Michael Galimi
July 25, 2017
Photos By: Kevin DiOssi

The ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle once said, nearly 2,400 years ago, “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” We highly doubt he was talking about Anthony Ballard’s 2014 Mustang GT, but the statement certainly applies to it. The 8-second street car has attracted a considerable amount of attention as Ballard chases the record for a 6R80-equipped vehicle. And while some internet critics will point to one thing or another for Ballard’s success, its truly a complete package that has enabled the Deep Impact Blue colored Mustang to traverse the quarter-mile in just 8.264 seconds with a high speed of 167.60 mph.

Building and racing a quick car like this one would seem like Ballard is a hardened race veteran when, in fact, the 2014 Mustang GT is just his second Mustang. The first one was a 1990 Mustang GT that his grandfather bought him but Ballard parted ways with it soon after. It was a decision he continues to regret but his current ride is filling that void and even led Ballard to open a specialty shop—Signature Speed. The S197 Mustang was modified from the start, first with the usual bolt-ons and eventually he discovered the wonderful world of boost. A VMP Performance supercharger was bolted on top of the Coyote and Ballard wielded a short-throw shifter in his right hand that was attached to a MT-82 six-speed transmission.

The six-speed was fun on the street but it was hampering the performance on the dragstrip. “It got to the point where the car was too quick for the six-speed manual,” commented Ballard. The solution came in the form of the 6R80, which is the Ford-supplied automatic transmission for that generation of Mustang. A trip to the local junkyard scored him a cheap transmission and some internet research netted the other required parts for the swap. Ballard was quick to mention, “It instantly went fast,” as the best times (in an eighth-mile distance) went from 6.80s down to 6.30s with the slush box.

Like all good projects, this one turned into a runaway freight train and the car soon became known as “The Guillotine.” A Livernois Motorsports engine was fastened between the frame rails to keep up with the increasing boost levels. The stock block features a Boss crankshaft, Manley I-beam connecting rods, and Diamond pistons. The stock cylinder heads were bolted back on and, initially, the VMP supercharger provided the boost. Fueling the potent engine combination is the job of a return style fuel system with three 270lph fuel pumps, larger fuel lines, and Injector Dynamics 1300 fuel injectors. The junkyard 6R80 was also rebuilt and upgraded with Exedy Racing Clutch clutch-packs and a TCS billet intermediate shaft.

Other parts that make up the Guillotine’s success on and off the dragstrip is in the suspension system, which he worked with BMR Suspension on perfecting. The factory front struts were ditched in favor of a set of Viking Crusader coilover struts, allowing Ballard to adjust the rebound and compression to help transfer weight rearward. The Mickey Thompson ET Street Radial Pro 275 tires are planted to the track surface by BMR double adjustable upper and lower control arms and relocation brackets. A BMR anti-roll bar keeps the body level at launch and Viking Crusaders double adjustable rear shocks combine with BMR springs to keep the rear planted and controlled.

Signature Speed began growing quickly as The Guillotine was garnering a significant amount of national attention, proving it is as much a marketing tool as it is a fun whip. A casual conversation, nearly two years ago, with BMR Suspension’s Kelly Aiken proved to be a pivotal one for both Ballard and Signature Speed. On Aiken’s advice, Ballard turned to the tuning talents of Ken Bjonnes and his new Palm Beach Dyno venture. “My car is successful because of Ken. He is by far the best tuner out there for this platform,” Ballard shared. He continued, “tuning the 6R80 is very difficult and there are only a few who can do it well at this level.”

The guillotine’s blade was dropped on the competition by the summer of 2016—8.80s with the blower became the norm and a whiff of nitrous was available for special occasions, allowing the Mustang to dip into the 8.60s. Hardly one to rest on his laurels, Ballard made the decision to add a larger 2.9L blower; the same one that comes standard on the 2016 Mustang Cobra Jet factory racecar.

If a little is good, then more is better—21 psi of boost enabled Ballard to run right into the 8.40s as soon as the 2017 racing season kicked off. The combination is far simpler to run than a turbo car of the same speed. “I leave off the foot-brake at 1,800 rpm,” shared Ballard. The combination of the tight Circle D 2C torque converter and the positive displacement blower seems to be easier on the drivetrain than a turbo setup, which runs a looser converter and needs a transbrake at this level of performance.

Looking to go quicker, Ballard and Bjonnes turned to Nitrous Express for a little extra horsepower in a bottle. An 80hp shot of juice brought output up to 1,130rwhp on Signature Speed’s chassis dyno. On track, the duo threw caution to the wind and swapped in the larger nitrous jet for a 200hp increase on top of the boost. They estimate Guillotine is generating 1,250rwhp on the bigger nitrous hit, but the ultimate truth meter is on the drag strip. Ballard laid down a career-best of 8.26 at 167 mph, just .05-seconds off the 6R80 record of 8.21 that Brett LaSala set nearly two years ago with a turbocharged S197. The team is confidant they will eclipse the record in the next outing as the Guillotine’s 8.26 was only the second full hit on the spray.

“I think people relate to my car because it is an off-the-shelf blower kit and the same 6R80 transmission, it is something they can build towards,” concluded Ballard. Taken piece-by-piece, the combination is a popular one but put it all together, like Ballard has done with Guillotine, and the whole is definitely way better than the sum of the parts.

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