Eric Walker, a jeweler by trade, had never owned a Mustang. In 2003, he talked his wife into buying a new Mustang GT as a spare vehicle.
Since the Valrico, Florida-couple had two small children at the time, Eric's wife insisted that it be an automatic if she needed to drive it "in case of emergency," as Eric describes. She has yet to drive it.
Instead, Eric spent the last eight years transforming it into an all-out, open-track-prepped, street-legal road-ripper. But builds like this don't happen overnight. Under the watchful eye of his wife, Eric had to make the changes over a period of time, one by one-similar to how Andy Dufresne chipped away at the wall of his cell during The Shawshank Redemption.
He started driving the car daily, all the while making mods as time passed. He dropped it and installed a set of lower gears, subframe connectors, an after-cat exhaust, and a tune. By 2005, his wife was on board and bought him the 2.6L Kenne Bell Twin-Screw blower that to this day sits atop the Two-Valve. Eric even found a guy with a Terminator who wanted to trade his IRS for Eric's drag-friendly solid rear axle.
The following year, Eric finally swapped the auto-tragic for a Tremec T-56 and signed up to attend Camp Steeda, a performance driving event at Sebring International Raceway. "Rene Gomez was my first instructor," says Eric. "He helped me get off on the right foot and became a good friend." Eric also got involved in the Palm Beach Mustang Club and attended three to four driving events each year over the next few years.
Then, at Camp Steeda 2010, the GT's stock Two-Valve had enough. It spit internals and oil on the front straightaway, sending Eric skating into the wall. Thankfully he was okay, but his GT suffered severe body damage. Eric spent the rest of the year repairing the Stang's skin. He enlisted Darrell Kincaid at Riteway Enterprises in Tampa, Florida, to do the body repair and paint, and called on Dennis Ramsey at Ramsey's Performance in Lutz, Florida, to handle the engine and tuning.
Kincaid replaced the damaged panels, upgraded Eric's hood to a Tiger Racing heat-extractor piece (which is functional, by the way), and sprayed the entire car its original Redfire Metallic hue, though he manipulated it a bit to make it unique. He then wet-sanded and buffed the finish to a high gloss, making it finer then new.
Under the hood, Ramsey installed a new forged MMR short-block. Since Eric wanted to keep his GT unique (without trying too hard to make it Cobra-like), he chose a pair of Trick Flow's new Track Heat Two-Valve heads and Track Max camshafts. Ramsey topped the new engine with Eric's existing Kenne Bell, and tuned the combination to a best of 604 rwhp and 521 lb-ft of torque.
Inside, Eric wanted his GT to be as light as possible, so he took a bare-bones approach. He went with a six-point rollcage from RaceCarBuilders.com, a custom rear-seat-delete by Ramsey's, and a Sparco Evo II fixed-back racing seat. There's no carpet, airbags, radio, or air conditioning. It's loud, hot, and uncomfortable, but it's street-legal-and Eric actually drives it on the street, in addition to as many open-track events as he can possibly attend.
Sure, the full Maximum Motorsports suspension, six-piston Wilwood brakes, and 600-rwhp output may be much for a street Stang. And maybe driving around on Steeda Ultra-Lite wheels wrapped in Nitto NT01 R-compound tires is a bit extreme, too. It also has a remote-mounted diff cooler in the trunk, which is functional and quite cool.
We recently had the chance to see Eric and his killer GT in action at a Track Guys event at Sebring, and that thing really goes. Eric learned quite a lot from his Mustang project, and even a few things from his wife. Always be prepared "in case of emergency," she stated. Hopefully, now Eric won't have any other emergencies, on track or off, and may he enjoy many more years of open-track events-and trips to the grocery store.