For Ernie Alderte, cruising with no top is even better. Having purchased this '04 GT brand new, it's a little unsettling when you hear that Ernie cut and chopped the top off his brand-new Pony after only a month of ownership.
It's not uncommon to hear about Mustang enthusiasts whipping up some custom rides, whether it's for the track, car shows, or street. But when we came across Ernie's Targa top Mustang, it took us a minute to fully grasp what was done.
You might be asking yourself, what gives someone the urge to chop away at a brand new Mustang. For Ernie, after reading over some of the local Mustang forums, the idea of a Targa top Mustang presented itself. Sparking his interest, Ernie was set on making it happen.
"Growing up I owned a little bit of everything, from Fords to Chevys," Ernie told us. "My first car was an '88 Fox-body, than an '89 Fox-body, followed by a '66 Chevy Nova. I could never leave them alone. I always had to do something to them."
Following his typical tradition, Ernie planned out what he wanted to do with his new Stang. With the roof first on the chopping block (pun intended), Ernie and his uncle, Steve Kurs, owner of Star Paint and Body, cut the top off and gave it a splash of new paint with a two-tone black-and-gray paint job. The occasional rim swap was all that would change for the next six years.
"After a while, I eventually wanted to get into a new Corvette," Ernie explained to us. "But once I did the math, I realized I didn't want the car payment. I knew I wanted to change things up with the car, so I called my uncle and asked him what he thought about possibly widening the rear end of my car by three inches. I wanted to make it look stock from the quarter panel to the rear bumper, but just make it wider."
Sure enough, his uncle obliged and they both got to work. Starting with the quarter panels, they extended both sides out by a half-inch. Next, they widened the fender flares by 21⁄2 inches, and also widened the rocker panels and rear bumper to match. Tired of the old paint scheme, Ernie had his uncle refresh his ride with a custom orange-and-black two-tone paint job.
With the rear end widened, Ernie had his eyes set on adding a set of new wheels for his ride. Good friend Robert Jones, owner of Kompression Wheels, set him up with a pair of one-off custom concave wheels; 19x9.5-inch front wheels, and 20x13-inch rears with a 7-inch lip. As if having one set of show wheels wasn't enough, Ernie has a full-set of CCW Classics for his occasional visits to the open track.
The wheels were on and Ernie's GT had a new stance, exactly how he envisioned. With its new show-n'-go style, he wanted a little more power to back up the looks of his newly redefined ride. According to Ernie, Vortech offered a sponsorship to showcase its prototype supercharger, the V2 TI-trim. With the new blower making 12 pounds of boost, Ernie decided it was time to give his engine some attention. Granatelli Motorsports built him a 9.5:1 engine, equipped with a forged Cobra crankshaft, Manley forged pistons and H-beam connecting rods. McKenzie Cylinder Heads out of Oxnard, California, reworked the factory heads with a port and polish, along with adding a set of Comp Cams XE268H cams. Tuning was handled by Ray McClelland from Full Throttle Kustoms. Power output came in at 556 rwhp and 526 lb-ft of torque.
"I set out to build a daily driver that I could take to a road coarse and rip on," Ernie explained. With power supply now up to par, Ernie upgraded his suspension using a majority of Maximum Motorsports products including: subframe connectors, Bilstein coilovers, upper and lower control arms, and a Panhard bar.
Adding to the sleek appearance of his roofless-show go'er, Ernie customized his interior. He swapped out the factory seats for black leather Recaro ones and added a custom 4-point rollbar from Little People Customs, out of Ventura, California.
Ernie mentioned to us that none of this would have been possible without the constant support from his family and girlfriend. He also mentioned that if he ever wants to change paint again, he will most likely widen the front and rear of his Stang.
"I like the uniqueness of the car," Ernie said to us. "I didn't set out to build a car that fits into a category. I like to build my cars for me, and overall I am very happy with