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.

The technology, as mentioned, is scalable, so it can be made larger ... or more interestingly, smaller. As it happens, there is a mechanical module sitting on the front of this Mustang's Rotrex supercharger and what is inside has been derived from Mr. Antonov's insights. A small planetary gearset is used to provide a 2-speed transmission, so that the supercharger can be driven faster at low engine speeds. When dealing with centrifugal superchargers, boost is developed in proportion to the engine rpm - slowly in the lower range, but quickly (exponentially) in the upper range. Being able to overdrive the supercharger at low speeds means that the car will be much more responsive in normal, day-to-day driving and that's really where most Mustangs spend the bulk of their time.

Shift Happens
Of course, nobody wants to worry about when the box is going to change speeds, nor would it be helpful to have some complex hydraulic or electronic control system hanging off the side. Inside this mechanical module, more than a little clever design provides a gearbox that shifts based both on speed and load. This is important, because when you've got your foot in it, you'd rather keep the boost building right up to the maximum allowable. Sensing rpm is easy enough using centrifugal forces, but detecting load - mechanically - requires a little more ingenuity.

The key component in making this happen is called a 'helical' gear. It is so-called because the teeth on the gear run at an angle to the gear's body, making them look like a portion of a helix. Most often used in right-angle drive gearboxes, they can also be applied to parallel drive configurations. However, their most relevant property for our current interest is that they generate a thrust along the shaft that is proportional to the torque being transmitted.

Clever use of these two forces allows the speed of the supercharger, and thereby its output, to be adjusted according to the driving conditions. When you look at the power and torque curves, you'll see a step in the curves where the module has changed gears. Compare this to the curves for the Rotrex supercharger only and you should immediately see the benefits. In practice, the Antonov module shaves a full second off the car's quarter mile time and adds about 10 mph to the trap speed.

Demonstrating a unique concept like this also requires a reliable platform on which to build and the bottom end of this Pony's engine is where the folks at Wheel to Wheel started. The original rotating assembly was replaced with a forged 4340 alloy steed crankshaft, forged steel connecting rods and forged aluminum pistons. The stock aluminum block and cylinder heads were kept, along with the cams and valve train. Of course, a new intake system was called for and the fabricators at Wheel to Wheel began that task after the drive mechanicals and brackets were worked out.

Hunkering Down
The transmission and rear axle were left alone, however the suspension and brakes got an extreme makeover courtesy of Ford Racing and Baer. The Ford Racing FR-3 Handling Pack provided replacement struts and shock absorbers, lowering springs, front and rear sway bars and a strut tower brace. With these components designed to work together as a package, the car was dropped by an inch and a half for a more aggressive stance. Valving for the struts and shock absorbers was developed by Multimatic Motorsports - the company that built and tuned the 2005 Grand Am series-winning FR500C Mustangs. Gripping tightly on those suspension pieces are some top drawer anchor parts from Baer. The Baer Claw GT-PLUS front brake installation provides large 2-piston PBR pin-driven calipers and 14-inch, two-piece brake rotors. These disks incorporate an aluminum hat to reduce overall weight and allow for differential expansion of the rotor plates. Out back, the brake rotors have been upgraded to Baer's Eradispeed Plus 2 slotted and drilled models.

The Wheel to Wheel Powertrain company is part of a larger group of companies under the TECSTAR name. Also part of that group is Classic Design Concepts, so you can appreciate why this Mustang also features their exterior and other components extensively. Still, this particular example of nepotism is obviously one that benefits everyone. The CDC exterior enhancements make for a classy package that is further enhanced by the work of North Channel Graphics. This company added the hood graphic, using a unique 'crushed glass' vinyl material. The same theme is repeated on the exterior and under the hood with a Sherwin Williams 'crushed glass' rubberized high temperature paint. The chin spoiler, rocker panels, grille inserts, deck lid trim panel and portions of the rear spoiler share the crushed glass look.

As a demonstration car for the novel concepts it has brought to fruition, we're sure that you'll agree the Wheel to Wheel folks have done a super job. It was all proven out earlier in the year with a long cruise up the east coast and, more recently, in the proving grounds facility of the SEMA Show in Las Vegas. We're sure that you're going to see this technology emerge in automotive production somewhere in the not too distant future. So, remember that you heard all about it here first, because it won't be a secret much longer.

Roumen Antonov: Boundless Vision
In the '30s, many cars were produced more in an artisan fashion than an industrial way. Most of them were unique and personalised, comparable to fashion creations of the "Haute Couture". The first car sketches of Roumen Antonov, founder of the 4Stroke Company and car enthusiast from his childhood years on, were made based on this philosophy of unique creation. The style may be 1930's but the technology is pure 21st Century. The body is crafted from fiber composite to provide a light but rigid structure in conjunction with a tube steel chassis. The power unit is a high output 998cc inline 3-cylinder engine. The power output is 68 HP for the standard version, but can be boosted to over 100 HP with a supercharger. The car is not yet being produced, but positive reaction on three major fairs with international public, the daily interest from web site visitors, and the firmly expressed interest of several specialized distributors have been hugely supportive. Perhaps dreams can come true.

Specifications
Antonov AR500 Mustang GT

Engine
Ford 4.6-liter, 3-valve SOHC V-8

Engine Modifications
Forged 4340 steel crankshaft and connecting rods; forged aluminum pistons; Anotnov Step-up supercharger drive system; Rotrex C38-81 supercharger with planetary drive; Custom fabricated aluminum intake manifold, with five internally mounted Laminova liquid to air tube intercoolers; C&L modified cold air kit; Diablo 'Mafia' MAF range extender; ECM reprogramming by Diablosport; Corsa axle back exhaust

Chassis
Baer GT-Plus front brake kit, Eradispeed Plus 2 rear brake kit; Ford Racing strut tower brace

Numbers
350 RWHP @ 4200 rpm, then 400 RWHP @ 6200 rpm
425 RWTQ @ 4200 rpm
Est. 12.9 @ 111.6 mph

Exterior
Classic Design Concepts' chin spoiler, C-pillar scoops, duck tail spoiler, hood struts, deck lid trim panel; Sherwin-Willams 'Planet Color' show paint

Interior
Classic Design Concepts' gauge pod; Auto Meter oil pressure, fuel pressure gauges

Suspension
Ford Racing Handling Pack, including lowering springs, front struts and shock absorbers;

Wheels And Tires
Eagle Boss 226 20 x 8.5" front wheels, with BF Goodrich 255/35-20 g-Force KDW tires and Eagle Boss 226 20 x 10" rear wheels with BF Goodrich 275/35-20 g-Force KDW tires