Dale Amy
January 1, 2009

Horse Sense: Though the 5R55 tranny and converter are stock, the flexplate is an SFI-approved PRW billet replacement, and the driveshaft is a one-piece aluminum unit from Dynotech.

A while back we showed you Livernois Motorsports' first S197 test mule (Ebony Overkill, Nov. '06, p. 40), an understated, spoiler-less black coupe packing a built short-block and ProCharger F-1C centrifugal. We now present their latest S197, an understated, spoiler-less white coupe packing a built short-block and Whipple screw blower.

Other than the generous wheel/tire combo and the wicked-dark limo tint all around, the only external dress-up to Livernois Motorsports' latest S197 project is Classic Design Concepts' chin spoiler. This is a subtle cloak to a car that runs 10s.

Truth be told, Livernois' head honcho Dan Millen would likely have chosen black for this one too, as he seems to have a thing for ebony street vehicles, but he eventually succumbed to the logic that we magazine types would probably rather not feature two cars from the same shop that looked practically identical.

Shameless self-promotion aside, the gang from Dearborn Heights didn't build it just so we'd feature it. Nope, they had a plan: "Our goal with this car," Livernois' marketing dude Rick LeBlanc says, "was to run 10-second e.t.'s on 20-inch tires with the stock automatic transmission and converter, stock camshafts, and with pump gas." We might as well tell you right up front that those goals were achieved, a feat that, among other things, says a lot about the strength and efficiency of Ford's 5R55 automatic. We've also noticed that Rick has sort of taken quiet possession of this thing and drives it as often as Michigan weather permits, so it's hardly a show/dyno queen. Indeed, Rick has been driving the coupe and testing its potency progress literally from day one, when he picked up the '07 GT from the dealership and drove it straight back to the Livernois shop Dynojet. It spun up 256 rwhp and 283 rwtq in brand-new form.

Now displacing 298 cubes, the 520-rwhp Three-Valve is topped by a sneakily quiet Whipple H.O. twin-screw blower currently wearing a 3.25-inch pulley. The combo is nicely dressed with Livernois' CNC cam covers.

From the dyno, Rick tells us he headed directly to Milan Dragway and ran 14.19 at 98.01 mph dead stock. He then immediately flashed the GT with a Livernois premium-fuel calibration to take advantage of the 93-octane in the tank, and went 13.95 at 100.68. Risking life, limb, and burned pinkies, he promptly bolted on a C&L cold-air kit that he had in the trunk, and headed back down the strip to a best of 13.65 at 102.27 mph. All this with less than 90 miles on the odometer and on a 92-degree day.

With stock and bolt-on baselines established, it was time for the Whipple H.O. intercooled, twin-screw blower kit, along with a Corsa axle-back exhaust. While the wrenches were still smokin', they gave the coupe proper attitude and altitude with FRPP's Handling Pack (dampers, springs, bars, and strut-tower brace.) On the dyno, the power upgrades produced 428 hp and 385 lb-ft of torque at the rear wheels, but the real test came back at Milan Dragway, where Rick's timeslip now read 11.92 seconds at 113 mph-well on the way to achieving their goals and with less than 150 miles on the odometer (this was still on stock rims).

The long Michigan winter allowed time to pull the engine, which was upgraded with Livernois' 298ci stroker short-block, detailed in a previous issue ("Supersize It," April '08, p. 62), CNC Stage 3 cylinder heads, and a set of custom Kooks 13/4-inch primary, long-tube headers feeding an off-road x-shaped crossover and MagnaFlow exhaust, all 3 inches in diameter. An Alky Control progressive methanol-injection kit was also added to protect against detonation at high boost levels on pump gas. The result was 520 hp and 480 lb-ft at the wheels with 17 psi of boost.