutch to help things spin up a little faster. A few ponies are also picked up over stock trim thanks to a 75mm BBK throttle body and Kooks 1 7/8-inch long-tube headers.
Behind the engine is a Tremec five-speed fitted with a Steeda Tri-ax shifter handle to make for smooth shifts all day long on the road courses. The Mustang also utilizes a Ford Racing aluminum driveshaft and a Moser rearend, upgraded with a Detroit True Trac diff and 31-spline, five-lug C-clip axles.
Melhado says that the Mustang "only" makes 342 lb-ft of torque and 335 hp, but it makes for a nice balance between power, handling, and braking. But that's relative considering he's often up against purebred racecars with an advantage of 100 or more horsepower. "But," he says, "that's been enough for me as I began the learning process of driving a racecar. Still, considering how great this car handles, I'm rarely ever at a disadvantage. It's a lot of fun getting around somebody I know has a lot more horsepower by being able to out-corner and out-brake him."