Dale Amy
December 4, 2015

From the northern reaches of metro Detroit’s urban sprawl, the Ice Nine Group sends forth this compelling White Crystal tri-coat reminder that not all great Mustangs need a V-8 underhood. Yup, although it resembles some artful crossbreeding of a Shelby GT350R and a full-blown drift car, this wicked widebody started life as a 2015 EcoBoost fastback. That’s EcoBoost as in four cylinders and 2.3 liters. Ford’s overproducing little four-pot still lives between those broad fenders, but is now force-fed by a comparatively cavernous Garrett GTX3076R turbo, recommended by Garrett specifically for the horsepower and drivability goals of the project.

It all started with Ice Nine’s proposal to customize a “dollar” Mustang through Ford’s SEMA car program. Scores of such proposals are submitted to Ford every year, but scant few are accepted. It was Ice Nine’s established reputation for show-quality body and paint work—as well as the company’s proven can-do attitude and undeniable creativity—that earned it a chance at filling some highly sought after real estate in Ford’s own corporate display booth at SEMA.

For 2015, FoMoCo was determined to put the SEMA spotlight firmly on EcoBoost, not only because the torquey turbos have proven to be a sales success (through October, Ford had already sold an impressive 39,420 EcoBoost Mustangs) but also because such sales are a key component towards achieving the feds’ ever-tightening CAFE fuel economy numbers. This meant that most (perhaps all) Ford-sanctioned Mustangs at last November’s SEMA show were powered by just a quartet of pistons.

And so it was that, with very little time to spare, a new white EcoBoost manual fastback with the desirable Performance Package arrived at Ice Nine’s doorstep. It was go time. The crew immediately turned to the scroll scholars at Garrett for a recommendation on the most appropriate turbo in the company’s extensive lineup for this EcoBoost project, which has a rear-wheel horsepower goal of around 500. Garrett shipped over a ball-bearing, oil-, and water-cooled GTX3076R, targeted at engines between 1.8L and 3.0L. Ice Nine’s job was to figure out and fabricate the necessary ducting to plumb the new hairdryer not just to the engine but also to a Vortech front-mount Charge Cooler and blow-off valve. Oh, and that funny-looking little stack poking through the hood? It sends greetings from a TiAL wastegate. Downstream of the internally stock EcoBoost is a prototype Corsa Performance exhaust that terminates in Pagani Zonda–style stacked-quartet tips fabricated by the Ice Nine crew. At the moment the system lacks any form of muffler. You think turbo cars are quiet? Think again.

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Our photos can’t quite do justice to Ice Nine’s simultaneously wild yet somehow understated approach to this ride’s exterior. Well, OK; the mostly monochromatic, custom-mix BASF paint scheme that lacks any stripes or graphics is probably about where the understatement ends. The wildness starts with a multihued, LED-driven headlight setup (from Dynamik Illu51ons) that is guaranteed to get attention in any low-light settings. However, the wildest aspects come by way of a prototype set of RTR’s soon-to-be-released Spec 5 widebody flares, fastened on to try and enclose massive rubber: fully 305/30R20 up front and 315/35R20 out back. Your attention can’t help but be drawn to these skins, thanks mostly to the insane blue RTR Tech7 rims on which they’re mounted. These HRE-manufactured wheels are 10 1/2 inches wide on the nose and a full 12 inches under those w-i-d-e rear haunches. You can see that ice-blue theme repeated in everything from the car’s interior trim to its window tint and right on down to the cool “Ice 9” logo badge in the GT350 grille.

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As a result of other recent projects for Ford, Ice Nine had some spare GT350 and GT350R body, suspension, and brake parts taking up space in the shop, most of which were soon called into service for this build. The contour of the ‘R’ front fenders in particular necessitated some modification of the RTR flares to fit. What we’re getting at is that, even though the visuals are a striking combination of GT350R and Spec 5 components, this was hardly just a bolt-on operation.

Neither was fitting the enormous GT350 brake hardware, so don’t go thinking you can simply bolt the Shelby binders onto your 2015 Mustang without having to also fudge with front spindles, rear knuckles, wheel-speed sensors, emergency brake hardware, and various other adaptations. However, Keith Strong assures us that the results in stopping power and sheer good looks behind the wheel spokes are worth the effort.

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Looking inside, we see a cabin that is not only SEMA-worthy but will also be right at home on the street or track once the project’s show duties conclude. It combines EcoBoost Performance Pack and GT350R components with a Watson Racing bolt-in six-point cage and a rear seat delete kit from Ford Performance. Trim bits are flawlessly coated in the same matte blue as the wheels. Tucked within reach of the blue-stitched GT350R steering wheel is a Cobb V3 AccessPort, which combines ECU flash-tuning function with a fully customizable gauge package. We are sure the custom mapping functions will come in very handy in the upcoming dyno sessions to match the enormous boost potential of Garrett’s turbo to the specific tuning needs of the EcoBoost four-banger.

Overall a fantastic job, Keith. But put a muffler on this thing, will ya?

Projects like this don’t happen without a lot of support, so Keith would like us to give a shout-out to Ford Motor Company and Ford Performance, Vaughn Gittin Jr., Jess Albright, Brian Zorman, Shaun Day, Tim Farmer, Steve Denby, and Melvin Betancourt.

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