Our 10 Favorite Mustangs From The 2023 Carlisle Ford Nationals

The Carlisle Ford Nationals in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, is the largest all-Ford car show in the world. The well-orchestrated event opened its gates on June 1st with cars beginning to roll in on that Thursday and throughout Friday. Saturday is not only the peak in attendance, but also the massive car count. Even on Sunday though, you could walk the grounds and catch those who want to enjoy the company of other Ford enthusiasts before heading back home.

Carlisle does a spectacular job of making sure all vehicles are well-represented, however, it’s the Ford Mustang that provides the majority of ground cover on the Carlisle Fairgrounds lawn. We took our step count up a few thousand and perused each row to find some of the finer Mustangs in attendance. Here are a few of the Ford Muscle favorites.

Zappia’s Zippy 1967 Shelby GT500

There are few cars that can garner the attention of a Ford fan more than a 1967 Shelby GT500. While museum pieces exist and YouTube channels showcase barn finds, it’s truly rare to see one. We were honored to meet Rick Zappia of Long Island, New York, who brought out his beautiful GT500. The classic American muscle car sports Britney Blue paint and all-original aesthetics, including a spare tire full of air from the same era! Making this brute even more rare is an optional 427 cubic-inch engine upgrade that added an additional charge of $483.26 to the invoice, but pushed horsepower up a notch.

If you happen to recognize the car then you might have seen it at the Shelby Heritage Center Collection on loan from Mr. Zappia. During its stay there, it’s rumored that the color had caught the eyes of several Ford employees who would later apply the same color to the modern Heritage Edition Shelby GT500. Although Zappia once used this as a track toy at the dragstrip and road course, once the value climbed in the 1980s it went back to show duty and does a fantastic job of it.

Beauty And The Blower

It’s hard to ignore a massive supercharger sticking through the hood of any vehicle, but when said vehicle is a compact-sized 1968 Ford Mustang, you know it’s a wild ride! Lori Fedirko’s Pro Street Mustang is the epitome of that with a TKM-built 363 cubic-inch small-block Ford paired to a BDS Stage 2 6:71 blower. The combination can produce up to 25 psi of boost when it comes time to drop the hammer.

Don’t be fooled into thinking this is a drag-only vehicle, though, as it’s driven in various Pro Street events throughout the country, and was even spotted driving through downtown Carlisle over the course of the event. The massive rear tires have a width of 18.5 inches and tuck under the chassis thanks to a narrowed 9-inch rearend. While it was easy to spot the bright red paint from the aisles of Carlisle, it was much easier to hear it, as the engine thundered through a set of 3.5-inch Pro Outlaw Flowmaster mufflers. Keep an eye out for future coverage on this magnificent beast.

Stunning Pro Touring ‘Stang

It’s hard for us to dislike any Pro Touring setup. The chin spoiler, aggressive posture, and over-the-top paint and wheel combinations make these cars a standout in our book. So, while perusing the classic Mustang aisle it was by no surprise this beautiful 1969 Mustang of Ryan Gingrich stopped us in our tracks. This car had more than fresh paint and a nice engine though – it was a work of art.

The car originally belonged to Gingrich’s father, but 30 years later Ryan and his brother Nick decided to tackle the project. The car was fully restored and resprayed in House Of Kolor Candy Apple Red. Inside the shaved engine bay of the red rocketship is a 434 cubic-inch stroker that produces a healthy 594 horsepower. Keeping the car planted on or off the track are 17×8 and 17×10-inch wheels paired with Total Cost Involved Pro Touring suspension. Needless to say, this is a well executed build!

Bad, Bad Leroy Brown

In 1973, Jim Croce released the album “Life And Times” that brought to light the song Bad, Bad Leroy Brown. Well, at the 2023 Carlisle Ford Nationals, the owner of Blue Sky Performance and Restoration, Jesse Barratt, brought out his bad, bad Fox Body. The Sunset Bronze Mica paint attracted a lot of attention, but this was more than a GT with a clean paint job.This car actually started life in 1988 as a four-cylinder LX before Barratt added his touches.

Visible to a Mustang-centric person’s eye is a widebody kit, Saleen wing, 2003-04 Cobra-style hood, and a Cervinis stalker bumper with Cobra-style skirt and rear bumper. However, a closer look reveals flush-mounted stock glass, shaved A-pillar moldings, and SVO sail panels. The widened body sections allows fitment of 18×11-inch wheels in the back and 18×9 in the front, which combined with an independent rear suspension out of a 2000 Cobra, produces a clean stance, but also track handling manners.

Under the hood lies a twin-turbocharged, 302 cubic-inch engine that makes 520 horsepower and 576 lb-ft of torque. That power is transmitted through an Astro Performance A5 transmission with a Ram Clutches twin-disc clutch. Barratt enjoys the power and performance of his 1988 Mustang in custom wrapped Corbeau GTS II seats. If there was ever a good way to showcase your business and talents, this is it.

Timeless Classic

What does an SCCA Pro Racing Trans Am series driver cruise around in when not on the track? An extremely clean notchback Mustang of course! Vinnie Allegretta brought his 1990 Mustang from Long Island, New York, to showcase at Carlisle this year. While a T-top option ceased to exist after 1988, a previous owner had grafted one on before Allegretta took ownership and did a full restoration at his shop.

Between the strut towers of the Fox Body Mustang is a Ford Performance 306 cubic-inch engine. The heads have been ported and a GT40 intake sits on top. Additional air is pushed into the intake via a Vortech supercharger. In total, the combination puts down a respectable 525 horsepower to the rear wheels. While far from the race-spec pace he’s accustomed to, the Fox still provides a raw and classic feeling.

Two-Tone Brings Home The 90s

The late ‘90s were an interesting time when it came to custom paint. While the Fox Body drag of the era cars were sporting tear-through designs, the SN95 did not lend itself to the same styling cues. This resulted in more two-tone finishes, as seen with Donnie Huth’s 1997 Mustang Cobra. Huth chose to use House of Kolors Tangerine to offset his Cobra’s black paint. Inside the engine bay is a show-worthy setup that boasts tons of polished aluminum pieces, including a BBK cold air intake. In the sea of modern show cars, It’s fantastic catching a blast from the past with this prime example of the late 1990s

34-Mile 2000 Cobra R

There are several cars that have struck a chord with a specific generation. I grew up in the Fox Body era, but as I was almost reaching legal driving age, Ford’s Special Vehicle Team released the 2000 Cobra R. The larger-than-life wing, side-exit exhaust, and aggressive nature have always lured my camera lens into making it the focal point. This specific Cobra R is still owned by the original purchasers, Shirlee and Stuart McArthur. The couple has somehow managed to not drive the Cobra R very much, resulting in only 34 ticks on the odometer! With only 300 Cobra R’s made available, this one is number 10 and quite possibly the first to be offered to the general public.

Now, before you start thinking that the car needs to be driven more, the couple has a 1995 Cobra R that sees more track time than not. However, the preservation of this Cobra R means that those who missed out on seeing it brand new have a chance to see what a well-preserved unit looks like. Oh, and the signatures found throughout are from Carroll Shelby, Edsel Ford II, and most of the development team. How cool is that?

Mach 1 Strikes The Strip

In 2003, Ford released a Mach 1 edition to pay homage to the earlier generation of the same namesake. While some modern incarnations can be down right sacrilegious, Ford did a fantastic job with this one. Once the 2004 model year rolled around, Ford brought Competition Orange into the color line. Mike Koneschusky brought out his 12,000-mile Mach 1 that comes equipped with more than just an orange paint job.

The black and orange theme continues into the engine bay, with the valve covers and engine bay coated in the bright orange finish, while the block and ProCharger P1SC don sleek black coatings. Exhaust gasses escape through a Bassani mid-pipe and Borla catback. If there was a competition to pay homage to an older model, we think this 2004 Mustang Mach 1 would be a top finisher!

Lava Rarity

At Ford Muscle we’re big fans of rare colors. So, as we strolled through the S197 lineup this seemingly common black Mustang did not catch our eyes. However, on the journey back up the hill, the setting sun had revealed the ruby red undertones of the Lava Red paint. Where the car lacked signage signifying its rarity or color code, it made up with detailed paint and a clean engine bay.

Mounted to the front of this Coyote powerplant is a Paxton supercharger, and on top, a BOSS 302 intake manifold resides. Making sure the power meets the ground are a set of Weld wheels wrapped in Mickey Thompson rubber. We’re glad that trek back with the sun at our back occurred, or we might have missed this gem.

Ford Performance’s GT350 Test Mule

Did we really put a test mule vehicle on our favorite Mustangs of Carlisle list? Yes, yes we did! When the 2024 Mustang was soon to be launched, photos began to circulate around the internet of boisterous wedged hood on an GT350 test mule. Ford Performance brought the mystery machine to Carlisle and had it on display. As many had guessed, the team at Ford Performance had wedged a 7.3-liter Godzilla under the hood. Much like the enthusiasts with similar swaps into their Mustang, this proved that the team of engineers at Ford are just as much gearheads as we are!

2023 Carlisle Ford Nationals

While the fun has ended and the fairgrounds once again lay bare, we’re left with memories and friends we met along the way. If you don’t see your car in this list, no worries, as we’ll be pumping out more coverage that highlights the many machines of the 2023 Carlisle Ford Nationals!

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About the author

James Elkins

Born into a household of motorsport lovers, James learned that wrenching takes priority over broken skin and damaged nerves. Passions include fixing previous owners’ mistakes, writing, and driving.
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