5.0 Mustang & Super Fords
2003 HPA Ford Mustang - Northern Expression
We Sneak Across The Border To Capture HPA Motorsports' Mustang Vision-The Sleek, Powerful FT-402
Geography time. On the Pacific Coast of Canada lies British Columbia, a geographically varied province that simultaneously encompasses at least two serious mountain ranges (including the Rockies), untouched wilderness the size of assorted small countries, a smattering of permanent ice fields and glaciers, vast expanses of rich agricultural land, and-by Canadian standards, anyway-a car-crazy subculture in the province's southwestern coastal area surrounding the postcard-picturesque city of Vancouver. From this western outpost of automotive civilization comes the equally picturesque FT-402 Mustang, sufficiently enticing that we sent our West Coast photo-meister John Thawley on a cross-border raid to capture its image.
The '03 GT-based FT-402 is a creation of HPA Motorsports. Well, sort of. We here in Mustang circles can be forgiven if the name "HPA Motorsports" doesn't exactly strike a familiar chord, since the company's main gig is hot-rod Volkswagens, most notably an all-wheel-drive, twin-turbo R32 Golf that lays claim to no less than 409 rear-wheel horsepower and 3.2-second 0-60 times. But that's a story for another magazine.
So how did a shop with a penchant for hotted-up German compacts come to construct a nasty New-Edge Mustang? Well, it seems that somewhere along the line, HPA's project-car talents became known to Ford of Canada, resulting in a series of HPA-built Ford show cars, including our subject GT, a T-bird, and an Escape. But this Ford/HPA relationship actually began with an '00 Focus, originally prompting the creation of a separate corporate venture known as Focus Tuning, simply to differentiate the Ford side of the business from the VW side. Since then, this HPA/Ford relationship has flourished to the point where HPA's owner, Marcel Horn, has recently merged Focus Tuning into a brand-new entity known as Ford Performance Development, in recognition of its rather diverse Ford-related offerings. In the meantime, however, all Marcel's Blue Oval projects were prefixed with the initials "FT," for Focus Tuning (or maybe we could think of it as "Ford Tuning"), finally explaining at least half of why this car is called the FT-402.
The "402" part of its name alludes to the number of rear-wheel horsepower on tap at the time of John's photo shoot, but that too has changed thanks to a smaller blower pulley on the car's Vortech SQ, and a little tickle of nitrous courtesy of the folks at NX. The car is now labeled FT-470, in recognition of its current power level.
But even if it were bone stock underhood, the FT would still be feature-worthy for other reasons, not the least of which is its visual presence, which we would characterize as aggressively purposeful without being boy-racerish. A lot of this has to do with the functional yet understated in-house-designed front fascia with its generous air openings directing cool air to the Vortech Power Cooler's air-to-water heat exchanger. The look is accentuated by Classic Design Concepts' grille eliminator, while the Shelby-esque impression of the twin stripes-which broaden as they head rearward-works well with the similarly hued headlight surrounds. CDC also supplied the rockers and side exhausts, the Shaker scoop, and the rear Aeroshield.
The other striking aspect of the car's appearance is how the tire/wheel package seemingly fills every available milli-meter of those generous New Edge wheelwells. This is a result of Marcel having HRE craft up 18-inch, three-piece rims in a custom offset and fitting them with Toyo T1S rubber, 245/40 in size up front and 285/35 out back. Behind the front wheels are 325mm (12.8-inch) rotors from Hyperformance, clamped by Brembo six-piston calipers as found on the twin-turbo Porsche Cayenne. Rear rotors are also slotted, and PBR Metal Master pads are used at all four corners.
Of course, the lowered stance helps too, and this is where Marcel takes further advantage of the European connections he developed from working in Volkswagen circles. His FT-402 was used to develop a set of Mustang coilovers from KW of Germany (he is also president of KW North America) so that ride height could be precisely tailored. Rear height is adjustable from a 1-inch drop to no less than a 231/44-inch drop. Despite the proximity of tire to fenderwell at its photographed altitude, Marcel tells us there is absolutely no rubbing.
This Euro connection continues in the cabin where, rather than the almost obligatory Auto Meter instrumentation, we find VDO gauges instead (if you squint, you might see the secondary digital display on the tach face). The MS 5100 GPS system and the MM5000 color widescreen also come from VDO/Dayton, but the rest of the entertainment system is all Sony, comprised of a CDX-MP70 head unit, an MTX 5732 speaker system, an MTX Thunder 4405 amp, and an MTX Thunderform 6000A 10-inch subwoofer system.And, once again following current European trends, the Sparco Milano buckets as well as the rear seats are skinned in grippy Alcantara instead of cloth or leather.
In all, the project seems to have been an act of passion for Marcel, who, despite the undeniable success of the Euro-car side of his business, has had an enthusiast's soft spot for the Mustang for as long as he can remember. Proving yet again that the Mustang's appeal crosses all borders, whether national or philosophical.
|5.0 TECH SPECS|
|ENGINE AND DRIVETRAIN|
|Intake||Stock, w/CDC Shaker scoop|
|Headers||JBA ceramic-coated short tube|
|Exhaust||CDC side exit|
|Power Adder||Vortech HO SQ w/aftercooler|
|Engine Management||EEC V|
|Gauges||VDO white-face gauges, VDO/Dayton GPS navigation|
|CHASSIS AND SUSPENSION|
|Brakes||Hyperformance 12.8-in rotors, Brembo 6-pot calipers|
|Wheels||HRE 446, 18x8.5, custom offset|
|Tires||Toyo T1S, 245/40ZR18|
|Brakes||Slotted stock rotors, PBR Metal Master pads|
|Wheels||HRE 18x10, custom offset|
|Tires||Toyo T1S, 285/35ZR18|