Canibal Coyote: Joe Lopez’s Turbo 2012 Mustang GT Is Perfection

As we travel the globe and meet Mustang enthusiasts from all walks of life, one thing strikes us as a common thread. So many of you are self-taught when it comes to modifying your vehicles, and the quality of the cars you produce with that knowledge is fabulous. From full-on custom builds to record-setting racecars to mild, street-going Fords that steal the show, our FordMuscle readers know how to get the job done. So when we found Joe Lopez and his Canibal Coyote in Lake Stevens, Washington, we immediately knew we needed to showcase his build for you all to see.

This car subtly screams “get out of my way.” [Photography by Northpole Racing]

“I’ve always been into cars. I’m self-taught and didn’t really have anyone to learn from, as my dad was an aircraft mechanic. As soon as I was able to get into messing with them, I did. As a teenager, I worked at Schuck’s [Auto Supply] and had friends that were doing 4×4 stuff, then I started to help a buddy build an engine, then I built my own engine, and it kept going,” says Lopez.

The Canibal Coyote is an ongoing project; he picked it up six years ago, and since then, it has been in a constant state of flux, with one modification opening the door to the next and the next after that.

Hiding all of the wiring was not a task for the weak; Lopez says he removed dozens of pounds of wire and sensors to clean up the harness. Inside, the car is all business with a Motion Raceworks column and full cage.

Interestingly enough, this is his first Mustang and his first Ford — something you’d never believe when looking at the quality of this build.

“The Coyote platform is the first time Ford came to the plate in a lot of years. Being in the parts business and watching Ford drop the timing belt out of all of their platforms back in ’05 to go chain only, I thought that was a smart move and opened my eyes up to them — I was anti-Ford for a while. I actually went to the Chevy dealer; I was looking to get a ‘Vette or Camaro. The Camaro didn’t do it, between the seating position and lack of power, and the options weren’t right versus the Mustang. It had the stick and the Coyote and the Magnaflow mufflers and the K&N air filter when I got it. It was just one of those things; the numbers worked, it had the options I wanted, and the lady liked it better. That always plays a small role in there. It was the perfect storm,” says Lopez.

Michael Rauscher of L&M Engines spec'd the engine combo, and Lopez has upgraded the power-adder several times over the years to take advantage of the robust Coyote powerplant's need to breathe deeply.

The car from six years ago has undergone so many upgrades in that period that nearly every stock component is gone.

Just a year after he picked it up, he shipped the engine to Michael Rauscher and the team at L&M Engines for a full workover, as he intended — like any good Mustang owner — to put it through substantial abuse over time. Lopez is one of those owners who can never leave well enough alone and plans his mods out well enough that the car is seldom down for any length of time. The build included a set of L&M’s proprietary sleeves and water-jacket supports, along with a Boss 302 crankshaft and Manley I-beam connecting rods and Diamond pistons for strength. L&M sent the cylinder heads to Slawko Racing Heads to have the L&M port designs machined into the castings.

Lopez’s attention to detail continues in the trunk, which houses several wiring components tucked neatly out of the way.

Rauscher is famous for developing his own camshaft grinds, and he installed a set of those bumpsticks in the Canibal Coyote’s engine. Initially, it had the stock MT-82 six-speed. He also started down the power-adder road with a ProCharger D-1SC, which was more than the MT-82 could handle. The direct-port nitrous system probably didn’t help.

The car subsequently received a Calimer Transmissions TR-6060, then a TSI Turbo 400, and now it uses a Dusty Bradford-spec PTC Powerglide transmission with a PTC torque converter. So he started researching an F-1 supercharger upgrade, but to do so would have basically meant buying an all-new supercharger system. Out of nowhere, he came across a deal on a CPR turbo system that a friend was selling off and made a deal to sell his ProCharger on the same day.

7-second passes are no problem for the Canibal Coyote.

One of the things that attracted us to this build was its sano execution. Lopez has spent countless hours under the hood doing a full wire tuck, relocating the ECU and fuse box, trimming out all the unnecessary wiring, and cleaning up the engine bay to make it as perfect as possible. He removed more than 60 pounds of wiring and sensors from the car and even altered the windshield wiper system to utilize a single wiper. When we say this thing is clean, it’s clean clean.

“We did the wire tuck at the same time the turbo system went in, and the rear was built, so it took us a few months. I had broken the differential, and it went down; while it was down, the turbo thing popped up, so it went from a D-1 to a turbo system and a wire tuck and everything over the winter,” he says.

The Canibal Coyote is at home in a car show or at Cars & Coffee as much as it is heating the tires at the track.

And as he changed power-adders from the ProCharger to the current CPR turbocharger kit, the automatic transmission became the best choice. Initially, the turbo kit used a 76mm snail, but it has since been turned up with a Jose Zayas-built Forced Inductions GTR98 turbocharger to deliver all the boost. Lopez also fitted a complete Holley EFI system and a drool-worthy Plazmaman intake manifold.

Fore Innovations triple 525 lph pumps ensure that he has enough fuel on hand, and the car needs two fuel pump boosters at this level to feed the Injector Dynamics ID2000 injectors. A complete suspension system from BMR Suspension is underneath, including springs, lower control arms, upper control arm, Panhard bar, and anti-roll bar. Viking Crusader double-adjustable dampers are at all four corners, and he beefed up the factory 8.8-inch rearend housing with a Strange Engineering spool and 35-spline chromoly axles. Front and rear brakes are from Aerospace Components, while a mixture of Weld Racing and Billet Specialties wheels are onboard. He always runs the Mickey Thompson 275/60/15 ET Street Radial Pro out back, along with Sportsman tires for the street and bias-ply skinnies for the track.

A deal on a CPR turbo kit sent him down the path of no return, and several transmissions later he's finally somewhat content with the car's performance. Now it's up to the other locals to catch up to him.

Of course, no build like this is achievable without family support.

“It wouldn’t be possible without my wife. She really is the best when it comes to dealing with the passion I have for this and all the time and money spent,” says Lopez.

He’s not afraid to drive this car, either. It spends a fair amount of time on the street — infer what you wish from that statement — and it’s been deep into the 7s at more than 180 mph at the track. From what we can see from the timeslip (which we can’t share with you), there’s a lot more left in this car as he continues to iron out the program.

If you happen to be on the interstate in Northern Washington and hear a jet go by, look again — it might just be the Canibal Coyote.

Photography was provided by Northpole Racing. Check them out on Facebook and Instagram.

About the author

Jason Reiss

Jason draws on over 15 years of experience in the automotive publishing industry, and collaborates with many of the industry's movers and shakers to create compelling technical articles and high-quality race coverage.
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