Frank H. Cicerale
October 1, 2008
Photos By: Shaun Strayer
Wheels up and charging hard. Running only 26 psi of boost (41 is possible), the Stang has cranked out a best lap of 7.81 seconds at 182 mph.A

According to Wikipedia, a pony car "is a class of automobile launched and inspired by the Ford Mus-tang in 1964. It describes an affordable, compact, and highly styled car with a sporty or performance-oriented image."

You could say Mark Luton's '05 Mustang GT is a pony car. It's compact, highly styled, and has a "sporty" image. Oh yeah, and it packs more than 2,000 hp.

As president of Modular Mustang Racing (MMR), Mark makes his living creating high-horsepower Mustangs. When it came time to reveal what MMR had for the new S197, he set out to show the world not only what he could do, but also how he could redefine the arena at the same time. "The car was purchased brand-new in 2005, and it was the first Mustang GT to come to our local dealership," Mark says. "After receiving the call that she came in, we picked her up and started modding her. All of MMR's '05-'08 parts were developed using this car."

While the company's turbocharged '00 Mustang still served track duty, Mark and the boys at MMR spent their days at the shop transforming a run-of-the-mill Mustang GT into one badass race car. Starting under the hood of the retro-Stang, the transformation began from the inside out.

The stock Three-Valve 4.6L powerplant was hoisted out of the engine bay. Waiting in the wings was one of MMR's Monster Mod 5.4L engines. "We went with the Four-Valve because we felt the Three-Valve market was still developing," Mark says. "Now, we have some pretty ridiculous Three-Valve stuff in the works, so much so that we may go back to a Three-Valve soon."

There's no longer a 4.6 Three-Valve in here. The 300hp bullet has been replaced with a thundering 5.4L Four-Valve monster. Thanks to the twin 74mm turbos, when spooled up to 41 psi, this behemoth cranked out over 2,000 hp at the rear wheels.

With the cylinder case sporting a 3.555-inch bore and a 4.165-inch stroke, the cubic-inch figure tipped the scales at the 330 mark. Before any assembly took place, the iron block was torque-plate honed. Mark lowered a cryo-treated crank in the main web, and then slung in a set of Manley-built I-beam rods, followed by a matching set of Manley slugs. Sealing up the short-block is an MMR racing oil pump and a custom-built 7-quart oil pan.

Next on the agenda was the completion of the engine, which meant Mark had to flip the short-block mod motor over and finish the whole deal. A pair of Ford GT Four-Valve aluminum heads was slapped on, but not before they were worked over more than Joan Rivers' face. The heads were heavily welded by Fab-Tech to align the ports with the planned carbureted intake manifold, and then treated to a Stage 3 port job. The intake valves are 2mm oversize stainless steel jobs, while the exhaust valves are of the same composition, yet 1 mm oversized. Once the heads were on, a quad set of MMR Stage 4 custom-grind turbo roller cams milled by Comp Cams was laid down on the cylinder heads. "I would love to give you the specs, but sorry, they aren't to be shared. They're too secret," Mark says. Squeeze was set at an impressive 9.8:1.

A double-shot of wheelie bars keeps the car grounded to earth upon launch, while two baskets of laundry aid the Wilwood brakes in slowing down the beast after each 1,320-foot pass.

With the long-block bolted together, Mark said no to any sort of factory-style intake manifold. To that end, a heavily worked Sullivan cast-aluminum, single-plane, carbureted intake manifold was laid down between the worked-over cylinder heads, followed by an Accufab 105mm throttle body and a Deed's Performance sheetmetal intake elbow. It was only then that the engine was truly ready for the horsepower makers-the pair of 74mm Garrett turbos courtesy of Deed's and upgraded by Exile Turbo Systems. Feeding the exhaust gasses are a pair of 13/4-inch headers.