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.