Steve Turner
Former Editor, 5.0 Mustang & Super Fords
October 15, 2013

"Do you wanna drive it around the autocross?" When that question comes from drifting superstar Vaughn Gittin Jr. in reference to his personal Mustang, it's an offer you can't refuse. Naturally, I obliged. Vaughn directed me to the keys in the ignition and told me to have fun while he attended to his Mustang Week fans.

The car in question was the prototype '13 Mustang RTR, which was really a re-skinned '11 that was used to create the packaged that came to fruition in the car you see on these pages. In any event, my ride for the week was a V-6, so I jumped at the chance to wheel a real live Coyote on the autocross.

Turning the key, the RTR burbled to life with an exhaust note that is the pride of the car's drifting namesake. He worked with Magnaflow to create his ideal Mustang exhaust note, and it does sound melodious inside the car. It sounded even better as I let out the clutch and sprinted into the first turn on the autocross.

Now, I won't lie—I was worried about going quicker in the GT than I did in the V-6. It was an irrational fear, but it would have been a bit embarrassing. As it turns out, those thoughts were completely unfounded. The RTR was much quicker around the course. On my first spin, it was configured for a comfortable ride, and I actually like a bit of compliance in my suspension. The car reminded me of a Boss with a bit less power.

However, after I finished my lap, Vaughn was there waiting. Naturally, he wanted to know what I thought. I approved, but he wanted me to take another spin after he tightened up the adjustable suspension. On that next lap, the car was definitely tighter, but I was forcing my driving a bit, so it was kind of a wash. However, I can appreciate Vaughn wanting to tune up the car.

It's just that type of desire that led him to create his own line of Mustangs, dubbed Ready to Rock. As Vaughn conveyed when he first launched the RTR program, he wanted to put a new spin on the Mustang to broaden its appeal beyond the traditional Mustang audience, much like he has done for the Mustang in drifting.

"After being involved with the Mustang community for about five years, I felt the majority of aftermarket styling of S197 Mustangs' was traditional, and in my opinion, getting a bit stale. I wanted to introduce something fresh to the Mustang world, something that would open new eyes to Mustang and broaden its reach to a new generation, as well as something that traditional Mustang enthusiast would be into," Vaughn explained.

"RTR is a dream of mine and I'm still working my ass off with my team to continue keeping it a reality. We are all about having fun and we have some awesome things planned for the future. We're really pumped at how we've been received as a brand in the Mustang world. We're just getting started."

As I experienced, the biggest performance change in the car is its handling. That's because the lion's share of the RTR package focuses on the car's handling, with the highlights being adjustable Ford Racing dampers, matched up with RTR-specific sway bars and an RTR Panhard bar. This gear works with the famous RTR wheels and high-performance rubber to create a fun-to-drive package.

"The looks are the most obvious. We've gone away from what you would see traditionally done to a Mustang and tried a new recipe that we feel is unique, tasteful, and aggressive on all specs of the RTR," Vaughn said. "Starting with the Spec 2, we focused a lot on performance—not just traditional power upgrades, but having a fun-to-drive, well-balanced car with good ride quality is priority to us. We spent significant time at the proving grounds making sure the RTR is exactly that."

That performance backs up the swagger that the RTR throws down. Vaughn knows a thing or two about putting on a good show, and he tightens up the '13-'14 Mustang's good looks with a 360-degree makeover that pumps up its persona without being overt. It looks sharp but understated.

"The recipe was pretty relative to '11-'12 in regard to keeping the styling elements we love," Vaughn said. "The biggest difference is that we focused a lot on suspension performance to get what we feel is a perfect balance for streetability and track fun. Most everyone that drives a Spec 2 RTR is impressed—and to me, that is success!"

"Between the adjustable Ford Racing shocks and springs, as well as the RTR Tactical Performance sway bars and optional Watt's link, we've worked with Whiteline so RTR owners can dial their car for their preference of fun. Whether it be street, drift, grip, or drag, there is a great balance to be had for any activity," he added.

"We have a unique sounding exhaust that we developed with Magnaflow specifically for the RTR. It made 9 hp and gets rid of the ‘robotic' sound of the 5.0.

"For those that need more power, we offer a supercharger upgrade option as well. We designed our packages with performance and budget in mind so that there is a realistic option for most anyone to get behind the wheel of an RTR."

In short, the RTR takes the already potent Mustang and revs up its looks and performance while adding the panaché of exclusivity. So, if you're looking for a specialty Mustang that you won't see on every street corner, check them out.

"Future plans are to keep having fun and putting smiles on people's faces!" Vaughn shared. "We will continue to offer packages available at Ford dealers, however, you will see a lot of cool new products coming from us in the future. I don't want to get too specific right now, but keep an eye out!" 5.0

Horse Sense: For the new season of Formula Drift, Vaughn has an important new sponsor: Nitto Tire. "In the middle of 2012, I decided I was going to run my own drifting program in 2013 rather then driving someone else's car like I have been for the duration of my career to this point. After my first meeting with the crew over at Nitto, it was obvious we had similar goals here in the USA and also globally. I knew Nitto always had good tires as I have been competing against their other drivers for the past nine years, but after testing both the NT555 and NT05 I was very happy!" Vaughn shared. "Long story short, the partnership just made sense for both our plans—present and future. I have always respected Nitto's place in the market and especially their marketing initiatives and I'm pumped for the fun we are going to have together!"

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5.0 Tech Specs

Engine and Drivetrain
Block: Low-pressure cast 319 aluminum w/ pressed-in thin-wall iron liners
Crankshaft: Forged steel, fully counterweighted, induction-hardened
Rods: Powdered-metal forging, I-beam
Pistons: Hypereutectic, short-skirt flat-top w/ four equal valve reliefs; moly friction-reducing coating
Camshafts: DOHC w/ Twin Independent Variable Cam Timing
Cylinder heads: Four-Valve aluminum
Intake manifold: Molded composite w/ constant cross section and long runners
Fuel system: Mechanical returnless
Exhaust: Short-tube, S44100 stainless-steel Tri-Y tubular headers w/ stock midpipe and RTR axle-back
Transmission: Getrag MT82 six-speed manual
Rearend: 8.8-in w/ 3.73 gears

Engine management: Copperhead w/ Ford Racing Performance Parts calibration
Ignition: Coil-on plug
Gauges: Stock w/ RTR badging

Suspension and Chassis
Front suspension
K-member: Stock stamped steel
A-arms: Reverse L
Struts: FRPP adjustable w/ FRPP adjustable strut mount
Springs: FRPP w/ 1.5-in drop
Brakes: Stock w/ crossdrilled rotors
Wheels: Charcoal RTR, 19x9.5-in
Tires: Falken FK 453

Rear suspension
Shocks: FRPP
Springs: FRPP
Control Arms: Stock
Brakes: Stock w/ crossdrilled rotors
Wheels: Charcoal RTR, 19x9.5-in
Tires: Falken FK 453