How many of us can honestly say we know the intimate details of every performance modification planned for our rides before we've even taken possession? Probably not many. Hillbank Motorsports Sales Director, Jason Cenora on the other hand is somebody who actually can. His obsession with Mustangs stretches back quite a few years to his former SN95, a fully built show car, known as "Xtreme 281". Using relationships built upon years of successful show competition, Jason had already lined up a sizeable arsenal of sponsors before the paint was even dry on this particular Vista Blue Mustang GT. Not only was this 2007 Shelby CS8 Prototype planned from day one, you could say it was 'an offer' even Cenora 'couldn't refuse.'
If you're scratching your head about that last sentence, you did read that right. This car is a prototype, the second in fact, for Carroll Shelby's new CS8 program. Never one to let a good thing go to waste, Shelby took the appearance package of the CS6 and cranked the volume knob up to "11" by applying it to a 3-valve 4.6-powered 'Stang. Jason's boss, Hillbank's owner Lance Stander, snagged prototype numero uno, but has left that car relatively stock. 'Relatively,' in this case meaning the entire $15-grand CS8 package. Designed by Shelby Automobiles and built by Shelby Distribution USA, the heart of the package centers around a Paxton high-output fully-polished Novi 2200R with a 3.12-inch pulley (Jason's CS8 runs more boost than the 'stock' CS8 receives) and a two-bolt race blow-off valve. Ford Racing EV1-style fuel injectors and Diablosport Tuning ensure that the mill makes the most of the 14 pounds of boost, producing dyno-proven numbers of 486.69 horsepower and 419.45 foot-pounds of torque at 6,000 RPM on the rollers. "Having a dyno sheet in order to PROVE the power this car actually makes helps set us apart from others, who often 'claim' high numbers." On an added note the 486 and 419 didn't include the full shot of nitrous.
An intercooler is stuffed below the bumper behind a specific CS6/CS8 front fascia and lower grille. A Shelby-labeled upper grille with driving lights rests under an appreciably-buff CS6/CS8 hood. Side scoops and distinctive Shelby 'CS' side stripes add a racy flair to complete the transformation. Classic Design Concepts GT500-style rear spoiler and a factory Ford GT500 rear bumper were added by Jason to pump up the view that most people will see as he storms off into the distance. They're not a part of the normal CS8 package, but they add flavor in this case. The look is hunky, yet clean and crisp at the same time. The historical throwback visuals are intact but include a modern style which easily matches the showy Mustang prototypes from years past, including of course, a tasty racing stripe package.
Cenora made a few calls to source a worthy suspension for his Shelby and came up with a full coil-over system from Progress Technology. This was paired with Progress' adjustable lower control arms and panhard bar, ensuring that, even with the proper lowered stance, his Pony's tail wouldn't be out of sorts. Since this is the first OEM panhard bar-equipped Mustang to leave Dearborn, folks may not know that an adjustable bar is REQUIRED on a lowered S197. The stock bar was designed by Ford for a specific ride height; any changes will deliver dangerous side-loading forces to the bar, and result in erratic handling or worse, an accident if it fails. A set of 20-inch Shelby Razor wheels and Falken FK452 high-performance tires fill the amply sized arches far better than the stock 17s ever could, while providing an interesting visual take on the traditional five-spoke design. Behind them, crisply-finished Shelby/Baer calipers clamp 14-inch Baer Eradi-speed two-piece, cross-drilled and slotted rotors. Rear brakes receive the Eradi-speed treatment too, with the OEM calipers moving outward on new mounts in order to substantially increase brake torque. Braided stainless steel hoses and proper piston sizing help the brake pedal retain the firm feel needed for sporty driving. Braking performance is as impressive as promised on this car, with the new calipers easily hauling this Stallion to a standstill repeatedly and without noticeable fade.
If that were where this story stopped, he'd still have one impressive Mustang. Jason, however, wanted to own the most over-the-top Shelby on the planet, so let's dig deeper into the juicy details. In Cenora's eyes, too much power is still not quite enough, so he added a Nitrous Express 3V Billet-plate fogger system, and their Ntercooler sprayer system for a bump in power and an increase in the efficiency of the intercooler system. A Meziere electric water pump saves parasitic drag and maintains a constant flow of coolant through the Hose Techniques HD pipes, hoses and Fluidyne high-performance radiator. XMP custom-fitted braided steel hoses abound under the hood, joined by Fragola AN fittings. A set of CPR billet high-flow fuel rails ensure that the injectors never run out of Rocket Brand 100 octane race fuel! JBA's short ceramic-coated headers boost torque through properly sized and joined runners, eliminating exhaust restriction. Magnaflow's prototype 3-inch twin muffler exhaust system does the rest of the hot work, venting the spent gases in a manner befitting the Shelby name. Finally, an engine bay dress-up kit from UPR adds serious bling over this serious collection of hardware. The love is evident in the finish applied to all of the parts, like the custom-painted intake runners and valve covers. Cenora leaves no detail untouched, no matter how small.
To bolster the rear end, Jason chose Superior Axle and Gear's 4.10 ratio ring and pinion set, their chromoly 31-spline axles, and a T2 torsen differential. Launching this Pony hard is actually rather easy! Prothane's billet motor mount and bushings clamp the engine and transmission into place authoritatively. All in all; this rock 'em, sock 'em package delivers a real body blow of acceleration when demanded. Power comes on immediately, anywhere in the RPM range, and in any gear for that matter too. Cenora reports that it's "nearly possible to watch the gas gauge move". As any true-blue Ford enthusiast will tell you, this just means it's working well!
On the street, the chassis really shines; it's clear that Progress Technology treated the S197 as a labor of love. Shock dampening values are well matched to the body's weight, and allow short, harsh impacts to be absorbed fluidly while still precisely controlling body lean and pitch to perfection. A truly great suspension makes you WANT to hustle the car through the corners, regardless of the mass involved and while we're on the subject the PT setup, from our standpoint at least, comes highly recommended to any GT500 owners seeking a do-it-all package for street or track. The large diameter tires are surprisingly good, lacking the harsh ride often associated with lower profiles. Falken's clearly done their homework on proper sidewall stiffness. While the FK452 won't be the choice of hardcore track denizens, it works very well on the street, accelerating or braking nicely within sensible limits. Of course, there's little on the car which qualifies it as SENSIBLE! "The power from the Shelby/Paxton supercharger mated up with Progress suspension makes this car a fantasy to drive. It is not a stretch to say it out-performs a lot of vehicles I've driven," mentions Jason. These are big words from a man who has continuation-series Cobras littering his workplace like so many expensive play toys!
In the interior, Cenora began by stripping it down to the flat blue-painted metal. With only a few hundred miles on the car, everything came out, and the Hush Mat went in. The plastic trim was color-matched to the exterior. Gray suede leather was expertly applied to the headliner and door panels, stitched with light blue thread. Auto Meter Cobalt-series gauges for boost, oil pressure, exhaust gas temps, fuel pressure, and nitrous system pressure are scattered across three different pods, one of which was molded into the dash where the A/C controls used to sit. Two of them aren't gauges at all; one is a high tech Digital Pro Shift system, the other is Auto Meter's D-PIC, which can measure quarter mile times, 0-60, braking distance, and real time G forces. The HVAC system has been cleverly relocated to an aluminum panel under the armrest. "I truly strive to set the standard for modifications that perform as nice as they look," Jason remarks.
UPR's billet aluminum interior trim kit adds a splash of bright machined silver to every surface left unpainted or without suede. American Stitches reworked Cenora's steering wheel into a custom-made special, with silver spokes and a blue slash-cut rim. Custom appointments and OEM airbag functionality for a decent price is most definitely a hard combination to beat.
We'd like to argue that Carroll Shelby probably didn't envision an audio system like Jason's when he drew up the specifications for the CS8 program. Jason's Alphasonik system reads like a catalog of all of their 'good stuff'; a massive 15-inch subwoofer in the spare tire well, a 5.0 farad capacitor, two four-channel amplifiers and one giant mono sub amplifier. There is one pair of 6.5-inch component speakers in the doors, two pairs in the rear deck, and one more pair in the trunk lid. Vivo Electronics contributed a 15-inch monitor for the trunk, and a 7-inch flip-down monitor for the ceiling, a 5.6-inch monitor in the rear center console, and two more 7-inch headrest monitors. Multiple Optima batteries help the alternator withstand the strain this system can generate. An Eclipse 5500 DVD/Navigation head unit drives the sound and visual excitement, which is a clear match for the muscular driveline and looks. The trunk received the 'full suede' touch, with wall-to-floor-to-wall supple leather overlaid on a giant CS logo. Twin, fully polished Nitrous Express bottles hang from the rear deck like sinister cocoons, ready to unleash their contents on the unwary competition.
The historical throw back...
The historical throw back visuals are intact but include a modern style which easily matches the showy Mustang prototypes from years past.
So will it be a collectible because of its CS stature and over-the-top style? For the record, Cenora's last Mustang, that SN95, took home an entire roomful of trophies before it gracefully retired from competition. Jason assures us however, that he's not done with the show circuit yet. "I really want to see how many six-foot-tall trophies I can steal this year!" Building show cars is in his blood. Perhaps then, like the fictitious Tony Soprano, one can never truly leave 'the family.'
2007 Shelby CS8 Mustang Prototype
Ford 4.6-liter 3-valve 'Modular' V8
Polished Paxton Novi 2200R Supercharger w/intercooler, 2-Bolt race blow off valve, High Output 3.12" supercharger pulley - 14lbs boost; Nitrous Express 3V Billet plate fogger system, Ntercooler sprayer system; Diablo Sport Predator tuning, 39lb. Ford Racing EV1 Style injectors, Meziere electric water pump, Nitrous Express, UPR billet engine bay dress up kit, CPR billet high flow / capacity fuel rails, Magnaflow prototype 3" cat-back exhaust system, High-flow Tru-X pipe w/ catalytic converters; JBA Short ceramic-coated headers; Stage 8 locking header bolts, Fluidyne High-performance radiator, Rocket Brand 100 Octane Race Fuel, Pure Power oiling and filtration; Hose Techniques HD pipes and hoses; XMP custom steel braided fluid lines, Fragola AN fittings
Superior Axle and Gear 4:10 rear gear set, chromoly 31-spline axles, T2 torsen differential
489 RWHP, 442 RWTQ
Best ET To Date: 11.83 @ 115 MPH
Top Speed: 156 mph
Wheels And Tires
American Racing 20" Shelby Razor wheels, Falken FK-452 tires 275/35-20
Progress Technology coil over system, adjustable anti-roll front/rear, adjustable panhard bar, HD adjustable rear lower control arms; Prothane billet motor mounts, bushings; Shelby/Baer Twin-piston PBR front calipers, rear relocation system, 14" Eradi-speed two-piece cross-drilled slotted rotors,
custom blue braided-steel brake lines
Shelby Performance CS6/CS8 Front Fascia, grille, stainless steel hood pins, CS6/CS8 side scoops w/ inserts, side striping; Shelby GT500 rear fascia, Classic Design Concepts GT500 style rear wing, PIAA Xtreme Lighting and Fog lights, Saleen HID headlights, Meguiars car care products
UPR billet interior trim kit, Auto Meter C1 instrumentation, custom-painted color-matched interior, American Stitches custom steering wheel, full suede leather headliner and interior pieces, Alphasonik PMA815 15" Subwoofer, two PCP50LED 5.0 farad capacitors, two PMA 4150 4-channel amplifiers, PMA1200DA sub amplifier, four pairs of PCT6501 2-way component speakers; Hush Mat sound dampening material, Vivo Electronics 15" monitor mounted in trunk, 7" flip down, 5.6" monitor in rear center console, 7" headrest monitors; Eclipse 5500 DVD/ Navigation head unit, three Optima Blue-Top Batteries, PlayStation 2 system, wireless controllers
Thanks to my family for all their support through the tireless days, my Grandma for her support, my fiance April for her inspiration and my daughter Jessica for being my biggest fan! And thanks to all my friends who helped my project along the way with grinding, sanding or parts delivery.
Special thanks to the following:
Supporter / Shelby Distribution USA Irvine, CA
Performance / Xtreme Mustang Performance "XMP" Aliso Viejo, CA
Multimedia / Advanced Car Creations - Garden Grove, CA
Supporter / Shelby Performance Inc - Las Vegas, NV
Interior Paint / Merzee's Paint and Body - Santa Fe Springs
Exterior Paint / Newport Auto Shelby
Upholstery / Hugo's Custom Upholstry - Santa Ana, CA
Supporter / Sunset Ford - Westminister, CA
Media / Max Sigward Design - Huntington Beach, CA