September 5, 2003

It seems as if there are new companies and products entering the exciting Mustang market all the time. Most of them usually take a good component and improve on it. Then to show off these new goodies, they are tested on the dragstrip to prove their worthiness and hopefully make an impact on the public. Such is the case with Mark Luton and Bobby Bakhtiari of X2C Motorsports in Van Nuys, California, who chose to use their personal cars as rolling billboards for a new line of racing hardware. Both cars abuse most of the parts in the X2C catalog with runs in the 9-second zone and their street-legal classification leaves a lasting impression with onlookers.

Luton assaults the asphalt with the red '00 Mustang GT while Bakhtiari cruises So-Cal in a black '95 Mustang GT convertible. From the outside both look like warmed over street machines, but once they drop the hammer it is all business. Luton flies on the local race tracks with 9.30 times at speeds around 157 mph--perhaps the highest trap speed for a Tremec five-speed equipped car. Bakhtiari's supercharged Stang is not as quick as Luton's, but it still runs 9.60s at 145. Both cars depend on unnatural aspiration; Luton chose to get boost via an Innovative 88mm turbocharger, while Bakhtiari has gone with a Paxton Novi 2000.

The road to high horsepower for these cars began a few years ago when Luton walked into the Ford dealership and picked up a '00 Mustang. "I bought the car new as a fully loaded V-6 with every intention of tearing it apart the moment I got home," says Luton. Once he cleaned out all of the non-essential parts he dropped the car off at Fab-Tech for a 12-point chromoly rollcage. Then it was delivered back to X2C where the team of Mustang specialists took six months to re-install the factory interior, update the suspension, and get the new powerplant under the hood.

Knowing they wanted to make serious horsepower to test the limits of their transmission Luton built a killer short-block that would take anything they threw at it. An FRPP A4 block was bored to 4.030-inches and the holes were filled with low-compression Ross pistons. Making up the rest of the rotating assembly is a Boss 302 crankshaft along with Cunningham connecting rods. An FRPP Z-303 camshaft controls the valves and the air passes through a TFS "R" intake manifold and Edelbrock Victor Jr. cylinder heads. Both the intake and cylinder heads have been fully ported.

A complete Aeromotive fuel system pumps the race or pump gas into the engine. Luton made a few runs with a Paxton Novi 2000, but that was changed to an in-house turbo kit that uses an Innovative 88mm turbocharger. A Spearco air-to-water aftercooler removes the heat from upwards of 30 psi of boost and it has been mounted behind the dashboard.

Luton had decided the fate of his Mustang when he bought it, but Bakhtiari's '95 convertible went through the typical process of getting quicker each year. The car came new from the dealership and eventually ran 11.30s at 123 mph before it was ripped apart. The plan was to skip the 10s and head into the coveted 9-second zone. Street worthiness and reliability were a must for this new engine.

Bakhtiari chose a 347-cubic-inch engine that was also based around an FRPP A4 block. The induction system is essentially identical to Luton's turbo combination and even uses the same Ford Racing Z-303 hydraulic roller camshaft. But for a power adder Bakhtiari went with a Paxton Novi 2000. Both cars rely on DFI Gen 6 engine management systems and changing from the street tune to a race tune is only a matter of a few keystrokes.

There was no option when it came time to pick the transmissions--an X2C modified Tremec TKO five-speed. Their work turns the box into either an X2C V1.0 or V2.0. Both are designed to handle big horsepower with the V2.0 rated at 850, but the transmission has seen over 1,000 horsepower in these test vehicles. The idea was to push this version of the Tremec transmission and show its capabilities.

The red Stang has run 157 mph on the dragstrip, which has eclipsed the old speed record of 152 mph (for a Tremec-equipped Mustang). Their next goal is to run low 9s/high 8s to capture the e.t. record as well with that car. The heavyweight convertible has run 9.60s at 145 mph. "I launch at 5,200, shift at 7,000 and grabbing gears can be tricky. But it is a lot of fun," proclaimed Luton.

Not just any clutch will hold the sort of power these two full weight street cars produce so X2C went with a McCleod clutch, pressure plate and flywheel. Both cars benefit from a complete X2C suspension to transfer all of the power to Mickey Thompson ET Drag slicks. On the street both owners run D.O.T.-legal tires for obvious reasons. The overdrive transmission enables them to cruise the California coast without heading to the gas station every hour. Each driver gets comfortable in X2C's new racing seats, which use a fiberglass frame to keep weight down. The rear seats have been removed and finished off in a clean manner with a rear seat delete kit done in-house.

Over the past six months these Mustangs have endured a transformation that has helped promote a new product line. But the car owners are not complaining, because heading to the dragstrip and going fast is all a part of doing business.

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The playback tach is essential for reviewing runs and the shift light helps the driver stay focused and hit each shift accurately. Banging gears in a 9-second car can be tricky witha street-type transmission.
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Mark Luton owns the quicker of these two Mustangs. This '00 GT currently runs 9.30s at 157 mph with its turbocharged 306 and X2C modified Tremec transmission.
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While Bakhtiari's ride runs a blower, Luton decided to run an Innovative 88mm turbo. The headers and piping for the turbo were fabricated in-house at X2C. The group also mounted a Spearco aftercooler behind the dashboard.
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Both cars see the public streets in California. Bobby Bakhtiari uses his '95 convertible frequently and even drove it over 100 miles without any problems for this photo shoot.
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Replacing a worn out 302 engine under the hood of Bakhtiari's Stang is a 347 that has all the goodies like Edelbrock Victor Jr. heads, TFS 'R' intake, Paxton Novi 2000 and a bulletproof short-block.
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Both cars have rollcages installed to help stiffen the chassis and provide protection. Since both cars run in the 9s they are required to have a minimum of eight attachment points. These cars exceed that minimum and have 12-point cages.
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Luton straps into X2C's fiberglass seats and keeps an eye on the engine parameters thanks to the Auto Meter gauges mounted in the dashboard.
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Bakhtiari's remains mostly stock save for new front seats, rear seat delete, and an assortment of gauges. He throws gears with a Pro 5.0 shifter and the convertible top is still functional.
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Both cars run in the 9s and exhibit impressive street antics. The X2C modified Tremec transmission is a big part of those mild street manners thanks to its overdrive gear.