Intro: Building An Affordable Three-Valve Mustang Project


If you follow us on our social media platforms, or you’ve undoubtedly checked out some of our recent content, you’ve probably already guessed by now that this article is on the gray S197 we’ve been hinting at recently.

That’s because we’ve been steadily working on it over the last few months, just in time for our latest digital magazine Ford Muscle to make its debut. With our new magazine comes our latest project car, a bone-stock 2005 Ford Mustang GT that we purchased a few years ago from a local used-car dealership.

We haven’t chosen a name yet for our latest horse in the stable, but we’ve entertained a few ideas internally. While a moniker is not a huge priority per se, it is on the agenda–so feel free to shoot some ideas our way in the comments or on our aforementioned social media platforms.

Getting back on track–in this segment, we’ll be introducing our Mustang GT by detailing the car, our goals for it and some future segments to come, so stick with us as we dive into the realm of mod-motor content.

Latest Horse In The Stable

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When you consider that a 1996 SVT Cobra came out of the factory with 305 horsepower at the flywheel from its 4.6-liter DOHC Four-Valve V8, our 2005 Mustang GT equipped with the infamous 4.6-liter SOHC Three-Valve V8 doesn’t seem that impressive. And in all honesty–in stock form–we can confirm it isn’t. But that’s the beauty of being car folk like us–nothing stays stock forever.

But before we get into that, let’s examine our Mustang. This example, built at the end of March in the year 2005, wears its 12 year-old Mineral Grey paint quite well for its age. At a quaint 55,000 miles upon purchase, our ’05 Mustang GT now has nearly 72,000 miles on the clock since we picked it up over two years ago back in January of 2015. We were able to score our Mustang in bone-stock shape from a local used car dealership in the low teens, and we were happy to find this example as a clean title, one-owner California car, which was a huge plus for us.

One of the drawbacks of purchasing a used vehicle sometimes, is that they aren’t always perfect. While the exterior paint on our '05 GT isn't flawless, and the front bumper/passenger side fender smacked a pole, the car still has some great character for a platform older than a decade now. As for the front bumper and passenger side fender, we're still debating if we want to perform a badge-less GT500 front-end conversion or not.

What’s The Goal For This Hooptie?

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Here’s what we love about this car–it’s affordable, it can be made fast for relatively cheap and there are a ton of them out there in case we ever needs parts. What’s great about these cars is that they can be had for an absolute steal now, thanks to the ’11-plus Coyote Mustangs flooding the market.

We should probably be clear here and admit that this project car is by no means a way of competing against those cars. Coyote-powered Mustangs are in their own realm, and since they have a better fit on our sister magazine, FordNXT, we’ll leave 5.0-liter power to them.

Now that that’s out of the way, let’s get down to business. Essentially, the whole goal of this Mod-motor powered Mustang is to build a street/strip machine which will eventually rocket into the 10s, completely on a blue-collar budget. Now you may be asking yourself, “Isn’t that a bit ambitious for a Three-Valve?” Maybe, maybe not. When you consider that some of the fastest Three-Valve Mustangs on the planet are in the 8s, and even 7s–a goal like 10s doesn’t seem too far-fetched, does it?

A preview of what's to come in the first segment of our project build...

This is where you folks come in. This is a budget build, and everyone’s definition of “budget” is different–but we all have one idea in common here–go as fast as possible, without killing our wallet, and doing it reliably. By this methodology, this could mean building the current Three-Valve powerplant; or even performing a Coyote swap. It all depends on the budget, of course. But before we perform any modifications to the car, we need a baseline for our ’05 S197 Mustang GT…

Baseline Numbers From A Rookie


Here’s a disclaimer for you. Unlike the folks at Dragzine, we’re not professional drag racers. Heck, we’re not even semi-professional. We’re what you’d call…newbies. But that’s OK–because you don’t need to be a professional to learn how to drag race–you just need to have fun.

Another disclaimer: We know bone-stock numbers on a bone-stock Three-Valve aren’t exciting, but bare with us. In the hands of a rookie driver like your author, we were able to coax our ’05 Mustang GT to a 9.259 e.t. at 79.16 mph in the eighth-mile at Irwindale Speedway’s eighth mile drag strip. The easiest way to tell that we needed to improve our e.t. was our 2.313 60-foot time, but that comes with experience, as well as additional components.

As you can see, there's definitely room for improvement in our E.T.s.

As you can see, there’s definitely room for improvement in our e.t. from Irwindale. Even in bone-stock form like our ’05 Mustang GT was, these cars can easily trap a 1.8-1.9 60-foot to a high 8-second eighth-mile time.

Hinting Toward The Future

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Thanks to some help from our friends at QA1, Mickey Thompson Tires & Wheels, UPR Products, and Race Star Industries in the next segment, our ’05 Mustang GT will be receiving some much needed wheels, tires and suspension upgrades to help us further coax this horse into faster E.T.s at the strip.

Beyond the next article, we have some more budget friendly Mod-motor articles planned for our low-mileage Three-Valve Mustang that might just inspire you to build your own project on the cheap–so stick around for our next article on our newly inaugurated project car, and feel free to helps come up with a name for this low-buck Mustang!

About the author

Harrison Noble

Living in San Diego for most of his life, Harrison was exposed to a variety of cars at an early age. His passion for anything that is fast, or has a V8, brought him to Power Automedia.
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