K.J. Jones
November 8, 2005
Photos By: Courtesy Of Sutton High Performance
What do you get when you take a brand-new Mustang and mate it with more than 500 blown, modular horsepower? ...Project 505 by Sutton High Performance. Able to cruise the boulevard with no problem and bust off near-nine-second blasts on the dragstrip.

Horse Sense: Located in Matteson, Illinois, Sutton High Performance (a division of Sutton Ford) is one of only a handful of dealerships nationwide that offers all kinds of in-house, high-performance services. "Oil and filter change for your Focus? Install a turbo while we're at it? No problem."

It's a fairly common practice for people living in today's society to recognize most landmark occasions or achievements as "firsts." Mustang "firsts" are usually announced here in the pages of 5.0 Mustang & Super Fords or other enthusiast mags, or on Internet sites, where they're supported by images or video clips of a radical Mustang laying down an unthinkable (for a particular combination, conditions, etc.) performances, or an engine sending a dyno's printout into the second-page zone.

While this is the case most of the time, sometimes, the "we're going to be the first to" (insert remarkable, unprecedented feat here) declaration raises a bigger flag and lets us know that we need to keep an eye on something, and be ready to spread the word if the potential milestone is reached. It was by declaration-in the form of a two-paragraph press release-that we got wind of an '05 Mustang project that Randy Mohrbach and techs from Sutton Ford's high-performance center were going to try and build. We knew that if they were successful, the car was definitely going to make landmark-type noise throughout 'Stangland.

Sutton techs got the project underway by removing the stocker's entire drivetrain and interior. But, this wasn't the typical race-car "gutting," for weight savings or simplicity. Project 505 tipped the scales at 3,400 pounds after the brief diet it went on during the early days of construction.

"Project 505" is the name of Sutton High Performance's plan (that was concocted while walking around the exhibits at the '04 SEMA show) to build a modular-powered '05 Mustang that would produce 500 rear-wheel-horsepower (with a supercharger) while maintaining its Three-Valve cylinder heads. The not-so-small-print was that the car would still have factory street-car amenities such as air conditioning, power windows and steering, decent street drivability, and be capable of getting to the other side of a dragstrip in 10 seconds.

Beginning with 268 bone-stock horsepower, extensive research concluding that many of the stock engine and drivetrain pieces could not support the target power level, and the aftermarket not quite up to speed with making high-performance pieces that were needed for the project, it was clear that things weren't going to be easy for Sutton High Performance to achieve its goal. Couple that with the fact that NMRA

Herb Yancer, of Competitive Edge Racing Cylinder Heads, assembled Project 505's short-block. Randy Mohrbach and his team wanted an engine that would make enough power to carry their 'Stang into the 10s and beyond. Herb used a Cobra block and crank, Manley Pro Series lightweight rods, and coated CP pistons to ensure the lower end would be stout enough to handle it.

Factory Stock racer Justin Burcham was on a similar mission to bust into the 10s with a trey-valve 'Stang (using nitrous oxide), and it was clear to Randy that the race was on to push the performance envelope as far as it could go.

There's no doubt about the fact that moving 3,400 pounds down a quarter-mile dragstrip in 10 seconds or better requires a sizeable amount of horsepower. Randy and his team knew that a good engine/power adder combination needed to be their primary point of attack, but they also theorized the stocker's engine system had a few qualities that just aren't conducive to trying to make more power than the good people at Ford intended for the mod motor to have.

The Variable Cam Timing and torque-management systems posed a major challenge for Jerry VanDerLinde, Project 505's lead designer and tech. VCT allows the valves to be operated at different points in the combustion cycle, which provides performance that's precisely tailored to the engine's specific speed and load at any particular moment, allowing the best overall performance across the engine's normal operating range.

Here is the source of all the excitement-the radical, new Three-Valve cylinder head for the Mustang's 4.6 modular engine. Herb opened up the intake and exhaust ports, and designed slightly bigger valves to enhance airflow. Ferrea Racing Valves produced the valves using an experimental, high-heat alloy. Spark plugs were the snag in this area and Herb is currently trying to come up with an answer to the cry for a colder heat-range plug for the Three-Valve head. Paul Svinicki stepped up and provided guidance for Sutton on gapping and tuning the engine with plugs that are technically too hot for this setup.

While that might be all-well-and-fine for a stock '05 modular powerplant, it all goes out the window when 20-plus pounds of boost from a methanol-injected, Vortech JT-Trim are thrown in the mix. To get around the obstacle, Jerry fabricated a set of cam-timing gears and degreed the cams. By doing this, VCT was eliminated and the fixed-position timing opened the door to actually being able to tune the engine and make the big horsepower.

Ford's new, Three-Valve cylinder head design has been one of the most talked-about qualities of the new Mustang's engine. In theory, with two intake valves and radically redesigned (rectangular) and shorter (dropping almost directly into the combustion chamber) intake ports on these new heads, a lot more air and fuel is combusted. What's important here is that more horsepower (than the amount produced by Two-Valve heads) is generated mainly because of the larger volume of air moving in and out of the cylinders.

Herb Yancer, of Competitive Edge Racing Cylinder Heads [(941) 809-1866] in Sarasota, Florida, received the call to make Project 505's good heads even better. Herb elected to port the heads and he designed the custom intake and exhaust valves that were made by Ferrea. The intake and exhaust valves are a half-millimeter bigger (diameter) than stock. The exhaust valves (actually Cobra valves with 7mm stem milled down to 6mm, so OEM springs, retainers, and keepers could be used) were made from an experimental alloy specifically for high-heat, power-adder applications. He also hogged out the intake ports and re-shaped the D-shaped exhaust ports to increase flow. There's one interesting thing to keep in mind with respect to the cylinder head modifications; the heads maintain their stock cam-lift specs, which is one of the main roadblocks to Project 505 generating Renegade-level horsepower.

To eliminate the tuning challenges that were certain to happen thanks to Ford's new Variable Cam Timing system, Jerry VanDerLinde designed and created a set of custom cam-timing gears and eliminated VCT altogether. Fixed-position timing helped make tuning the motor much easier. The engine's front cover required some customization to stop an oil leak caused by a slight difference between the Cobra block and the '05's 4.6 block.

While it's believed that stock Three-Valve heads can flow well enough to make nearly 400 hp, Jerry VanDerLinde believes that 800 hp is attainable. "There's no question we can make enough power to put the car in the eights with this setup if we had a higher-lift cam and better springs were available," he said. Herb also assembled a stout short-block, using an '03-'04 Cobra block and crankshaft, Manley Pro Series lightweight rods, and CP pistons coated by Dave Mitchell of Pro-Tech Coating. This solid short-block gave the Sutton team a great foundation for making radical power, without scattering the lower end in the process.

NMRA Renegade racer Bob Cook brought Ricky Best of Vortech on board with Project 505, right at a point when the general newness of the '05 Mustang almost nixed the idea of using a blower altogether (the preferred YSi-Trim Renegade blower was not yet in development for the '05). The key to getting it done was Vortech supplying its JT-Trim blower and the most critical element, a prototype set of brackets for the '05 Mustang application. Jerry took the bracketry that was provided and made the remaining pieces needed in order to get the supercharger mounted. He also fabricated the inlet tube for the supercharger and included a Vortech Max Mondo bypass valve. The bypass valve vents pressurized air in the intake system (boost) back into the inlet tube when the throttle is suddenly shut. Without it, that high intake pressure would blow the intake tube away. "Jerry put countless hours into designing this vehicle and he made more than 40 of the one-off pieces that are on the car," Randy said. "Each day, he would go over the issues we faced with the project and come up with a way to overcome any obstacle. Without his talents, the project would have never been completed."

So many tasks, so little time.

Another area of concern was the transmission. The Tremec TR3650 gearbox definitely wasn't up to handling the kind of power expected from Project 505, and at the time, an SFI-rated, manual-transmission bellhousing was unheard of for an '05 Mustang, so it was decided that a C4 automatic would be the team's best bet. A Dynamic transmission with transbrake and 4,800-stall torque converter were installed under the Mustang and connected to a custom driveshaft that was designed by Jerry and replaced the factory's two-piece shaft. Rearend upgrades were also necessary; an Eaton differential, Moser axles, and Ford Racing Performance Parts 4.10 gears were chosen to replace the factory parts that were bound to break at some point.

Paul Svinicki, of Paul's High Performance, welded in a custom eight-point rollbar without compromising any of the stock interior panels, headliner, seats, etc.

Randy gives Paul Svinicki, of Paul's High Performance [(517) 764-7674; www.paulshp.com], the credit for creating, in a sense, an entirely new brake system-front and rear- for the car and the custom eight-point rollbar. Paul also set up the front and rear suspension, which features his own custom antiroll bar. Again, with the challenge being the unavailability of aftermarket performance parts, Paul had to develop a race-quality disc brake setup and all other chassis and suspension components for the 'Stang.

After nearly 50 pulls on the chassis dyno (where Jerry tuned the blown 4.6 using SCT's Xcalibrator piggyback tuner) and with an estimated 635 hp at the rear wheels, driver Tony Vece guided Project 505 to a 10.56 e.t. at 128.5 mph at its dragstrip debut in early April. Unfortunately, the magic number came just a few days after Justin Burcham accomplished the feat at Englishtown. Not to discredit Justin-he is the first in the 10s with a Three-Valve-but, looking beyond that benchmark, the Sutton team could become the first in the 9s with a Three-Valve motor, as continued testing has shown that Project 505 has the potential (10.10 seconds at 133.5 mph) to blaze into that time spectrum well before you finish reading this story.

The 8.8 rearend was fortified with welded tubes and FRPP 4.10 gears, Moser axles, and an Eaton differential. Note the Paul's High Performance adjustable upper control arm for the three-link.

Randy Mohrbach, Jerry VanDerLinde, Doug Garrity, Pat Shephard, and Andy July transformed an '05 stocker into one cool, street/strip brawler (the car has been driven to and displayed at several local shows) in three months, while behind the eight ball of not having any of the aftermarket parts resources that are now becoming available for '05 Mustangs. So, you ask, what's the bottom line in all of this? It's simple. We all love to hear about good things happening for others who share this passion for extreme Mustangs, especially when their achievement is the result of a lot of hard work and dedication to a project. The hardcore crew at Sutton High Performance demonstrated this type of dedication in creating Project 505, and in the process of doing that, also helped pioneer performance technology for a new car that has captured the interest of 'Stang fans everywhere.

Project 505 left the factory with a stick transmission. Realizing the Tremec 3650 would probably not last long behind 600 hp, the Sutton crew went with a Dynamic C4 transbrake tranny, and 4,800-stall torque converter. Installing this unit was no easy task. The Sutton guys had to overcome serious alignment issues for the SFI scattershield and fitting the B&M shifter inside the car, all in an effort to make it look like it actually belonged there.

Vortech supplied its V-7 JT-Trim supercharger for Project 505. Randy and his team wanted to make the kind of horsepower that could have their 'Stang running with NMRA Renegade cars. Prototype brackets for the '05 application were provided by Vortech's Ricky Best, and Jerry made any additional pieces that were needed to mount the blower and set it up to work (custom eight-rib pulleys).

He also produced this inlet tube that includes Vortech's Max Mondo bypass valve. Jerry's inlet, and discharge ducts, were completely new for blown '05 'Stangs; the parts had not yet been completed by Vortech while the project was underway.

Aeromotive's A1000 pump anchors the return-style fuel system. Sutton High Performance made all the fuel lines for Project 505. Just as they reverted to a return-style fuel system, Project 505 ditched the domineering Spanish Oak processor in favor of an EEC V from a '98 Cobra. Not only did this ease the transition to a return-style fuel system, but it also allowed beefing the ignition system to handle high rpm and 20 pounds of boost. MSD DIS 4, coil packs, and wires light the fire in place of the stock coil packs.

Paul's High Performance designed and installed a custom coilover drag suspension and disc brakes. These parts and many others had to be custom-made for the car due to the limited amount of aftermarket parts that were available. As the builder of one of the first modified '05s ever, Paul Svinicki was no stranger to the things that could and could not be done to the car's chassis.

According to Randy Mohrbach, Jerry "MacGuyver" VanDerLinde is the true heart and soul behind Project 505. Jerry put countless hours into making many of the one-off parts for the car, and figuring out the functions of the SCT Xcalibrator to dial in the engine's tune on the dyno.

The inside of this Mustang is stock as a rock. This car was made for the strip and the street. The factory leather seats, power windows, door locks, etc., were all retained. A B&M Hammer for the C4 automatic tranny replaces the stock, five-speed shifter.

This potent 4.6 almost looks stock sitting in the engine compartment of Project 505, with its plastic intake manifold, coolant tank, and other OEM items still in place. The transition from Electronic Throttle Control required developing a new idle-air control system for the engine and Jerry also modified the intake manifold to work with an Accufab throttle body. Sutton High Performance achieved more than 600 hp with this engine and JT-Trim blower combination. A K&N filter, SCT Big Air mass air meter, and JBA's long-tube headers cannot be seen in this photo, but collectively they handle the incoming and outgoing air for this engine.