Ro McGonegal
February 12, 2016
Photos By: Peter Linney

Officially it is known as the Galpin Rocket Speedster, the subjective twin of the Galpin Rocket Coupe. It was introduced last August at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance in Monterey. Maybe it even got within fender-rubbing distance of its namesake Porsche 956 Speedster. Or maybe not.

Ostensibly a product of Galpin’s Auto Sports (GAS) niche workshop, the Speedster is not one of its fiberglass wide-body conversions. It celebrates sophisticated carbon fiber construction, mainly the entire front and rear clips, and although Auto Sport is good, they hadn’t the expertise of the people at GMFI Metalcrafters in Fountain Valley, California.

First the backstory. Metalcrafters is directed by CEO Mike Alexander, who made his bones as a car customizer in the halcyon days of the Fifties and Sixties. In 1957, he and his brother Larry refined their body and fender expertise into something quite unique east of the Mississippi, a gritty phenomenon really, as California was king of the customizers then.

To keep the Speedster from looking like a big red Popsicle, Galpin’s president Beau Boeckmann availed himself of renowned designer Henrik Fisker (whose portfolio includes the Aston Martin DB9 and Vantage and BMW Z8), a limited production car-maker (Karma extended electric and the Force 1 V10 Coupe introduced at the 2016 Detroit Auto), and the head of Ford Motor’s Global Advance Design Studio.

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Inspiration came from a slew of Sixties and Seventies Mustangs, the 1967 and 1968 Shelby GT500 chief among them and a favorite of both the principals. Beyond the twin air intake scoops on the carbon fiber hood were a slew of slots on the nose to accommodate fresh-air intake and cooling and a gaggle of lights swedged into the folds. Though the nose cone on Fisker’s car is exaggerated, when you check out the original GT500 those same lights, scoops, and notches are right there. The 21st century mind requires that they be larger, bigger, better—that’s all. Wretched excess at its finest. But there’s more to it: a number of key aerodynamic elements to channel airflow for cooling and downforce.

To create the Speedster illusion, you need to cover the rear seats with a stylish piece of carbon fiber. “When I was designing the Speedster cover,” says Fisker, “I gave it extreme sculpture and dynamic lines that flows with the muscular body of the Rocket and created a new interior graphic to go with it.”

We know that bad hair is still a real concern in an open car for anyone not sporting a buzz cut. To reduce air turbulence, the Speedster cover air outlets are equipped with an integrated mesh directly behind the occupants, allowing air to pass smoothly over the redesigned lower rear deck and leave the poof alone.

While the Speedster has the same mechanicals as the Rocket Coupe, it differs in one main area. Since it projects a somewhat softer aura (top down, wind in hair, that stuff), this Speedster is fitted with the Ford 6R80 six-speed automatic (4.17:1 Low and 0.87:1, 0.69:1 Fifth and Top gears). Paddle shifters make it all that much easier to zing the motor up and down the scales. The regular production order Performance Package includes a 3.55:1 gearset orbiting a Torsen differential. Another thing pertinent to the Performance Package is the 15-inch Brembo brakes, which include 13-inch rear brakes and a single caliper. But GAS likes things squared up, so it put 15-inch companion Brembos on the rear axle as well.

Setting the correct stance is important. The Mustang’s original double ball-joint MacPherson strut in league with an integral-link independent suspension is amended with CorteX Racing coilovers. The OE tubular front and solid rear antisway bars remain intact. In the matter of the crucial rim and tire selection, Galpin used Henrik Fisker–designed (HF) three-piece modular ADV.1 wheels. As per the coupe, the front wheels are 21x10 with 275/35 Pirelli PZERO rubber; the rear rollers are 21x12 with a 325/30 tire.

As intended, the 5.0L produces 435 hp at 6,500 rpm and 400 lb-ft at 4,250 rpm. That did not spin anybody’s bow tie fast enough, so the crew chose a 2.9L supercharger, an air-to-air intercooler, larger injectors, a boost controller, enhanced fuel delivery, and 10 psi of positive manifold pressure. GAS added Bassani long-tube stainless steel headers and trailed them with a corresponding 3-inch-diameter stainless system. The outcome was approximately 725 hp bearing on a curb weight of 3,852 pounds—an outcome deemed successful.

Since most buyers of this limited-production automobile will likely be alpha dogs, they will appreciate a plush, elevated interior that wants for nothing. GAS kept the premium sports seats but swathed them in Dani Leather/Alcantara suede. It painted the dashboard the same color as the body that Metalcrafters had previously anointed with a Fisker-created “custom red.” It laid down the “Rocket” sill plates and stepped away. No big-deal audio system. No cathode ray tube. No chardonnay tap.

Nothing left to do but drop the top (and leave it there forever), do the one-foot pedal dance, and head west for the edge of America just as the sun melts into the Pacific.

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