Dale Amy
April 18, 2007
Just about everything you see here is available through Classic Design Concepts, so there's no reason your S197 can't look this fine. The exceptions are the funky headlight/bucket assemblies. CDC currently has no plans to put these into production.

Horse Sense: Stock, CDC's convertible put 272.5 hp to the wheels of the PHP Dynojet. After fitting the H.O. blower and performing fastidious tuning, this number leapt to 511. That's an impressive 87 percent increase in horsepower.

We admit, it's a Pavlovian response. Every time we hear about Classic Design Concepts whipping up a SEMA-bound Mustang, we start sniffing around, cameras in our paws, and salivating like the Russian physiologist's infamous canine subjects. It's simple association: If CDC builds a Mustang project, it will be a tasty, drool-worthy one. For 2005's SEMA show, the crew from Walled Lake, Michigan, took an understated approach, at least by their standards. They started with an '06 Tungsten Grey convertible-a subtle but appealing hue that doesn't scream out for immediate arrest. Even so, the presence of a 'cooled centrifugal supercharger and CDC's visual embellishments onboard certainly doesn't rule out the possibility of a constabulary encounter.

Paul's High Performance got the call to install and tune Vortech's polished V-2 S-Trim centrifugal. This is Vortech's H.O. kit, meaning it's charge-cooled. When all is said and done, 511 hp ended up at the wheels. It also melds with CDC's Shaker setup as if made for it.

One of the benefits of this occupation is that in the process of shooting such a knockout vehicle, we often get some seat time. In CDC's case, owner George Huisman insisted that we show his creation no right-foot mercy, following his own philosophy that a rear-drive automobile does its best work while partially sideways. We feel it is our duty to report that a Vortech-blown S197 GT does not in any way, shape, or form require the way-too-steep 4.10 gearset that somehow found its way into this project's rearend pumpkin. It makes for boisterous entertainment though, in a thank-goodness-I-don't-have-to-buy-the-tires kind of way.

Speaking of the Vortech, we like the way it's been seamlessly integrated into CDC's Shaker assembly, lending the whole engine bay almost an H.R. Giger-inspired, alien hyper-drive technology look. The Three-Valve is otherwise stock, though it exhales through a drone-free Corsa exhaust and was expertly tuned for the charge-cooled blower by Paul's High Performance. The result? Charming driveability with 511 hp and 441 lb-ft. Were it ours, we'd go back to 3.55 cogs, if for no other reason than to make First gear useful again. Driving this sophisticated piece of aftermarket art reminds us of just how far the art of electronic tuning has come in the past few years. Whereas it used to be a given that forced induction would bring along at least a few driveability gremlins, the modern 500-plus-horsepower Mustang has all the civility of an upscale prep school.

It's amazing the difference a little two-tone contrast can make. Although hardly radical, the ragtop's interior is a welcoming place, with just the right amount of visual and aural enhancements. The 6.5-inch touch-screen DVD is by Pontus, and there's an armada of Rockford Fosgate speaker drivers onboard. The crowning touch is the functional, red Ford GT starter button.

On the topic of civility, the project nicely fulfills its role as a sort of three-dimensional catalog of some of CDC's S197 offerings, including the familiar lightbar, front and rear spoilers, the taillight trim panel with sequential taillights, directional-signal mirrors, and the aforementioned Shaker. Less familiar is CDC's new aluminum hood, developed for the Foose Mustang. These things weigh practically nothing, and are available with or without the Shaker cutout. This one also wears CDC's hood-pin appearance kit and is supported by the company's hood struts. The new billet grille is also on prominent display. Raising the trunk lid reveals the handy Detail Corral storage unit, meant to house a car duster, chamois, and a bottle of quick detailer, leaving the trunk floor for storage or-in this case-Rockford Fosgate's Punch-series amps and subwoofers. These take their orders from a Pontus touch-screen DVD head unit, just above which the CDC crew adapted a working starter button from a Ford GT. The car can be started from this button or the regular ignition switch. Unfortunately, these starter buttons won't be on the CDC offering list. Also inside, gauges from Simco replace the factory cluster, and CDC's own dash-top pod houses a trio of Stewart-Warner auxiliary instruments. The lighter-tone seat and door-panel inserts were also a CDC addition.

It should be obvious from the ragtop's earth-bound stance that the chassis also received a bit of attention, starting with Steeda lowering springs and Tokico D-spec, top-adjustable dampers. Steeda was also tapped for billet lower trailing arms and a bumpsteer kit, along with a Tri-Ax shifter. The previously gaping wheelwells are now filled with 255/40ZR19 Pirelli P-Zero Rosso rubber on six-spoke D2 Motorsports rims. The spokes are painted to match the car. Up front are Baer Extreme-Plus 15-inch rotors clamped by six-piston MonoBlock calipers, while the rears are 1-inch-smaller EradiSpeed-Plus-2 Baer binders.

Sometimes show cars can deliver more sizzle than steak. That's not so with CDC's rambunctious ragtop. We made every effort to maximize our seat time in this fast, stylish, fast, great-handling, fast, sure-stopping SEMA star. Did we mention that it was fast?