We built our own 2018 Ford Mustang GT this way; here’s why

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Building a 2018 Ford Mustang is a "Choose Your Own Adventure" story.

With so many options and trim levels, it’s unlikely your Mustang will ever meet an exact twin in its lifetime—that’s even before considering aftermarket parts.

When Ford asked us to custom-order our long-term 2018 Mustang, we knew how we’d use it. That became hugely important to the features we picked for our perfect build.

READ NEXT: What does the Ford Mustang mean to America?

A quick look at our Mustang’s road-trip summer through the Wild West meant a heavy hand on the comfort options.

We didn’t worry about making it as light as possible, as no hardcore track time was in the cards.

We put our priority on creating the ideal Mustang for galloping across vast amounts of highway asphalt.

2018 Ford Mustang GT

2018 Ford Mustang GT

V-8 coupe, please

Ford sells the 2018 Mustang with a choice among multiple engines, but in our hearts only one was right for our monthslong adventure: the 5.0-liter naturally aspirated V-8. It breathes out 460 horsepower and 420 pound-feet of torque and ships it all to the rear wheels—in this case through a 6-speed manual transmission, because we #GiveAShift.

We opted for a Ruby Red fastback, not a convertible, since weather still posed an issue, between freezing rain in Reno, Nevada, and blistering Phoenix heat. We stepped up to the Premium model for some modern accoutrements such as automatic dual-zone climate control, ambient interior lighting, selectable drive modes, and much-needed SiriusXM radio for those long highway stints.

2018 Ford Mustang GT

2018 Ford Mustang GT

Just $13,165 in options

We’d like to say we opted for the bare necessities, but then again, we consider $1,595 leather-trimmed Recaro sport seats to hug us during those lonely drives as bare necessities.

For $895 the active exhaust was a no-brainer, though track mode is no joke and is borderline obnoxious in the best possible way.

2018 Ford Mustang GT

2018 Ford Mustang GT

We selected magnetic dampers for $1,695, while a $2,200 package netted our Mustang a configurable 12-inch digital gauge cluster, a heated steering wheel, and an 8.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility. For good measure, and $895, an upgraded Shaker audio system made the cut.

2018 Ford Mustang GT

2018 Ford Mustang GT

Apparently you can put a price on safety: $1,495, to be exact. For that sum, our 2018 Mustang came equipped with everything from blind-spot monitors and active lane control to forward-collision warnings with pedestrian detection and automatic emergency braking.

To top it all off, we grabbed the GT Performance Package for $3,995. This netted staggered 19-inch black painted alloy wheels wrapped in Michelin Pilot Sport 4 summer rubber, Brembo six-piston front brake calipers with upgraded rotors, heavy-duty front springs, a larger rear sway bar, a larger radiator, a rear wing, a strut-tower brace, and a Torsen rear differential with a 3.73 axle ratio.

2018 Ford Mustang GT

2018 Ford Mustang GT

2018 Ford Mustang GT

2018 Ford Mustang GT

2018 Ford Mustang GT

2018 Ford Mustang GT

2018 Ford Mustang GT

2018 Ford Mustang GT

Our favorite features? Easily the digital gauge cluster, the leather-trimmed Recaro seats, the active exhaust, and of course, that 5.0-liter V-8.

Not a cheap pony

The total? A whopping $53,160, including a destination charge of $900.

That’s not cheap, but as we found, our Mustang’s full boat of technology—screens, safety, and speed—were well-used and appreciated.

For two months, Motor Authority crisscrossed the U.S. in an automotive icon seeking stories about the Ford Mustang's place in American history. These are our stories from the road about its owners, its history, and its status as an evolving symbol of our relationship with cars in America.

 
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