Engine 96-04 still a good platform?


Active Member
Nov 17, 1999
Halifax, NS, Canada
This is my first post in about 15+ years! HAHA!

I used to have a 96 GT, 5 spd with the following mods (if I can still remember them!).... 3.55, s/f connectors, lowering springs, underdrive pulleys, steeda short throw shifter, WMS CAI and bigger MAF, MAC catted H-pipe and a MAC catback. I really enjoyed the car but I guess by todays standards it would be pretty slow.

I've been thinking lately about maybe getting another GT. I remember in '99+ it went up to 260hp and then obviously bigger jumps in '05 and again in the redesigns after that. I'm wondering if I was able to find say a lower mileage 1999-2004 if it would still be a good platform to modify. The appeal is it would cost a lot less than the newer models which would leave some money for mods. I'm not interested in pushing huge hp #'s and have zero desire for racing on the street or strip. I would just like a fun car to drive.

When I had my 96GT the 4.6 was fairly new so there wasn't really much out there for it at the time. A quick search now shows that the Trick Flow heads would give pretty big gains and you can even get cams and an intake too. Do you think there's any point in doing such things to the 99-04 or better to start with an '05+?

Thanks in advance!
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Active Member
Jul 2, 2019
My opinion on this: Get the one you like to look at. Consider than the 05+ cars are only 300 hp, where turbo 4, and V6s live these days. Even the 05s are slow by today's standards.

As for performance parts, there is a solid aftermarket for these cars, but I will say that boost is still the cheapest option. For example, a Trick Flow top end kit (heads and cams with the gaskets and such to install them) runs about $4k, and is supposed to hit 370-380bhp. You could easily add boost for that cost (On3 Turbo, Torktech SC, or even a Kenne Bell for a touch more) and be well over that. They are super nice heads, but they are also custom designed (Trick Flow essentially built their own head for the 4.6 2V), and are priced accordingly.
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Active Member
Jun 17, 2018
I have a 2K GT. I've done the suspension and frame stuff so it will corner like a go-cart. The only "engine" mods are a cat back and I modified the OEM air inlet. Plenty fast for hitting the twisties. Were I after more performance, I'd go with a blower, or a newer car with a better entering argument (probably something less than 5yo).
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Easy there, this ain't a dating site.
15 Year Member
Mar 7, 2002
1996-2004 is absolutely a great platform to build on.

The parts aftermarket is strong for everthing except the 2v engine, and even that's not horrible (though it is slowing down).

Then there's the fact that it's a much safer platform than the Mustangs before it. ABS, 4-wheel discs, airbags, a stronger chassis with better crumple zones and absorption.

Last but not least, it has a giant engine bay that makes these cars prime candidates for engine swaps. LS? Fits. 460? Fits. Coyote? Fits. Even crazy stuff like a 2JZ will fit with a little work.

In their stock form (especially the 1996-98 models), they're a stepchild of nearly Mustang-II-like proportions to many. Unlike the II (which I adore and even have), an SN95/New Edge is an easy platform to build from. They've even become cheaper than Mustang IIs at this point, making them the most budget-friendly platform as well.
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