When we awarded the Scion FR-S DFL in our three-way affordable-sportster test, many commenters both on TTAC and elsewhere pointed out that the FR-S supposedly wasn’t meant to be a complete package from the factory. Rather, the new hachi-roku was intended to be a platform for individual development, you see. By judiciously applying the finest in aftermarket upgrades, the FR-S would become a highly personal racetrack scalpel.
Well, to paraphrase Katt Williams, “The Scion do look like an outstanding platform on which to build one’s ideal track car… until a real outstanding platform on which to build one’s ideal track car pull up.” As it turns out, one of our Best&Brightest brought his lightly-modified “New Edge” Mustang GT to our test, and he was gracious enough to let your humble author put twenty or so laps on it.
How’d it do?
Well, in the context of the FR-S, Genesis, and Miata, this lightly-reworked Mustang which can’t be worth more than about twelve grand managed to — how shall I say it — rip the throats out of our delicate little trio like Patrick Swayze handling business at the end of Road House. Another publication was out playing race drivers in the Hyundai and Scion while I was doing some rather cautious laps in what, after all, was a car that the owner was going to have to drive fifty miles back to his house that night. Measured in isolation, the Genesis feels quite fast and the FR-S feels like it handles pretty well. Next to the Mustang, they might as well have been missing a spark plug and running space-saver tires. We’re talking an easy three-or-four-second per lap difference. Move over, ladies; Daddy’s here.
What makes this old Mustang so much better at running around a racetrack than three modern contenders? Well, the weight and the power. New Edge GT Mustangs have an official curb weight of 3,237 pounds. That’s Genesis territory, but it’s nowhere near what the new generation of ponycars weighs. To push it, Ford puts in a 4.6-liter mod-motor V-8 with 260hp/302lb-ft of torque. Now add the following modifications, made so the car would be competitive in the Ontario Time Attack Series, and reported by the owner like so:
- Strut Tower Brace
- Subframe Connectors
- -2.5 degrees camber
- Short throw shifter (OEM springs were too soft)
- Cobra Brakes (Factory bolt on, running Hawk HP+ with Motul RBF 600 Fluid)
- K&N Intake (picked up only cause I found it really cheap on ebay, used)
- Magnaflow magnapack cat back exhaust (probably worth 5whp, about 100 aural hp)
- Corbeau reclining drivers seat
- 265-40-17 Dunlop Star Specs
As you can see, there were a few items removed from the interior to save an odd pound here or there. The important parts, in our opinion, are the camber, the subframe connectors, and the Star Spec tires. The Mustang also appears to have a fairly aggressive alignment; as we were following it in the Miata earlier in the day, it just plain stepped out on Sal (the owner) at about 60mph. Way past Tokyo Drift territory. If the color rags had managed to get an FR-S that sideways, they’d have used it for the cover shot. Sal caught it pretty easily; turns out TTAC doesn’t just have the best on-staff drivers in the biz, our freakin’ readers are ace, too.
From the moment you turn the key and turn off the traction control (concerning which your humble author needed some instruction despite having been a Ford salesperson in the mid-Nineties), the ‘Stang feels like serious business. It doesn’t have the whole riding-down-the-road-on-metal-bearings thing going on that a true full-on racer has. Real race cars are intensely unpleasant, cramped, and claustrophobic. Nope, this is just a hardcore street Mustang. There’s no window net, no halo seat, no incomprehensible jumble of Dymo-labeled, safety-latched switches on a sheet-steel “dashboard” ahead. It’s not that different from the way it was when it rolled out of the factory ten years or so ago. But it sounds like the business.
Once released onto TMP’s front straight, the Mustang flat swallows the road down to the first turn. The brakes are surer, more trustworthy than our other testers, and we aren’t using them as much because the Star Specs are halfway to R-comps and they barely squeal before catching the Ford’s nose and throwing it across the apex.
Back in the throttle and now we are grinning because we know what’s coming up: a twisty section. Camber is king here and the Mustang handles the right-left-right transitions with aplomb the FR-S would no doubt have if you put decent tires on it. Oh, yes, and we can also easily adjust the attitude with the throttle, although that’s a trick you can only play about twice a lap before the back tires get hot enough to become untrustworthy on the faster bends.
It would be a nice credibility-builder here to say something along the lines of how “Well, the Ford continues to suffer from numb steering” or something like that, but truth be told it’s fine, particularly with these tires and these suspension settings. No, it can’t compare to the Miata in that regard, but the rest of the package is so entertaining it matters less.
The current-gen Mustang’s physical incarnation as a long-hood, Thunderbird-esque, Camry-sized product tends to make people forget that for the majority of its production lifetime the nameplate has been attached to a small car. The “New Edge” Mustang has its roots in the ’79 Fox-based Telnack design and as a result the seating position and the view over the hood are almost more like a Genesis than a 2013 Mustang GT.
Speaking of that delightful modern pony: The old 4.6 two-valver is no Coyote 5.0. Heck, it isn’t even the rambunctious three-valve mod-motor found in the 2005-2011 Mustangs. It’s a Crown Vic engine in a lighter body, and freed from police or retirement-home duty it picks up its (iron) skirts and reaches for the redline with a reasonable helping of enthusiasm. It’s certainly enough to see off the Genesis, which until the moment I twisted the key in the Ford’s dismal, ill-fitting steering column was quite coming off like the muscle car of the bunch. But you know, it only came off like the muscle car of the bunch… until the muscle car of the bunch pull up.
Sal paid thirteen grand for the car a few years ago. It now has 120,000 kilometers on it, which in miles is… not the same number. It could probably be duplicated in the United States for well under fifteen grand now. That money will get you a reliable, easily-serviced vehicle with an aftermarket of intergalactic proportions and a resale value that won’t dip below half of your purchase price as long as it starts and runs well. When you get tired of driving it on the street, you can cage it and run it in the outstanding Camaro-Mustang-Challenge series. (For a video of your humble author hackin’ it up to a podium finish in his first CMC race, complete with what was almost a massive crash caused by my sheer stupidity, click!) If you want to personalize it, you can get everything from an Steeda IMSA bodykit to a stitched-leather dashboard. Parts are available everywhere and if you blow the engine somehow a replacement will cost you nine hundred bucks at a junkyard.
Does that sound like the very model of a modern “platform for individual expression”? There’s only one problem. It’s a Mustang and that means you won’t have any credibility with the Racers Of The Internet, who judge every vehicle ever sold on how it fits into their fantasy of being sixteen again and sent to a Japanese high school by their frazzled mothers. Don’t worry. You’ll have plenty of credibility with the Racers Of The Racetrack.
Photography courtesy of Julie Hyde, who isn’t going back to that crummy Grossman’s Tavern for any reason, even if her boyfriend has a chance to “wail” in the open jam session.