We've all seen fans before. Not the kind that move air, but the kind that cheer for his or her favorite sports team or athlete. Maybe it's that guy wearing a team hat, jersey, foam index finger, or-for the hardcore-face paint. Heck, some even shave their team's logo into their chest hair. It's devotion at its finest, and while the chiseled chest hair art may seem extreme, it's nothing compared to what Dr. Marvin Berlin of McKinney, Texas, did with his '07 Shelby Mustang GT.
"I've always wanted a Mustang, and I knew if I ever picked one up, I'd want to do it my way," said Dr. Berlin.
Before we get to his Mustang, though, we need to talk about Dr. Berlin's education. It's been said that football is a way of life in Texas, and throughout the South, college football is taken extremely serious. When you attend a big school like the University of Texas at Austin, you're bound to get caught up in Texas Burnt Orange and White team spirit. Dr. Berlin did, and after graduating from UT with a business degree in management and marketing, then getting his doctorate at the Baylor College of Dentistry in Dallas, he built a lucrative dental practice that afforded the ability to build his dream car.
When we asked if he was a fan of UT, his response was, "You have no idea." Leading up to this, his school spirit was reflected in the vehicles he drove. "My last four cars were all burnt orange in color," noted Dr. Berlin. In addition, Dr. Berlin also raises Texas Longhorn cattle at his Tooth Acres ranch (dentist humor, no doubt), with the goal that one day, one may be selected as the school mascot.
Yes, you've probably figured out by now that our Dr. Berlin is a UT fan, but the ultimate expression of his fanaticism culminated in an over-the-top automobile that should probably be on display at the entrance to Darrell K. Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium.
The factory Performance White paint was barely dry on this 28-mile '07 Shelby GT Mustang when Dr. Berlin dropped it off at Ramrods Restoration and Custom Cars in Terrell, Texas, and specified that he wanted the ultimate Texas Longhorn-themed automobile.
"I literally picked it up and brought it straight to Ramrods," recalls Dr. Berlin. "My brother-in-law had a Camaro redone there so I knew the work they were capable of. Bill Alford, Derek Mullins, Chris Tangaro, and Cory Sanders took possession of the Shelby, and with the new-car scent still wafting from the windows, the team tore the Colt down to the bare bones.
"I'm very lucky to have a lot of meticulous and artistic people here," says Ramrods proprietor Bill Alford. "They put their heart and soul in that car. Cory did the paint and bodywork, and Chris is a master Ford tech and did all the wiring and assembly. Derek did the fabrication and helped Chris with that aspect as well. They spent a lot of late nights at the shop getting that car done."
The crew definitely spent a lot of late nights, as the build took a little over a year to complete. I wasn't in a big hurry," says Dr. Berlin. "I waited my whole life to do this. I was really picky about this thing and made a lot of changes as the project went on." Dr. Berlin and the Ramrods staff looked at each component of the car and discussed how they could make it better.
To start with, the S197 unibody was stripped down, and the staff began modifying the body by shaving the door handles, and adding a Cervini's Auto Designs Ram Air hood and Roush Performance rear spoiler. Hours upon hours of fabrication led to the custom upper and lower aluminum grilles, the latter of which incorporate brake ducts for the front binders-the Texas Longhorn maintains center stage in the upper.
"I have a University of Texas football helmet and we matched the colors to that," said Dr. Berlin. Said colors are custom-mixed shades of burnt orange and creamy white that feature three coats for the base color, and four coats of clear on top. While we include pretty pictures from John Jackson's photoshoot, you can see most of the fabrication/build photos online at www.ramrodstx.com. What you really can't see in the pictures, though, are the numerous rounds of color and wet-sanding that have made the skins pin straight, and the underside of the chassis received just as much attention.
The suspension was bolted back to the Mustang next, but not before each piece was painted or powdercoated. The antiroll bars and coilsprings were all sprayed with the PPG burnt orange mix, and the control arms and Panhard bar were all powdercoated black. Ramrods used Eibach Pro-Kit coils in the front and Eibach's stiffer Sportline springs in the rear to compensate for the soon-to-be-added stereo system equipment.
At the front of the car, Ramrods bolted on a pair of Shelby/Baer 6S six-piston front calipers and 14-inch rotors. The calipers were painted in the bright burnt orange so they would stand out behind the iForged Emotion three-piece wheels, which measure 20x8.5 up front and 20x10 out back. Toyo Proxes tires in sizes 275/35/20 and 255/35/20 rear provide surefootedness in all situations.
As Dr. Berlin's Shelby went back together, the interior space was going to be as custom (or more so) than the exterior, so the Ramrods crew started by applying Dynamat sound-deadening material to the inside. Nearly all of the interior components, from the dashboard to the package tray, were covered in a saddle-colored leather, with only the center stack, steering wheel, airbag, and gauge cluster remaining factory black.
The door panels were fabricated to house the new audio speakers, and they received genuine Texas Longhorn hide inserts, as did the front seatbacks, and the stereo speaker box in the trunk. The stock 5R55S shifter was replaced with a TCI StreetFighter ratchet shifter, and just ahead of the silver slap stick, the factory Shaker stereo was replaced with an all-new audio system.
Since his college days as a DJ, Dr. Berlin has had an affinity for music-extreme techno, we've been told. To make sure the audio signals are reproduced properly, Ramrods installed an Alpine head unit with navigation, along with JL Audio woofers and a pair of JL W3 subs.
The drivetrain was next to go back in, but before that occurred, the stock 4.6L was trimmed out with a Ford Racing Performance Parts/Whipple supercharger and Kooks long-tube exhaust headers and X-style mid-pipe. A set of 50-lb/hr injectors and a GT500 fuel pump kit were installed to provide added fuel for the increased air intake volume.
In the engine bay, the battery was relocated and the factory computer took its place near the firewall. This cleaned up the left side of the compartment, and the Ramrods staff took the opportunity to fabricate a custom intercooler reservoir and mount it to the inner fender apron.
Gearheads Performance in Mansfield, Texas, tuned the Mustang, showing a stout 456 rwhp and 430 lb-ft of torque at 12 psi of boost.
A little over a year later, Dr. Berlin drove home in his dream Mustang, and what has to be the ultimate Longhorn-themed ride. With about 1,000 miles on the clock since it was finished, Dr. Berlin's Mustang is only driven on Sundays and the occasional sunny drive to work, but we're sure the UT rallying cry can be heard from the JL speakers:
Is there a rallying cry for the thinkers and doers of tomorrow? A motto that sums up their passion for creativity and their pursuit of discovery? Sure there is-We're Texas. What starts here ... changes the world.
We're pretty sure Dr. Berlin's Shelby is going to change the way people look at modifying Mustangs. Hook 'em, Horns.