Don Roy
March 1, 2007
Photos By: Tracy Stocker

Take a walk around this Mustang when it's on display and you'll see a very nice car that has been tastefully modified. The gleaming silver paint suggests that this is not going to be one of those all-out show field dominators and that's exactly the case. Instead of vertical scissor doors, you'll find anthracite Eagle Boss rims, in XXL size mind you. Forget about multiple nitrous bottles, but you will notice the exterior updates, such as a chin spoiler, louvered C-pillar scoops, duck tail rear spoiler and deck lid trim panel - all from Classic Design Concepts.

Under the hood, you'll find a C&L cold air intake kit leading to a fabricated intake manifold. Nice work, but not too radical. And ... it is at this point you will either move on and miss the entire point of the car, or let your curiosity take hold and check out that manifold more closely. No, it's not chromed and the rest of the hardware scattered around the engine bay looks largely as it did when leaving Flat Rock, MI. Perhaps if you peek and peer around under the hood more attentively than you might otherwise, you will figure out that this car is equipped with a supercharger. It's a little like the Saleen unit for S197 GT's, in that it is well hidden on the underside of the intake between the 4.6-liter's cylinder heads. But it's not a Saleen unit.

If your curiosity is reaching the megaton level at this point, you'd probably look around for the owner and, if you're lucky, you'll find Brad Shantry nearby. Brad is the product development manager at Wheel to Wheel Powertrain in Madison Heights, a suburb of Detroit. Brad would certainly mention to you that this car sports a Rotrex supercharger. Its unique design allows the unit to be packaged small enough to easily fit under the intake with room for more gear. If he started the car up for you, or if you ran into it at a stoplight, you'd never believe there was a supercharger installed - it's that quiet. When you mention that you've never heard of Rotrex before, Brad would patiently explain that it is a European product and one that earned its bones with the Konigsegg and Ferarri engineering departments. As you pause to digest that information, Brad might wait until just the right moment to add, "There's one more thing."

The Antonov Connection
Have you heard of Antonov before? Those really huge Russian airplanes that were used in the invasion of Afghanistan ... no, not that Antonov. There's another one. In 1988, a Bulgarian by the name of Roumen Antonov escaped from communist influence and became a citizen of France. With his newfound freedom, the scientist-engineer founded a company in 1990, Antonov plc, to develop and commercialize products based on his inventive ideas. One of the first projects to attract public attention was a unique automotive automatic transmission. Since then, the company has licensed the technology to car companies including Honda and MG Rover.

What is particularly novel about this automatic transmission technology is that the conventional torque converter is no longer required. The end result is a compact, lightweight automatic transmission applicable to a wide range of vehicles. This ingenious, but simple design consists of standard components similar to those of current production automatic transmissions. Their six-speed transmission makes use of a pair of simple three-speed planetary gearsets arranged on two countershafts. When power is transmitted, only one of the planetary gearsets is carrying any torque. In each module, three speeds are produced by two simple planetary gears, two brakes and one clutch. One of the brakes is used for starting from a stop, thereby eliminating the torque converter.