Ken Block Loses To Mexican Ditch In WRC Focus

Wednesday, March 10th, 2010
Rally driving is not for the faint of heart, and Ken Block is just about as fearless as they come. After getting just a single test run behind the wheel of his M-Sport-built WRC spec Focus Rally Car, Block headed south of the border to take on some of Mexico’s toughest roads. And he did very, very well in the beginning, running just seconds behind some WRC veterans like Jari-Matti Latvala, who is in his tenth year of rallying.

Unfortunately, as the Monster World Rally Blog describes, Block pushed the Focus a bit too hard around a tight right turn, and would up deep in a Mexican ditch.


Pictures: Monster World Rally Team

The accident broke the front control arm, effectively taking the car out of the race. Block insists the car had a lot more to give and he was hardly pushing it. And pushing is what nabs trophies. Push the Focus he did, and unfortunately a lack of practice time probably contributed to the crash. But don’t count Block out yet. He still has last week’s 100 Acre Wood Rally victory, his fifth in a row, and the first for the rally-spec Fiesta.

The weekend in Mexico wasn’t good for Ford at all in fact. Rather a trio of Citroens took the 1-2-3 spot, with the BP Abu Dhabi Ford Focus cars coming in fourth and fifth. But it was the first outing for Ken Block behind the wheel. Block wound up finishing the race, coming in 18th place, but this year is more about getting used to the new cars (as Block once drove for Subaru). Next year, we’ll be expecting a lot more first place finishes.

March is in like a Lion for Jack Roush

Wednesday, March 10th, 2010
March is turning out to be a great month for Jack Roush Sr. Roush has a long and successful motorsports history with the first of his numerous championships coming in drag racing. Roush celebrated a racing milestone last Sunday at Homestead-Miami Speedway when his son, Jack Roush Jr., and co-driver Billy Johnson won the Homestead 200 (GS Class) Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge. The win marked the 400th all-time victory for Roush Sr. in road racing and NASCAR combined.

This Friday, Jack Roush will receive the highest compliment available in the hot rod world as he will be presented with the Robert E. Petersen Lifetime Achievement Award. “Being named a recipient of the Robert E. Petersen Lifetime Achievement Award is obviously a tremendous distinction and something completely unexpected,” Roush said. “I remember Robert (Petersen) always being a great ambassador for the auto industry and hot rods.”

In addition to the highly-visible NASCAR entries of Roush Fenway Racing, Jack Roush also has a number of automotive-related companies in his hometown of Livonia, MI. Among them is ROUSH Industries, a Tier One supplier of engineering, testing and manufacturing services to all the Big Three manufacturers, and ROUSH Performance which produces high-performance vehicles, parts and exotic crate engines.

Roush has previously been inducted into the National Motorsports Press Association Hall of Fame (2010), the Michigan Sports Hall of Fame (2008), the International Motorsports Hall of Fame (2006), the Mustang Hall of Fame (2002), and the Michigan Motorsports Hall of Fame (1992).

Earlier this year Roush also was one of five recipients of a coveted 2010 Distinguished Service Citation from the Automotive Hall of Fame in Dearborn, MI. The award recognizes an individual who has significantly improved the industry or their respective organization. Roush’s history of innovation will be extended this season as his daughter, Susan Roush McClenaghan, and drag racing veteran Donnie Bowles will campaign a pair of Roush-engineered, propane-powered cars in the NMRA Ford Nationals.

Ford Taurus SHO Wagon Rendered

Wednesday, March 10th, 2010
The cool factor surrounding station wagons has waxed and waned over the decades. Wagons like the Chevy Nomad and the fabled Woodies of yesteryear have been on the cool radar for some time, although America’s affair with the wagon was definitely derailed by the onset of the SUV. Crossovers are the new “hot” thing, bringing station wagons back into the spotlight. GM is planning a CTS-V wagon of its own. But what if Ford jumped on the bandwagon?

This rendered speculation of an SHO wagon comes from Autoblog via designer Josiah Lacolla’s website.


Picture: Josiah Lacolla

This is an excellent speculation, and we’re hoping someone over at Ford is looking too. Unlike previous iterations of the Taurus, there is currently no station wagon model available. The Taurus-X, which was actually just a renamed Freestyle, was quite a popular motor before it was discontinued in favor of the new platform Taurus. Josiah is no stranger to design, having rendered a C7 Corvette for Automobile Magazine and having had two cars on display at two consecutive SEMA shows.

In many ways the current Taurus lends itself to a wagon. It is a huge, heavy car already, and could probably fit quite a bit of cargo in that rendered rear end. With the 3.5 liter 365 horsepower EcoBoost engine, it would also make driving the kids to soccer practice a lot more entertaining. There is plenty of competition in the wagon market already, and the CTS-V wagon will likely make almost 200 horsepower more than an SHO wagon, if Ford ever made it. Maybe the new Mustang 5.0 V8 instead? We won’t hold our breath, but Ford, if you’re listening…you need to build a SHO wagon!

Boss 302R Engine Heading To Production Cars?

Wednesday, March 10th, 2010
It is no secret that the technology found in racing engines often trickles down to production cars. The Boss 302R Mustang straddles a fine line between production car and race car. It comes pre-built from the factory to compete in events like the Mustang Challenge and Grand-Am series, but it isn’t designed for on road use. Still, it also isn’t that far removed from a road-going daily driver.

The Mustang News seems to think that the Boss 302R could translate into a Boss 302 street Mustang, and they make a strong argument for their case.


Picture: The Mustang News

The first point the Mustang News makes is the 302R’s unique intake manifold. The manifold is taller than the one found on the 2011 GT’s 5.0 liter engine. The manifold also has indentations that would fit an engine strut brace and Boss 302 emblems. There are also ribs on the manifold…more a dress-up option than necessary for a race car. The throttle body and air-intake box also feature all the tabs necessary for vacuum lines and the factory acoustic tube that increases the sound of the V8 inside the Mustang’s cabin.


Picture: Ford

A point we’d like to make is that if Ford is really going to bring back the Boss, they would be foolish to make just 50 of the cars as they are with the 302R. The Boss name still carries a lot of weight, even though it has been forty years since the name appeared on an American Mustang. Slip it in somewhere between the Mustang GT and Shelby GT500 in terms of cost and horsepower, and you’d have a real winner on your hands.

As much as we love performance and horsepower, these days fuel efficiency is an important part of any new car conversation. The automakers are keenly aware that new CAFÉ standards mean they must meet a fleet-wide average of 35 mpg by 2020. That means even the muscle cars must pull their weight, lest they go the way of the dodo bird.

The official EPA numbers are in for the Ford Mustang, and they are better than expected. The 2011 Ford Mustang V6 with the new 3.7 liter engine gets 19 mpg in the city and 31 mpg on the highway, making it the first car with over 300 horsepower to get over 30 mpg claims Ford.


Picture: Ford

Fuel economy and performance don’t have to be mutually exclusive. With 305 horsepower on tap, the V6 2011 Mustang makes nearly as much horsepower as the outgoing 2010 Mustang GT. Now it can even serve as a reasonably priced, fuel efficient commuter car as well. The 31 mpg rating is available when the Mustang is mated to Ford’s new six-speed automatic transmission and the 2.73 stock rear end gear ratio.

Ford is also planning a performance package for V6 model, which adds more aggressive gears, and a dual exhaust among other enhancements. The new MPG rating beats out the Camaro by 2 mpg, while edging out the horsepower rating by 1 pony. While it isn’t much, it is enough for Ford to give itself a pat on the back. Now we wonder what company will be the first to break 30 mpg out of a 400 horsepower car. It might be closer to happening than you think.

Press Release

DEARBORN, Mich., March 4, 2010 – The 2011 Ford Mustang today breaks new ground, cracking the record books as not only the most fuel-efficient Mustang ever, but also the first production car in history to produce more than 300 horsepower and more than 30 mpg highway.

The Mustang’s official EPA ratings – completed this week – certify that models equipped with the 305-hp 3.7-liter V-6 and available six-speed automatic transmission achieve 31 mpg on the highway and 19 mpg in the city. The standard six-speed manual transmission is rated at 30 mpg on the highway and 19 mpg in the city.

Mustang is powered by a lightweight, all-aluminum 3.7-liter dual-overhead-cam (DOHC) V-6 engine that uses advanced engineering to deliver its combination of power and economy. Twin Independent Variable Camshaft Timing (Ti-VCT) adjusts the valvetrain in microseconds depending on driver inputs, further contributing to the engine’s overall efficiency.

The fact that Mustang achieves its top fuel economy rating with the convenience of an automatic transmission also marks a shift in conventional wisdom. Ford engineered a modern six-speed automatic transmission with carefully calibrated gear ratios and shift programs to maximize economy, while still delivering high-horsepower driving fun.

“Advanced powertrains like our Ti-VCT V-6 and six-speed automatic really speak to the future of Mustang,” says Barb Samardzich, Ford vice president of Global Powertrain Engineering. “We’ve proven that, using technology, Ford can deliver both power and fuel economy.”

In addition to engine improvements, upgrades to Mustang’s body, powertrain and chassis design contribute to the higher fuel economy numbers for 2011. Examples include:
New Electric Power Assist Steering (EPAS) system eliminates the drag of an engine-operated hydraulic power steering pump
Six-speed manual and automatic transmissions allow lower cruising revs without sacrificing off-the-line performance
Aerodynamic changes include improvements like a new front fascia, tire spats on the rear wheels, modified underbody shields, a taller air dam and an added rear decklid seal

The new 2011 Mustang already has more than 11,000 orders. Half of all the nationwide orders are for the car’s fuel-efficient 3.7-liter V-6 engine. The 2011 Mustangs are also being equipped with record levels of technology, giving customers the option of choosing navigation, high-intensity discharge (HID) headlamps and rearview cameras.

The new 2011 Mustang goes on sale this spring and will be built at the AutoAlliance International Plant in Flat Rock, Mich.

GeigerCars 810-hp GT500 Kit

Thursday, March 4th, 2010
GeigerCars, German auto tuners of Munich, unveiled their new tuning kit based on the 2010 Ford Mustang GT500. The package, dubbed “Shelby,” bumps up the performance on both the handling side as well as the power side.They even add in a styling package to boot.

According to TopSpeed, the GeigerCars kit Ford Mustang GT “Shelby” package delivers 810-hp at 6,700-rpms.


Images: TopSpeed

GeigerCars, known for impressive build results, got their hands on a factory GT500, and made the 540-horsepower monster even more terrifying. They got 800+ horsepower out of the same 5.4 L with more pressure, larger components, and stronger internals.

The tuners start by adding a 3.3-liter blower, and crank it up to 1.6-bars of supercharging power. Also added are larger throttle valves, a modified injection system, a larger air flow meter, aluminum rocker arms, forged crank drive, and machined heads. Included in the performance package are additional coolers to keep the operating temperature of the high-output engine from overheating.

The result of the build, as mentioned before, increases the power of the GT500 to an earth-shaking 810-horses. Because of the additional power, GeigerCars reinforces the GT500 transmission, shortens the final two gears, and uses a 3-disc carbon clutch.

GeigerCars modifies the chassis with a chrome-moly panhard bar, as well as reinforced and adjustable trailing arms to get as much of the power to the wheels as possible. To stop, the GeigerCars Mustang GT500 “Shelby” is fitted with Geiger 6-pistol high performance brakes in the front.

The max speed you should expect with the kit? 219-mph. That’s impressive.

Ford’s Cleveland Engine Plant #1 has been around since 1951. It was where Ford built its first overhead valve V8 engine, and where many of the famed 5.0 engines were also built. The plant has had its ups and downs, and even came close to shutting down in 2000, when the 5.0 engine was finally phased out.

The Detroit News has reported that Ford has invested another $155 million into the plant, as well as added 60 jobs, so the plant can crank out the new 3.7 liter V6 engine found in the Mustang.


Picture: The Cleveland Leader

The move is part of a much larger program by Ford to introduce nine new-or-improved engines and transmissions this year. Ford has already invested $55 million to reopen the Cleveland plant last year, so that the plant could start producing the 3.5 liter EcoBoost V6. It will now be built alongside the 3.7 liter V6, which makes us wonder just how many parts (if any) the two engines share.

Union leaders also apparently expect Ford to add a second shift to the plant, and with good reason. Ford’s pre-order sales of the 2011 Mustang, with the new 305 horsepower V6 and 412 horsepower V8, have exceeded expectations. Over 11,000 orders have been taken so far, half of those with a V6. Ford is going to need the Cleveland plant operating at high capacity to meet all that demand. Sounds good to us!

New Engines Drive Demand for Mustang

Thursday, March 4th, 2010
Ford’s new powertrains for the 2011 Mustang have reignited the love affair judging by the early order rates. Nearly 11,000 Mustangs have been ordered since order banks opened in late January. Already, three times the orders have been received than for the 2010 model in its first month.


Photos: Ford

According to Ford, Fifty percent of the 2011 Mustang orders are for V-6 models, which feature a new, high-performance, all-aluminum Duratec 3.7-liter dual overhead-cam, Twin Independent Variable Cam Timing (Ti-VCT) engine. (Phew!) The new engine delivers 305 horsepower, and an expected EPA fuel efficiency of 30 mpg on the highway – a 25 percent improvement versus the 2010 model. This level of power was previously seen on the 2003 Mach I special edition Mustang. The Mach I used the 32-valve Cobra engine as a base, but came nowhere close in terms of gas mileage. No wonder 2011 Mustang V-6 order levels are up 19 percent compared to last year.

A special edition Mustang Club of America (MCA) package is new for 2011 V-6 models and has generated three times more orders than expected. Similarly, orders for the California Special series – which is available on the Mustang GT and harkens back to the original 1968 feature vehicle – are triple the forecast rates.

Overall, 41 percent of new orders are for Mustang GTs, 50 percent are V6s, and the remainder are Shelby GT500s. Navigation is specified on 18 percent of orders. High-intensity discharge (HID) headlamps are on 26 percent of vehicles, while rear-view cameras are on 10 percent – all up from 2010.

The Mustang GT’s modern 5.0-liter four-valve, Ti-VCT V-8 engine delivers 412 horsepower and 390 ft.-lb. of torque. At the same time, fuel economy of 25 mpg highway is projected to be better than the previous model, and unsurpassed in the segment. The 550 horsepower engine in the GT500 has also improved fuel economy, to the point that the gas guzzler tax no longer applies.

“Fuel economy ranks among the top two reasons people choose vehicles,” said Steve Ling, North America Car Marketing manager. “With the 2011 Mustang lineup, we’ve found a way to offer even better fuel efficiency for V-6, GT and even Shelby GT500 performance drivers – while improving performance. And consumers are responding.”

Racing Mustangs to Save Sharks

Thursday, March 4th, 2010
John “Chip” Scarlett, rookie in the Ford Racing Mustang Challenge, will be making his season opener appearance next weekend in his Ford Mustang FR500S. The season opener for the Ford Racing Mustang Challenge will be held in South Florida as part of the Grand-Am Miami Grand Prix.

According to Motorsport.com, Scarlett graduated the Ford Racing High Performance Driving Center, and has competed in MPRA events prior to the Mustang Challenge.


Images: Racing To Save Sharks

Prior to entering the world of competitive driving, Chip Scarlett had trained as a physician, and has made his successes as an entrepreneur. After selling his last company, he decided that he needed to focus his competitive energies somewhere, and racing was a good avenue for him to do so. He joined the Ford Racing High Performance Driving Center school at Miller Motorsports Park which had a program that entertained the pursuit of long-term racing goals. His options before deciding on Ford Racing Mustang Challenge included the Miata series, a Porsche series, and even the Ferrari Challenge. The FR500S platform of racing was his choice due to its ready-to-go power and forgiving nature.

The first race of his Mustang Challenge season starts this weekend. He will be driving his FR500S Mustang dressed in a very unique livery. Plastered on the side of his white and blue Mustang is a giant great white shark. Also serving as a possible intimidation strategy to the competition, the reason behind the unique scheme is rooted in his conversational goals – saving the endangered great white sharks.

He explains that as a professional underwater diver and photographer, he has gained a new respect of the misunderstood creatures. He also claims to owe his life to these animals, as they were largely part of his reason in overcoming diabetes. Because of this, he is dedicating his racing efforts to spread knowledge about illegal defining of sharks. He and his wife plan to create materials to educate people about the ecological impact of sharks in the ocean.

Also dedicated on the scheme of his Mustang is the URL to his conservation website: RacingToSaveSharks.com

Ford Sales Beat GM, Toyota in February

Thursday, March 4th, 2010
Higher sales for every brand and in every product category propelled Ford Motor Company to a 43 percent sales increase in February compared to a year ago. The gain was enough to put Ford ahead of General Motors, whose sales also improved by 12 per cent, according to The Detroit News. Ford’s domestic light vehicle sales in February totaled 142,006 units, just edging The General by less than five hundred vehicles.


Photo: Ford Motor Company

Compared with January, 2010, Ford’s February sales are up 22 percent. Passenger cars were up 54 percent versus a year ago, while utilities were up 39 percent, and trucks up by 36 percent. Mustang sales reversed the dismal levels last year, improving by 71 percent to 5,115 units. January’s Mustang result of 4,747 cars represented a 61 percent increase over the same month a year ago.

“The strength of our new products and Ford’s leadership in quality, fuel efficiency, safety, smart design and value are resonating with customers,” said Ken Czubay, Ford vice president, U.S. Marketing Sales and Service.

The company is introducing nine new or upgraded fuel-efficient engines and six new transmissions this year. They include the new 2.0-liter EcoBoost, new Mustang 3.7-liter V-6 and 5.0-liter V-8 engines, new Super Duty 6.7-liter diesel and 6.2-liter gasoline engines.

“This is the most ambitious powertrain upgrade ever undertaken by Ford,” said Czubay. “Our goal is to provide our customers with industry-leading fuel economy and performance – and more reasons to shop Ford and buy Ford.”

Looking to the second quarter of 2010, Ford production plans forecast 595,000 vehicles, up 144,000 vehicles (32 percent) versus the same period a year ago.

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