Dale Amy
April 1, 2006
Is this any way to treat a SEMA show car? It is if you're Paul Svinicki, lead dog at Paul's High Performance and Honorary Zen Master of the Cult of the Brutal Launch. What the heck-this Ford GT-powered '06 only took 700-odd hours of PHP labor to engineer and put together. Besides, all those flying rubber molecules make great Michigan undercoating.

Horse Sense: The Ford GT's all-aluminum 5.4 uses two full sets of 33-lb/hr fuel injectors, the second eight gradually coming to life with boost pressure from the Eaton screw blower.

SEMA. This familiar acronym stands for the Specialty Equipment Market Association's annual shindig in Las Vegas, where every November the aftermarket rushes in to show off its latest wares, and where we automotive hacks are inexorably drawn like camera-toting moths to the bright lights and hot hype. Contrary to urban myth, we scribes go to the desert extravaganza not only to scam free dinners and ogle the showgirls, but also to unearth the latest and greatest parts and show 'Stangs, many of which naturally end up gracing these pages. Thanks to the galloping success of the S197, pickings have been good for us these last couple of years, what with the convention center being absolutely awash in trick late-model Ponies.

Lately then, in this vast indoor shining sea of new Mustangs, it has taken a lot to get noticed, something Paul Svinicki-the eponymous chief wrench, wheel-man, and check writer of Paul's High Performance-was certainly aware of when he put in a proposal to Ford to do a PHP SEMA project car based on an '06 V-6 Mustang. As you might imagine, FoMoCo has been inundated with such proposals for S197 Mustang "dollar cars" and is understandably selective when handing them out. The PHP plan, however, was sufficiently ambitious to merit a quick corporate nod, since it included nothing less entertaining than the replacement of the original six-banger with a blown, 5.4, dry-sump cammer straight out of the omnipotent, six-figure Ford GT. Paul wanted to do this special project to celebrate PHP's 10th anniversary.

We suppose the cynics among you might be questioning just how big a deal such a swap would be-the GT's 550hp screw-blown Four-Valve is just another modular Ford V-8, right? Yes, and King Kong's just another monkey. Paul reckons he and right-hand-man Karl Roekle invested about 200 hours on engine fitment alone, and it wasn't so much a question of bulk as accessories. Casting-wise, the GT mill is no larger than any other 5.4, and height-wise, Paul says he could have covered the blower with a stock hood. But remember, this powerplant was engineered for installation amidships, for remote oiling and cooling systems, and with a unique and wide front accessory drive setup. One of the first tasks was to modify the engine to accept a starter motor, since on a production Ford GT the starter is on the transmission bellhousing. They also had to reengineer the intercooler and oil-cooler systems.

Yes, that's a rare-as-hens'-teeth Ford GT 5.4, complete with two sets of factory injectors and a Fuel Injector Control Module just like the PowerStroke diesel's. The second set of squirters is brought online with boost. Ford claims (an underrated) 550 flywheel horsepower, which Paul hopes to nudge upward to about 650 to 700 at the wheels. It sure is sanitary the way PHP moved it rearward and hid the throttle body and 5-inch air inlet stuff behind a smooth firewall panel.

Though the stock '06 Mustang K-member was retained, it required extensive modification by PHP in order to place the engine some 2 inches rearward and about an inch down. Further mods were needed to relocate the steering rack an inch back and around 1.5 inches down. At the outboard ends, the stock Mustang spindles and lower control arm were retained, though Maximum Motorsports tie-rod ends were employed to tame bumpsteer. The drag brakes and front coilovers come from PHP's own catalog.

To make room for engine front dress, the coupe's number-one (radiator) crossmember was removed altogether, along with the attached front antiroll bar-no loss on a drag car-and the passenger-side sub-framerail notched for clearance. Nonetheless, a custom alternator-mount setup had to be fabricated on the driver side. Then there were the little matters of plumbing the atypical oiling and cooling systems. Although not rocket science, this was time-consuming simply due to the Ford GT's modular being factory configured for dry-sump lubrication and a remote coolant-heat exchanging. Routing a steering shaft also took a bit of thought, as did fabricating a set of headers/collectors that wouldn't bottom out on a grain of sand with the engine nestled so low in the chassis.

Compared with the engine, Paul's choice of transmission was compact and simple-a Super Comp C4 auto, by Performance Automatic, linked to the crank by the same company's torque converter, flexplate, and SFI-approved bellhousing. With the prodigious torque of the blown 5.4, converter stall speed was specified at just 3,200 rpm.

So far we've concentrated on the power production side, but you may also have noticed the rather generous slicks on the receiving end-29.5x13.5 to be precise, though 33x14s will fit-making room for which necessitated a few more labor man-hours. The "Platinum Pony," as PHP refers to the project, is thus a back-half car, with a tubbed four-link setup custom fabricated to PHP's measurements by Chris Alston's Chassisworks, based around Alston's Eliminator II architecture. The California firm also supplied rollcage components for the overworked PHP crew to finish off. The rear coilovers are Chassisworks' bump and rebound adjustable VariShock QuickSet2 units, and the axle housing is the company's FAB9, filled with Moser axles and a 3.89:1 gearset (again, gobs of torque and a conservative factory 6,650-rpm rev limit don't require steep cogs).

Time-wise, constructing any SEMA car seems to come right down to the deadline and this one was certainly no exception. Truth be told, PHP had to delay departure of Ford's Nevada-bound transport truck in order to get all the details squared away. Just how long they held it up seems to depend on whom you ask, but the overtime was worth it as the Platinum Pony earned the right to spend its SEMA time in Ford's own main display area-and you'd better believe that's some highly sought-after real estate.

Afterward, Editor Turner had us waiting like salivating dogs for a chilly mid-November photo shoot just as soon as the car returned to PHP's Jackson, Michigan, headquarters. With all Northern dragstrips closed for the season by that dark and dreary time of year, Paul had no chance to attempt any quarter-mile passes, nor was he particularly concerned about it. He figured the Michigan winter would afford him time to dial up boost by a couple psi and tune up the otherwise stock Ford GT cammer to, he hoped, somewhere in the region of 650 to 700 hp at the wheels. But fear not-with its show responsibilities out of the way, this thing will be right there in the staging lanes when the '06 drag season gets underway. And that sums up the basic premise of the whole project, which was to take the most powerful production engine Ford has ever made, tweak it a tiny bit, and see how quick it would go in a competent, consistent chassis. Weighing in at 2,680 pounds, we imagine that will be fairly quick. When it comes to acronyms, the Platinum Pony may have started at SEMA, but it'll spend far more time at places such as FFW, NMRA, and WFC. Go see it ASAP.

A project like this doesn't happen without a whole lot of help, and Paul is quick to thank the following businesses and individuals for making the Platinum Pony a reality: Ford Motor Company, AllStar Performance, Chris Alston's Chassisworks, Classic Design Concepts, Damage Inc. Custom Paint & Body, Mickey Thompson, Moser Engineering, Performance Automatic, Superchips Custom Tuning, Shields Premier Windscreens, Skinny Kid Race Cars, VFN Fiberglass, Weld Racing, Wilwood, Karl Roekle, Mike Sears, Jeff Stearns, Scott Baumgartner, John Eccleton, Al Enbody, Todd Rudolph, Steve Stratton, Pat Svinicki, and Eric Tracy.

5.0 Tech Specs
ENGINE AND DRIVETRAINRearend
BlockChassisworks FAB9, Moser
Stock '06 Ford {{{GT}}} 5.4axles, 3.89 gears
Bore 
Stock '06 Ford GT 5.4ELECTRONICS
StrokeEngine Management
Stock '06 Ford GT 5.4Ford GT with PHP/SCT reflash
DisplacementIgnition
Stock '06 Ford GT 5.4Stock '06 Ford GT 5.4
Crank 
Stock '06 Ford GT 5.4SUSPENSION AND CHASSIS
RodsFront Suspension
Stock '06 Ford GT 5.4K-member
PistonsModified stock
Stock '06 Ford GT 5.4Control Arms
Compression RatioStock
Stock '06 Ford GT 5.4Springs
CamPHP/Maximum Motorsports
Stock '06 Ford GT 5.4coilover
Rocker ArmsStruts
Stock '06 Ford GT 5.4PHP/Maximum Motorsports
Headscoilover
Stock '06 Ford GT 5.4Caster/Camber
IntakePHP
Stock '06 Ford GT 5.4Brakes
Throttle BodyPHP/Wilwood
Stock '06 Ford GT 5.4Wheels
Mass Air17x4.5 Weld A-Star
Stock '06 Ford GT 5.4Tires
InjectorsHoosier Pro Street
Stock '06 Ford GT 5.4Rear Suspension
Fuel PumpSprings
Weldon 2015Chassisworks VariShock
Headerscoilovers
PHP custom, ceramic-coatedShocks
mild steelChassisworks VariShock
Exhaustcoilovers
Bassani race mufflersControl Arms
TransmissionChassisworks four-link
PA Super Comp C4 autoBrakes
FlywheelPHP/Wilwood
PA SFI-approvedWheels
Driveshaft15x12 Weld A-Star
CustomTires
 {{{M}}}/T ET Drag 29x13.5x15