Tom Wilson
January 1, 2010

Also good for launch control at the strip is the softer bottom-end torque. The ultra-low profile tires are not launch-friendly because there is so little sidewall to wrap up, so hitting these tires with massive torque during a standing start would prove nothing more than an all-expenses paid trip to wheelspin city. As it is, the Motor Trend testers were able to control torque delivery with rpm at the launch, with somewhat over 4,000 rpm working well.

No one from the testing crew said much about the clutch or shifting, which is a good sign. Our street evaluation put the clutch feel, weight, and travel right around stock, so the twin-disc Fidanza doesn't add inertia to the shifts. The Hurst shifter, of course, had a touch of buzz, but it returned to its admirably mechanical feel and barely sticky effort pulling out and into gear. It's one of those items we like despite its aural presence because it's so positive and has a steel-on-steel feel.

We thought the 3.55 gearing might prove a bit tall with the Vortech blower, but not so. These freeway-friendly cogs proved a fine street/strip compromise, returning good fuel economy on the street and strong pulling power as long as the tach is kept in the upper range.

Some unexpected fun came from the bypass valve, which goes about its business with the subtlety of a steam locomotive idling in your living room. Shift gears at relatively large throttle openings and you get a satisfyingly loud whoosh, or in our case, hold a steady, intermediate throttle opening around a highway cloverleaf and get an earful all the way around the turn. It's fun while it's new, and if you have to explain too much about it to your date, then it helps identify the future PTA overachievers.

Speaking of cloverleaves, the Griggs torque arm and Panhard bar definitely help. This partial suspension modification gives Brian's car extra stability at launch and in the turns, plus the low-profile tires improve turn-in feel. Together the chassis mods complement the extra power, making the car fast and secure. Braking is powerful from the big Baer clampers, with high-torque easily on tap and, of course, no fear of fade. We noted good pedal feel in our drive notes, with nicely raised pedal effort and just a hair of sticktion on brake release. That's typical Ford vacuum-booster feel, so nothing new there.

In short, it was fun to rekindle an old affair with a hard-running centrifugal blower. The characteristic ramp up in power really is a bit more stimulating than the dead-flat torque curves of positive-displacement blowers, so it's a fun combination to drive. A flavor we're sure Brian still enjoys.

By The Numbers
Our friends at Motor Trend were kind enough to run Brian's car through their acceleration tests plus provide us with their numbers for a Shelby GT-500 KR previously tested as a benchmark. Brian's Vortech-assisted car ran respectable times given it is 50 ci down to the KR and is running daily-driver 3.55 gearing.

  BRIAN' GT GT500 KR
MPH Seconds Seconds
0-30 1.7  
0-40 2.4  
0-50 3.4  
0-60 4.4 4.3
0-70 5.4  
0-80 7.0  
0-90 8.6  
0-100 10.2 9.7
¼-mile 12.7 at 111.3 mph 12.5 at 114 mph
40-65 1.9