Still hot, after all these years
By Lou Ann Hammond, Fri, 7 Jan 2005 08:00:00 PDT
When a car can be on the front of Hot Rod after 40 years of being around you know you have a winner. I was at Jay Leno's garage the other night, admiring a beautifully restored '66 Toronado. Jim Hall, one of the five guys Leno has working on it was standing next to me, in either a bodyguard or bouncer stance, depending on how aggressive I was going to be. I commented on how lovely the light brown look on the sculpted steel. He said I should see what was beneath the hood. We took a look and I gasped and he recited, they had made it a rear wheel drive, 1070 horsepower baby. This is the newest wave in tuner/hot-rod vehicles.
Forget the barnstorming mentality of ecking as much horsepower as you can out of a 4-banger. Martin Luther is back and he is sinning boldly and depending on how much money you have the bolder your sin, or in this case, horsepower. This new wave is known as resto-mod, or restoration-modern. The old look with new guts. It is only fitting that it started in Hollywood, where everyone with a pacemaker has had plastic surgery but kept their old name.
While other Manufacturers are getting on the band wagon of selling tuner parts as part of the package Mustang foresaw the future and did a restro-mod on it's 2005 Mustang. Doesn't hurt that the Chief Engineer, now the Director of Product Creation and Special Vehicle Teams (SVT) was Hau Thai-Tang. Thai-Tang is 3 years shy of being as old as the original Mustang. He saw his first Mach I while in Vietnam and fell in love. Not realizing that some day he might come to America or even better yet work on a Mustang project, ThaiTang could only dream. Dream no more.
It's been a year since Ford debutted the newest block on the block. The new '05 comes in four different flavors, all very competitively priced in their segment. The V-6 is smooth, the V-8 is more powerful, the GT is even better and the convertible is amazingly quiet when compared to the last version. If you want what could be the rare production model get on the waiting list go for the GT. The GT is an amazing machine, not just because it pulls 550 horsepower from the V-8, but because the engine is so well mated with the transmission. According to Ford the regulatory standards are changing and they will be making about 1,500 for 2005 and 2006.
I was able to drive the Mustang Saleen 281S stomping out 325 horsepower and if you have the money it is worth every dime. The Saleen is a colaboration between Steve Saleens group to build rocket ships that stay on the road and Ford's SVT group. When you're making image cars they are expensive to retool. Ford and Saleen have a relationship that allows both groups to showcase what they do best. The prototype I drove that bucked out a 400 horsepower and had a full glass sunroof was fun and an interesting concept.
According to Carroll Shelby it is more than talk that Ford will be making the Ford Shelby GR-1, which would follow the GT. Take a look at the lines on this beautifully sculpted concept car that was shown at the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance last August. It would take a Shelby chassis to be able to put a 6.4liter V-10 605 horsepower and 501 lb.-ft of torque in a car. Shelby laughs and says he hopes they start building it soon, after all he is 82-years old and has already had a pacemaker for 15 years. In his next breath he starts talking about the homebuilt airplane he's working on.