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Summertime Bliss in a 2015 Ford S550 Ragtop Mustang
Delayed Performance: Summertime Bliss in a Blown and Bodacious S550 Ragtop
You’re looking at one of the earliest fitments of a Ford Racing/Roush M-6066-M8627 supercharger on an automatic S550. The R2300 TVS-based blower kit was installed by the crew at Classic Design Concepts (CDC) back in October 2014, in a mad rush to get the company’s wicked black drop-top powered up for the following month’s SEMA show. This despite the fact that said blower was then specifically listed by Ford Performance as being for manual-tranny GTs only. And they weren’t kidding. More on that in a minute.
We understand if you didn’t immediately notice that forced induction unit buried amidst what CDC calls its ‘Outlaw’ styling package for the S550. For 25 years now, CDC has been crafting great-looking and extremely high-quality Mustang visual enhancements, and the S550 Outlaw gear certainly continues that trend. Available for V-6, EcoBoost, and GT applications in either fastback or convertible form, the Outlaw paraphernalia can be bought either individually or as a complete serialized package from CDC directly or one of the company’s nationwide installers.
Looking head-on, you can’t help but spot the diagonal-mesh Outlaw grille with its (almost) triangular outboard openings. Beneath that grille is a chin spoiler that blends with complementing rocker-panel skirts, all fitted with separate “splitter” components (which are rather obvious on this car, as they’re painted in highly contrasting red). All are made of OEM-grade materials. Bracketing the rockers is a set of CDC’s new flow-forged aluminum Outlaw rims, in a healthy 20x10 inches at both ends of the car. These can be had in three outlawish colors: HiHo Silver as seen here, Gunsmoke Grey satin, or Bandit Black gloss. All feature masked-bandit center caps, and this car wears optional reflective red graphic inserts around the rim perimeters. CDC’s rear spoiler finishes off the tail, and, although nearly invisible in many of our shots, there’s also a matte black set of subtle stripes accenting the upper body character lines. Naturally the ragtop also wears one of CDC’s ubiquitous light bars.
To fully show off the fat rolling stock, a set of Steeda 1-inch lowering springs delivers the convertible’s hunkered stance, while Wilwood’s largest-available S550 brake kit takes advantage of that generous rim diameter with 15-inch, two-piece rotors clamped with six-piston calipers up front and an only slightly smaller 14-inch, four-piston setup out back.
Soundwise, CDC’s SEMA ragtop also received attention. First up is a full cat-back sport exhaust system with black 4-inch tips, said to be some 30 pounds lighter (and notably louder!) than the factory cat-back. This is only one of a huge array of S550 exhaust or muffler kits already offered by Ford Performance. For non-engine aural enhancement, CDC called upon Kicker for such sonic hardware as a quartet of 8-inch subwoofers, a trio of KX-series amps, a front-row signal processor, and KS-series component speakers. Believe us, this kickass Kicker gear can more than compete with the exhaust in the clean decibel department.
But let’s get back to that early marriage of supercharger and 6R80 automatic. So, CDC’s Outlaw ragtop arrived in Vegas on time for an attention-grabbing appearance at SEMA 2014, then went on to quite a few more shows and promotional venues up to the spring of 2015. Once the northern weather belatedly improved, we finally packed up our Canons and trucked off to Michigan for a feature photo shoot. Well, OK, our first photo shoot. We ended up making two trips to capture the Outlaw (photographically speaking). Why two? Because when we took our initial static shots, the ragtop was, well, pretty much static, owing to a lack of necessary recalibration to contend with the supercharger and its accompanying twin-60mm-bore throttle-body and 47-lb/hr injectors. Oh, it would start OK and idle around reasonably happily on its factory calibration, but any decent throttle tip-in whatsoever would immediately befuddle the electrons, causing the Coyote to turn all doggish. And the computer-commanded tranny would quite literally lose its mind. So as outlaws go, this one was, at that time, pretty mild-mannered.
The calibration team at Ford Performance, meanwhile, was working away on perfecting a tune for the unique demands of the S550 blower/automatic combo, one that would be 50-state legal and deliver OEM-quality drivability. That takes time. However, if you’ve ever lived with an ill-tempered blower calibration, you will appreciate the team’s diligence. Anyway, that calibration was finally delivered to CDC quickly, and we returned just a couple days later to capture some long-awaited smoke for our faithful readers. And to spend time in the Outlaw’s saddle.
Ford Performance says the roughly 9 psi of boost from the S550 blower kit will result in 627 hp and 540 lb-ft. Such numbers don’t begin to convey the startling performance this package delivers. An S550 GT convertible is hardly a flyweight, but this one now felt like it had dialed Jenny Craig and miraculously shed a couple tons. And anyone who worries that opting for an automatic S550 might hobble this supercharger’s effectiveness can rest easy. The 6R80’s electronically overseen (and recalibrated) shifts are fast and crisp without harshness, and acceleration is fierce and utterly linear in nature—no flat spots or running out of breath as the tach twists to the Coyote’s generous redline. Drivability? Just like the factory built it this way, thank you.
Lowered and with fat skins at each corner, the Outlaw handled so well it encouraged acts of civil disobedience, all while maintaining a completely civilized ride. There was one problem, however. This Outlaw’s look-at-me styling—in its original-Batmobile color scheme, no less—perhaps drew more attention than we wanted while storming around suburban Detroit’s byways. Much as we wanted to punch off the traction control and go all Ken Block on the neighborhood (all in the interest of journalistic thoroughness, of course), a rare bout of common sense overtook us. We backed off and headed back to the CDC shop contentedly reveling in the bliss of piloting a powerful, grippy, and great-looking Mustang convertible on a perfect summer day. And to think, we get paid for this.