Ro McGonegal
April 22, 2016
Photos By: Bill Green

Here’s a story a little different from the usual. Having worked his way through a spectrum of Ford products in his 49 years, Rick Marion’s portfolio numbered a 1969 Mach 1, a few 1969 and 1970 iterations, then 1985, 1987, 1995 GTs, an 2002 Saleen, 2012 and 2013 GT500s, and a couple of Lightnings. He thought he knew what to look for and what to expect.

Marion had special-ordered a 2013 GT500, and after rowing it for nearly two years he decides that his left knee had had enough abuse. He couldn’t fathom disrupting the happy original equipment scene by swapping out the six-speed, so he finds a leftover 2014 GT automatic and takes it to Fastlane Motorsports in Benson, North Carolina, for an all-inclusive Stage III conversion—more power and torque, upgraded suspension, larger rims, bigger and stickier tires, and distinctive modifications to the interior and exterior.

Clearly Marion was in a hurry. Straightaway, he tooled it 30 miles or so from his home in Fuquay Varina down to Benson, including the trip, the odometer racked just 300 miles. Fastlane’s owner Melvin Skinner pulled the 5.0L out, stripped it down, and gave it the “competition build.” Shop foreman and tuner Skinner kin Caleb proceeded to map out and design everything else specifically with the intention of it being a Fastlane display for 2015 Mustang Week in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

Power first, so Skinner prepped the motor with a Boss 302 forged crankshaft, Eagle connecting rods, Diamond 10.0:1 pistons, TSS billet oil pump gears, and ARP hardware. For Stage III, the heads were ported, polished, and upgraded with Ferrea valve springs, guides, and keepers. With an aggressive tune or forced induction, experience has revealed a potential cooling problem for the No. 8 cylinder. To remedy, Fastlane installed a Modular Mustang Racing kit that linked the backside of the cylinder heads via a fitting on each connected by a simple push-on hose.

In order to produce more than the GT500’s crankshaft 662 hp and 631 lb-ft, Skinner specified a 2.9L Kenne Bell Mammoth with a 5-inch-diameter cold air inlet with a SLOT-MAF sensor and included 80-lb/hr injectors, two Fore Innovations S550 submersible pumps, and an Aeromotive A-1000 auxiliary pump locked at 50 psi. The charge air moved through a KB air-to-air aftercooler to the 168mm single-blade throttle-body. To cool the fuel charge and stave detonation, Fastlane plumbed in a Snow Stage 2 methanol kit along with a Kenne Bell Boost-A-Pump that produced 75-100 percent more voltage across the spectrum. Black gases are extracted by Kook’s stainless steel 1 7/8-inch primary tubes, merging with a 3-inch system, off-road H-Pipe, and corresponding over-the- axle cat-backs. Caleb Skinner tuned the package through the stock ECM. In all, he coaxed the collective, at 18 psi of boost, to yield 747 hp and 575 lb-ft of torque at the tires.

Marion shucked the Tremec in favor of the six-speed automatic in the 2014 car. He didn’t see the need for further enhancement, so the most it gets is a 9 3/4-inch-diameter Circle D torque converter fixed with a 3,200-stall speed. We’ll see how long it keeps tight tolerance under pressure.

A lively engine needs supreme ancillaries to extract full potential. To that end, Fastlane applied minimal suspension philosophy, but the stock upper and lower control arms as well as the shock absorbers and antisway bar stay put; the springs were swapped for Steeda Ultra-Lite coils that drop the front of the car 1 1/4 inches. Back where the action is, Steeda supplied another batch: Ultra-Lite coils (1 1/2-inch drop) sandwiched by Steeda billet lower and double-adjustable upper links and framed by a 1 1/4-inch antisway bar. Steeda LCA relocation brackets, Panhard rod, and shock tower brace complete the rehab.

Big rubber surrounds it all: 20-inch Vossen CV7 pressure-cast hoops measure 9 and 11 inches, respectively. Since we are going to rip asphalt with this car all the way to the horizon, Marion chose 275/35 rubber for pointing and 315/30 stickies out back for smoking. How to stop the madness? Rick presses down firmly on Brembo speed burners: GT500 six-piston on 15-inch rotors and two-piston on 14-inch rotors.

Fastlane hopped on the Sterling Gray coupe’s exterior, buffing it out with a Ford Racing tow ring, an RTR decklid and license plate panel, a CDC Performance upper grille section, a Roush lower grille delete, a Cervini Cobra R hood, a Stillen front lip, and a GT500 rear. Roush side splitters comprise the ground-effects mumbo jumbo. To top it off, Bobby Starks laid down the coveted offset Fastlane stripe on the hood, roof, decklid, and bumper and sealed it with Axalta ChromaPremier basecoat and 7900 clearcoat.

Since the GT is rife with pertinent and useful interior features, the only changes were the Corbeau LG1 seats and a FRPP gauge pod and Premium gauges. When Marion is in that bucket, he feels more than 700 hp through the automatic, an experience precluded by a 1.6-second 60-foot on 20-inch drag radials, 10.30-second elapsed times, and 130-mph trap speeds. That might be nasty but it’s certainly not cold.

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