Tom Wilson
September 1, 2009

Step By Step

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M5lp_0909_01_z 2010_mustang_gt Front_view
Feeling light, powerful, and offering a great combination of comfort and hot rod presence, the FRPP demonstrator had us looking for excuses to drive. An unpretentious, near-perfectly styled performance car, it garnered endless admiring comments in our travels.
M5lp_0909_02_z 2010_mustang_gt Front_view
Brighter than a Mensa convention on a sunny morning, Grabber Blue was an inspired color for the FRPP demo car. It made what could have been a sinister rumble wagon approachable. Car guys started bench racing us immediately, and not a single female we met failed to emote, "What a beautiful car!" And for once, the large tailpipes fit into the overall design.
M5lp_0909_03_z 2010_mustang_gt Front_view
GT500 wheels, GT500 Goodyear Eagle tires, and GT500 Brembo brakes put confidence in a Mustang GT's wheelwells. Combined with the snappy powertrain, this FRPP-sourced GT500 rolling stock and suspension gives flat, firm-riding, responsive handling. Dive and roll were limited; back-road action is not.

We're often asked if we've driven anything interesting lately. Honestly, we often answer "no," but we've been gushing about this Grabber Blue GT for weeks. We can't say it's the fastest, most exotic ride, or anything like that. It's simply that some cars are plain, old fun to drive, and this is one of them. And it's a true compliment this hot-rodded GT stays fresh in our minds, as recently we've been downright fire-hosed with hot hardware, from the '10 Mustang to the new Camaro, Dodge Challenger SRT-8, and the thundering '10 Shelby GT500.

One reason for our warm fuzzies is as soon as your '10 Mustang GT hits the streets, building one of these for yourself will be easily possible. What we're checking out here is a standard '10 GT that Ford Racing Performance Parts has decked out with trinkets from its catalog. OK, a supercharger is a bit more than a trinket, but you get the idea. Take one of the astoundingly good '10 Mustang GTs, coat it in white glue, whip it through the FRPP warehouse and see what sticks.

In this case what stuck is a Whipple twin-screw supercharger. A non-charge cooled version, it's a dead-simple installation putting out a polite 5 pounds of boost. That's enough to put the power rating up to a square 400 hp at 6,100 rpm and 400 lb-ft of torque at 4,500 rpm. This is the same Whipple blower currently in the FRPP catalog for '05-'09 Mustang GTs, so a CARB emission compliance is expected shortly for the '10 version.

Featuring 3.73 rear-axle gearing in a limited-slip carrier, and wheels and brakes from the Shelby GT500, FRPP's '10 GT gets its suspension attributes right from the catalog. The spring, bar, and shock package is FRPP's FR3 kit, just as it was sold for the '05-'09 Mustangs. There are more details in the online sidebar, but for now let's note this is about $10,400 worth of FRPP upgrades at full-pop retail pricing ($9,000 worth in the real world). There's even a one-year warranty on the parts, and you could have the dealer install them so you could ignore the economic crisis and finance the go-fast goodies along with the rest of the car.

And you'll have no angst making the payments on something this fun. This car is a blast to drive, with a light, willing persona. Four hundred horsepower and equal pound-feet of torque do wonders for making a 3,700-pound car light on its tires; because the torque hits right away, the feeling is one of immediate response at any time.

The 3.73 gears are perfect to a bit on the short side with this much power, making acceleration that much snappier. Shifting is mechanically rewarding via a Hurst shifter. It clicks through the gates with short, moderate efforts, guided by a classic, impossible-to-improve-on round ball atop its abbreviated handle.

Short gearing can be a disaster on long drives, but freeway composure is fine thanks to great sound insulation inherent to the 2010 Mustang. With the louder (never boomy or droning) mufflers, the somewhat busy rpm had us wondering if a six-speed gearbox would help fuel mileage enough to bother with. Ultimately we decided a larger, heavier gearbox would just be more weight-gain and dollar drain, so we'd stick with the five-speed. Of course, driven as intended this thing has a healthy appetite for premium fuel, so when $5-a-gallon gas returns, a six-speed will make sense.

Step By Step

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M5lp_0909_04_z 2010_mustang_gt Front_view
Current Mustangs offer intelligent electronic traction control, allowing more yaw angle than is necessary in Sport mode. That makes it the perfect safety net, because unless you make a mistake, the traction control never activates. And you can always turn it off should you need to demo your drifting talents for the camera.
M5lp_0909_05_z 2010_mustang_gt Front_view
Elegant, well-built, and with leather touch points, the '10 Mustang interior is a major improvement and far ahead of the competition. The shifter is just a hair forward and the steering wheel is non-telescoping for long-legged drivers-but that's a Mustang, and everything else is straight comfort. Given the relatively low cowl and large windows, the interior is bright and airy.
M5lp_0909_06_z 2010_mustang_gt Front_view
With a stock engine, add-on screw blower, and a handful of shiny bits, the underhood mainly keeps its factory look. The big blower pulley tells the informed there's plenty more to be had. A pulley change and race gas in the tank could get another 100 hp from this combination on grudge night too. The open-element air filter will never pass Cali smog, but opening the stock airbox will, and provide the same easy going power. Have you noticed how Ford puts adequate paint over the entire engine compartment these days?

The chassis backs up the power with a drum-taut suspension. The ride is stern as a schoolmarm, and you'll notice it over the bumps, but the tradeoff is sharp steering and plenty of grip. Balance, and especially precision, are much better than what we've come to expect from factory Fords, even the S197 variety. The supercharger's weight high over the front end can just be felt, this FRPP car exhibiting a touch more understeer than a standard '10 GT with the Track Pack II option. That's hardly complaining, though, as the Track Pack II cars have no understeer in practical terms, and with the extra power, you're going faster on corner entry and exit, so what's the worry? Only the most snooty cornering snobs will ever notice; the rest of us will stay enthralled for a lifetime.

Given the larger tires, the nicely padded leather steering wheel delivers just the right amount of power assist. Pedal action is equally rewarding. Clutch effort is thankfully low and the brakes powerful with good modulation. Even our favorite whipping boy-the electronic throttle-performed just fine. No doubt, the combination of '10 Mustang and FRPP bolt-ons makes a car that works with you to deliver everything its got.

Daily manners are a lightly mixed bag. If it weren't for the more than occasional whoop up the backside from what felt like overly stiff rebound shock valving, this car could probably qualify for schlepping grandma betwixt hairdresser and podiatrist. Cold starts came with a raucous 2,000-rpm idle that unnecessarily woke the neighborhood and there were some thunks and rattles from the suspension and shifter you'd eventually do something about. But the exhaust was pleasantly present, but no more so, and engine noise muted until called to duty. Of course, there's no faulting the heated seats, SYNC electronics, sophisticated interior design, or even the standard sound system. But ultimately this willing car carries an urgent undertone that's difficult to resist.

And yes, "only" 400 hp sounds like weak tea in this age of 700hp street machines, but that's missing the point. This car is a daily driver sportster that gets with it and could be easily replicated by real-world enthusiasts. Our only real complaint is it still isn't in our driveway.


5.0 Tech Specs
Engine and Drivetrain
Block
Aluminum 90-degree V-8
Displacement
281ci
Crankshaft
Stock
Rods
Cracked powdered metal with floating wristpins
Pistons
Hypereutectic aluminum
Camshafts
SOHC, variable camshaft timing
Heads
Aluminum, three valves per cylinder
Intake
Composite shell-welded single-runner, charge motion control valves
Injectors
Stock
Power Adder
FRPP/Whipple twin-screw, 5 pounds of boost, non-charge cooled
Headers
Cast-iron exhaust manifolds
Exhaust
Frpp Mufflers
Transmission
Stock Five-Speed Manual
Flywheel
Stock
Clutch
Stock
Rear Axle
8.8-in axle, FRPP limited-slip differential, 3.73:1 gears

Electronics
Engine Management
Stock with FRPP calibration
Ignition
Stock coil-on-plug
Gauges
Stock

Chassis and Suspension
Front Suspension
K-member
Ford-based MacPherson strut w/FRPP gas-filled struts, FRPP springs
Control Arms
Reverse-L independent MacPherson strut
Springs
FRPP, 92-in-lb rate gain over stock, 33mm loweringStruts
FRPP
Caster/Camber Plates
Stock
Brakes
14-inch FRPP/GT500 vented rotors, Brembo four-piston calipers, Ford ABS
Wheels
FRPP forged aluminum GT500, 18x9.5-inch
Tires
Goodyear Eagle P255/45ZR-18
Rear Suspension
Spring
FRPP, 77-in-lb rate gain, 38mm lowering
Shocks
FRPP
Brakes
Ford 11.8-in vented disc, two-piston caliper
Wheels
FRPP forged aluminum GT500, 18x9.5-inch
Tires
Goodyear Eagle P285/40ZR-18