5.0 Mustang & Super FordsFeatured Vehicles
2006 Ford Mustang GT - Winner Takes All
An inside look at Old World Industries' wicked '06 GT--Pay attention, 'cause you could win it
Horse Sense: For a shot at winning Project Fire & Ice, go to your local AutoZone store or tune your browser to either splitfire.com or peakantifreeze.com for an entry form (between May 7 and July 1). We're envious; we can't enter.
Got a bad jones for an S197 GT, and nothing but dust in your wallet? Us too-but at least you have a chance to win one. Old World Industries, the corporate mother ship behind Peak antifreeze and SplitFire spark plugs, is offering you the chance to make off like a bandit with the pink slip of what began as a Performance White '06 GT coupe. The folks at Peak call it "Project Fire & Ice" (SplitFIRE, antiFREEZE-get it?). Clearly not just any old stock GT, this is indeed one trick Pony, thanks to an eye-popping list of performance and appearance modifications from Ford Racing Performance Parts, Classic Design Concepts, and SplitFire, along with the tireless efforts of the crew at Paul's High Performance, who made it somehow all come together over a fast-paced week last February.
Like a Wild West hanging judge, Ford Racing Performance Parts threw the book at this venture-literally. Most every part listed in the '06 FRPP catalog for an S197 GT was trucked westbound down I-94 from Dearborn to Jackson, Michigan, temporarily turning Paul's High Performance into an FRPP toy store. Some parts arrived that aren't even in the catalog yet-such as the long-rumored twin-screw supercharger kit that makes this giveaway GT far more than just a pretty face. The folks at Ford also shipped a prototype rear fascia, and our stylish friends at Classic Design anted up some additional tasty and high-quality body bits-all this so somebody out there can win one awesome and unique Mustang.
Until then, look for Fire & Ice to show up in plenty of Peak/SplitFire promotional material, as well as cruising on the Hot Rod Power Tour in June. Heck, we might even wheel it to an NMRA event or two. For all these public and advertising appearances, the revved-up GT has been fully wrapped in what amounts to a full-scale decal-much like a NASCAR 'Cup car-shamelessly promoting the Peak and SplitFire brands, along with the project's other partners, including your friends here at 5.0 Mustang & Super Fords. Of course, if you win it, you'll decide whether to leave the flamboyant vinyl wrap in place or peel it off for the understated look of the body-in-white, so to speak.
With such a desirable ride up for grabs, we thought it our civic duty to bring you a photographic option list of the Ford Racing and other cool hardware that came together as Fire & Ice, which made this the finest giveaway Mustang you're ever likely to encounter. So if you win it, you'll know exactly what's onboard. Frankly, there was such a stack of parts that went in, on, or under the spanking new GT that we'll have to spread our coverage over a couple of issues, even though we're making no effort to show you all the details of installation at Paul's High Performance. We'll just give the visual and technical highlights of a hard week's work by PHP's talented wrenches, Karl Roekle and Mike Sears. This month, we'll begin with some of the engine/powertrain goodies. Next time, we'll look at the exterior and interior mods, and peer underneath at the serious chassis hardware that results in Fire & Ice's muscular stance and massive stopping power.
In yet another upcoming issue, we'll show you in considerable detail the installation of FRPP's new and long-awaited screw blower on Fire & Ice. Yes, this supercharger does exist in both intercooled and non-intercooled form and, believe us, it was worth the wait. Full dyno results and driving impressions will be part of that deal, so stay tuned.
With that, it's time to get down to the business of showing you what you'll be driving home if your name is drawn to win Fire & Ice-better start working on those entry forms.
Major project partner Ford Racing Performance Parts has bundled together some interesting new packages for the S197 GT, including this one, simply called the Drag Pack (PN M-2005-FR2). With the quarter-mile in mind, 4.10 gears (and a gear installation kit not shown) set the tone. Also included are a 90mm cold-air kit, short-tube headers, a Hurst-sourced short-throw shifter, a Ford Racing high-performance oil filter, and a Pro-Cal tool loaded with a premium fuel calibration.
While flipping through the '06 FRPP catalog, you'll notice various kits for the S197 that bring along such a calibration tool. Each calibration is developed by Ford Racing to account for the specific hardware being installed. All require premium fuel for more aggressive timing strategies, and all carry CARB E.O. numbers, making their respective kits 50-state legal.
To complement the Drag Pack's headers, FRPP's cross-pipe goes by the number M-5251-R, is not yet in the catalog, and we think is crafted of 409 stainless. The Borla-built axle-back exhaust (PN M-5230-5GT) is of T304 stainless construction and shows off with 3.5-inch, Ford Racing-embossed polished tips.
With a blower soon to come onboard, we were glad to see Fire & Ice get Ford Racing's new all-aluminum radiator (PN M-8005-S197). Using OEM fan and mounting points, this piece is said to be thermally efficient up to 700 hp, and we have no reason to doubt that claim.
A little engine-bay dress-up never hurts-especially when it comes to the Three-Valve's decidedly industrial-looking stock cam covers-so FRPP sent along a set of chrome-look replacements (PN M-6582-C543V). If chrome's not your thing, they're also available in a blue, silver, or black wrinkle finish. The billet oil-fill cap cover (PN M-6766-MP46) has its Ford Racing logo painted in blue and red.
A cast-aluminum axle girdle has long been a staple of the FRPP catalog. The original version shown here will not quite clear the S197's Panhard bar, so a new, shallower version is being cast and will be available soon for the S197 8.8-inch.
With so much to do, it was difficult to know where to start, but it was decided to remove the complete rear-axle assembly and have it shipped to a driveline specialist for swapping out the factory 3.55 cogs in favor of the Drag Pack's 4.10s. With the axle due back in about 24 hours, PHP's Mike Sears and Karl Roekle jumped right in up front with the header swap.
Mike tackled the driver-side header, while Karl went after the passenger-side swap, and together they had the new pipes in place in just over an hour. Perhaps cheating a bit, they removed the engine-mount bolts and driver-side mount altogether, then lifted the engine straight up slightly to make some working room. The good news is, header swaps on a Three-Valve 4.6 are notably easier than on Two-Valve cars, and are a walk in the park in comparison to the Four-Valve.
Available with or without Jet-Hot ceramic coating, FRPP's unequal-length headers certainly look as if they should flow better than the factory cast-iron log manifolds. Ford Racing claims the full Drag Pack takes up to half a second off elapsed times.
The PHP guys took the same tag-team approach to the cam-cover swap. This is a simple process involving not much more than disconnecting the individual coil packs, moving some harnesses around, and unbolting the covers. We counted 15 bolts on the driver side and 14 on the passenger side.
It seems the factory tries to make the stock cam covers look as if they spent 10 years on a bulldozer (remember-this was a brand-new GT). Any one of the four available finishes on the FRPP replacements would be a huge visual step up.
On the passenger side, the plastic oil-fill tube is transferred to the new cover. FRPP's billet cap cover slips over the factory fill cap, secured with double-sided tape.
What's so special about FRPP's oil filter that comes with the Drag Pack and is also available separately (PN CM-6731-FL820)? Many of its features are special-not the least of which is 50 percent more filtering capacity than standard filters. It's also of high burst strength, it employs a special silicone anti-drainback valve, and it uses a nonstick sealing gasket (instead of rubber) for easier installation and removal.
Part of FRPP's Handling Pack, the details of which we'll show you next month, is a strut-tower brace that installs on the inner two studs on each tower. A parallel-beam design for rigidity, the brace is black powdercoated with a stainless Ford Racing logo plate in the center. It's also available separately as PN M-20201-S197. This piece is for the GT only; we're guessing it won't clear the V-6 intake.
FRPP's cold-air kit-that comes bundled in some of the packages, or is available separately as PN M-9603-GT05 for 3.55-geared GTs or PN M-9603-GT410 for 4.10 cars-mounts in the stock airbox location. It includes a 90mm aluminum mass air housing and retains the factory rubber inlet duct. There are distinct part numbers because, like any S197 cold-air setup, processor recalibration is required (and included), and each gearset calls for specific speedometer math.
The final underhood task-for now, at least-is fitting the FRPP radiator that thankfully uses all the factory mounting points, making it a bolt-in proposition. Anything that comes off to accomplish the swap, such as the fan pack Mike is removing here, goes right back in its stock location.
This is a telling comparison of the stock rad and its FRPP replacement. The new one has a core thickness of 2.25 inches, the old one maybe an inch.
As we said, all factory components-including the A/C condenser, power-steering reservoir, and coolant reservoir/overflow-bolt back in their stock positions. The only piece not yet back on in this photo is the plastic trim panel. Overall, this is a well-thought-out setup.
It should come as no surprise that the antifreeze of choice for Peak's Project Fire & Ice is Peak Long Life. This stuff is good for 150,000 miles or five years, and it mixes agreeably with any other coolant of any color.
Fitting FRPP's new cross-pipe involves unbolting the stock H-pipe, positioning the X on top, and marking the H-pipe for cutting. This is a quick operation, leaving all factory catalytic converters in place and functional.
For installation, the two, now separate, right and left banks of the former H-pipe are bolted loosely in place, the cross-pipe section is slid over top, then the intermediate pipes are clamped in place once everything is aligned and squared away. The stainless front clamps come with the cross-pipe.
FRPP's axle-back exhaust couldn't be any easier to install, and the cylindrical mufflers that proudly display the Ford Racing logo take up a lot less real estate and are considerably lighter than the stock mufflers. They produce Borla's trademark deep tone, accented no doubt by the headers and cross-pipe.
That's all for this month, and we close with this view of Fire & Ice's spiffed up underhood acreage-at least as it would have been had it stayed in naturally aspirated form. Almost as soon as we shot this image, however, the PHP boys started tearing it apart again for fitment of FRPP's new twin-screw supercharger. But that's a story for another issue.