A stock 5.0L has enough horsepower and torque to give the competition a run for its money without modification. Unlike the high-revving, turbocharged four-bangers common in rallying, this engine will probably not see much more than 5,000 rpm on stages, and it will not encounter failure as easily as the high-revving, heat-building, turbo four-cylinders. Except for the K&N filter the engine is stock. We did use a Griffin aluminum radiator intended for a 95 Cobra with a remote reservoir mounted on the driver strut tower. We then modified the upper and lower brackets on the radiator to allow our oil-cooler lines to pass through to the front 11-inch Griffin oil cooler. Two Spal electric fans cool both the radiator and the trans cooler, which are switched by the Corsa digital dash computer.
In order to keep the original production cosmetics of a true rally car, the stock dashpad was reused, and Pinnon Composites highly polished carbon fiber was inlaid into the stock instrument cluster, the radio compartment, and the passenger airbag areas. The interior is finished with rolled aluminum panels. An aluminum bulkhead was installed between the trunk and passenger compartment in case of fire. All the main switches controlling the pumps, the fans, and the critical off-road lights are mounted in the center of the interior dash. There are no fuses to blow on the critical systems; aircraft circuit breakers are mounted in the center below the switches for quick resetting and isolation of circuits.
Night driving is possible only with the multiple PIAA lights. We trimmed down a fiberglass light podintended for a Mitsubishi Evo rally carto fit the lines on a Cervinis Auto Designs Cobra R hood. The pod is mounted to the hood with five Dzus fasteners. Mounted to this pod are four dual-beam, racing series PIAA lights. The lenses are made to project a flat beam on low beam (to cut through the dust) and produce a wide driving beam. When the light is switched to high beam, the lenses produce a pencil beam for high-speed driving. Four additional PIAA lights, which provide cornering lighting when the car is in a slide, are mounted to a removable lightbar.
Other than the lighting and Cervinis hood, the body was left mostly stock, including the GT rear spoiler and GT bumper covers. Two roof-mounted vents intended for a Kenworth diesel sleeper provide cooling to the driver and co-driver without bringing in dust. Flipping the vents to the rear provides cross ventilation during winter conditions. Mike McComas Auto Body, in Hemet, California, sprayed the eye- catching, multi-color paint job.
During a race, the driver and navigator are too busy to monitor gauges. A multichannel display (center of dash above switches) by Corsa Instruments notes the cars critical temperatures and pressures. In its race mode, when a temp or pressure channel falls below its parameter, the Corsa dash will alert the driver and navigator there is a problem. At the end of a race stage, the unit will give a playback of the low and high temps and pressures.
A 15-gallon Fuel Safe fuel cell is mounted in the original backseat area, with the weight of the cell just forward of the rearend. The cell has a corner collector secondary tank inside with check valves to prevent any fuel starvation problems in tight corners and over bumps. The cell supplies two Aeromotive inline fuel pumps mounted in the trunk all plumbed with -8 supply and -6 return Aeroquip lines and fittings. An Aeromotive fuel-injection billet EFI adjustable fuel regulator is mounted on the passenger-side front strut tower. It feeds two Aeromotive fuel rails.
Replacing the stock braking system are Wilwood four-piston Superlite calipers intended for a 93 Mustang and requiring 93 spindles. The 12.19-inch, cast-iron rotors mount to the billet aluminum hats on the front and rear. They create the perfect combination to sit inside these 16-inch wheels from Performance Wheel Outlet. The stock master cylinder, the vacuum assist, and the antilock equipment was also removed. Wilwood dual master cylinders were mounted to the firewall close to the stock location. Meanwhile, the stock pedal assembly was replaced with a Wilwood single-pedal box with a remote bias control, allowing the driver to change the amount of pressure distributed to the front and rear brakes for varying road conditions.
I was looking for a different challenge in racing. I knew rallying was catching on throughout the world, and after watching a race on television I quickly became enamored with the idea. Soon thereafter I attended my first ProRally race at Rim of the World held in Palmdale, California. I was hooked. I knew this was what I wanted to do. After Rim of the World, I enrolled in a ProRally school to obtain my license.
Now, I have never been one to do things the normal way. I was told many times by the instructors at my ProRally school to buy a used, prepared rally car and learn with it. Little did anyone know, I was planning on building an American-made, normally aspirated V-8 Mustang.
It was apparent this was a racing series with the majority of the field cars built in Japan or Europe. I was amazed that American cars were nearly nonexistent. In fact, the American entries comprised less than 5 percent of the field. I was also surprised to witness the torture a rally car is put through. The attrition ratio was high, especially with these foreign-car entries.
With the availability and relative low cost for aftermarket parts, a Mustang seemed to be a viable alternative. The problems with Japanese and European cars are the expense it takes to make horsepower and torque, and how to put the horsepower to the ground without damaging the stock drivetrain. The dollar signs quickly rise when you start changing engines, gears ratios, transmissions, and drivelines on any car. So I took advantage of the healthy Mustang aftermarket to build a rally car on a budget.
Horse Sense: When racing on asphalt, a rally car's brakes are set much like those of a road-racing car with a lot of front-brake bias. In conditions where the roads are dirt or gravel, the brakes will be set up with less front-brake bias, and more neutral or more rear braking, depending on the driver's style.