Don Roy
November 1, 2007
Photos By: Tracy Stocker

Peter Haag sets goals and then works to achieve them. Some of those goals have short timelines and others are, well, not so short. Take, for example, the Fiberfab GT40 kit car that has been a fixture in his garage for the past 30 years or more. It is coming along, but slowly. Meanwhile, a number of other notable cars have come and gone through his driveway. "Some of the more interesting cars I have owned included a 1987 Buick Grand National and 1995 Porsche Carrera. Both were bought new and driven for five or so years. Before then I owned a 1978 Porsche 928. That car was fun to drive, but it was not what you would call reliable transportation," Peter told us.

As an Engineering Consultant in Michigan, Peter is in a hotbed of automotive performance customization shops. One day, he decided to take advantage of that. "I loved to drive my Porsches, but having a car identical toeveryone else's no longer had its appeal.I wanted to be able to pick out parts and try my hand at customizing the car's performance. I liked the looks of the new 2005 Mustang models and really liked the looks of the Saleen improvements."

In the Spring of 2005, he made his first move, picking up a low mileage, normally aspirated Saleen Mustang via the Internet. He bought it sight unseen and without a test drive. The car arrived with 1,500 miles on the odometer and a baseline dyno ratings of 276.1 RWHP and 294.2 RWTQ. Peter had a plan for this car and began executing it in short order. "Within a few months I had installed Brembo front brakes, changed out the shifter for a Steeda Tri-Ax, and changed out the ring & pinion gears for a 3.73:1 set."

Power Adding
Since before the car had arrived, Haag's plans also included a power adder, but when the time came, his first choice was experiencing production and supply problems. His patience ran out after several months of waiting and calling the company. In the meantime, he had read of several instances where people had great success with Saleen's own supercharger kit. Looking like it was a good alternative, he picked up the phone and ordered one. When that one arrived, it was not in the same shape that it had left the Saleen shipping dock - significantly so. A call to Saleen resulted in Peter visiting the company's Troy, MI, location to pick up a replacement unit.

Peter continues the story. "While there, I made arrangements to have the Saleen factory install their supercharger kit on my car. The supercharger was installed in the late fall of 2005. The car was subsequently re-dyno'd and found to have 383.9 RWHP and 379.1 RWTQ with just a stock supercharger and 4-inch pulley on a stock engine." Shortly after, it was time to take the Saleen off the road and let it hibernate for the winter. The chilly months in Michigan were put to good use, as Peter checked out what others were doing with their Mustangs, along with what successes (and otherwise) they found.

As spring approached, he found that his goals for the car had solidified. "First, I intended to build a 93 octane pump gas street car that I could drive occasionally on a road course. I wanted a car reliable enough to be a daily driver, though because I drive over 50 miles to work each day, I intended to drive it just on Fridays and the weekends. I was specifically not interested in build a straight-line drag car. Second, I demanded that my new car be drivable on the street with good idle, predictable boost, great balance, cornering and braking. Frankly, I was spoiled by driving my Carrera. Third, from my experiences from driving my Porsches I missed only having a 5 speed transmission. I wanted a six speed. Fourth, I wanted a car that would GO! as quick as it looked it could."

He had found that the output achieved from the standard supercharger wasn't entirely up to his liking. Roasting the rear tires isn't something that he'd be doing on a constant basis, but having the capability was important. His current setup was still having a hard time getting those 20-inch tires to light up on demand. He now intended to build up a 500 RWHP motor for the Saleen and understood, from other's experiences, that the bottom end was going to need some strengthening. For this work, he chose Livernois Motorsports in Dearborn Heights, MI. "The plan was to use my aluminum 4.6L block as a base for a 'built' stroker engine using the stock Saleen supercharger, break the engine in on the road and then bring the engine back in to increase the air, fuel and boost and re-tune for maximum power."

Better, Stronger, Faster
Delivering the Saleen to Livernois in April 2006, the stock engine internals were exchanged with a forged stroker crank, rods, pistons. The engine displacement was not 5.0 liters. The cylinder heads were CNC ported and polished and the OE exhaust manifolds fell to a set of JBA's HPC ceramic coated shorty headers. It gets more interesting though. At the same time, the stock 5-speed transmission was replaced with a D&D Performance "Viper spec" Tremec T-56, 6-speed transmission, fitted with a RAM clutch and an aluminum driveshaft. The stock motor's hydra-mounts were replaced with Steeda's uncoupled heavy duty mounts and the stock air intake was replaced with a Steeda kit. The original fuel injectors were upgraded to 39 lb/hr units. The Saleen supercharger was reinstalled with the stock 4-inch pulley and the engine was tuned.

After racking up about 1,200 miles of break-in driving, Peter took the car back to Livernois for the rest of the work. "In early July 2006 the car was returned to Livernois and additional performance parts were installed so that the car could best reach my desired objectives. The existing fuel pump was replaced with a GT500 dual fuel pump, module and wiring harness. The 39 lb. fuel injectors were replaced with 60 lb versions. The Steeda CAI was replaced with a C&L racer tube and MAF meter. The MAF sensor was replaced with a Ford GT MAF sensor." Beyond these changes, the rear gears were also replaced with 4.10 versions and the stock Saleen boost and air intake temperature gauges were replaced with AutoMeter Cobalt units with wider ranges.

Some additional work with pulleys and the serpentine drive belt lead to a reliable increase in boost that just needed a little detuning to smooth out its onset for road racing. "The more manageable tune produced 470.6 RWHP and relatively modest 441 RWTQ. After some track time, I will be back to return to a more aggressive tune." Still, before serious road work could be undertaken, Peter knew that he had some suspension work to get done. Larger rear tires, a set of control arms and a Torsen T-2R Racemaster differential were mandatory in his view. So was widening the original Saleen rear wheels to take the new rubber.

Evaluation Time
He started by heading to the Mid-Ohio road course in July 2007 for some driver training and high speed lapping on their 2.4 mile road course. It was a learning experience for him, as well. "First, the car I built has far more capacity to run fast laps than this inexperienced driver currently has the skill to attempt. This was driven home to me when I had the pleasure riding passenger when my car was driven in the pouring rain by Mid-Ohio instructor Tommy Byrne. Tommy was quite complimentary on the brakes, handling and 'unobtrusiveness' of the supercharger. He said he was pleasantly surprised with how well it handled. However, he did advise me not to continue high speed laps that day in the rain."

A few new issues had become apparent to Peter. Resolving them involved, on one hand, a Recaro sport seat and Schroth 6 point racing harness. Further increases in lateral-G capacity had also become important to him, so a Saleen Watt's linkage was ordered up and installed. Peter is heading back to the Mid-Ohio track shortly and looking forward to evaluating the results of the latest changes. He's quite pleased with the Saleen right now. "I believe this car is well on the way to meeting all my goals as a street car road racer and I am looking forward to continually tweaking and improving the performance and my driving skills as long as I own it."

Does that sound like an obsession? If so, it is certainly a magnificent one.

Peter Haag's 2005 Saleen Mustang

Ford OHC 4.6-liter Aluminum V8

Engine Modifications
Livernois Motorsports' forged stroker crankshaft, connecting rods, pistons, CNC ported and polished cylinder heads; JBA (HPC ceramic coated) shorty headers; Steeda motor mounts; FRPP 39 lb/hr fuel injectors; Saleen supercharger; Ford GT500 dual fuel pump, module, wiring harness, Ford GT MAF sensor; C&L racer tube and MAF meter; BGG Performance 8-rib engine pulley set, belt tensioner; Innovators West 8-rib, 7.5" crankshaft pulley; Gates green stripe drive belt

D&D Performance "Viper spec" T-56, 6-speed transmission; Ram clutch with 26 spline plate; Aluminum drive shaft; FRPP 4:10-ratio rear axle gears; Torsen T-2R Racemaster differential

AutoMeter Cobalt series gauges, including intake air temperature, boost pressure; Speed of Sound A-pillar housing; Raptor shift light

Saleen Watts Link rear suspension; Spohn chrome moly adjustable lower control arms; BMR Fabrication lower control arm relocation brackets; Steeda adjustable competition upper control arms

Wheels And Tires
Front: 275/35/ZR20 Pirelli P Zero Rosso tires on original Saleen 9" rims Rear: 315/35ZR20 Pirelli on original Saleen rims, widened to 10.5"

470.6 RWHP, 411 RWTQ