Car Feature: Bipolar Disposition

photos by: David Stuckey/ Video by: Andy Wiest

Ben Smith’s 2001 Mustang Bullitt has a Terminator Personality

In every Mustang generation, there are always a stand-out model or two where you look at it and say: “Yeah, Ford did it right”. Two such models are the Mustang Bullitt, and the ’03 Supercharged Cobra—AKA “The Terminator”. Apparently, that’s what Ben Smith of Stephenson, VA may have thought when he laid eyes on this Dark Highland Green, 2001 Bullitt Mustang.

Currently, Ben is a jet propulsion craftsman with the U.S. Air Force, and works on C-17’s for a living. This career sprouting from his love of cars, since he’s always owned a Mustang of some sort since he was 15. From a ’93 Fox Body, to a 2011 GT500, to a 2013 Boss 302, but the Bullitt is his favorite. He picked it up in 2015 from the daughter of the previous owner, Bob Taylor, who had recently passed away.

The previous owner had already performed extensive modifications before Ben even knew about it. The biggest mod was swapping the not-to-shabby 2-valve 4.6 for a boosted Terminator engine and transmission from a totaled 2003 Mustang Cobra. The looks were spruced up a bit more with the addition of a Mach 1 chin spoiler, and the ’03 Cobra hood—which HAD to be added, because the engine would fit under no other hood.

With a custom pulley, the blower made 14-psi, and along with a cold air kit and a proper tune, cranked out a respectable 468hp. Other mods included StopTech 13-inch brakes, coil over suspension, a Watt’s link, and custom wheels. It could do low-10s without even breathing hard.

Of course, this was more than enough to capture Ben’s interest, as being one who works on planes that can fly close to the speed of sound, he’s definitely not going to put around town in your average grocery-getter. As nice as the Mustang was, Ben wanted more, and knew that it was capable of it. So, shortly after taking delivery of the Bullitt, Ben began working on bringing it up a few notches.

The first thing he did was freshen up the rear bumper, side skirts and scoop deletes with new paint, and added a set of ’03 Cobra mirrors. The Mach 1 chin spoiler was replaced with a new one, and the headlights were replaced with new OEM units. The catted X-pipe was swapped for an off-road Prochamber and Bassani mid pipes.

Relatively satisfied with his Terminator/Bullitt creation, Ben simply enjoyed the car and attended a car show here and there for about six months. Then, one day, while at his tuner’s shop (Excessive Motorsports), the owner’s wife fell in love with the green beast, and made him an offer. At the time, Ben was seriously jonesin’ for a 2013 Boss 302, and saw this as his opportunity. They made a deal, with one stipulation: If she ever decided to sell it; Ben would get first dibs.

The two parted ways, and Ben got his Boss 302. However, he missed the Bullitt. Fortunately, about ten months later, he received the news that the Bullitt was going to go up for sale—he jumped at the chance. It was the first car that he truly regretted selling, and was happy to have the pony back in the stable. While it was gone, it received a 2003 Cobra IRS upgrade; just perfect for what Ben wanted.

Once back in his possession, it was time for more upgrades. The first order of business was to swap out the True Forged wheels for a set of CCW Classics with gunmetal centers—a throwback to the original wheel colors. Then, he added a Magnaflow catback and polished the entire system to a mirror shine. The Prochamber and Bassani mid pipes were exchanged for a set of ARH full-length headers and mid pipes.

With the exhaust system taken care of, it was time to address the task of getting more air and fuel into the engine. First, the 2.3 blower was removed in favor of a VMP Performance 2.3 TVS unit. A lot more fuel would be needed, so the fuel system was upgraded to a Level-4 return style dual pump system from Fore Innovations, with FID 1200cc injectors providing more than enough petrol when the boost spools up.

While the engine was receiving the blower and fuel upgrade, Ben decided to hide the wiring as well as the fuse box and fuel pump reservoir. The battery was relocated to the trunk using a UPR battery relocation kit. Also, he took the Moroso coolant reservoir, master cylinder cover, factory tensioner, pulley bridge, and LPF ice box tank to the painters for a fresh coat of Hot Rod Black. The engine compartment was treated to Scott Rod riveted style panels painted the exterior color.

The JLT intake and factory valve covers were also painted the same color. Once the Bullitt was back together, it was time for a trip back to Excessive Motorsports for a tune and to get dialed-in. Running E85 and 20 lbs of boost, the Terminator heart beating underneath the hood belted out a conservative (for these new generation Mustangs) 711 hp and 636 lb-ft of torque. More than enough to be quite the stomper on the street.

When it came to the interior, it was still relatively stock. However, Ben needed to add a personal touch to match his tastes. So, he went to TMI Products for a set of their Viper Jr seats covered in the factory dark charcoal vinyl with gray stitching. He also went with a Shrader rear seat delete kit (gotta save weight, right?) upholstered to match as well. Aeroforce Gauges were added to monitor the engine vitals. All of the subtle touches made the interior perfect, and not overdone.

How fast is it now? Ben’s current best ET is 10.12 at 145 mph—which is impressive anywhere. Is the Terminator/Bullitt finished? Not by a long shot. This car’s been modified since day one; and any true car enthusiast knows that a project is never finished, it’s merely awaiting the next stage of mods. However, if Ben does nothing else to this beast, we can attest that his pony is dual-natured—the Bullitt side to showcase the immaculate detail put into its construction, and the Cobra side to showcase its ability to strike at-will. Any way you slice it, if this Terminator/Bullitt ever comes for you, it’ll get you going and coming.

Tech Sheet:

  • CAR: 2001 Mustang Bullitt
  • OWNER: Ben Smith
  • ENGINE BLOCK: Stock 2003 Cobra
  • PISTONS: Stock 2003 Cobra
  • CONNECTING RODS: Stock 2003 Cobra
  • CAMSHAFTS: COMP Cams 106360
  • CYLINDER HEADS: Stock 2003 Cobra
  • INDUCTION: Stock intake manifold/JLT Ram Air Intake
  • POWER ADDER: VMP TVS 2.3L blower @ 20 psi
  • INTERCOOLER: AFCO Heat Exchanger
  • EXHAUST: ARH Headers, 3” collectors, ARH X-Pipe, Magnaflow 2.5” cat-back.
  • FUEL DELIVERY: Fore Level 4 Dual Pump Return kit, 1200cc FID injectors
  • TUNING: Excessive Motorsports
  • TRANSMISSION: Stock Cobra T56
  • CLUTCH: McLeod RXT
  • SHIFTER: Steeda Tri-Ax
  • DRIVESHAFT: Aluminum
  • REAREND: Stock 2003 Cobra, Liberty 26-spline upgrade
  • SUSPENSION: Stock 2003 Cobra with H&R springs, Kenny Brown sway bar, Maximum Motorsports CC plates, Steeda Bumpsteer kit, UPR K-member
  • BRAKES: Stock 2003 Cobra
  • WHEELS: CCW Classics
  • TIRES: Nitto
  • HP/TQ.: 711/636
  • 1/4-Mile E.T.: 10.12 @ 145 mph

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PJ Rentie

Living in Richmond, Tx, PJ Rentie has been in the automotive industry for more than 30 years. This former Assistant Editor at Vette Magazine also spent time with companies like NOS, Edelbrock, Hillbank Motorsports, Classic Industries, and was an automotive instructor for Cypress College for ten years. In his spare time, PJ hopes to one day bring his Fox Body Mustang out of the back yard and back onto the street!

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