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When Ford announced that their new 3.7 liter V6 engine would make 305 horsepower, everybody was pleasantly surprised. After enduring 17 years of the humdrum 4.0 liter V6 (with just 210 horsepower and 240 ft-lbs of torque) the base Mustang finally had an engine drivers could be proud of. It even made more horsepower than many previous generation V8’s.

Need proof? Check out this YouTube video of a Mustang V6 taking on a 2003 and 1993 Mustang GT at Dorchester Dragway. Just for fun, there is a Nissan Murano thrown in the mix.

We will say at first we were a bit skeptical of this video. The often-overused Drowning Pool anthem “Bodies” drowns out any engine sounds, so it isn’t possible to confirm these are in fact V8 cars. That said, we’re pretty sure we saw dual tailpipes on the first car in the Video, the 2003 Mustang GT. Unmodified, the 2003 GT makes 260 horsepower and 302 ft-lbs of torque. While it out-torques the 2011, the V6 reels the GT in towards the end of the race.

Next up, a Nissan Murano! It never stood a chance with a 4,100 pound curb weight and just 230 horsepower, but hey, nice effort.

The final race was against the 1993 Mustang GT. This was the pinnacle of the Fox-body 5.0; the last year, when everything was just right. While the ’93 GT has less horsepower (205) and less torque (275 ft-lbs), it is also lighter (2,834 pounds versus 3,410 pounds. So we’re surprised how slow the Mustang 5.0 looked next to the V6, which had consistent runs in the 9.3 second range (this was an 1/8th mile track). If you’re still on the fence about an older Mustang GT, or a 2011 V6, maybe this video will help make up your mind.

The sport of drifting may have been invented in Japan, but Americans have taken to the sport like a fish to water. Aside from our love of all things tire burning, big American muscle cars may excellent drifting candidates thanks to their rear-wheel drive layout and lots of low-end torque. There are several Ford Mustangs entered in the 2010 Formula Drift championship, including a 2011 model driven by drifter Vaughn Gittin Jr.

This YouTube video, posted by Roush Performance isn’t about Vaughn Gittin Jr. though. Instead, the star if this video is a 2010 Roush 427R Mustang, driven by another drifter, Ali Aljibouri.

The video, which clocks in for just about 46 seconds, is a rather intense 46 seconds of non-stop drifting. Ali, who bills himself as a professional stunt driver, drifter, and test driver on his website, shows some rather impressive skill behind the wheel of this particular Roush. The smoke show never stops during the length of the video. Ali, who test drives for Cooper Tires, was apparently shredding some new Cooper RS3 rubber during this trial.

This isn’t even a 2011 Roush 427R. Rather, this car makes due with last year’s technology, including starting with the base 4.6 liter V8 engine rather than the new-for-2011 5.0 V8. But with a RoushCharger, suspension and exhaust upgrades, and a skilled driver behind the wheel, you’d never know the difference. Still, we think it is about time that Roush dips its toes into the world of drifting.

Knight Rider, as a television show, sucked. We’re not talking about the 80’s classic with David “The Hoff” Hasselhoff and Gary Colemen and the Trans Am-based K.I.T.T. That show is forever a classic, a tribute to 80’s machismo and science fiction. No, it was the new Knight Rider, with no-name talent and reject writers with no sense of suspense or action or coherent plots. It sucked, and NBC mercifully killed it after just one and a half seasons.

And now you have a chance to own a piece of crappy show history. Mecum Auto Auctions is putting one of the K.I.T.T. Mustangs up for auction, adorned with faux missiles and machine guns.

Pictures: Mecum

There were numerous K.I.T.T.’s made for the television show, from the “Hero” car to the “Attack Mode” car pictured here. As the name suggest, the Attack car was the aggressive version of K.I.T.T., who had many weapons at his disposable including a laser, machine guns, and missles. K.I.T.T. also had many disguises, like an F-150, Transit Connect Van, and even a ’69 Mach 1 Mustang. Of course, this was all in the television series.

The actual car is little more than a tricked out Mustang built by Harold Belker of Cinema Vehicle Services. It does have a side exhaust, much in the way in vehicle adornments, and an odd hood…scoop? We’re not exactly sure what that is on the hood, but this car does have the working Knight Rider light bar. This is one of just two “Attack Mode” cars built, with the other serving duty at Universal Studios in Hollywood. So here is your chance to own a piece of crappy television history!

When Ford announced the return of the 5.0 engine for 2011, many Ford fans wept with joy. The 5.0 badge is an icon, first making its appearance in 1979 on the first Fox body Mustangs, though the engine itself was descended from the carbureted 302. But the 5.0 with fuel injection came with 225 horsepower, and it quickly became the car of choice for street racers across the country. So it was only a matter of time before someone compared the classic 5.0 with the 2011 5.0 hitting streets this summer.

Edmunds Inside Line found a relatively stock 1992 5.0 Mustang to compare to a 2011 5.0 Mustang, and the results shouldn’t surprise anyone.

Picture: Edmunds Inside Line

The car Edmunds ran was heavily used, with 190,000 miles on the odometer, a Flowmaster exhaust out back, and larger tires. But it was otherwise identical to the car that came off the showroom back in ’92. Rated at 225 horsepower and 300 ft-lbs of torque, it was a fun, fast car with a huge aftermarket following. Using older comparison data, they found that back in 1992 this car ran a 14.7 quarter mile @ 94 mph, and went from 0-60 mph in 6.3 seconds. In the 600 foot slalom, the car achieved a max speed of 64 mph and .88 lateral g’s.

Impressive stats for an almost twenty year old car, but the new Mustang is much better (and bigger too). The 2011 model is almost ten inches longer (179 inches in 1992 versus 188 in 2011) and 461 pounds heavier. But even with that extra length and heft, the 2011 Mustang GT makes 412 horsepower at 500 rpm more than the old 5.0’s redline. It chases down the quarter mile at 13.0 seconds flat @ 110 mph, and goes from 0-60 mph in just 4.3 seconds. It blitzed through the slalom at 67 mph and achieved .91 lateral g’s.

Both cars have their place in history, but only one can be the better performer. It is good to see just how far the Mustang has come in the past two decades.

Inside ACT Clutches

Monday, May 10th, 2010
There are a lot of choices out there for clutches, whether you’re looking for something as simple as a stock replacement or as complicated as a twin-disc race clutch. Friction materials, hub design, spline count, release pressure, and much more – it’s enough to make your head spin. Add in the fact that some suppliers source their clutch components from all over the world, and you have to be an expert to get it right on the first try. Unless, of course, you take advantage of those who are already experts, like Advanced Clutch Technology. With more than 15 years experience designing and building all kinds of high performance clutches right here in the United States, ACT has what it takes to help you find the right clutch for your application, and to make sure you’re getting power to the ground once it’s installed.

We recently took a tour of their facilities in Lancaster, California, where they make their trademark bright yellow clutches, as well as high performance pressure plates and flywheels. They gave us an inside look at the manufacturing process, as well as the extensive quality control checks they employ to make sure you’re getting the best clutch they can provide.

Clutch covers, powder-coated ACT yellow, await assembly with diaphragms and pressure plates.

ACT clutches are well known in many different forms of racing for their strength and durability. They are perhaps best known for their products in Formula Drift, though, a motorsport that puts a tremendous amount of stress on a car’s clutch. By “kicking” the clutch pedal at high RPM to break the back wheels loose, drifters slide their cars sideways on the edge of control. Smoking tires are expected, but a smoking clutch is a disaster, and instantly applying 500 or more turbocharged horsepower is a brutal test of any clutch.

One factor that separates ACT from many other clutch manufacturers is that ACT makes or machines all of their parts in house. This gives them complete control over their products from start to finish, allowing better-than-OEM levels of quality. They make clutches for just about every brand, import and domestic, and many of their parts are SFI-spec, meaning they are approved for extreme duty in drag racing.

These ductile iron clutch face castings are much stronger and more durable than their OEM counterparts – an important factor when spinning to 7500 RPM or beyond, just inches from the driver’s toes.

A good example are the ductile iron face castings used for their pressure plates. The ‘gray iron’ typically used in factory clutches is weak and brittle compared to ductile iron, and with some ACT clutches rated to withstand 400% more torque than an OEM clutch, it’s easy to see why they’d use the better material. A pressure plate coming apart under stress can ruin your whole day (as well as totaling your car and activating your health care plan) and ACT understands that there’s no way to cut corners on critical components.

Because the work is done in-house, it’s much easier for ACT to quickly produce clutches for new applications or do custom designs.

ACT doesn’t just make their own parts – they design them as well. A good example is their patented diaphragm spring. This critical component not only determines how much clamping pressure is applied to the clutch pack, a key factor in the torque capacity of the clutch; it also has the biggest influence on pedal feel and how much strength it takes to disengage the clutch between gears. It takes careful engineering to balance these competing design criteria, and by handling it all in-house, ACT can produce clutches with tremendous holding power and reasonable pedal forces. Taking it one step further, ACT also does the heat-treating of this component themselves, ensuring that the diaphragm springs have the proper flexibility and strength they need thousands of miles down the road as well as when you first install the clutch kit.

Though some components, like these clutch cover stampings, come in partly finished from other suppliers, all the final machining and assembly work happens in ACT’s Lancaster, California facility, ensuring that every clutch kit that goes out the door is up to the same high standards.

One all the individual parts have been machined, heat treated, powder coated, or heat-treated, they need to be assembled. Assembling the pressure plate is an involved process, made all the more complicated due to ACT’s rigorous quality controls and testing procedures. Each pressure plate is dynamically balanced before meeting up with the clutch disc, which goes through a similar process to ensure the assembly spins without vibration once installed.

A multi-puck clutch disk gets its friction materials riveted to the hub.

ACT’s racing history dates back to the import drag racing scene that flourished in the late Nineties. In response to the turbo fours showing up at the track with far more power than any stock clutch could endure, ACT President and founder Dirk Starksen began producing racing clutches for this niche market, which quickly expanded to include street applications, then domestic RWD cars as well. Today it’s hard to find a vehicle or form of motorsports that isn’t covered in ACT’s extensive product line.

ACT believes in “win on Sunday, sell on Monday” and has a long history of backing successful cars, like Brent Rau’s 7-second Mitsubishi from the heyday of import drag racing.

Starksen thinks of the racetrack as a test bed for his products, as racers will throw everything they can at the clutch until it blows, giving ACT a chance to go back and make an even better product. Almost everybody at ACT is a performance enthusiast or weekend racer, and it shows in the vast amount of knowledge applied in every part of the company, from design to production to customer service.

ACT Founder and President Dirk Starksen knows that racing is the best test of his products.

ACT has found their products being used all over the world in just about every form of four-wheeled sports. What started with import drag racing has branched off into drifting, domestic drag racing, time attack, rally, and even land speed racing at the Bonneville Salt Flats. ACT’s dedication to the racing world doesn’t just make better race cars though. This technology trickles down to the clutches they make for the street as well, especially as cars get ever more powerful straight from the factory. Replacing a clutch is something you don’t want to do any more often than you absolutely have to, and ACT is determined to make sure that you do it with the right parts the first time.


Advanced Clutch Technology
206 East Ave. K-4
Lancaster, CA, 93535
Phone: (661) 940-7555

No one is quite sure why the Mustang struck such a chord with the American people and stuck around so long. Maybe it was the name, or the effective marketing campaign. Maybe it was the affordable price and available performance, or the many racers who made legends of themselves behind the wheel of a Mustang. But within just a few years, specialty versions of the Mustang were popping up everywhere, perhaps none more famous than Shelby.

But Shelby wasn’t the car for everyone. Some people wanted more style without the extra performance, just to help the car stand out. In fact, the California Ford Dealers Association successfully solicited Ford to build a special Mustang, just for the California market. It would be called the California Special and was available for just one year, 1968.

1968 Mustang CS Pictures by JH

Ford wouldn’t cave to just any request, but the California dealers held a lot of sway. California sold 20% of the Mustangs and Thunderbirds in the country, a huge chunk of the market. California dealers had started resorting to showroom tricks, like Rainbow-colored paint jobs, to help move more metal. Now they wanted something back from Ford, and Ford delivered.

Actually, Shelby delivered. The car was developed alongside the 1968 Shelby, and a few of those parts actually found their way on to the California Special, like the rear decklid and fiberglass side scoops. Other special features of the original California Special included Lucas fog lights, hood pins.

A pop-open gas cap, and tail lights borrowed from the Ford Thunderbird (though unlike the Thunderbird and Cougar, they did not blink sequentially). It could also only be ordered in red, white, black, or medium metallic blue. Special markings and side stripes were also included, and all other Mustang options could be ordered with the California Special.

There was also a special Mustang called the High Country Special, which was sold only in Colorado. These cars are even rarer, and could only be ordered in Aspen Gold, Timberline Green, and Columbine Blue, and featured the Rally Pak, Pony seats, and a special console and badges. Just 333 of these cars were ever built from 1966 to 1968.

2007 California Special Pictures by KC

Ford brought the California Special back in 2007 as an appearance package, and it returns for 2011, available outside of California. But these cars owe a lot to their predecessor, and inspired enough people to force the package to return from retirement. We doubt the new California Special Mustang will ever be worth as much as the original, but it has secured itself a special place in history as well.

2010 Brenspeed/Saleen Mustang Makes Debut

Tuesday, April 27th, 2010
Saleen is easily one of the most recognizable names when it comes to Mustang Performance. The company has been around for decades, building high power and highly collectible Mustangs. But Saleen doesn’t go it alone. The have partnered with many other big names in the Mustang world. While now longer owned or operated by Steve Saleen himself, Saleen continues to build new Mustangs for a new world.

Saleen has recently announced an all new vehicle, the 2010 Brenspeed/Saleen Speedlab race car.

Picture: Saleen

The basis for this car is the redesigned 2010 Mustang. This means the engine was the 315 horsepower 4.6 liter V8, rather than the all-new 412 horsepower 5.0. But that doesn’t matter anyway, as Saleen ditched the old engine in favor of a new one built from the ground up. The basis for the engine is Brenspeed’s own B302 all-aluminum short block. This engine is purpose built for superchargers, and Saleen is happy to oblige.

By topping the Brenspeed engine with a Saleen series VI.5 supercharger, and letting the masters tune the engine, Saleen is claiming its Mustang makes over 600 horsepower. All that power requires some updated styling, and Saleen fits the Mustang with one of its own Speedlab body kits. This is a big debut for Brenspeeds aluminum block engine, and we think it is a great fit.

V6 Pony Car Wars Hinting At The Future?

Thursday, April 22nd, 2010
We have often lamented that we missed out on the days of the biggest, baddest muscle cars by a few decades. The fact of the matter is that we will never again see the kind of insane ingenuity, big block engines, and untold variety of our muscle cars. But without a doubt, today’s muscle cars are not only faster, but better built and more advanced. And the V6 models are ever an increasingly important factory to a muscle car’s success.

CNN ran an article yesterday comparing the new Mustang V6 to the Camaro V6, and we ask the question; how important are the V6 models? Is this recent rivalry a sign of things to come?

The 3.6 liter V6 found in the base Camaro makes 312 horsepower for 2011
Picture: GM

Ford made big news recently when it announced the 2011 Mustang would get two new engines, the 305 horsepower 3.7 liter V6, and the 412 horsepower 5.0 V8. While Ford’s V8 engine came in at ten horsepower less than the Camaro SS, Ford’s V6 beat out the Camaro by a single horsepower. That is, until GM got their V6 engine officially tested by the SAE, which rated the 3.6 liter V6 at 312 horsepower. But the real credit goes to the Hyundai Genesis, which debuted last year and offered pony car power at a base price, and forewent a V8 engine for a turbo four cylinder engine and a bigger V6.

Six cylinder pony cars have traditionally made up a bulk of the sales. They were cheaper both in upfront costs and insurance premiums, while still promoting a sporty image. But the engines themselves, like Ford’s ancient 4.0 liter V6 and GM’s anemic 3.8 liter V6, were often an afterthought. Today’s V6 engines are clearly being built to compete on a higher level, offering comparable horsepower to many V8 engines. But today’s car buyers are less concerned with horsepower, and more concerned with fuel efficiency and technology. So as both automakers take up the challenge of providing good gas mileage and high-tech compatibility, will the V8 engine and big horsepower take a backseat?

Ford’s 3.7 liter V6 makes 305 horsepower, and can deliver 31 mpg in the Mustang with an automatic transmission
Picture: Ford

It is enough to make us wonder what GM and Ford are planning for their pony cars down the road. The 35 mpg mandate is just six years away, right before both the Camaro and Mustang are likely to receive a refresh (or possibly even an all-new model). Neither car has ever had V6 engines this powerful, and the V8 engines are even more impressive. Is this a last gasp for the V8 as it gives way to a smaller-displacement future? Or will the Big Three somehow find a way to maintain big displacement and still manage to get frugal fuel economy? We can’t wait to find out.

We all knew this was coming. Ford brings back the 5.0 moniker, bumps the horsepower on its modular motor up by 100 horsepower, and lets the pony loose on unsuspecting magazine editors and bloggers across the media. What other cars really compare to an American muscle car? Just other muscle cars, of course.

Motor Trend is the first out of the stable with a Mustang, Camaro, Challenger comparison story. Dare to guess which sport coupe won?

Pictures: Motor Trend

Long story short, the Mustang took home the honors, though this comparison was interesting for other reasons. The first test for example…was a burnout. Not exactly an objective rating of a vehicles performance, it is none-the-less important. In this challenge, the Mustang finished third to the Camaro and the winner, the Challenger. But when it came to sheer performance, the Mustang was dialed in to win.

In makes it from 0-60 mph in 4.4 seconds, and down the quarter mile in just 12.7 seconds, which is four tenths of a second faster than the Camaro, and six tenths faster than the Challenger. In handling too, the Mustang took home top honors, achieving a maximum lateral grip of .97g, while the Camaro and Challenger managed just .92g. The Mustang also had the shortest stopping distance (when equipped with optional Brembo brakes) at just 104 feet from 60 mph. Motor Trend even liked the interior of the Mustang, which in past years has been derided as feeling cheap.

So 2011 is the year of the Mustang. Is it any surprise?

There was a time when songs about cars were nearly as prevalent as the cars themselves. The Beach Boys sang about their “409”, there was the “Little Old Lady From Pasadena”, and of course “Hot Rod Lincoln” by Charlie Ryan. These days we don’t get so many songs about cars. Vehicles just don’t inspire illuminated vocals anymore it seems. But if you’re a Mustang fan, have hope!

This YouTube video features Mustang fans’ two favorite things; Mustangs, and girls. Plus, it has a catchy tune that you may not like at first, but it grows on you.

Now this is hardly the most inspired song ever, and we doubt it will be eligible for a Grammy anytime soon. But it does have some rather catchy lyrics, like “The V8 growl, such a wicked sound/True competition ain’t never been found.” The singer then proceeds to warble that “The Ford Mustang makes me feel so alive/Feels like time now that I am passing you by/You want to get in and come along for the ride/You better hold tight because I’m in overdrive.”

You get the gist. Really, the video is more about the pictures and the girls than the song, though we have to admit the singer/songwriter at least sounds like he knows what he is talking about, mentioning makes like Shelby and Saleen in his lyrics. Besides, it is a song about a Mustang! It has been like, 40 years since anybody made a good car song. So we will take what we can get.


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