May 17, 2004

If your memory is not so good or (heaven forbid) you missed the May issue, let us inform you that on a pump gas tune-up, the graphics-laden pony cranked out 540 rwhp with just 12 pounds of boost from the Vortech SQ supercharger. In other words, not a bad daily driver.

From all the snow in the aforementioned picture, it should be obvious why we couldn't do our usual drag test after JDM's Jim D'Amore and Shaun Lacko worked their magic on our Mustang. Well, we're happy to report that we now have real-world dragstrip numbers for you.

Old Bridge Township Raceway Park officially opened for 2004 on February 28 and two days later we rented our home away from home for a little flog. With 3.73 gears and the stock rev limiter in place (6,250 rpm), we were concerned that 26-inch-tall slicks might have us on the chip by the 1,000-foot mark. The decision was made to pirate our 28x10.5s off Frightning--my Lightning-powered '86 notch. It was in the mid-60s temperature-wise, which helped put some heat in the racing surface.

Now, the last time the Ice Box traversed the E-town 1320, it went mid 12s at 115 on Nitto 555 radials (non drag). As bizarre as it seems, the car had never been down the quarter-mile on slicks. We'd change all that on this day. But first, test pilot Evan Smith wanted to make a hit on radials. The e.t. was a silly 12.52 at 123.44; silly because it spun so much on the 1-2 shift and the 2-3 change. Enough of that. On went the good Mickey Ts.

I dropped the tire pressure out back to 15 psi. The stock-sized front Nittos on Steeda wheels and front sway bar remained in place. When D'Amore tuned the 4.6, he was concerned about the effect the 540 ponies would have on the stock connecting rods. In fact, he refused to raise the rev limiter, even though horsepower was still climbing when we hit it. That meant Evan would be shifting at around 6,000 rpm, rather than the 6,600 or so that would be optimal for drag racing. That's all right. A wise man once said it is better to drive your car home from Englishtown than ride shotgun in a tow truck.

With the slicks, Smith launched at 4,800 rpm on the first pass and clicked off a Mercurial 11.256 at 123.31. We were stoked. First, nothing broke in the rear or the tranny (stock, save for the ever-wonderful Pro 5.0 shifter), although the shift knob spun 180 degrees when he banged Second. And ever the optimists, we hoped with a little practice, we'd go even quicker.

Didn't happen. The closest we got was 11.26 at a mind-bending 126.38. There was no way we were getting in the 10s--in spite of that mph--with our road-race-inspired suspension. There was no weight transfer to speak of, which caused the tires to spin after the initial hit. In the plus column, you should have seen me hit the off-ramps on the way home. Hoo-ha!

So be it. Any fully-loaded Mustang (3,550 pounds with driver) that runs over 126 in the quarter-mile on pump gas and can then sit in bumper-to-bumper traffic on the way home and run like a stocker with the A/C cranking, is fine in my book.

Of course, we're not done yet. We have a 310 stroker short-block with forged internals on order from Coast High Performance and a Power Pipe to install from Anderson Ford Motorsport. Without fear of dumping our bottom end on the E-town asphalt, we'll really tune it on the ragged edge and drive it accordingly.