1995 'Bondurant' Mustang GTs
Running a performance driving school is a big deal. You need reasonably fast, but exceptionally reliable cars. If your school is in Phoenix, AZ, you need even more reliable cars in order to survive the triple-digit heat. So, when you need to build more than 50 such cars, you call for professional help and that's exactly what Ford did. A decade ago, when they supplied student cars to the Bob Bondurant racing school, FoMoCo enlisted Roush Racing to look after the conversion of the 1994 and 1995 GTs that thousands of students first learned to go fast in.
In 2002, the school switched to GM product and the remaining student cars became surplus. Folks at the Bondurant school advertised the availability of their Mustangs in a number of automotive publications. A couple of guys from California, Forrest Straight and Gary Goeringer, had previously been through some Bondurant courses and had driven the cars. Given a 20-year background in all things Mustang, they were interested. Early on, though, both figured that the asking prices would come down if they waited for a bit.
Now, something you need to know, of course, is that these cars were professionally built and professionally maintained. "Bulletproof" is a term that is often overused and under-deserved. That's not often the case, though, at Roush Industries. When production line cars arrived at the Roush facilities in Livonia, MI, they were completely disassembled and rebuilt by hand. The bodies were painted in proprietary Bondurant orange, originally made by PPG and no longer available. Roush engineers had designed new components specifically for these cars, including a torque arm and panhard bar. American Racing produced custom wheels for the cars. Roush installed all the expected racing goodies, like a 6-point roll cage, Eibach springs, specially-valved Monroe shocks and struts, Simpson 5-point safety harness, a Recaro seat, ATL 18-gallon fuel cell and Cobra-sized brakes.
Radical changes in the wheel camber were also necessary, but a set of commercial caster/camber plates wasn't going to do the job. Instead, Roush fabricators sectioned the strut towers, repositioned them as needed and then welded the pieces back in place. Batteries were moved back into the trunk and special provisions were make to handle the hot weather in Arizona. A larger radiator was installed, along with a redesigned fan shroud for the engine fan. Supplemental electric fans were also installed to keep the coolant in and get the heat out. The cars were fitted with engine oil coolers originally developed for the 1995 SVT Cobra R Mustang.
The engine internals were left amazingly stock, however, the driveline wasn't. A Tremec TR3550 5-speed manual transmission, fitted with carbon fiber blocking rings, replaced the original gearbox.
Greg Fraker was the Program Manager at Roush Industries for the Bondurant program. He told us that there were three main priorities driving the engineering work from Roush. They were safety, reliability and suitability. The first two goals should be pretty obvious when modifying cars for a performance driving school. The third goal is rather more interesting, in that some performance characteristics of the cars were improved explicitly to support the way the school teaches. Those significant camber adjustments attained by cutting and rewelding the strut towers is one example. The school used street tires on all their cars, so the extra labor investment was made to reduce long term operating costs by minimizing tire wear. Another area that was considered was the school's teaching of 'trail braking' technique.