For a quarter century, the Imperial Mustangs of Polk County hosted an annual show called Mustangs & Mustangs ...Legends Havin' Fun. So-called because it brought Ford's pony cars together with the vintage aircraft that inspired the name,the show moved and evolved over the years.
Held at various aviation-centric locations in the nearby Central Florida area, the 2023 edition moved to a new location that focused on the terra firma but provided a backdrop of restaurants and shopping at the Lakeside Village open-air shopping center in Lakeland, Florida. This venue offered participants and attendees plenty of food and entertainment while they weren't enjoying the 200-plus Fords on display.
This year's show would also help support the local Volunteers in Serviceto the Elderly, which helps the elderly remain safely at home by offering transportation, monthly commodity boxes, hot meals,wheelchair ramps, and more to elderly people in Central Florida cities, including Lakeland, Bartow, Mulberry, and Ft. Meade. Attendees were encouraged to bring canned goods and non-perishable items to donate to VISTE.
The show, which took place from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. on February 25th,utilized a Modified Judged format and offered dash plaques to the first 100 registered cars. We weren't part of the judging, but we did canvas the closed-off streets lined with Blue Oval machines to pick our 10 favorite Mustangs...
Fora good run during the Fox era, Ford delivered Special Service Mustangs to a variety of law-enforcement agencies. Updated with superior cooling, updated electrical systems, calibrated speedometers, single-key entry, and more, these Mustangs patrolled the streets and tracked down speeders before eventually heading to auction. Most of the cars auctioned became affordable fodder for projects and race cars. Some, however, were preserved. Bernando Berrios’ 1986 Mustang LX is one such example. Not only does it still have all its SSP gear onboard, but it is cleaner than it ever was new.
Before the days of Coyote and Godzilla swaps, the cutting-edge move was afuel-injected 5.0-liter pushrod engine in an older Mustang. Like its modern swap counterparts, this move brought driveability and reliability to classic rides. A car that benefits from both an EFI5.0-liter and an S197 interior is Didier and Kristin Benichou's 1967 Mustang. It began life as a six-cylinder car and 15 or so years ago it underwent acomplete makeover with the aforementioned engine and interior updates along with a striking Supersonic Blue Metallic paint job.
A lowered, Lightning Blue S550 will always catch your eye, but when you peep under the hood and see two turbos, it will make you take notice. James Truitt’s 2017 Mustang GT not only looks sharp but backs up that image with huge performance from its Gen 1 Coyote 5.0-liter engine courtesy of a Hellion twin-turbo system, which nominally delivers 750 horsepower and is capable of supporting four-digit output with the proper supporting equipment. With the hood closed, this one is a true sleeper.
Aftera long run of exotic builds and modern engine swaps, period-correctFox Mustangs are having a moment in the sun. A little nostalgia froma bygone era has always made us smile, and seeing a Fox that wouldhave ruled the streets back in the heyday always brings a smile.Oscar Hutchison is the owner of one such flashback Fox. This 1991Mustang LX coupe is motivated by a Dart 331 stroker rounded out byTrick Flow heads, a Trick Flow intake, and a Crane roller cam. It isboosted by a Vortech supercharger, it runs to the tune of a HolleyTerminator X EFI system. Still rolling on four-lug Cobra R replicas,this old-school ride is a time machine.
When they are clean, black Mustangs are beauties. This convertible, not only looks great, but it goes against the type of a sleepy weekend cruiser thanks to what’s underhood. David Hageman’s 2008 Mustang GT/CS droptop defies Three-Valve 4.6 expectations thanks to a Kenne Bell supercharger, which fits in with its all-ebony theme. That twin-screw blower must sound incredible at full trot with the top down.
The latest Shelby GT500s don’t need a lot of extras to stand out. Jason’s Schroeder features some bolt-on upgrades, including a carbon-fiber cold-air intake. However,it is the factory Anti-Matter Blue paint that made this Predator stop us in our tracks. It is both reserved and aggressive all in one, and with more than 760 horsepower on tap with quick DCT shifting and impressive handling, it is a thrilling driving experience.
Something about black convertibles was speaking to us at the Mustangs & Mustangs show, and this all-out restomod was among them. With a fully customized interior updated with modern gear like digital gauges and a double-DIN Pioneer head unit, Darrell’s 1967 convertible deftly blends old and new. Underhood, its small-block continues the ebony theme with a matching air cleaner and valve covers. He told a passerby that the exhaust has enough aggression to be enjoyable but not so much that his neighbors hate him.
As mentioned previously,period-correct Foxes are having a moment, and another example that will take you back in time is John Garcia’s 1991 Mustang GT. Inside it embraces the Porno Red interior with updated seats with matching inserts and a wrapped steering wheel that carries the theme. Its updated audio system features three JL audio subwoofers in a custom,hatch-mounted box. Underhood, a ProCharger blower boosts the pushrod 5.0-liter via a blow-through mass air sensor and an Edelbrock intake.This one would have caused quite a stir at a mid-’90s cruise-in with the blower gear noise and bumping base announcing its arrival.
We don’t run across many S197 Saleens, but Ruben Carrasquillo’s 2006 Saleen Extreme coupe is a beautiful example of the breed. Completely restyled by Steve Saleen’s keen eye with unique body panels and a sleek, center-exit exhaust, these cars are lookers and they sport nice power courtesy of a Saleen twin-screw supercharger that pushes the Three-Valve 4.6-liter to 550 ponies.
Speaking of Saleens, this four-eye Fox checks all the boxes. Not only is it a well-preserved example inside and out, but Timothy Williams’ hatchback sports T-tops and those gold mesh wheels that transport you right back to the ’80s. In backthe Saleen sail panels behind the quarter glass, the classic Saleen wing, and those period-correct louvers shading the hatch glass complete the look. Back then, the Saleen mods were limited to the appearance gear and the Racecraft suspension, so the factory, carbureted 5.0-liter remained stock. It still looks great in this car under a chrome air cleaner lid.
We hope you enjoyed our picks, but your mileage may vary, so be sure to check out the gallery below to choose your show favorites.