Eric English
August 1, 2005

To the naysayers of the '05 Mustang, we have a poignant message to send-sit down, shut up, and take a long, hard look. The car spread before you is nothing less than a stunning example of the present and future of Ford's illustrious ponycar, and a clear sign of the good times that lie ahead. Put to rest those concerns about Ford's decision to find inspiration in its past, because H&R has stirred up a combination that should have enthusiasts of all ages falling hook, line, and sinker. You like the heritage lines that recall the heyday of the '60s? They're fully intact. Prefer a thoroughly modern machine that takes a back seat to no one in terms of attitude, style, performance, and potential? Look no further.

If you recall our coverage of the fall '04 SEMA show in Las Vegas, then you're likely cognizant of the fact that the new Mustang was the featured vehicle of the exhibition. As such, the world got its best glimpse of modified '05s to date, with a variety of manufacturers presenting their spin on how to turn a great shape into a veritable show stopper. Standing tall amongst the crowd was this effort from German suspension manufacturer H&R, who left the scene toting an Outstanding Achievment in Design award bestowed by none other than Ford Motor Company.

H&R President Roland Graef explained that after several Ford-based SEMA ventures in the past, it was natural to put together a new Mustang GT to display his company's wares, which will include more items for the '05 than were offered for any previous Mustang platform. With a new GT delivered to H&R's stateside facility in Bellingham, Washington, a scant month before SEMA, the work immediately ramped up to high speed and was finished mere hours before the transporter rolled up for the ride into Sin City.

H&R's European heritage dictated against anything along the lines of a traditional vintage theme here-i.e. Boss, Shelby, Mach, and so on-no doubt Ford itself will score numerous victories in this genre. What you see has elements of the DTM series European sedan racing, WRC rallying, and even some cues that recall Ford of Europe's road race Capris. Of some surprise is a first that we can recollect on a Mustang-a roof scoop that is more commonly associated with rally cars and mid-engine exotics such as Saleen's S7. Depending on the car, cool air from such a scoop may be directed to the engine or the cockpit, with the intent clearly for the latter in this instance. Truthfully, the scoop doesn't function in this application despite the dummy HVAC registers nestled in the headliner, but that doesn't detract from the craftsmanship exhibited in the English wheel-formed sheet metal-work credited to H&R's talented neighbor Chuck McCoy of Camtec. When H&R and Ford were discussing the project prior to launch, Dearborn asked H&R to come up with some different ideas, and we'd guess the roof scoop surely qualifies.

As it turns out, Camtec did a lot more than just fabricate the roof scoop-it also got the call for the rollcage, rear-seat delete, front splitter/spoiler, and adjustable rear wing. The trick-looking spoiler is built from ABS and may see later production in fiberglass and/or carbon fiber. Unfortunately, there are no such plans to mass market the rear wing, which is inspired by the previously mentioned DTM racers, and sports aluminum end pieces with twin, adjustable carbon-fiber horizontal sections.

The unique exterior statement is aided by the kind of modern rolling stock that fills wheelwells to the brim. Tire Rack-sourced SSR GT10s-measuring in at an impressive 19x9.5-inches in front and 19x11-inches out back-help deliver the Euro/road-race look H&R was gunning for. Offsets were specified particularly for the application and allow for the 275/35 and 305/35 Pirelli PZero Rosso rubber. Clearly visible through the lightweight wheel centers are the powerful Baer brakes, sporting an over-the-top Extreme Plus kit up front. Massive six-piston calipers put serious clamping force to the 15-inch two-piece rotors, while in the rear, we find factory calipers paired with oversized 13.5-inch discs.

Suspension components are clearly H&R's claim to fame, and we found a number of interesting pieces as we eyeballed its '05 where the sun doesn't shine. H&R Race springs are responsible for the GT's competition-like stance, and they are teamed with the company's new sway bars for optimal handling. In the prototype stage was a pair of titanium control arms and Panhard bar-all with spherical bushings that are still being evaluated for production purposes. H&R also explained that coilover setups are in the works and will be available in the near future.

A peek inside the cockpit finds all the trappings of a high-end show car, from subtle neon to Alcantara suede-covered door and side-trim panels. Camtec did itself proud in the area formerly occupied by a rear seat, now displaced by the rollcage, package shelves, and a Pioneer 10-inch subwoofer assembly. The rest of the sound system is comprised of Pioneer and Scosche componentry, but we'd keep those sounds in balance with the throaty call of the new Flowmaster 60-series muffler kit with 4-inch embossed stainless tips. The new pipes are the only breathing modification in place at the moment, as we nabbed H&R's new ride before installation of its Vortech SQ blower-touted as adding 100 horses to the Three-Valve SOHC in non-charge-cooled form, and even more in High Output charge-cooled mode. Since we've already seen 280-rear-wheel numbers on stock '05 Wednesday cars, the Vortech should definitely make the revised 4.6 modular an exciting ride.

In the end, we found ourselves highly impressed with H&R's vision for the '05 Mustang, which comes off looking right from every angle. We find it visual proof that the new Mustang is far more than a rehash of old glories, and frankly makes us ponder the following: Were our memories erased of all the Mustang silhouettes in history, would this not be considered inspired and out-of-the-box design? Not sure? Maybe it's time to check out some true 21st century style as evidenced by the Pontiac GTO, Mitsubishi Lancer, or Scion xB. Let these thoroughly modern shapes sink in awhile, and we predict you'll come running to embrace Mustangs such as the H&R GT with a whole new appreciation. We're already there.

More To ComeH&R is currently up and running for the '05 Mustang with a variety of conventional coil spring packages, and as President Roland Graef explained, complete coilover setups should be available sometime this summer. H&R's conventional offerings are identified using the company's traditional Sport, Super Sport, and Race terminology. Sport springs are intended primarily for street driving, maintaining excellent ride characteristics even with the factory strut/shock package, while dropping ride height approximately 1 inch up front and 51/48 inch in the rear. Super Sport springs offer somewhat stiffer spring rates and a drop of 131/44 inches at all four corners, making them a favorite among the in-the-weeds crowd. Race springs are likely the ideal package for the more track oriented and street performance enthusiast, and are the coils featured on the '05 GT seen here. Race springs provide an approximately 111/42-inch drop up front, and 111/44-inch in the rear, and are suggested to be paired with upgraded struts and shocks to best complement the increased spring rates.

In addition to the spring thing, H&R's '05 carried a couple other noteworthy items that fall into the new product and potential new product limelight. In production form were a new sway bar pairing built from high-tensile-strength 50CrV4 steel, featuring hot-forged ends and Teflon-lined bushings. The show car bar dimensions were 38 mm in front and 25 mm in the rear, and this combination will soon be joined by another matched set with a slightly different performance envelope in mind. A bit further from production were the prototype titanium control arms and Panhard bar, which we ogled on the company demonstrator. Equipped with spherical rod ends at all mounting points, these two products are planned for production at a future date. Stay tuned!

My, What Big Claws You Have!It doesn't take but a moment of perusing the H&R '05 before you notice the massive binders not-so-hidden behind 19-inch wheels. We figured removal of the SSR forgings up front would behold Baer's impressive new monoblock six-piston calipers, but Baer's Todd Gartshore explained the H&R car went together before the new calipers were in production. As such, H&R's setup is more or less a prototype, featuring what has been the Baer standby in the Extreme Plus line heretofore-Baer emblazoned Alcon six-piston units. Out back, the stock calipers are paired with 13.5-inch two-piece rotors, smaller versions of the pie-plate-sized 15-inch fronts.

Todd went on to explain what Baer has in store for owners of the new '05. Top of the line would be an understatement for the Extreme Plus fronts, which now include the ultra-stiff Baer one-piece six-piston calipers, 15x1.25-inch two-piece rotors, braided lines, pads, and high-quality mounting hardware. The cost for ultimate Mustang front brakes will ring up a retail price of $2,750-a good deal less expensive than the former Alcon-equipped kits. Obviously, more affordable to the masses is what is known as the Eradispeed Plus 2 kit, essentially a big rotor upgrade retailing for $608.33 at each end of the car. Both front and rear sport slotted and drilled 14-inch, two-piece rotors with aluminum hats, the front featuring a 1.185-inch thickness, the rear measuring in at 0.75 inch. Critical to the whole affair are new cast anchor brackets that properly locate the factory calipers to the big discs. It's a good guess to figure such brakes will require something larger than the stock GT 17-inch rims, but the bigger question may be possible compatibility with an 18-inch factory option come 2006. Baer's Eradispeed Plus 2 kits should be available by the time you read this.

Tech SpecsEngine And DrivetrainEngine Stock 300 hp, Three-Valve 4.6Fuel System StockExhaust Stock w/Flowmaster 60-series mufflersPower Adder Vortech SQ in the worksTransmission Stock Tremec 3650 five-speedRearend Stock 8.8 w/3.55 gears

Electronics Engine Management StockIgnition StockGauges Stock w/Auto Meter tach

Suspension And Chassis Front Suspension K-member StockControl Arms StockSprings H&R RaceStruts StockBrakes Baer Extreme PlusWheels SSR GT10, 19x9.5-inTires Pirelli PZero Rosso, 275/35-19Rear Suspension Springs H&R RaceShocks StockControl Arms Prototype H&R titaniumPanhard Bar Prototype H&R titaniumBrakes Baer 13-in rotors w/stock calipersWheels SSR GT10, 19x11-inTires Pirelli PZero Rosso, 305/35-19Chassis Stiffening Rollcage by Camtec