If you’ve been reading my blog for any amount of time, it’s very likely that you know two things about me. First of all, I’m a huge TJ Hunt fan. Second, I’m also a pretty big fan of the Ford Mustang (I currently drive a 2012 5.0). So, when TJ bought a wrecked 2015 Mustang back in the summer 2019, I was filled with all kinds of teary-eyed car guy joy. The TJ Hunt Mustang was a pretty big deal for me, in all the ways that you could imagine.
A quick summary of the build
I suspect that most people who subscribe to the TJ Hunt YouTube channel weren’t all that excited about this car. TJ built an audience primarily around highly customized Japanese cars, and if you know anything about car culture you’ll know that domestic car people and import car people aren’t usually the same crowd. Sure, there are people who like all brands and all types of cars equally such as myself, but from what I’ve seen, most people tend to stick with what they like without giving much appreciation to anything else.
TJ bought this Mustang from an online auction (autobidmaster.com) on April 4, 2019. It was the first time that he had ever bought a car at an auction before, and it became quickly evident during the bidding process when he discovered that he was actually bidding against himself as time is running out. Oops.
A few specific things to know about the car itself
As a Mustang guy myself, I was pretty happy to hear TJ say over and over again how excited he was to have a Mustang. He said multiple times that he thought it was one of the best looking cars on the road at the moment, and that he had always toyed with the idea of getting one to work on. For a guy like TJ who is so heavily into Japanese cars, that was actually quite shocking for me to hear. I never in 1 million years would’ve thought the TJ hunt would be interested in a Mustang.
- It was a 2015 with the premium GT package
- Purchase price was $13,700 (he bid against himself for the last $1000)
- It came from Fresno California
- It had 33,000 miles at the time of purchase
- The VIN was WAUFFAFL78N******
- It had slight body damage on both the front and rear (driver side). Based on the damage, it almost looked as if a large pole fell down on the front of the car, since some of the damage transitioned into the hood.
- No airbags deployed
- The only modification was that the exhaust had been cut off at the resonators. TJ’s theory was that there was actually an aftermarket exhaust on the car, and the previous owner cut it out before selling the car to auction
- The exterior was black, with a black leather interior
- It had a six speed manual transmission
In the beginning, TJ never mentioned that the primary purpose of the car was to use it as a giveaway prize. However, it’s very likely that maybe he didn’t even know what his ultimate plans were. He started the rebuild process normally, then things got quiet for a bit, and then started making announcements in his regular video uploads that they were giving away the car. Anybody who wanted a chance to win it had to purchase something from the hunting company.com.
For those that don’t know, this is actually a very good way for an e-commerce company (such as thehuntandcompany.com) to generate revenue. If done correctly, the revenue gained from product sales will offset the cost of the car and all the modifications that went into it. Knowing TJ and how successful his merchandising business is, it’s extremely likely that this worked out well for him.
One final thing to note about the car before getting into the actual parts list:
TJ was smart to work with several major brands to supply parts for the car. Companies such as Roush were eager to partner with him, which worked out very well for TJ since it reduced his overall cost of the build. This ultimately allowed him to turn a higher profit when he ultimately gave away the car in the sweepstakes.
Full parts list for the TJ Hunt Mustang GT
Unlike some of TJ‘s other crazy builds such as the RX-7 and BRZ, the TJ Hunt Mustang was a relatively mild build. The biggest modification was the addition of a supercharger, and then he spent several weeks afterwards chasing down a mysterious misfire at full throttle shortly afterwards. Despite that, the build is relatively minor, with a typical assortment of common mustang modifications:
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- Stock block and internals
- Roush supercharger (Phase II kit 727hp CARB legal)
- Billet oil pump gears
- Magnaflow exhaust (cat-back with X pipe)
Wheels / Tires/ Suspension
- Wheels: HRE FF01 Flow Form – Hyper Silver (20×10.5 45mm offset rear , 20×9.5 35mm front)
- Tires : Toyo Proxes R888R 285/35ZR20 rear 255/35ZR20 front
- Roush coil-overs
How much did TJ Hunt’s Mustang cost to build?
Not all that much actually. Not only did he get an incredible deal on the car itself, he was smart enough to work closely with a variety of sponsors who supplied parts for the car. Roush was the biggest sponsor obviously, as they so generously donated a blower for it that would’ve cost nearly $8000 to purchase on it’s own.
However, despite the fact that he received an assortment of complementary parts from sponsors for this car, I’m going to assume he paid retail prices of everything – just to keep it real. After all, it’s highly likely that the average person wanting to build a Mustang GT just like TJ‘s isn’t going to have the benefit of working with sponsors.
I estimate that the retail cost of everything (parts, labor, etc) was $40,500 to build this car:
- The car itself was $13,7000
- Bodywork (including repairs and aftermarket parts) had to have been $10,000 at least
- The Roush supercharger (Phase II kit 727hp CARB legal kit) retails for $7,779
- The exhaust was roughly $1000
- His wheel and tire setup comes in at about $4,000
- The coil-over setup retails at about $2,000
- Miscellaneous parts (fittings, interior bits, etc): $2,000
Timeline of the build
Unlike his BRZ and RX-7, the TJ Hunt Mustang was a very fast build. It moved in and out of the shop very quickly, and as a Mustang guy, I was sad to see it go. The following is a timeline of some of the more important dates in the Mustang build process:
- April 4, 2019: purchased the car
- April 11, 2019: first start up and drive
- April 16, 2019: sent to body shop (SOS Customz) for frame pulling and straightening
- May 2, 2019: body work complete
- May 4, 2019: exhaust installation
- May 5, 2019: initiated supercharger install
- May 8, 2019: wheels and tires installed
- May 14, 2019: build complete
- May 17, 2019: first start up
- May 23, 2019: suspension install
- May 25, 2019: first drive
- June 10, 2019: engine problem (misfire*) discovered
- August 20, 2019: announced that he was giving it away in a sweepstakes
- November 10, 2019: the winner of the sweepstakes took possession of the car
*Chasing down the cause of the misfire at full throttle took several weeks. Upon first startup, the engine threw code P0315 – indicating that the crankshaft positioning sensor needs to be recalibrated. They tried that and it didn’t work.
Then they tried installing new knock sensors, thinking that maybe the crushed the existing ones during the supercharger. That didn’t work.
They ultimately discovered that gapping the spark plugs to .160 (as it says in the Roush installation manual) solved the issue.
Where is the Mustang now?
As mentioned earlier, TJ’s ultimate goal with this mustang was to use it as a giveaway to generate sales for his merchandising company.
The winner of the car was Nick Mirsky from Houston Texas. He won the car by purchasing 5 T-shirts on thehuntandcompany.com – which, for him, wasn’t such a big deal because he showed up to pick up the car at TJ‘s warehouse wearing the Hunt & Co merchandise he purchased in years past.
I’m of the opinion TJ‘s Mustang couldn’t have gone to a better person. First of all, Nick was already a huge fan of TJ Hunt. Second, he had an interest in cars, but was obviously not in a financial position good enough to have the car he really wanted. FYI, when he won the car, he was driving a relatively stock Scion TC.
Nick made the trip out to San Diego with his father, flying from Houston to San Diego. They rented a Mustang GT at the airport, and drove up to TJ’s shop in Sorrento Valley to pick up the car.
Although…it doesn’t look as if he’s done much to the car at the time of this writing, but that’s OK. He looks to be enjoying it and taking care of it, which is exactly what I like to see.
Is TJ ever going to do another Mustang build?
I sure hope so. And if I’m being honest, I’m willing to bet that it’s going to happen eventually. TJ has mentioned over and over again how much he likes the Ford Mustang, so the possibility of him picking up another one to use as a drift car isn’t out of the realm of possibility.
I’d also be very interested in seeing TJ do a full build on the current generation Mustang. It used to be that I was never much of a fan of his build style, but he is maturing quickly and I don’t wrinkle my nose at his build decisions as much as I used to.
Heck, I don’t even mind the fact that he prefers to put everything on airbags instead of coil-overs. He has proved to me that he knows when airbags are and are not appropriate (for example, his 350 Z drift build was one where he decided to use coil-overs).
Even if he buys another Mustang and stuff airbags underneath it, I’ll feel OK knowing that he’s likely going to do it right and not stance it out with extreme camber or anything, just as the younger and less-experienced TJ would.