TMI Products revamps Project Vapor Trailâ€™s interior with its airbag-compliant Sport XR seat conversion
By Steve Turner
Photos by Steve Turner and courtesy of TMI Products
If you arenâ€™t familiar with Project Vapor Trail from its beginnings in magazine land, it is a Vapor Silver 2008 Shelby GT500 that is extensively modified to push its performance to the reasonable brink of streetable performance. The first time I drove a modern Shelby GT500, I just knew I had to own one. However, knowing I would have to mod it, I committed to myself that I wouldnâ€™t take it â€˜too farâ€™ down the performance path.
Many of us have been there. You start with a stock Mustang, and then you go crazy with the modifications. That is half the fun, but often these street cars get pushed so close to racing power levels they give up a lot of driveability in the process. Everyone has his or her own idea of streetability, but I wanted impressive power in a package that I could jump in and drive without a worry.
To get to that level, I started out with a Ford Racing TVS supercharger that was later upgraded to VMP Tuning specs with that companyâ€™s vaunted inlet, pulley, throttle body, and tuning. It breathes through a carbon-fiber JLT Big Air cold-air intake, and it belts out noise through the stock manifolds and a Bassani 3-inch exhaust. On a good-weather day or with the aid of good gas it will surpass 700 horsepower at the rear wheels. With a full Steeda adjustable suspension, including a Wattâ€™s link, it can put that performance to work in corners as well.
In short, it is a really fun car. Besides its performance mods, PVT is graced with numerous appearance upgrades inside, outside, and under the hood. Just as I did with the performance mods, I tried to modify tastefully, and not push it to the point of being obnoxious. You have to know when to stop.
For quite a while I have considered the car as â€˜completeâ€™ as a project car ever can be. You can never really be finished with one until you sell it. That said, there was one area of the car that was left behind. It had stock seats. Sure I had added TMI Productsâ€™ sweet, adjustable headrests, but when a car is heavily modded, items like stock wheels or stock seats can really stand out.
I was never willing to give up the factory air bags, and I couldnâ€™t swing a set of those spendy factory Recaros from the newer Mustangs, so I soldiered on with the factory seats and dealt with sliding around in the corners. However, I always wished for an upgrade that was both affordable and would retain the factory airbags and power driver seat.
That upgrade was announced at last yearâ€™s Specialty Equipment Market Association trade show in Las Vegas, Nevada, when TMI Products announced its R500 and Sport XR Seats for â€™05-â€™14 Mustangs. The company had to add the proper equipment and materials to its repertoire in order to gain the certification for airbag-compliant upholstery. Now they are setup for this operation, and I have to say the TMI S197 upholstery upgrade is well worth the wait.
So, when our friends at TMI offered to convert PVTâ€™s seats to Sport XR specs, I couldnâ€™t remove the stock couches fast enough. The only real question was what version of upholstery to go withâ€”the striped R500s or the grommet-equipped Sport XRs. Ultimately the carâ€™s stripe-delete exterior guided me to the Sport XRs, which turned out great.
If youâ€™d like to upgrade the seats in your â€™05-â€™14 Mustang, check out the following photos to see how the TMI Products upholstery is installed. I think youâ€™ll agree that the upgrade really takes PVTâ€™s interior to a new level.