The Ram's Eye - A Driver's Blog: 2014



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Friday, 5 December 2014

Chevy Corvette Z06 or Nissan GT-R Nismo




Inevitably, comparisons between the new +Chevrolet Corvette Z06 and the +Nissan GT-R Nismo are being made. Before I get to any discussion, here are the performance numbers for each:


Corvette Z06 (manual)Corvette Z06 (auto)Nissan GT-R Nismo
0-30 mph1.5 sec1.3 sec1.2 sec
0-40 mph2.1 sec1.7 sec1.7 sec
0-50 mph2.6 sec2.3 sec2.2 sec
0-60 mph3.2 sec3.0 sec2.9 sec
0-70 mph4.1 sec3.8 sec3.7 sec
0-80 mph4.9 sec4.7 sec4.7 sec
0-90 mph5.9 sec5.6 sec5.8 sec
0-100 mph7.2 sec6.8 sec7.0 sec
1/4 mile11.3 sec @ 126.2 mph11.1 sec @ 127 mph11.2 sec @ 125 mph
braking 60-0 mph91 ft91 ft97 ft
braking 70-0 mph128 ft128 ft145 ft
figure 822.5 sec @ 0.98 g (avg)22.5 sec @ 0.98 g (avg)22.9 sec @ 0.91 g (avg)

The manual Z06 acceleration numbers are based on Motor Trend's test because they tested a manual and the auto's numbers are based on Car and Driver's test because they tested an auto. The GT-R Nismo acceleration numbers are based on Car and Driver's numbers because they published full acceleration tests although it is worth noting that Motor Trend got a tenth (0.1) sec better 14 mile time of 11.1 sec. 60-0 mph braking and figure 8 numbers came from Motor Trend tests and 70-0 mph braking are from Car and Driver's test. 




The GT-R obviously has a small launch advantage but the 8-speed automatic Vette catches up by 80 mph. The manual loses too much time shifting, though, and never catches up based on test numbers although I expect the power advantage of the Vette to come into play beyond the test numbers (once speed is further into the triple digit range). The Corvette has a clear handling advantage, though. A lot of people would probably credit the handling advantage to the Michelin Cup 2 tires but Nismo could have easily spec'ed similar tires for the GT-R plus they aren't nearly as extreme as the Cup tires use on the last generation ZR1. The GT-R is even more of a limited edition than the Vette so it would be more justified. I'm not sure why Nissan didn't use grippier tires to be honest. If I had to guess, I would say that it's to protect drivetrain components.

I know that many owners who track their GT-R's use slicks or DOT track tires but if something breaks out there, Nissan doesn't have to foot the bill for the repair but if you're on the road with grippy tires and something breaks before the warranty is out, it's on Nissan. I don't see any other possible reason. At about $150,000 a piece, cost wasn't an issue during development and judging by how hardcore and limited this version is, being street friendly was not a priority - only performance. I think a remote possibility could be bragging rights - to say that the car is capable of certain lap times on very street friendly tires. With that said, I would like to see the GT-R on similar tires go up against the Vette. I do expect the Corvette to be faster around a track by a good margin, probably 2-3 seconds faster around VIR than the GT-R.

During its brief stay with Motor Trend, Randy Pobst laid down a lap time of 1:30.2 around Road Atlanta in the Vette. A track prepped Nissan GT-R laid down a lap time of 1:29.9 on Michelin Pilot Super Sports. The car is the Forged Performance FP800 GT-R which should have nearly 800 hp at the crank with turbo upgrades and supporting modifications as well as suspension work that was set up for NASA trials. For reference (regarding tires), the C6 Corvette ZR1 had a best lap time of 2:51.8 on the standard Michelin Pilot Sport PS2 tires (basically the last generation Pilot Super Sports) and 2:50.7 on the Michelin Pilot Sport Cup tires, both at VIR during Car and Driver's Lightning Lap features. These Cup tires are actually less aggressive than the Sport Cup 2 tires used on this Z06 and the Pilot Super Sports used on the GT-R are better than the Pilot Sport PS2 tires used on the ZR1. All this means that the better tires (Sport Cup 2) on the Vette are worth less than a second compared to the more streetable Pilot Super Sports used on the FP800 GT-R yet it only managed to be 0.3 seconds quicker with less practice in the Vette by its driver. The GT-R Nismo should have a power disadvantage of nearly 200 hp so it should be considerably slower than that. Don't expect it to be that easy to get those lap times in the GT-R. either

One thing that a lot of people accuse the GT-R of is being too easy to drive and anyone can go and put down a hero lap time. This can be a compliment since it is easy to be fast or a criticism since it takes less skill and does the work for you. I think it is untrue all together. I haven't driven a GT-R but here's what I think. Based on reviews and personal experience with advanced AWD cars and track driving, that won't be the case. AWD can't fix lack of skill. If you brake early or late, the car can't help you. If you apex early or late, the car can't help you. Sir Jackie Stewart once said in an interview with FHM that when he started driving, he thought there were three parts to a corner - corner entry, apex (mid corner) and corner exit. Now, he realizes that there are eight. That's right, eight parts. Here they are:

1 - Getting off the gas/accelerator
2 - Getting on the brakes
3 - Getting off the brakes
4 - Turn in
5 - Wait for apex
6 - Roll in the gas/accelerator
7 - Unwind steering
8 - Corner exit

AWD can help you with turn in if the car differentials are tuned to purposely channel torque to the outside wheel to help the car rotate but that doesn't make the car easier to drive IMO, just different. The only point that AWD would help you with is number 6, where AWD gives you a lot more room for error. You don't have to be as careful with throttle roll in, you can put a lot more power down and you don't have to worry about the car doing something unpredictable. Getting this part right has a huge effect on lap times, though. To quote Sir Jackie once again, the avid Top Gear (UK) fans might remember the episode where James May took some coaching from him and I remember him saying that the exit of the corner is far more important than the entry of the car with regards to speed. That's where the GT-R shines. The added stability also applies to car behaviour under power in general and gives you more confidence to push the car harder. Other than that, you're on your own.

With that said, I still would take the Vette. There are three main reasons for that: a good V8 in the front, manual transmission in the middle and RWD in the back. The definition of a proper sports car in my opinion. Beyond that, I'm also using my experience with my car (a 2012 Mustang Boss 302) versus my experience driving a 2011 Mitsubishi EVO GSR. The EVO felt too clinical. I wish I could use a term less abused by auto journalists but I can't think of a bette word. Going on power had no drama, no emotion. It felt like a simulator, your only indication of increasing speed is the building of g-forces and the outside world moving. The Boss was a completely different beast and I suspect that the difference between the GT-R Nismo and the Corvette Z06 is similar to that between the EVO and the Boss. Being a long time Corvette fan doesn't help either. I do hope I get to drive both or at least one of each at one point or another, though.

Which would you take, a C7 Corvette Z06 or a Nissan GT-R Nismo?
C7 Corvette Z06
Nissan GT-R Nismo


Monday, 1 December 2014

2015 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 Test Numbers




This isn't "A Closer Look". I don't have a second opinion, criticism or a different view. I simply have to include the performance numbers of a new Corvette Z06. Especially when they're blistering. 0-60 mph in 3.0 seconds. 3 seconds flat. From a front (mid) engine, RWD car with a starting price under $80,000. With a manual, this number drops to 3.2 seconds. The full acceleration numbers are:

0-30 mph (auto/manual): 1.3 sec/1.5 sec
0-40 mph (auto/manual): 1.7 sec/2.1 sec
0-50 mph (auto/manual): 2.3 sec/2.6 sec
0-60 mph (auto/manual): 3.0 sec/3.2 sec
0-70 mph (auto/manual): 3.8 sec/4.1 sec
0-80 mph (auto/manual): 4.7 sec/4.9 sec
0-90 mph (auto/manual): 5.6 sec/5.9 sec
0-100 mph (auto/manual): 6.8 sec/7.2 sec
1/4 mile (auto/manual): 11.1 sec @ 127 mph/11.3 sec @ 126 mph




It is worth mentioning that the numbers were recorded by different sources. Car and Driver tested the automatic and Motor Trend tested the manual but the gap makes sense so take that for what it's worth. Handling shouldn't be different between the manual and the auto. Braking from 60 mph to 0 took just 91 ft. Braking from 70 mph took 128 ft. That's just mind boggling compared to cars either magazine have been testing.

Motor Trend got 94 ft from 60 mph from a Porsche 918 Spyder. Average lateral g was 1.12 g for the 918 Spyder. For the Z06? 1.16 g. The only handling number that's lower for the Corvette is Motor Trend's figure eight which was 22.2 sec @ 1.06 g average for the 918 Spyder and 22.5 sec @ 0.98 g average. Remember, though, the Porsche has a 237 hp advantage. Randy Pobst said that the Corvette's chassis could use another 100 hp. With another hp, you can look for that figure eight to be even tighter. Still, the 22.5 sec time makes it the second fastest ever, only after the hyper fast 918 Spyder. 




The reviews from both magazines are filled with comments about it being incredibly fast, stable, and easy to drive. It comes with an automatic. It comes as a convertible without a performance penalty. For a purist, that's blasphemy. But as an accomplishment, it's astonishing. 

The only thing you could complain about is that it weighs 3,533 lb which is nudging 4 seater territory of this caliber but how can you complain when the numbers are that fast? I have recently learned that an electronic differential can be over 60 lb heavier than a Torsen limited slip differential because of all the clutches and motors (Source: Car and Driver on the Lexus RC F). Chevy also says that, with the third stage aero package, it produces more downforce than any other car they have ever tested including Porsche 911 Turbo S, Ferrari 458 and McLaren 12C and I'm sure the aero components add a few pounds. I would like it, though, if GM did a more focused version without the luxuries like heated and cooled seats, WiFi, and many others that I'm sure the Vette has.

The standard Corvette with the Z51 package already stunned me at Car and Driver's Lightning Lap 2014 with a lap time of just 2:53.8. I have no doubt that this car will be well within the 2:40's at next year's Lightning Lap, probably with a lap time in the 2:45 to 2:48 range. I can't wait to see it. Ford cannot come back with a new Ford GT soon enough! For full test reviews, here are links to tests done by Motor Trend (manual) and Car and Driver (auto).


Tuesday, 25 November 2014

2016 Cadillac ATS-V Sedan




Here it is in all its glory. The coupe stole the lights from those with the early leak and the bright white paint job but this, this right here is the piece de resistance for me. I don't know what it is about fast sedans that makes them so appealing to me. I think it's the fact that a sedan body style isn't as cool or "fast" looking as a coupe. It's there because of function. It has more space and more doors for easier egress and ingress. A coupe is for style. It's for fun. By definition, you compromise on practicality just for the sake of some kind enjoyment. For me, the ultimate enjoyment comes from driving it and a fast sedan means that it excels at everything you ask of it. The same applies to fast wagons. For more information, visit the earlier post: 2016 Cadillac ATS-V Leaked.




For more pictures, visit GM Media website: 2016 ATS-V Gallery. Which one would you choose, this or the coupe? Sound off in the comments below!


Tuesday, 18 November 2014

A Legend Returns: The 2016 Ford Mustang Shelby GT350




I feel like a kid on Halloween night who has just been told he can eat all his candy that night. Or even better, it's Christmas morning and all the gifts under the Christmas tree are mine. I don't even know why because It's not like I can buy this anytime soon but I'm getting all giddy just reading about it. Meet the Mustang Shelby GT350; the return of a legendary name.




There has been many rumours about this flat-plane crank 5.2L V8 "Voodoo" engine that's naturally aspirated. The rumours are true. It has an 8,200 rpm redline. If that's not impressive enough for you, consider this. This a V8. A big V8, not a V10 or V12. It's a 5.2 litre V8. Ford said it will have more than 500 hp. I expect it will be between 510-520 hp. GM said that the LS7 they're dropping in the Camaro Z/28 will have more than 500 hp and ended up with exactly the same amount as the C6 Corvette Z06, 505 hp. The GT350 shouldn't be aimed at the Z/28 as it should be more street friendly but I suspect Ford will still want to one-up the hp figure. That means as close as makes no difference, 100 hp per litre. Jamal Hameedi, chief engineer of Ford Global Performance Vehicles said: “Make no mistake, this is an American interpretation of a flat-plane crankshaft V8, and the 5.2-liter produces a distinctive, throaty howl from its four exhaust tips.”

For those who don't know why a flat-plane crank shaft is special, a short and sweet explanation is given in the press release: "The 180-degree, flat-plane layout permits a cylinder firing order that alternates between cylinder banks, reducing the overlap of exhaust pressure pulses. When combined with cylinder-head and valvetrain advancements, this permits better cylinder breathing, further extending the performance envelope of the V8."

All this American muscle goodness will be routed through a light-weight six speed manual transmission. Helping put the power to the ground as a Ford Racing Torsen limited slip differential. The one that was put in the Boss 302 made a huge difference in corner exit speed and this one will no doubt make excellent use of this car's power. 8,200 rpm, big naturally aspirated V8, more than 500 hp, six speed manual and a Torsen limited slip differential. Awesome.

More interesting bits include an injection-molded carbon fiber composite grille opening that's said to improve stiffness and an optional lightweight tower-to-tower brace. Ford has also finally agreed to put proper sized wheels under its cars with 10.5 inches wide front and 11 inches wide rear wheels. The wheels are extra stiff and light weight 19 inches alloy wheels wrapped in Michelin Pilot Super Sport tires. The tires are designed specifically for the GT350 with unique sidewall construction, tread face and compound. Bringing all this to a halt are 15.5 (394-millimeter) inch discs up front clamped by 6 piston Brembo callipers and 15.0 inch (380-millimeter) discs at the rear clamped by 4 piston callipers.




Rounding off the suspension upgrades are recalibrated springs and bushings, lowered ride height, widened front and rear tracks and, for the first time, magnetorheological shocks or MagneRide dampers in Ford speak, like the ones used on Cadillacs, Corvettes and the Camaro ZL1. The shocks are said to be capable of responding to road conditions every 10 milliseconds.




On the outside, the bodywork is unique from the A-pillars forward with a new new aluminum hood that has been lowered and sloped, compared to the base Mustang. It is tightly wrapped around the engine for the smallest possible aerodynamic signature. The fascia has been resculpted to provide the aggressive lower front splitter with maximum pressure. The belly pan is ducted to deliver significant downforce. The hood outlet acts as a heat extractor while also reducing underhood lift at high speed. A functional rear diffuser sits between the quad exhaust tips and increases downforce while providing cooling air to the optional differential cooler. A lip spoiler increases downforce without adding drag. Front fender vents flank the wider front fenders to draw out turbulent air in the wheel wells and smoothly direct it down the side of the car. The grille is designed with individual openings to draw air through the radiator, high-pressure engine air intake, cooling ducts for the front brakes and, optional with the Track Pack, an engine oil cooler and a transmission cooler.




New Recaro sport seats that are different from the ones that were used in the Boss 302 and GT500 are found in the interior and should be equally at home serving daily driving duties or track excursions. Further improving ergonomics is a flat-bottom steering wheel that replaces the standard one and Ford even went so far as reducing or eliminating chrome and bright finishes to prevent sun glare that may distract the driver. A new driver control system allows selection of five unique modes. ChangIng modes affects ABS, stability control, traction control, steering effort, throttle mapping, MagneRide tuning and exhaust settings. 

Those who aren't looking for just performance can check the box next to the Tech Pack. This adds power, leather-trimmed seats, Shaker Audio, 8-inch MyFord Touch® LCD touch screen, dual zone electronic temperature control, and more features. I expect all the new tech and added features should make this car about 200-300 lb. heavier than a Boss 302 but it should have the power and suspension to easily deal with the added weight. I suspect this will post a best lap time of 2:55-2:57 at VIR in next year's Car and Driver's Lightning Lap. I can't wait to see it. For now, here's a video where you can hear that V8 sing..




I wish I could walk to the local dealership and ask them to give me a call as soon as ordering is available. I don't want to give up on (i.e. trade) my Boss 302 yet so it will be a very long time before I can have one. Here's hoping +Ford Motor Company brings a demo out here to the Maritimes and I get to take it out for a test drive, or even better, take it to the track and compare it to the Boss. I'll have one with the Track Pack please. For more information, you can visit Ford's official release: SHELBY GT350 MUSTANG.


Friday, 14 November 2014

2015 Tesla Model S P85D - The World's Quickest Sedan




I love sleepers. A picture of this car could be put in a dictionary next to the word "sleeper". The styling isn't aggressive. The brand, if recognized, would be recognized as an electric car maker not a performance car maker (except for the avid car enthusiast). It's a four door. It even doesn't look any different from the pedestrian Model S 60. And to top it all off, the electric motors noise (or lack thereof) won't be convincing anyone they're V8s or anything with enough power to worry about. That couldn't be further from the truth, though.

This is the fastest accelerating sedan that Motor Trend has ever tested. 0 to 60 mph arrives in just 3.1 seconds. The 1/4 mile passes in 11.6 seconds at 115.2 mph. For a full review and the rest of the stats, go to: 2015 Tesla Model S P85D First Test.




There are a couple of things I don't like about the car, though. For one, the interior. I don't know why every one is going crazy over this centre screen. Maybe I'm old fashioned but I find it huge. It looks like an afterthought; far too large for a car. Every time I look at a picture of the interior, it looks like someone took an oversized iPad and stuck it in the middle of the car. It may be a part of making a statement because of the fact that this car is supposed to change the traditional concept of a car with the electric powertrain and continuous updates. Maybe it looks better in person or maybe it looks better to more tech savvy drivers but I don't like it.




The other thing I don't like about this car is how it performs. It certainly isn't the actual performance (i.e. performance figures/capabilities) but rather how the car achieves those figures. For example, the acceleration times are blistering but 1/4 mile trap speed is very low (for the time), even by AWD standards.

For example, in an earlier Motor Trend test (Comparison: Luxury Super Sports Sedan)
the Audi RS7 did the 0 to 60 mph sprint in 3.2 seconds (only 1 tenth behind the Tesla) and ran the 1/4 mile in 11.6 seconds, exactly the same time as the Tesla. The trap speed? 120.4 mph - more than 5 mph faster despite a slower 0 to 60 mph time and an identical 1/4 mile time. The same story goes for the Mercedes CLS63 S AMG, which is even slightly slower to 60 mph and the 1/4 mile mark than the Audi, yet it crosses the traps at 122.7 mph - a whopping 7.5 mph faster than the Tesla. The Porsche is even slower than the Mercedes but still traps higher than the Tesla. The same applies to the slower Model S 60, which is comparable to a Chrysler 300C in specs, yet it has a slower 1/4 mile trap speed. What gives?

The problem (I believe) is the single speed transmission. Electric motors are always touted as being better than gasoline engines because they achieve their peak torque at 0 rpm (i.e. all torque is available from a standstill). What companies neglect to tell, though, is the fact that torque drops off after that and, like gasoline engines, electric motors have a power curve (i.e. they make their peak power at a certain motor speed/rpm and less power at speeds slower/faster than that). Gasoline-powered cars get around that problem with transmissions that have multiple speeds. The point of this is to keep the engine operating at the optimum speeds regardless of road conditions. Under light load, keep the rpms low to improve efficiency and under heavy load keep the engine at high speed to increase power.




Electric motors, though, have a much, much broader power curve and can safely rev much higher than gas engines. Moreover, electric motors can operate much more efficiently at different engine loads without changing engine speed. All of that means that you can get away with a 1 speed transmission, reducing weight, complexity and cost. The downside, is that you don't stay on the power as long compared to, say, that Audi RS7 which has an 8-speed automatic. The Audi can rev up quickly due to a low first gear to get to the peak power and as soon as the power starts to taper, you change gears and you're back on peak power and then you change gears again and so forth. The result is that you have peak power for more of the time which means higher speeds.

I don't mind the lower speeds per se, although it will change our gauge for power if the future really is electric cars (i.e. when you hear a car has 691 hp, you no longer think trap speeds above 120 mph). What I don't like is the other changes that come with it. Will electric cars ever have nearly as many speeds as gas cars? It would be a waste of money, weight and cost because they don't need it so I would say no but there's something about changing gears. It's engaging and entertaining (hence many enthusiasts lament the near extinction of manual transmissions). It's also great to go over that peak power, change gears, and do it again, again and again.

The electric car will change how we have fun with cars. The noise is gone, the traditional build up of power is gone and changing gears is gone. It will give us something in return, though. A more efficiency way for us car enthusiasts to still have fun. A way to still enjoy driving when the world would rather us not. I do love the Model S P85D and I wish I had one. If the future has as many cars like the Model S P85D when processing oil is no longer feasible as we have Mercedes AMGs, Cadillac V-series cars, BMW M-cars and Audi RS cars today, I say welcome to the future!


Thursday, 13 November 2014

The Cadillac ATS-V is already doing Burnouts

"Now you see it. Now you don’t. See it all November 18." That's all what Cadillac said under the Youtube video so I'm going to leave it at that.




2016 Cadillac ATS-V Leaked




450 hp and 445 lb-ft out of a twin turbo V6, six speed manual and an e-locking differential, probably of the same variety used on the C7 Corvette Stingray. These details are just about enough to know about the 2016 Cadillac ATS-V to know that you want one. The ATS-V seems to have been leaked yesterday and it looks menacing. The fantastic looking ATS has been chiseled to produce a much more aggressive look that is distinctly Cadillac but the good news don't stop there.




More juicy bits include titanium connecting rods, two water-to-air intercoolers, titanium turbines for the turbos and an additional radiator dedicated to cooling the gearbox and diff. GM has been using Michelin tires on many high performance models and this is no exception as Pilot Super Sport tires will keep this car stuck to the road and suspension roll stiffness has been turned up 50%.




The car should weigh around 3,600 lb and while that isn't lightweight, it's right around what you would expect right now for a small, fast luxury coupe. The M3/M4 cars come a little under 3,600 lb but with the Cadillac's added power, the little additional weight should not be a problem. Judging by the Corvette's performance at Car and Driver's Lightning Lap 2014, this car will probably punch far above its weight its weight. I suspect that, at VIR during next year's Lightning Lap, the ATS-V should be at least as quick as the Camaro ZL1 which posted a lap time of 2:57.5, the same as an Audi R8 V10 Plus.




If I had one compliant, it would be the quad exhaust arrangement which looks a little too similar to the M-division BMW's. I like the look, but I don't like that it isn't unique. Other than that, the car looks great and sounds like it will drive even better. Hopefully, we get to find out more details at the LA Auto Show, which should also include the reveal of another very highly anticipated car. The performance model that has been teased by Ford which is expected to be the Mustang GT350.


Tuesday, 11 November 2014

2015 Mustang GT Ford Racing/Roush Supercharger Kit




Remember the 2015 Mustang GT that broke into the 10's in the 1/4 mile with a bunch of Ford Racing parts? Original Post: 2015 Mustang GT breaks into the 11's in the 1/4 mile! A modified naturally aspirated Mustang did a 11.77 s at 116.2 mph and a supercharged one did 10.97 s at 128.9 mph. Well, after Ford debuted the King Cobra Mustang at SEMA, it announced that they will offer a King Cobra package through Ford Racing. Ford says that an early version (of the King Cobra) was tested on Milan Dragway in Michigan and posted an elapsed time (ET) of 10.97 s which is identical to the time posted earlier in the promotional video.

The King Cobra package apparently isn't a single package but rather a group of Ford Racing packages - the Drag Pack, the Handling Pack and the Super Pack. More information about the parts has been released about the included parts which are:


The Drag Pack:

  • Heavy-duty half shafts 
  • Rear sub-frame kit with pre-installed high-performance bushings


The Handling Pack:

  • Lowering springs (approximately one inch lower) 
  • Upgraded dampers (front struts come pre-assembled with the springs 
  • Stabilizer bar kit.




Super Pack (key components):

  • 2.3L Twin Vortices Series (TVS) supercharger assembly, co-developed and co-branded by Ford Racing and ROUSH Performance
  • Six-rib belt drive system
  • Intake manifold
  • Electronic throttle body
  • Air inlet system
  • Fuel rail and high-flow fuel injectors
  • Complete air-to-liquid intercooler system
  • Ford Racing performance computer calibration.

I suspect the parts not revealed yet in the "key components" are just plumbing and mounting hardware.

The good news is: anyone can easily turn their 2015 Mustang GT into a 10 second car (assuming you can afford the parts of course). What's even better is that Ford Racing parts are warrantied if installed by an authorized dealer. The bad news is: the fact that it is a combination of three packs means that it will probably be expensive. I figure it will probably be between $9,000 and $10,000 for all the parts without labour. With that said, it's still great value since you could have a reasonably optioned GT plus all the parts for about $50,000 which will handle and go like stink and embarrass very expensive machines and still have a warranty.


2005-2014 Mustang Lower Control Arms (LCA) and Axle Alignment

As some of you may know, a few weeks ago I ordered some lower control arms for my Mustang. I decided to go with the UMI Roto-Joint units because of their claim of providing the proper articulation like a spherical rod-end while avoiding most of the degradation in ride quality. They do this using two different types of bushings, a traditional polyurethane bushing on the chassis side and a unique bushing called Roto-Joint on the axle side. The Roto-Joint is a spherical-like design which uses a pivot ball lined with a greaseable delrin race, which replaces the metal housing in a ball joint and absorbs more shock reducing NVH.

So far, the control arms have been living up to the expectations. I was just smiling ear to ear the first time I floored it. I was in 1st gear and the last time I was that aggressive with the throttle in 1st gear, wheel hop was terrible. Wheel hop is not 100% gone, which is to be expected since you need upper control arms to get rid of all hop, but it was very brief and was more like a mild shudder or vibration than a hop. Not only that, but traction is hugely improved and the rear end feels more solid going over bumps. To learn more about them, visit: 2005-2014 Mustang Lower Control Arms- Poly/Roto-Joint Combination.

Unfortunately, though, I couldn't install the LCAs myself because I didn't have the time to do it before the last track day of the season. I wanted to try it out at the track before having to wait until next summer so I got it installed. I did have some time to check on it over the weekend, though, and found that it needed adjusting. In the process of uninstalling the control arms, the rear axle moved and the control arm was no longer lined up with the mounting hole on the axle side so the bolt could no longer fit. Here's what I did to fix it.

1 - The first thing I had to do was jack up the rear end of the car. Since I usually work under ramps, the rear suspension was fully loaded so I couldn't move the axle. For add a layer of safety in case the jack stands fail, I slid a portion of the ramps under the rear tires to keep the rear end raised. Some people also take out the wheels and put them under the frame to support the car in case of failure.

2 - Unbolt the Watt's link or PH bar from the axle side to allow the axle to articulate more freely.

3 - This is the third step that I did but I don't know if the next step would have eliminated the need for this. I articulated the axle up/down and front/back on the driver's side until I could fit the bolt through the axle mount and control arm. Do not tighten the bolt.

4 - With the car's weight still supported on jack stands, jack the rear end from in front of the diff housing, right behind the flange where the driveshaft bolts to the diff. The housing is long and jacking towards the end of it rotates the axle and allows the bolt holes to line up. Be sure not to jack up too much to prevent starting to support the car's weight from the diff. You are NOT supposed to jack the car from the diff and although some people say they do it, I chose to follow the manual and never do it.

5 - Slide the second bolt in but do not tighten.

6 - Raise the car back up so that you can slide the ramps fully under the rear tires and then lower car securely on the ramps.

7 - Tighten the bolts. Torque spec is 70 lb-in.

I was able to rotate the axle in step 4 so that it lined up perfectly. I'm not sure if having one of the bolts in (step 3) provided a pivot point and allowed the axle to rotate to where it's supposed to be or that was just a waste of time and effort so I would recommend trying that before anything since it takes very little time and if the holes don't line up, try to get one bolt in first. It would be easier if you took out the springs since they provide resistance to axle movement. I didn't do that because I hadn't tackled it before didn't want to add more time to the job that was already starting to take longer than it should but otherwise I would have. It would also be much easier if you had a friend around to lend a second pair of hands, specially if you don't take out the springs. I managed to do it alone so it can be done but it would be much easier with extra help.

It can be frustrating and take a lot of trial and error to get them to line up and when the car isn't on a lift, that can be a huge challenge due to the lack of space. Make sure the car and the jack stands are secure before you try anything and don't attempt to move the axle by applying any sudden force. Also note that this is not install/uninstall instructions. Follow the manufacturer's instructions for replacing the control arms. This is only for attempting to align the axle should it get out of alignment.


Saturday, 8 November 2014

2012 Mustang Boss 302 - Stock vs Heartthrob Flowpack Axle-Back Video





As promised, here's a video comparing the stock axle backs to the Heartthrob Flowpack units I installed a few weeks ago. The video shows start ups, both cold, and a few revs after the car had warmed up. The video doesn't do the difference in volume justice but you can tell the difference in tone with a good set of headphones or speakers. For a full review, go the original post: 2012 Mustang Boss 302 - Heartthrob Flowpack Axle Back Exhaust.


Thursday, 6 November 2014

Car and Driver's Lightning Lap 2014 - A Closer Look

Yes, Lightning Lap 2014! I thought they were going to skip 2014 all together but luckily they didn't. I know it has been available for a while in the paper magazine but I am not subscribed so I wait for it to be available online to read it. The full article is here: Car and Driver - Lightning Lap 2014. This is easily one of my favourite magazine features of the year. As always, my car picks aren't necessarily very quick or slow. They simply did much better or much worse than I excepted them to. With that said, I would like to get one car out of the way. The Focus ST.


The Highs:



LL1 (Up to $35,000) - Ford Focus ST: This car made it to last year's feature, Lightning Lap 2013, and it was on my "Lows" list (Car and Driver's Lightning Lap 2013 - A Closer Look). It posted a very mediocre-for-the-class 3:21.4. I said last year that "I wouldn't be surprised if, with more seat time on the track and a true limited slip differential, the Focus ST may be well under the 3:20 mark." The car was hit by misfortune when it was forced to miss the second day of lapping which is usually the day with the fastest laps. They invited the car back and sure enough, the car posted a best lap of 3:17.6, nearly a full 4 seconds off last year's time. Moreover, that's without a proper mechanical limited slip diff (LSD). Where is the Focus RS?





LL2 ($35,000 to $64,999) - Chevrolet Corvette Stingray Z51: This car makes every other car look bad. With a lap time of 2:53.8, it hugely embarrasses much more expensive cars. I am still struggling to figure out how it managed to do that time. Is it the electronic diff taking advantage of every ounce of traction the car has and putting down the power well? Is it the Magnetorheological shocks doing their job and keeping the wheels pressed hard into the ground? I think this is a great case of a car where the sum of its parts results in performance that far exceeds the whole. The stiffer (57% more than the C6 according to GM) and balanced chassis, the e-diff, magnetic shocks, etc allow this car to punch far above its "weight".

The Jaguar F-Type R Coupe, with a supercharged V8 making 550 hp only managed a best lap of 3:01.0; over 7 seconds slower. Think it's unfair because of the 500 lb disadvantage the Jag has to carry? Consider this, the BMW M4, which is just over 150 lb heavier than the Corvette, has a quick shifting dual-clutch auto and is also rear wheel drive with an e-diff, only manages 3:00.7 which is almost exactly 7 seconds slower. Let that sink in. Yes, the M4 has a power disadvantage on paper, but in all tests, it consistently posts a higher 1/4 mile trap speed by about 2-4 mph over the Stingray so it isn't power that is the problem. The weight disadvantage, 166 lb to be exact, does not result in a 7 second disadvantage. How did Chevy pull that off?





LL2 ($35,000 to $64,999) - Cadillac Vsport: The first thing to remember is that this is the skim version Vsport with a twin turbo V6, not the full fat, supercharged V8 CTS V replacement everyone has been waiting for. Despite that, it is only 2.8 seconds slower than the outgoing CTS V despite a power disadvantage of over 130 hp. Even more impressive, it managed to basically match the much more powerful Jaguar XFR-S (3:06.8 for the Cadillac vs 3:06.7 for the Jag). The Jag makes 550 hp, 130 hp more than the Cadillac, and it also comes courtesy of forced induction (a supercharger) so both engines should have a very meaty power curve. The Jaguar does (once again) carry a large weight disadvantage of 463 lb so that could cost it a lot in the corners but this just further emphasizes the impressive package that is the CTS and how much lighter it is than the competition.





LL2 ($35,000 to $64,999) - Mercedes-Benz CLA45 AMG: I don't know if this and the CTS Vsport are along the lines of what should be expected due to progress but I'm impressed nonetheless. At 3:05.9, it's within spitting distance of the last generation Cayman S, 911 Carrera S and BMW M3. It's even only 0.7 seconds behind the current M5. When Mercedes/AMG first announced that the car will make 355 hp out of a 4 cyl turbo, I wasn't impressed. I wasn't underwhelmed, I simply have seen plenty of reliable tuner 4 cylinders that make that power. The impressive part is using that power.

The WRX STI, for example, has 50 hp less but also weighs a good 157 lb less (3,388 lb for the STI vs 3,545 lb for the small Merc). The CTS Vsport and Corvette Stingray managed to pull the trick of being faster than the competition while being lighter but less powerful. The STI, though, is nearly 5 seconds slower (4.6 seconds to be exact, at 3:10.5) so unlike the GM siblings which did more with less, the Subaru couldn't even match, let alone beat, the competition. I know the STI and the CLA45 AMG aren't in the same category and probably wouldn't be cross shopped but they should be competitive in performance. Keep in mind that both cars are AWD. According to the article, though, the STI is much more engaging so take that for what it's worth.





LL3 ($65,000 to $124,999) - Chevrolet Camaro Z/28: Is there some sort of a pattern here? Another GM car? I don't know if GM recently hired a bunch of chassis engineers that are really bright, enthusiastic or both or it simply had all that talent buried under layers of bad management. Either way, they seemed to have figured out how to extract a lot more out of a car than others can (with a few exceptions). With a lap time of 2:50.9, it very nearly matches the C6 Corvette ZR1 with the Michelin Cup tires (2:50.7) and the new Ferrari F12 Berlinetta, the one with 730 hp (2:50.8). Moreover, it beats cars like the current 911 Turbo S and the non-Nismo Nissan GT-R. Yes, the car wears massive tires and they are very sticky but they are street tires, the likes of which can be found on special editions of other performance cars from different manufacturers. They did lighten the car a little but at 3,861, it is hardly a featherweight or a stripped out street legal race car. There is some chassis magic at GM and I hope they keep bestowing it on future models.





LL4 ($125,000 to $244,999) - Nissan GT-R Nismo: This car surprised me not because of this performance alone but rather its performance on Laguna Seca during Motor Trend's Best Driver's Car feature (Motor Trend Best Driver's Car 2014 - A Closer Look). Out there, it was just over 1 second quicker than the run of the mill (and more than $50,000 less expensive, 55 hp weaker) GT-R. I was expecting a similar performance here, with a slightly bigger gap due to VIR being longer than Laguna Seca. That wasn't the case though. The gap here more than tripled to nearly 4 seconds long, with a lap time of 2:49.4 vs 2:53.2 for a 2012 GT-R.





LL5 ($245,000 and above) - Porsche 918 Spyder: I don't want to say too much here so that I don't take away from what this car accomplished. With a lap time of 2:43.1, it comfortably sits as the fastest car with the next fastest being the Mosler MT900S posting a lap time of 2:45.9. The Mosler could be quicker at the hands of a professional as they said in the test back in 2008 that their skills could not "fully exploit its capabilities." But I'm sure the Porsche would also shave some time off the 2:43.1 lap in the hands of a pro. The point being, it is in the same league. This car is seriously, seriously quick. Judging by the commentary, it seems every bit as quick from behind the wheel but unfortunately, I don't think I would ever experience that.



The Lows:





LL3 ($65,000 to $124,999) - Jaguar F-Type R Coupe: This is the second time I have put this car in the lows. The first being this year's Motor Trend's Best Driver's Car. I will say something; I haven't been fortunate enough to drive this car but I have heard and seen it in person. The way it looks and sounds suggests just how good it would be to drive.. and judging by how owners and reviews talk about it, I can probably guarantee that from behind the wheel, lap times would mean absolutely nothing to whoever is driving it. But since these lists that I put together depend on objective figures, it had to be included in the "Lows." At 3:01.0, the car is no slouch and sits mid-pack among the LL3 class. It is only beat by one car from the lower LL2 class, the Corvette Stingray. The Corvette beats every other car from the LL3 class, though, except for the Camaro Z/28 and even beats half the cars in next class up, the LL4 so there's no shame in that. The reasons why it's on the list are: in its class, the price tag is near the top, the hp output is near the top, it has the best power-to-weight ratio and the looks and the R badge suggest a much faster car.





LL5 ($245,000 and above) - Ferrari F12 Berlinetta: No one in the right mind would call this car slow. But a time of 2:50.8 means it's slower than cars like the Viper TA, the C6 Corvette ZR1 and only 0.1 seconds quicker than the Camaro Z/28 as mentioned above. It is even almost a full second slower than Ferrari's own 458 Italia. Aside from the ultra rare and exclusive LaFerrari, this is Ferrari's flagship. It also happens to have 730 hp. I think I'm right in saying that, aside from the hyper fast 918 Spyder, this is the most powerful car ever to participate in the Lightning Lap. To make matters worse, it is wearing the same sort of tire that the Camaro Z/28 is wearing (Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 vs the Camaro's Pirelli P Zero Trofeo R). So how is it that a humble Camaro that weighs about the same (the Camaro is 11 lb. lighter) with a similar type of tire but a whopping 225 hp disadvantage manage to basically match this Ferrari around the track? I would be surprised if, in the hands of a professional driver, the Ferrari wasn't faster but the results we have here are very disappointing for Ferrari and very impressive for Chevy. I'm sure, though, that if you're one of the lucky few who can get behind the wheel of an F12 Berlinetta, the first time you let that V12 sing you won't be able to care less about its lap times.


Conclusion:

Aside from those two, no other cars were really much slower than I would have expected so that's it for this year's Lightning Lap. Overall, I liked this year's feature better (more cars!) and will be looking forward to next year's. With possible cars like the Focus RS, Corvette Stingray Z06, and Mustang GT and GT350 (if that's what they end up calling it), it's bound to be even better.

For a full list of lap times for this year's and previous years' cars, go the following link which will take you to Car and Driver's sortable list: Lightning Lap 2014: Complete Times 2006 to 2014. I'm sure most people would disagree with at least a couple of the cars above so let the comments begin! What cars above do you agree or disagree with you? Would you add other cars to either list? Sound off below!


Thursday, 30 October 2014

How-to install Axle Back on 2011-2014 Mustang V6, GT, Boss 302 & GT500

There are plenty of videos and write-ups online about how to install axle backs but I couldn't find any covering installation while the car is on ramps with little room. I don't know for sure if all the models are identical since I only have experience with the Boss 302 but I don't see why Ford would over complicate it and mount mufflers differently so I included all models in the title to make it easier to find when searching.

The first thing to keep in mind is safety. Disconnect negative battery terminal, ensure that the mufflers aren't too hot before you tackle this and wear safety glasses. I also feel more comfortable using ramps over jack and jack stands but if you use jack, make sure you secure the car on jack stands and not rely on the jack. I use Rhino ramps and so far, they haven't shown any sign of stress. I highly recommend them. If you use ramps, make sure that the tires are centered on the ramps.

Tools:

Drive extension bar
Drive extension bar with a swivel/hinged joint
Ratchet & socket set
Super grease
You might also need a flashlight to see exactly where some of the bolts are.


1 - Unbolt the rear muffler hanger mount. There are two bolts and they are tough to get to so you'll need the two extension bars to get to it and have the leverage.

2 - Unbolt the exhaust piping clamps. I had to give the pipe a couple of bangs with a hammer to get it loose due to rust. There is a small welded clip holding the clamp in place too. You may need to pry it up to allow the clamp to move loosely.

3 - Pull the stock muffler off the midpipe. This will take some moving of the mufflers back and forth to loosen. Spray some super grease on the front hangers to make them easier to slide.

4 - Once the the muffler is loose, there will be a lot more room to slide the muffler all the way back and out of the front mounts. If you have a Watt's link, you may need to unbolt the front hanger mounts like you did earlier with the rear. The driver's side has three bolts while the passenger side has two for some reason.

5 - Pull the rear hanger mount uninstalled in step 1 off the muffler. Grease helps a lot. If you uninstalled the front hanger mount in step 4, pull it off as well since it will be reused.

6 - Slide the front and rear hanger mounts on the new axle back mounts and the manufacturer supplied clamps on the exhaust pipe. If you didn't uninstall the front hanger mount in step 4, slide the rear hanger mount on the new axle back and then slide the front hangers in the hanger mounts while they are on the car.

7 - Install the rear hanger mount on the car first. I found this to be an easier way since you have a lot of flexibility to move the front facing side around to get it to fit on the midpipe. If you uninstalled the front hanger mount in step 4, leave it uninstalled for now. If you didn't, you may need to untighten the bolts a bit to give yourself more room to move the exhaust around to get it to fit.

8 - Once the axle backs and the midpipes are fit properly, get out from under the car and take a step back to look at the exhaust tips. You may need to fiddle around with the axle backs a bit to get them centered in the diffuser cut outs.

9 - Bolt the front hanger mount back in if they were uninstalled. Don't tighten until you recheck that the tips are still centered.

10 - Tighten the exhaust clamps to manufacturer's spec and reconnect the battery terminal.

11 - Start the car up and enjoy!


Monday, 27 October 2014

2012 Mustang Boss 302 - Heartthrob Flowpack Axle Back Exhaust




A few weeks ago, I started the car up and realized that I forgot something so I ran back in to grab it and when I walked out, I noticed that there's a lot more vapour pouring out of the side pipes than the rears (as the car was warming up). I read many articles that said Ford designed the side pipes for noise and they flow very little compared to the rears. It certainly seemed like there's more flow through the sides than the rear (although I do have the side baffles completely removed). After that, I decided that I wanted an axle back exhaust. I'm obviously not expecting any power gains (nothing more than a couple hp anyway) but I was ready to turn up the decibels!

I decided on the Heartthrob Flowpack kit (the picture above is of a Mustang GT from Heartthrob's website, not mine) and bought it from American Muscle. I was very pleased with shipping. It shipped on the same day despite ordering in the afternoon and it only took one week to deliver despite being in Canada. I wasn't too pleased with the packaging though and its condition. I have ordered my fair share of aftermarket parts and most parts are packaged to not allow movement inside the box and provide support for the shipping box to keep it rigid. The box was damaged; sort of bulging where the ends of the exhaust pipes where and one of the tips was very, very slightly bent. The deflection was less than 2 mm (around 1/16") and can't be seen unless you are under the car. The quality of the packaging is probably Heartthrob's fault but for $279.99, it was just about the cheapest available with "mufflers." The condition of packaging though is either American Muscle's fault or UPS. There is a chance it could have come that way from Heartthrob but American Muscle would still be partially to blame because they shouldn't have let it ship that way if that were the case. Anyway, it didn't bother me that much so I'll move to the important bit: what they're like.


Pros:
  • The noise is phenomenal. It adds a nice subtle rumble at idle that is very nearly as quiet as stock at idle and slightly louder under light load. It makes the exhaust note immensely deep and much louder under load just off idle, though, and all the way to redline. It is intoxicating. After installing it, I tried to find excuses to go out for a drive.
  • The noise out of the side exhausts is barely changed. I was worried the car would sound better overall but the noise would sound a bit distant while driving since more flow would come out the back and less out the sides compared to stock. That wasn't the case.
  • It is lighter than stock. Much lighter. According to my bathroom scale, it weighs 22 lb. less. While that isn't much on its own, it adds up quickly if you have plans to put the car on a diet.


Cons:
  • It isn't the nicest looking. If looks are a priority over noise and budget, you're better off buying a different one. It won't surprise you, though. It looks like it does on the website, not better or worse. You can go to any online store that carries it and compare it to nicer looking ones and see if you are satisfied with the looks. I will post pictures in another post as well.
  • It is made of aluminized steel as opposed to stainless.
  • Drone. There is a range of about 200 rpms between the 1,750 and 2,250 rpm markers on the tachometer where there is drone. The bad news is: it is bad. The good news is: it is a very narrow range that is very easy to avoid. It is really nice and quiet above and below that range in any condition. It is even very quiet in that range on the highway on flat, straight roads but if you are in 6th gear and you want to accelerate in that range or the road changes and you start going uphill, it gets bad. I simply downshift to 5th if I find myself in that position.

As for power, Heartthrob has a dyno sheet on their website that shows a gain of 8.5 hp on a Mustang GT - 363.9 hp stock vs 372.4 hp with the axle backs - which would work out to almost exactly 10 hp at the crank. Although it isn't a huge gain, I took that with a grain of salt and didn't base my decision on it. Now that I have installed it, the car feels like it pulls very slightly stronger. I don't believe that, if it does add any power, it would be noticeable from the driver's seat. If I tell myself that enough, I'm sure I will be convinced that the car pulls just as strong as stock but for now, it's tough when it sounds that much better! If it does add about 10 hp as the dyno runs claim, great. If not, that's to be expected from just an axle back.

If you would like to look at the dyno graph, go to this link: Heartthrob 2011+ 5.0 Flowpack Axle Back Dyno. The graph looks a bit odd with a large torque spike early on in the graph. However, the graph torque range is narrow (only between 300 lb-ft and 350 lb-ft) where most dyno graphs show 0 lb-ft as a minimum. The minimum rpm shown is also high at 3,573 rpm where most graphs start close to idle, at 1,500 - 2,000 rpm. These factors make make the normal torque curve appear as if it has odd spikes.

Overall, I am very happy with it. I don't think it's for everyone because of the drone and less-than-polished looks but I would buy it again. I will have to wait and see how the aluminized steel construction fares. Check back for pictures and videos comparing this exhaust to the stock one and an installation guide!


Tuesday, 21 October 2014

2015 Ford Mustang GT vs 2015 Chevrolet Camaro SS - A Closer Look




Well, this comparison was bound to happen. A 2015 Mustang GT equipped with the Performance Package vs a 2015 Chevrolet Camaro SS equipped with the 1LE package. Before we get to the numbers, let's look at how these performance oriented packages improve on the regular spec models.

The Mustang Performance Package ($2,495 USD/$3,700 CAD) adds the following:

  • Chassis stiffening through a Strut-tower Brace and a K-Brace
  • A Larger Radiator
  • Unique Chassis Tuning
  • Upsized Rear Sway Bar
  • Heavy-Duty Front Springs
  • K-Brace
  • Brembo 6-Piston Front Brake Callipers with Larger Rotors (15")
  • 19" x 9" front and 19" x 9.5" rear wheels (Gloss Black Aluminum)
  • Unique Stability Control, EPAS (Electronic Power Assisted Steering) & ABS Tuning
  • 3.73 TORSEN Rear Axle (differential)
The rear wheel size is 0.5" wider than those on the outgoing Mustang with the Track Pack which used 19" x 9" wheels front and rear. It also gets 255/40/19 front and 275/40/19 rear Pirelli P Zero tires as opposed to the outgoing Track Pack which brought 255/40/19 P Zero tires front and rear. The pack also adds non-performance-enhancing features like a Gauge Pack showing oil pressure and vacuum.

The Camaro, on the other hand, gets the following improvements through the 1LE package which, interestingly, is called the Performance Package on Chevrolet Canada website ($3,500 USD/$3,675 CAD):


  • 20" x 10" front & 20" x 11" rear forged aluminum wheels (Black Aluminum)
  • Tires: P285/35ZR20 BW Goodyear Eagle F1 Supercar
  • 3.91 Axle Ratio with a limited slip diff (LSD) which is a TORSEN unit, according to the video.
  • Performance Ride & Handling Suspension (unique shocks, springs, and anti-roll bars plus a strut tower brace)
  • Transmission: 6 Speed Manual w/unique gear ratios
  • Sueded Microfibre-Wrapped Shift Knob
  • Sueded Microfibre-Wrapped Flat-bottom Steering Wheel
  • Sport End Rear Spoiler

According to Motor Trend, the package also brings upgraded wheel bearings, toe links, shock mounts and fuel pump from the ZL1.

The results? well, both cars are tied in the runs to 60 mph taking just 4.4 seconds while the Mustang pulls ahead slightly by the 1/4 mile finishing in 12.8 s to the Camaro's 12.9 s run. The Mustang should continue to pull away, though, going past the traps at 112.2 mph while the Camaro manages "only" 110.5 mph. This should mean that, in stock form, the Mustang still has a slight edge in a straight line but this is almost irrelevant because both cars are rarely left stock by those who race them and they respond well to modifications so who is going to win is probably going to come down to modifications, a good tune and a good driver.

Things are reversed on a road course though. At Streets of Willow, the Camaro laid down a lap time of 1:22.7 while the Mustang did a 1:24.32 which represents a 1.62 second advantage to the Camaro. That is significant in a 1-minute-20-second lap.

Many Mustang fans are now probably either angry at Ford or blaming the driver or a host of other factors but there are a couple of things to consider. Ford probably knows the wide demographic of Mustang buyers and it didn't want to scare anyone away with an overly stiff ride. Some people are blaming the fact that the chassis is still new and cars improve with age and while that is very true, I think that Ford wanted the launch model year to be soft and comfortable for the average driver. Let's face it, car enthusiasts are not your average driver and there are more average buyers looking for something fast and sporty than enthusiasts looking for certain balance at the limit and lap times. It would also be easier to convince someone who is disappointed by the numbers to come back to a Mustang by putting a much more aggressive package rather than someone who found the launch model overly stiff to come back by softening the ride.

I'll be the first to admit that my car, a 2012 Boss 302, is underdamped from the factory. You can tell from the body motions. You won't get in the car and mistake it for an old Cadillac. It is stiffly sprung but the body motions aren't as well controlled as they can be, especially given what the chassis is capable of with a good set of dampers. Don't get me wrong, it's an extremely capable package but a food set of dampers go a long way. I have no doubt that with a really good set of dampers, the Performance Pack could really transform the 2015 Mustang GT into something else.

Finally, the wheel and tire package. One thing that is easy to notice is how much wider the wheels on the Camaro are compared to the Mustang. A wider wheels reduces tire squirm and increases stability, something that probably hurt the Mustang and was mentioned in the video. Combine the better footprint of the Camaro with better controlled body motions and you've got a winning combination.

The Mustang still made a great showing, it was simply a little overshadowed by the now aging Camaro. It was still 1.5 seconds faster than the outgoing 2014 Mustang GT with the Track Pack, but it wasn't enough to beat the 1LE. Now while that may seem like a failure considering the age of the current Camaro, I think there is some positive in the outcome. Ford benchmarked the E92 BMW M3 with the Boss 302 and it handily beat it. It took a huge leap in the power wars with the last Shelby GT500, producing 662 hp. The 1LE package is a few years now and it has already beaten the 2014 Mustang GT Track Pack. I think if Ford wanted the new Mustang to beat the Camaro, it would have. Nevertheless, a win is a win and if you want the best pony car to take to the track without modifications and want to worry only about tires, brake pads and fluids, the SS 1LE is the better car. Since it appears that Ford left the job of beating lap times to the upcoming GT350, this one is bound to be a beast. Here's hoping we won't have to wait much longer for the reveal and testing!


Monday, 6 October 2014

Dodge pulls factory-backed Viper from Road Racing




Very depressing news came from Dodge today when it announced that it will pull its factory-backed SRT Motorsports Viper from the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship after the 2014 season. This is just within days of multiple wins. SRT Motorsports won the 2014 IMSA TUDOR United SportsCar Championship GTLM-class driver and team championships in the season-ending Petit Le Mans 10-hour endurance race at Road Atlanta just two days ago, Saturday, October 4. It also finished second in the GTLM manufacturer championship, all in just its second full year of the program.

This and a strong heritage for Viper in road racing means that success can't be the problem. Why is Dodge pulling the plug? It is unclear but, according to Ralph Gilles, Senior Vice President of Product Design at Chrysler, it is a business decision. He said: “Our company has made a business decision to discontinue the SRT Motorsports Dodge Viper GTS-R racing program. We are very proud of the amazing achievements our fantastic teams, drivers and partners have achieved on track the last few seasons. We thank them for their hard work, effort and commitment to SRT Motorsports. It’s been an honor to be a part of the inaugural IMSA TUDOR United SportsCar Championship season and we wish them every success in the future.”

I can only think of funding as being the challenge. I hope that funding is the only problem and that it will be available to put back into the sport soon. For now, we will have to miss the Viper unless an independent team decides to go at it.


Thursday, 2 October 2014

2015 Mustang GT breaks into the 11's in the 1/4 mile!




It went 11.77 seconds to be exact and past the traps at 116 mph and that's with minor modifications. The modifications were courtesy of the folks at Ford Racing. They recently got a hold of three 2015 Mustangs, one with the 2.3L EcoBoost engine making 310 hp and two GT's with the 5.0L V8 making 435 hp.




The power modifications are minor for two of the three Mustangs. The 2.3 EcoBoost gets a "Prototype Off-Road Exhaust" which most likely means there are no catalytic converters or "cats", a more free flowing exhaust and a tune. One of the GT's gets the same off-road exhaust treatment and a tune plus "ARH Cobra Jet Long Tube Headers". In the video, they say they did "a few changes to the air intake system but basically these are close to what any consumer can buy" so they may have included a K&N drop-in filter which FRPP Performance Packs for the 2014 Mustang GT included or an aftermarket CAI with a cone style filter.

The final GT gets the full treatment which includes all the above plus a Ford Racing Roush supercharger and obviously a new intake to accommodate the supercharger. It is unclear what the boost psi level is for the supercharged GT and what the tune raises the EcoBoost psi to but the 1/4 mile numbers are great. Additional suspension parts and drag slicks help the drop the time.

The passenger and rear seats are removed and the driver seat is replaced with a race seat but that seems to be the extent of it for weight savings, probably to substitute for the roll cage and testing equipment if any are fixed to the car. If you pause at 2:18, you'll see one of the the mounting points for the front passenger seat surrounded by black (the carpet). I know the front seats on the S197 Mustangs weigh about 60 lb. each (mine weighed 57 lb. with the frame). According to American Muscle, a rear seat delete kit on the S197 Mustang saves "up to 30 lb."  Between the race seat and removed passenger and rear seats, total savings should be under 120 lb. The roll cage probably offsets most of that if not all so overall difference, positive or negative, compared to a stock interior is probably negligible.

If these parts are available through Ford Racing like power packs for the S197 and maintain warranty if installed by the dealer, it will make a lot of people happy. Watch the video above to see the new Mustangs going at it or scroll below to see a list of modifications and 1/4 mile numbers although no dyno numbers are listed.


2.3L EcoBoost - 1/4 mile: 12.56 s at 109.17 mph


Ford Racing parts:
- Performance Rear Subframe Kit
- Heavy Duty Half-Shaft Kit
- Draft Shaft Safety Loops
- Prototype Off-Road Exhaust
- Ford Racing Development Engine Calibration

Other parts:
- Hoosier Drag Racing Slicks (Rear)
- Weld-Racing AlumaStar Drag Wheels (Rear)
- Four-Point Roll Cage
- Recaro Race Seat


Naturally Aspirated 5.0L GT - 1/4 mile: 11.77 s at 116.21 mph

Ford Racing parts:
- Performance Rear Subframe Kit
- Heavy Duty Half-Shaft Kit
- Prototype Off-Road Exhaust
- Draft Shaft Safety Loops
- Ford Racing Development Engine Calibration

Other parts:
- Hoosier Drag Racing Slicks (Rear)
- Weld-Racing AlumaStar Drag Wheels (Rear)
- ARH Cobra Jet Long Tube Headers
- Four-Point Roll Cage
- Recaro Race Seat


Supercharged 5.0L GT - 1/4 mile: 10.97 s at 128.91 mph

Ford Racing parts:
- Ford Racing/ROUSH Performance Supercharger Kit
- Performance Rear Subframe Kit
- Heavy Duty Half-Shaft Kit
- Drive Shaft Safety Loops
- Ford Racing Development Engine Calibration

Other parts:
- Hoosier Drag Racing Slicks (Rear)
- Weld-Racing AlumaStar Drag Wheels (Rear)
- Four-Point Roll Cage
- Recaro Race Seat