Michael Stragand is no stranger to Mustangs. Yet this enthusiast recently had his pony-car passion transformed in a big way.
He's owned nearly a dozen versions of Ford's darling sports coupe, so he was in the know when word broke that the first "Transformer" film was in production using three 2005 Saleen S281 'stangs.
"I thought they were ultra cool but never thought in a million years I'd have one," the Plainfield resident said. The trio of vehicles was modified to represent the character Barricade, a member of the evil Decepticons.
In four-wheeled form, this robot looks like a somewhat standard law enforcement black-and-white, sporting an aggressive push bar and roof-mounted LED lightbar. Custom Saleen-bestowed touches on this crime fighter (or rather crime instigator), include seven-spoke, 20-inch wheels, which were blacked out for a more sinister look; a full body kit, leather interior, carbon fiber front chin piece, and performance suspension and exhaust.
After filming wrapped, Stragand's Mustang traveled to owners in Texas, Missouri and California before eventually landing in Virginia.
"I caught wind of it being for sale in 2013," Stragand said. "On a whim, I decided to go for it."
While he was excited, he discovered the potential purchase stirred a newfound love in someone else. "My son wasn't really a 'car guy' but he wanted to go on the trip to retrieve the car," Stragand said. "It was his first experience getting into cars and now he's hooked."
Continuity under hood wasn't a priority for director Michael Bay, so the trio of Saleens ended up utilizing different powerplants. Two were built with supercharged 4.6-liter V-8s. "The third was a backup and actually used a V-6," Stragand said.
While Stragand's Mustang was equipped with an eight-cylinder, a crucial alteration was made on-set.
"My car was designated to be the main camera car. A camera was mounted on the front."
While this provided great access for close-ups, it caused another issue. The crew found its audio gear was recording a whine from the supercharger. The component was quickly removed and the problem alleviated.
The loss of a supercharger is not crucial for Stragand, who opts to avoid driving his piece of movie memorabilia. The open-road avoidance also is a result of a small memento left over from filming.
"In the movie, the vehicle crashes through a wall. During the shoot, it picked up a shard of balsa wood in the tire's sidewall, between the tire and the rim."
So Stragand trailers his distinctive Ford to area events. He's had the opportunity to participate in several charity functions, including showing the vehicle to children from Cal's Angels and the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
"We bought it for the family experience but we're finding that putting a smile on someone else's face is far more rewarding."