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Affordable Ford Muscle Cars - Fast For Under 10K

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SN-95 Mustang
OK, you knew an SN-95 Mustang was going to be part of this list, but instead of the obvious Fox-body models ('79 to '93), we are going to recommend building an early SN-95 car, specifically one of the '96 to '98 models with the 4.6L engine. When introduced, that curvy sheetmetal was polarizing, even repulsive in the eyes of a few of us here. However, that quality can be advantageous now to buyers looking for a newer car to build. Because they are less desirable than the later New Edge SN-95s ('99 to '04), they sell for less. The other piece of good news is that this body style just needs a couple of things to completely transform the car from ugly duckling to badass street machine: 1) lowering the springs, and 2) installing the widest wheel and tire combination you can fit in the wheelwells.

Just those two changes get you 70 percent of the way to an awesome car. Though we must admit that the more aggressive-looking, foglight-equipped Cobra front bumper helps a lot, too. If yours is powered by a SOHC 4.6, use your remaining cash to top it with Trick Flow's top-end kit. That $2,800 investment will net you at least 100 more horsepower at the wheels. Those heads love boost, by the way.

If you can afford to spend a little more initially, buy a Cobra. Those came from the factory with a forged-crank, 32-valve 4.6 that made an easy 305 hp. Do some intake and exhaust tweaks, or scour eBay for an Eaton supercharger from an '03 to '04 Cobra.

If suspension and handling are your thing, the aftermarket has you covered. In fact, you could probably build an entire SN-95 Mustang solely with parts from the performance aftermarket. Chassis parts, suspension, big brakes, road race, drag race, whatever—it's almost too easy.

We challenge even the most fervent Ford hater to find fault with the looks of Eddie Zapata's '98 Mustang. He bought it for just $1,700 and built it with used parts from other people's projects. His big score was the 32-valve 4.6 from an '03 Mach 1 that now sits under his hood. Conveniently, the 2V 4.6 engine harness needed only minor reworking to fit the 4V engine. This Mustang is his daily driver and obviously his autocross and track-day warrior as well. Eddie works for Ricardo Topete at GTR High Performance in Rancho Cucamonga, California, so he has an inside track to lots of used parts but has paid for everything himself. So far, he's sunk a grand total of $8,445 in the whole build.

Tech Notes
Who: Eddie Zapata
'98 Mustang GT: $1,700

32V 4.6 DOHC from '03 Mach 1 $2,000
DiabloSport tuner 150
JLT cold-air kit Free
BBK twin 65mm throttle-body 150
Ported and polished lower and upper manifold Came with engine
MAC off-road H-pipe 150
SLP Powerflo exhaust 120
SVT focus pump 100
'98 Cobra fuel rails 220
Pro 5.0 Shortshifter 145
Spec Stage 3 clutch 200
Ford Racing aluminum driveshaft 150
31-spline differential from '03 to '04 Cobra 220
Superior 31-spline hardened axles 120
Ford Racing 3.55 gears 100
Bullitt 13-inch brakes with power slot rotors 150
Cobra rear brakes with cross drilled slotted rotors 100
Progress springs 200
Koni adjustable shocks Came with car
Maximum Motorsports CC plates 160
Maximum Motorsports 4-point K-brace 80
Kenny Brown rear-strut tower brace 50
Kenny Brown adjustable Panhard bar 100
Progress rear sway bar 80
HPM adjustable LCA 140
Corbeau harness bar 160
Corbeau FX1 racing seats 350
Crow five-point harnesses 100
Auto Meter water-temp gauge 45
Raptor shift light 50
FR 500 wheels, 18x9 front and 18x10.5 rear 525
Trufiber hood 250
Saleen S351 spoiler 120
Cobra front bumper 160
Cobra rear bumper 100
Total $8,445
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The Don-#002
The Don-#002

I had one of these, dam i still miss it!

Car Craft