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Now Underway: SEMA Mustang Build Powered by Women

SBN volunteer Theresa Contreres removed underhood components so that the area could be painted black to conform to the project paint scheme.
The front clip was among the many components that had to be removed prior to sanding and painting.
With most of the components removed, the process of taping off the connectors and masking everything else began.
Completely masked and prepped, the underhood area was painted.
With everything reassembled, sisters Theresa Contreras and Sara Morosan of L&G Enterprises, stood next to the High Gear Mustang project, now sporting a black underhood paint job that looks like it was done at the factory.
For this year’s SEMA Show, Ford Motor Co. and SEMA have teamed up on a unique project: the SEMA Mustang Build Powered by Women. Under the direction of the SEMA Businesswomen’s Network (SBN) and built entirely by SBN members, the project is designed to shine the light on women working in the automotive aftermarket and encourage more women to pursue careers in the industry.

Donated by Ford Motor Co., the vehicle will be auctioned on eBay, with proceeds benefitting the SEMA Memorial Scholarship Fund, thereby helping to foster the industry’s next generation of leaders. The satin-black luxury Mustang concept, designed by Jennifer Seely of Ford and known as High Gear, was adopted after an intense period of Internet voting and an ambitious, detailed build schedule was developed.

The first to get their hands on the donated ’13 Mustang GT were SBN members Theresa Contreras and Sara Morosan of L&G Enterprises in San Dimas, California. L&G is an award-winning, family-owned, full-service paint and body shop that has developed a national reputation for custom paint and design. L&G’s work has appeared on more than a dozen magazine covers and at many custom car shows, and its team regularly builds customs that end up at the SEMA Show.

Contreras is an experienced car builder and custom painter, and Morosan is L&G’s sales manager. Both grew up working in the L&G body shop and clearly relished the job at hand.

The High Gear Mustang GT came in white from the factory but is slated to receive a custom black-satin exterior finish. The paint is scheduled to be the last job in the build sequence, but because the plan includes adding underhood performance mods, the engine compartment needed to be painted first. That meant that all of the engine accessories bolted to the fenderwells, firewall and framerails had to be removed, along with the entire front clip, before the engine compartment could be painted black.

Contreras and Morosan, working as a team, took on the tedious job of removing everything that might hinder a perfect underhood paint job, which included removing components, such as the battery and battery box, air intake and air filter, brake line plumbing, hood-release mechanism, CPU, wipers and washer fluid reservoir, driving lights and fog lights and the hood and entire front bumper, plus all of the assorted pieces of insulation and heat shielding, among other things. The hardware was meticulously labeled and stored in plastic bags, and all of the connectors and fasteners were taped off and labeled.

After a few hours of work, the white engine compartment walls and frame rails were completely exposed. Factory stickers and labels were removed, then the engine and remaining lines and wiring harness pieces were masked off and all of the white underhood surfaces were sanded and wiped down with tack cloth prior to painting.

The next stop was the spray booth, where Contreras carefully sprayed the underhood area, paying special attention to all the little nooks and crannies that might show if any white remained visible. When she was satisfied, the paint was allowed to dry, and all of the pieces that had been removed for painting were carefully re-installed, including the factory labels. The end result was an all-black underhood area that looked exactly as if it had come that way from the factory.

Next stop for the High Gear Mustang will be the shop at Source Interlink Media headquarters, where other teams of SBN-member volunteer workers will add more custom touches, such as quilted suede seats and Rosegold chrome accents throughout the exterior and interior. They will also make modifications to the engine, undercarriage, drivetrain and sound system. When the process is complete, the car will come back to L&G for the exterior paint work.

The SBN vehicle build task force is comprised of Task Force Chair Rose Kawasaki (Exports International), Project Vehicle Coordinator Sherry Kollien (Ford Motor Co.), Assembly Coordinator Kellie Colf (Colf Creative Resources), PR/Media Coordinator Camee Edelbrock (Schiefer Media Inc.) and Product Coordinator Susan Carpenter (JR Products). Advisors include Mike Spagnola (Street Scene Equipment), Joel Ayres (Bedslide/Takit) and Marla Moore (Hypertech).

To learn more about the SEMA Mustang Build Powered by Women, visit, or contact Bryan Harrison, SEMA's senior manager of councils and the build's project manager at