This Twin-Charged ’01 Mustang Is A 980-Horsepower Lightning Strike

The exhaust percolates through the ports in the front fenders and the buzz of a cog-drive hums. As the RPM rises, the whir of turbos and hiss of blow-off valves join the party. When the throttle goes wide the sound emanating from this beast is more like a jet blasting down the runway than that of a car accelerating.

There is a very fine line between vacuum and boost. She will pull like a freight train with a tap of my big toe. — Joey Chestnut, owner

This 2001 Mustang GT gets up and goes far quicker than it ever did in factory form, and that is the result of an engine swap, a supercharger, two turbos, and a lot of hard work. The lion’s share of that work took place in Joey Chestnut’s garage, but the foundation of this project and his many other builds began in his challenging childhood.


Joey Chesnut’s ’01 Mustang GT strikes a menacing pose thanks to the towering, ported M112 Eaton supercharger atop the 5.4-liter engine underhood.

“Honestly, it’s a sad, but true, story. I grew up in foster care and group homes. Most foster parents didn’t have reliable transportation,” Joey reflected. “After being stranded a few times and not being able for us kids to go anywhere, I started reading Haynes and Chilton repair manuals that I borrowed from a neighbor’s dad. I decided to learn all I could about repairing cars, including engine bolt-ons, body parts, electrical, suspensions, and complete drivetrains.”

Having completed his self-directed schooling, Joey was ready to put his knowledge to practical use. Not lacking in motivation or creativity, he reached out to a local establishment that offered a ready supply of vehicles to wrench on.

“I experimented with taking cars apart and putting them back together at a local junkyard. I was granted approval as long as I didn’t break anything,” Joey said. “I even got a part-time job pulling parts for people who either couldn’t do so, didn’t know how, or just didn’t want to. I used to always admire awesome-sounding muscle cars when I would hear them go by.”

Even before he was learning to work on them, it was a certain Blue Oval machine that cemented his love for pony cars.

An Aeromotive A1000 fuel pump, Fore Innovations fuel rails, and Injector Dynamics ID1000 fuel injectors supply the fuel and a custom SCT tune from ProDyno controls the blown Two-Valve engine from a second-gen Lightning fortified with Oliver rods and dished Diamond pistons and topped by Trick Flow cylinder heads. It turns 12 to 16 pounds of boost from two 60/62 Comp Turbos and the supercharger into 980 horsepower and 1,018 lb-ft of torque.

“I saw a ’66 Mustang when I was about 5 or maybe 6 years old passing by as I was walking down an old dirt road. I’ll never forget the feeling I felt when I felt and heard the exhaust tone as it flew by and saw those vertical taillights disappear. I knew then I wanted one, whatever it was,” Joey recalled.

Of course, not many can saddle up in their dream cars right out of the gate. You have to start somewhere, and Joey began with a Fox-platform machine of a different feather.

“My first car was an ’83 T-Bird with the EFI 3.8-liter that I bought for $1,800 when I was 14. The engine needed head gaskets, but I wanted a V8 so this was a perfect reason to do a motor swap,” he said. “I worked with a foster Dad in the summer for two years as a carpenter’s helper to save up enough to buy the T-Bird and the 302 donor from an F100. I did the swap in our backyard using a tree limb and a ratchet strap. I mounted a four-barrel Holley on it, and modded some Fox Body shorty headers and exhaust on it.”

“I had to wait a whole year before I could drive it legally which was total hell to a 15-year-old,” Joey laughed. “The first time driving it was a sense of total freedom from anything else I had ever experienced, as I was driving something no one gave me and I built myself. None of the movies I watched or other cars I rode in up to that point gave me the all-time high I felt when I first fired that engine and drove it down the road for the first time.”

Joey pilots the 980-horsepower New Edge from a Corbeau RRS seat bolted into the factory black interior, which is accented by a Cobra gauge cluster and Glowshift gauges.

Since then, he built and owned a long list of projects. In addition to this car, he currently owns a ’67 302 Mustang coupe, a 351W-swapped ’89 Mustang coupe, a Coyote-swapped ’99 Cobra, a ’14 GT500, and a ’96 Mustang GT. However, the car you see here started from humble beginnings before becoming a head-turning, compound-boost monster.

“It was a buddy’s GT that I installed cams and exhaust on in 2007 originally,” Joey explained. “I bought it from him in 2010 and installed a 150-horse wet shot that lasted about three months before she came apart, even with a safe dyno tune from ProDyno.”

At a crossroads, he debated a built 4.6-liter engine, but his experience behind the wheel of the 2002 Lightning he owned at the time swayed him to try the unusual swap. The grunt of the boosted 5.4 and the whine of that Eaton blower called to him, so the die was cast.

“I found a wrecked Lighting on Craigslist that was being parted out. I bought the complete engine from blower to oil pan, engine harness, and ECU for a whopping $1,800,” Joey said. “The 4.6 came apart a weekend before Mustang Week 2010. I already had that week off and did the swap within four days…” Doing so required custom exhaust work, and reprogramming the factory engine-control unit’s 4.6-liter programming to work with a boosted 5.4-liter. ProDyno handled the latter and that calibration has staying power.


Behind those Cosmis XT-005R front wheels wearing 275/35R18 Toyo R888R tires are four-piston Brembo front brakes. A full complement of UPR Products upgrades — K-member, A-arms, springs, and caster/camber plates — work with Strange Engineering front struts to handle the power underhood.

“The ECU from the 4.6 is still in the car today running off a SCT custom tune by ProDyno even with the later added twin-turbo setup, and still has air conditioning and power steering,” Joey said.  “Controlling the boost reference from the air intake/vacuum and mass airflow sensor was tricky for the tuning portion as well. The stock swap was in 2010 and the twins were added in 2015 with a built bottom end and fuel system.”

The bottom end in question features dished Diamond pistons, swinging on Oliver rods, and Cometic gaskets thick enough to arrive at his desired 8.5:1 compression ratio. Working in concert with Trick Flow Twisted Wedge 185 Race Series cylinder heads wearing Trick Flow Stage 2 turbo cams, the engine inhales 12 to 16 pounds of boost from a ported, M112 Eaton supercharger fed by two 60/62 Comp Turbos. Taming the discharge temps are a heat exchanger and air-to-water intercooler from Garrett, and the result is a whopping 980 horsepower and 1,018 lb-ft of torque.

“She drives like a regular stock GT until you get into boost, of course,” Joey said. “There is a very fine line between vacuum and boost. She will pull like a freight train with a tap of my big toe and will wipe out the tach quickly. I’ve always fought traction even with all the suspension work and tires I’ve been through.”


Planting all that compound-boost thrust via 315/30R18 Toyo R888R tires mounted on Cosmis XT-005R wheels are Strange Engineering springs and Stifflers control arms.

Though he may eventually move to an aftermarket ECU should the factory processor cash in its chips, Joey is pretty content to enjoy the performance of this iconoclastic project. He especially enjoys seeing people react to the car once they realize everything that is going on underhood. And, this wild Lightning swap might just inspire the next generation just like that ’66 Mustang did for him.

“Of course, even to this day, I can’t drive it without people trying to stop me to talk about it, and yes, I talk to every single person who asks, especially young kids because we all have been there,” he added.

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About the author

Steve Turner

Steve Turner brings decades of passion and knowledge in the world of Ford performance, having covered it for over 20 years. From the swan song of the Fox Mustang to the birth of the Coyote, Steve had a front-row seat.
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