Dale Amy
May 13, 2010

Horse Sense: As we write this, Vaughn is finalizing arrangements with a number of Ford dealerships around the country, where you'll be able to order a new Mustang GT to your specifications and have the RTR package installed for an estimated $7,500. Though not yet fully spec'd out, Gittin plans a V-6 RTR package too. Check out www.mustangrtr.com for details.

Many of you are likely familiar with the sideways, smoking exploits of Vaughn Gittin Jr. If not, by way of introduction, we suppose it's fair to describe Mr. Gittin as the dude who almost singlehandedly made the S197 a force to be reckoned with in the wildly popular sport of drifting. Before Vaughn's Falken Tire-sponsored '05 Mustang GT hit the circuit, the world of drifting was pretty much the domain of Japanese cars and a dedicated sport-compact crowd. In the ensuing half-decade, Vaughn has no doubt boosted Mustang status and acceptance amongst a segment of the population that might otherwise be inclined to ignore any form of domestic vehicle. He has, in other words, introduced the Mustang phenomenon to a whole new demographic. Now, following the precedent of other noted racers, he's introducing his own road-going versions of Mustang-the RTR and the extremely limited-edition carbon-fiber RTR-C.

Vaughn himself is a relative newcomer to the Mustang fold, having no overpowering interest in them prior to being suddenly seduced by the S197. He was just 24 years old when he took it upon himself to introduce our beloved American icon to the drift arena, where, he admits, the reception was initially more than a bit chilly, as you might expect from a decidedly import-biased crowd. Perhaps it was merely because they'd never seen a V-8 Mustang in a full sideways snit before. "The first time I drove the car in Atlanta, 2005, it just shut everybody up. The first run-where I came down that chute at 100 miles an hour, threw the car into the turn, smoke everywhere, with the V-8 just screaming at 8,000 rpm-it just shut up everybody real quick." And it probably didn't hurt that Vaughn won the D1GP USA-versus-Japan championship that year. "That sent shockwaves through the drifting world, you know? I've been able to make waves with that car... we've changed minds in the youth and import markets."

Still, as much as he loves the '05-and-up Mustangs, Vaughn perceives that there's maybe been too much focus on "retro" in the aftermarket's S197 styling enhancements. While this was obviously just fine for traditional Mustang buyers, Vaughn believed a different, non-retrospective design approach might help cement a lasting relationship between the potent Pony and a younger import-centric generation.

"While I have huge respect for the heritage and traditional styling of Mustang overall," says Vaughn, "I wanted to add a bit of a modern twist to change it up a bit-a little bit of new styling-with hopes of opening up new eyes to Mustang." So he tag-teamed with such notables as Ford Racing and Classic Design Concepts in putting together his dealer-installed RTR package, and went really nuts with his carbon-fiber-bodied RTR-C, of which a maximum of 10 will be built.

The RTR-C
The whole RTR brand actually started with the RTR-C, the first of which-the one shown-was built for the SEMA show in pursuit of Vaughn's concept of "the baddest-ass Mustang that I could imagine, starting off with a full carbon-fiber body and going from there."

When Vaughn says "a full carbon-fiber body," he means it, as everything from fenders, hood, trunklid, doors, and quarters right down to the roof panel, the fascias and the grille are comprised of lightweight Epoxy Carbon Composite. These are not skins. The factory panels are all replaced. Even the hoops of the RTR-C's HRE wheels are carbon construction.

This initial RTR-C has a Three-Valve 4.6 boosted to 550 hp by a Ford Racing/Whipple twin-screw supercharger kit, but all customer RTR-Cs will be even more potent, since they'll be based on the 2011-spec 5.0 Coyote powertrain, again with a Ford Racing/Whipple blower kit. That kit is still undergoing final testing on the Coyote powerplant as we write this, so no power figures are available, but it's safe to assume it should handily exceed the 550hp mark, and will dish out elephantine torque as well.

Chassis-wise the RTR-C will be just as happy on-track as on the street. Tein coilovers at all corners will be cockpit-adjustable, but you will have to crawl underneath to adjust the front and rear antiroll bars. The rearend houses a Torsen T2R torque-sensing diff, and is located by Autosport Dynamics adjustable upper and lower control arms and Panhard bar. Brakes are 14-inch Wilwoods all 'round, with six-piston calipers up front and four-piston versions out back.

Inside, even the Sparco-manufactured custom RTR-C bucket seats have carbon-fiber structure but are wrapped in premium leather, as is the custom rear seat-delete panel. A harness bar anchors four-point belts, and the RTR-C has unique interior trim panels, along with discreet badging and a serialization plaque.

A maximum of 10 customer RTR-Cs will be hand-built in 2010 at Autosport Dynamics, a noted race car fabrication shop in Charlotte, North Carolina, that also builds and maintains Vaughn's competition Mustangs. The price of admission will be $135,000

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The RTR
Once he had the high-zoot RTR-C figured out, Vaughn wanted to capture some of its modern supercar spirit in a much more affordable package, the result being the RTR-a one-stop-shopping package that combines styling, handling, braking, and performance upgrades for an aggressive and responsive Mustang with Gittin attitude.

Up front, you can't help but notice the RTR's deep chin spoiler, complete with splitter and a pair of splitter support rods. Their matte-black theme continues with rocker panel splitters, which blend nicely into the RTR's rear diffuser. Poking through the rear valence is a pair of throaty Ford Racing FR500S mufflers. The other obvious rear treatment is the aluminum lip spoiler that, we think, really sets off the posterior view. You'll find stylized RTR badges on the front fenders and gas cap, and the hood and flank stripes are available in a variety of colors, or can be deleted.

Preferring to avoid a traditional five-spoke look, Vaughn opted for dark multi-spoke rims in 19x9.5 front and rear. Baer cross-drilled/slotted rotors are easily visible through the open-spoke design. And, given his on-track association with the company, it's not surprising to find Falken FK 452 ultra-high-performance tires as standard RTR equipment, 255/20R19 in front and 275/40R19 at the smoky end.

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Vaughn also works hand-in-hand with Ford Racing on his drift competition program, so when it came time to dial in the RTR suspension, FRPP's springs (11/2-inch drop) and (Dynamic Suspensions-tuned) dampers were the natural choice. The RTR also gets FRPP's rear lower control arms. Says Vaughn: "I just wanted to tighten it up a bit."

Inside, the package includes floor mats, a shift knob, and a small dash plaque, all with "RTR" logos. On the power side, there's FRPP's 91-octane processor recalibration, high-flow air filter, and FR500s mufflers, for about a 9hp gain and much more satisfying throttle response.

Our guess is the RTR (and RTR-C) will appeal not just to the "drift demographic," but to traditional Mustang fans as well. In other words, when the smoke clears, we're sure you'll agree that the RTR and RTR-C are worth more than a sideways glance-if you catch our drift.

5.0 Tech Specs
Engine and Drivetrain
Block Stock
Bore Stock
Stroke Stock
Displacement 281 ci
Crankshaft Stock
Rods Stock
Pistons Stock
Compression Ratio Stock
Camshafts Stock
Heads Stock
Intake FRPP/Whipple
Power Adder FRPP/Whipple Super Pack
Throttle Body FRPP
Mass Air Stock element in FRPP cold-air kit
Injectors 32-lb/hr
Fuel Pump Dual GT500
Headers American Racing, custom
Exhaust FRPP FR500S
Transmission Stock
Clutch Exedy Racing
Rearend 8.8 w/FRPP 4.10 gears, and Torsen T2R diff

Electronics
Engine Management Stock, with FRPP calibration
Ignition Stock
Gauges Stock

Chassis and Suspension
Front Suspension
K-member Stock
Control Arms Stock
Struts Tein coilovers, cockpit adjustable
Springs Tein coilovers
Caster/Camber Stock
Brakes Wilwood six-piston calipers; 14-inch, two-piece rotors
Wheels HRE CF-40, 19x9.5
Tires Falken FK452, 245/35R19
Rear Suspension
Shocks Tein coilovers, cockpit adjustable
Springs Tein coilovers
Control arms ASD Motorsports (Autosport Dynamics)
Brakes Wilwood four-piston calipers; 14-inch, two-piece rotors
Wheels HRE CF-40, 20x11
Tires Falken FK452, 285/30R20