Stealth Fighter

HOT TUNER Herrod Performance Mustang

by DAVID MORLEY pics CRISTIAN BRUNELLI

Blown and packing 507kW, Herrod Motorsport's new Ford Mustang is one pony that bites

ITíS A pretty bleak sort of June day up at Heathcote Park Raceway. A damp fog is still clinging to the higher hills and even though the sun is trying to cheer me up directly overhead, itís a mean, watery sort of sunshine. Like a cake let down by too-thin icing. Weather-girl/celebrity chef stuff out of the way, this also means the Heathcote hotmix is colder than a well-diggerís arse. On the flip-side, the air is cold and we all know how much supercharged engines love that. Yin. Yang. Take it as it comes, Grasshopper.

So, pull the Mustangís T-bar into Sport, flip the driving mode to Track, spool the engine up on the brake a little and then squeeze the throttle so that it hits the floor about the same time as the tranny hits second. My self-control loses the fight with my foot just as the tyres lose their battle with torque.

But eff-me if the thing hasnít leapt out of the hole pretty well and is heading for third gear. Into third and the gear-specific boost map, which has just I given the top of second gear a breather in the name of driveline longevity, suddenly gets another pound or two to work with at the expensive end of third and sends the V8 charging to redline. Christ, this thing is hauling.

Fourth gear slots home and Iím vaguely aware of the little numbers flashing up on the Driftbox screen, telling me that Iíve covered 400m and I should probably back off now to avoid winding up in the next parish (Axedale, if Iím not mistaken).

I still have eyes like dinner plates as I haul the íStang down without initiating a tank-slapper in the process, but even then, Iím starting to process what just happened. I know, for instance, that a stock Mustang GT will cover the first 400m of a decent

My self-control loses the fight with my foot just as the tyres lose their battle with torque

Throw a set of slicks on it and youíre looking at a dead-set 11-second terror

surface in about 13.4 at around 175km/h. So, Iím thinking along the lines of maybe a high-12 from this car. But my first glance at the Driftbox readout has me swearing out loud to nobody in particular.

Bloody Nora Ė 12.1 seconds at 197 klicks. And thatís not all; nought to 100 comes up in 4.2 seconds and the íStang required just 2.2 seconds to get from 80 to 120km/h. This thing hasnít just shattered the MOTOR record for the new Mustang, itís also just dropped every quick factory Ford or FPV weíve ever tested fair on its head. Throw a set of slicks on it and youíre looking at a dead-set 11-second terror. Yet, on the standard Mustang GT hoops it was born with and on which it just ran that 12.1, youíre looking at a car that not only complies with all ADRs (weíve seen the paperwork) but also carries a full Ford Performance Parts driveline warranty. Whatís going on here? Two things: forced induction and Rob Herrod. Not necessarily in that order.

Rob Herrod you already know. Heís the love-child of Henry Ford and NASA and has been cranking out seriously quick Ford-badged product since he was tricking up his own daily drivers and having the neighbourhood boys asking him to do the same to their rides. The other piece of the puzzle is an Eaton supercharger, straight from the pages of Ford Performance Parts. Yes, of course, thereís more to it than that, but you get the picture. The point is, you can drop your new Mustang off at Herrodís workshop set on Stun and pick it up a couple of days later set to Kill (figuratively speaking, of course).

The process involves stripping the V8 down to the valley, machining off some bosses and bulges here and there and then bolting the 2.3-litre Eaton twinscrew pump in place. Itís not a simple drop-in on the Coyote-equipped Mustang either, as the droop of the snoot requires the blower to sit very low. Herrod reckons the blower alone takes around 12 or more hours to fit. The kit still allows for the intercooler directly under the Eaton, so the low bonnet doesnít complicate things permanently. Thereís also a catback exhaust as part of the deal with a few clever heat shields in the mix and a Ford Performance Parts tune for the ECU. As a nice little touch, the standard Mustangís El Cheeso manual bonnet strut is replaced by a pair of hydraulic struts, necessary for showing the neighbours your new engine. Why exactly Ford didnít deem a set of hydraulic struts a walk-up start on a relatively high-end car like the Mustang is beyond us. The end result of all this is 450kW at the tyres which, if youíre as old as me, works out to a neat 600 horsepower at the treads Ė or 507kW at the crank, reckons Herrod. Thatís on a boost-max of about six psi, so thereís still plenty of headroom in this madhouse.

Herrod also includes in this package Ė dubbed the Compliance Pack Ė a set of slightly lower, stiffer springs, taking the price of the pack to $21,500.

Wheels and tyres? Big brakes? A body-kit? Herrod reckons you can make up your own mind about those things, so the Compliance Pack centres on the hardcore go-fast bits. Driving the modified car

with the new springs reveals a bit of a nervous ride on pimply surfaces. Itís not terrible, you can feel that the spring rate has been fiddled with but the dampers have not. The solution is to dig a little deeper and opt for the S550 Mustang Handling Pack (again from the FPP catalogue), which gets you some altered rear suspension bushes, a pair of fat sway-bars and a more serious set of dampers at each corner. Youíre still in and out in under $25K, but trust me, those dampers really turn the ride quality around and give the car back its svelte.

In fact, it feels almost like a standard car in ridequality terms, yet itíll hurtle through bumpy corners with no dramas. The steering retains the fairly natural feel of the stock Mustang GT set-up and the sense as you look out over that long, long bonnet that youíre sitting more or less over the back axle. The degree of pointiness through the helm feels about the same too and, just like the stocker, the selectable steering modes appear to do bugger-all. Perhaps not that much. But thereís definitely less body-roll and a corresponding ability to pile into corners with no sense that youíre about to overcook things. In fact, for what is essentially a big car, you can get it to flow from one corner to the next pretty well and, should you mess up and wash off too much speed, that monster engine will bail you out. Mess it up the other way and the stock íStang stoppers are well up to the job. We managed a very tidy 35.8m haul-down from 100km/h.

Whatís even nicer about the way this car feels is that the modified engine is a bit like the suspension tune: it feels amazingly stock to drive normally and itís only when you really plant the boot that it reveals its ferocity. Thanks to that gear-specific boost mapping, thereís none of the unanticipated axle-twisting, tyre-frying antics that many a 700-horsepower car would otherwise have. Which is not to say it isnít hellishly fast, rather that the throttle calibration and power delivery add up to a car thatís easy and predictable to drive.

You could argue that the grunt is all stacked up high, but it honestly isnít like that. Rather, the thing has been tuned to make the most of the grip the platform can generate and while thereís always a surplus of urge, the íStang doesnít feel as though itís about to tear your head off and stuff it up your hole.

Thereís not even a single trace of blower-whine and absolutely no hunting or pogo-ing at part throttle.

But then, when you do start beating on it, the Coyote has a top-end rush that Han Solo would recognise.

Even the cat-back doesnít make the car nasty in any way. Sure, thereís a bit more aural interest, but it never drones on the freeway or threatens to give Officer Dibble another reason to pull you over.

My only observation (as opposed to a full-blown criticism) is that the throttle-by-wire mapping seems to have been dumbed down a fraction, probably in the name of emissions compliance. If a re-map of the gas-pedal curve can keep a 500kW-plus car within the legislated emissions parameters, then dammit, Iíll live with it.

You could argue that the grunt is stacked up high, but it honestly isnít like that

The numbers

Whew, she's fast THEREíS been plenty of carping on the last few months as Ford confirmed the GT350 would not be heading to these bonny shores. If you ask me, I still reckon thatís a marketing gaffe and a lost opportunity, but when you look at the Herrod-modded 'Stang, maybe the GT350 was not what you wanted after all. Itíd be more expensive than the GT on which the Herrod car is based and even once youíve added the Ford Motorsport bits to your GT, youíd still get change from a GT350ís sticker.

The flat-plane crank, too, while giving an efficiency advantage, also means the GT350's 5.2-litre V8 doesnít sound anything like a V8 as we know and love. The Herrod car also cranks out a lot more than the GT350ís 392kW.

The downside is that the GT350ís wedge revs to a stratospheric 8250rpm, while the car on these pages is over and done by 6500rpm. By which time, of course, itís well into the next gear and huffing its way towards redline one more time. Ė DM

Herrod Ford Mustang

0-10km/h 0.46 0-20km/h 0.83 0-30km/h 1.22 0-40km/h 1.55 0-50km/h 1.90 0-60km/h 2.35 0-70km/h 2.83 0-80km/h 3.29 0-90km/h 4.73

0-100km/h 4.19

0-110km/h 4.89 0-120km/h 5.53 0-130km/h 6.17 0-140km/h 6.83 0-150km/h 7.52 0-160km/h 8.31 0-170km/h 9.36 0-180km/h 10.34 0-190km/h 11.35 0-200km/h 12.45

0-400m

12.14sec @ 197.20km/h 80-120km/h 2.2sec 100-0km/h 35.8m

SPEED IN GEARS

1st 58km/h @ 6500rpm 2nd 104km/h @ 6500rpm 3rd 160km/h @ 6500rpm 4th 213km/h @ 6500rpm 5th 279km/h @ 6500rpm 6th 300km/h @ 5550rpm* Heathcote Dragway, 10:30am, 9įC, dry.

Driver: David Morley. *estimated top speed

We drove two versions of the Herrod car: a manual and an automatic. While the manual is probably more entertaining (speaking personally), the auto was definitely the quicker over the 400m. Where the auto pasted down consistent 12.2s and that one banzai 12.1, the best I could do with the manual was 12.6 at 196.7km/h. That terminal velocity strongly suggests that thereís a low-12 in the manual and believe it or not, I was well and truly into fifth gear before the quarter-mile was up. But the manual just doesnít 60-foot like the auto and there goes that half a second.

Now, when I personally know guys whoíve spent many thousands to give an engine an extra 100 horsepower, it occurs to me that the 200-plus ponies liberated by the $21,500 Compliance Pack are totally good value nags. That you can drive it past the local cop shop without fear of being set upon and it wonít make your insurer start gagging on their beluga is just the icing on the cake. And nice, thick icing it is too, not that thin, watery muck.

What if it goes boom?

Warranty isn't a matter to trifl e with

WHEN youíre talking about an $80KĖplus spend, warranty suddenly becomes important.

Herrod Performance is an official Ford Performance Parts dealer, so able to offer a driveline warranty on this car. But because Ford Performance in the States knows and trusts Herrodís Aussie operation, it extends the dual hands of friendship and factory cover. This is not a gimme.

You could buy the exact same bits and pieces from the FPP catalogue and have a qualified mechanic fit them, but unless the work is done to a standard car and carried out in Herrodís own workshop by his spannertwirlers, all bets are off.

The ADR-compliant deal is equally important in this day and age where the wallopers can smell a modded car and have the power to put your brandspankers, high-end ride off to the side of the road with a little red sticker on its windscreen. There are also insurance and financing implications with a not-strictly-kosher car, especially if it goes nads-up on the freeway. Ė DM

HERROD MUSTANG

BODY 2-door, 2-seat coupe DRIVE rear-wheel ENGINES 4951cc V8, DOHC, 32v, supercharged BORE/STROKE 92.2 x 92.7.0mm COMPRESSION 11.0:1 POWER 440kW @ 6800rpm at the wheels TORQUE 954Nm @ 3600rpm at the wheels POWER/WEIGHT 300kW/tonne (approx) TRANSMISSION 6-speed automatic WEIGHT 1813kg (est) FRONT SUSPENSION Struts, anti-roll bar REAR SUSPENSION Multi-links, anti-roll bar L/W/H 4784/1916/1331mm WHEELBASE 2720mm TRACKS 1582/1655mm (f/r) STEERING electrically-assisted rack-and-pinion FRONT BRAKES 380mm ventilated discs, 6-piston calipers REAR BRAKES 330mm ventilated discs, singlepiston calipers WHEELS 19.0 x 9.0-inch (f); 19.0 x 9.5-inch (r) TYRES 255/40 R19 (f); 275/40 R19(r) Pirelli P-Zero PRICE AS TESTED $83,490 PROS OE-feel, only with masses more go CONS Won't win any interior awards STAR RATING 11112