When Ford introduced the '05 Mustang three years ago, it was the first time in several years that it was challenging to differentiate Mustang GTs from base models. Ford did a terrific job of making the Mustang all things to all people-good looking and fun to drive in any form.
"When I first saw the new Mustang, I knew I had to have one," Tom Rasada says. But Tom wasn't interested in the GT with its 300hp 4.6L Three-Valve engine. He wanted a base Mustang six-shooter for its dependability and fuel economy. It worked to Tom's advantage because, in February 2005, the demand for Mustang GTs overwhelmed the market. With GT models in short supply, determined Mustang buyers snapped up six-cylinder models.
It was one of those times when the planets aligned and the cosmos showed what's possible with imagination. Ford made it easy by providing a canvas on which to build. Tom began with a Screaming Yellow '05 Mustang coupe fitted with the 4.0L V-6 borrowed from the Ford Ranger and Explorer.
The 4.0L SOHC dates back to the '74-'78 Mustang II's optional 2.8L V-6. In fact, it goes back even further to the Mercury Capri from the early '70s. Known as the Ford of Germany Vulcan V-6, it's a fiercely reliable powerplant that has served Ford well for more than four decades.
Tom wasn't content leaving his six-cylinder automatic Mustang in factory trim. He began with aesthetics, including a 12-inch stripe kit, a Street Scene custom grille, "Mustang" graphics, sequential taillights, and chrome appointments. These features went hand-in-hoof with 17-inch Bullitt wheels common to the Mustang GT. Inside, he took his interior to the next level with MGW billet accessories, yellow seat inserts and door sills, and pony floor mats. Underhood, Tom installed a Redline Elite hood lift kit, an MGW radiator cap, a Ford Racing oil filler cap, and Midwestern strut-tower covers.
Once the visuals were where he wanted them, Tom decided to make something that was as bad as it looked. He warmed up the V-6 with an Explorer Express MP-90 supercharger and an Eaton blower, trimmed and tuned for the 4.0L SOHC V-6. With the MP-90, Tom has managed to record 260 rwhp. Because he wants to be environmentally responsible, he tuned the MP-90 to California smog standards with only 6 pounds of boost. It's adequate for street use-and it has potential any time Tom wants to go faster.
So what does this mean for real-world V-6 performance? It means 11- to 12-second quarter-mile times if you know how to tune a supercharged V-6 without risking engine damage. Because Tom doesn't want to squeeze the life out of his SOHC, he keeps boost conservative, finding contentment with 13- to 14-second quarter-mile times.
Ford has delivered a Mustang to love, and the aftermarket is ready to provide speed equipment and visual enhancement. There's no doubt that Tom has a looker. When you mix in the all-business attitude of supercharged V-6 power with pinpoint electronic accuracy and drive-by-wire technology, you get a super six with a twist.