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).