Herrod Performance Mustang

Herrod the Great unleashes full fury, with finesse

NATHAN PONCHARD

FIRST AUSSIE DRIVE

WITH Ford US having put the kybosh on building any right-hook Shelby GT350 ’Stangs for us muscle-car-loving folk, muscle-car-loving folk, here is a ‘factory-aftermarket’ solution for anyone who finds that situation unacceptable: the Herrod Performance Ford Mustang GT.

As an official Ford Performance Parts distributor, Rob Herrod’s slick operation in Melbourne’s Thomastown knows a bit about making Mustangs meaner.

And if you go by the figures, this supercharged 500kW-plus monster puts the official 392kW/581Nm GT350 in the shade when it comes to mumbo. No, it doesn’t rev to 8250rpm, but surely 7000rpm is enough?

Given $21,500 and seven to 10 days to spare, Herrod Performance’s ‘standard’ package incorporates a supercharger kit (using a Roush blower) with a Ford Performance calibration, a Ford Performance cat-back exhaust system, lowered Ford Performance springs, Ford Performance bonnet struts, grooved disc rotors with high-performance pads, and extensive additional heat shielding to protect vital parts of the driveline. You also get ‘Powered by Ford Performance’ front-guard badging and a Herrod Performance build plaque on the dash. Besides that, your Mustang GT could still look stock-as-a-rock.

But not this six-speed manual Grabber Blue beast. An FR3 suspension pack ($2000) which incorporates completely new front strut assemblies, new anti-roll bars at both ends, and new rear springs, dampers, bushes and a different lower arm for the multilink IRS all feature in this car, to brilliant effect. Plus it has a shortthrow shifter, a gorgeous GT350R Alcantara steering wheel, matteblack 20-inch Momo rims with Pirelli P Zero rubber ($3900), and a bunch of other visual enticements (see right) to make it look nastier than a mugging at knifepoint.

On the road, it’s a grower, building admiration with refined sophistication. Sure, this thing is seriously bloody quick, annihilating gears with rapid-fire intensity if you bury the right pedal, but it’s also an incredibly driveable and domesticated brute.

The 20-inch Momos don’t feel any heavier than the stock GT’s 19s, and the suspension changes actually improve the Mustang’s ride. There’s less of a reaction to road joins and less vertical movement, making the Herrod car feel calmer, yet better controlled.

For all its visual bluster, this is a seriously capable long-distance cruiser, backed by a super-tall sixth for some semblance of range.

Even fatter Pirelli P Zeros (265/35ZR20s up front and 285/35ZR20s down back) raise the grip threshold to contain the muscle, yet when the rear starts to nudge wide, it’s progressive and clearly telegraphed. Brilliant chassis balance, too, undermined slightly by the Mustang’s somewhat remote three-mode electric steering system. The weighting in Sport might work in serious cornering, but it could be more talkative.

And then there’s the drivetrain.

It’s surprisingly docile, without the slight torque hole off the line that demands extra revs and clutch slip in the stock Mustang for brisk getaways. And there’s a glorious rumble around 2000rpm that fulfils every acoustic desire.

The flipside of all this is a superhero-esque mountain of muscle simmering away, aching to annihilate the horizon. But what we didn’t expect is the Herrod Mustang’s sophisticated feel. This muscle car has manners.

PLUS & MINUS

More exhaust burble and crackle would be ideal; steering a bit aloof Feels factory; better ride than base Mustang; tight shift; mega muscle

Model Engine Max power Max torque Transmission Weight 0-100km/h Economy Price On sale Herrod Performance Ford Mustang GT 4951cc V8 (90°), dohc, 32v, supercharger 500kW @ 6500rpm* 750Nm @ 4000rpm* 6-speed manual 1800kg* 4.5sec* n/a $88,945 (as tested) Now *Estimated

COMPLYING DEVELOPMENT 01

The icing on the cake with this blown ’Stang is that it’s fully ADR-complied, which should appease insurance companies, and the exhaust meets Euro 5 emissions. Ford Performance USA also covers all driveline components and modifications when fitted by Herrod’s outfit.

TOUCH OF EVIL 02

Cabin is near-identical to the stock GT’s, except for a lovely Alcantara-clad wheel rim ($850), a short-shift gear throw with eight-ball-inspired Ford Performance gearknob ($950), and a classy Herrod Performance dash plaque with individual build number.

TASTEMAKER 03

Optional bodykit consists of a bonnet scoop ($995), quarter panel scoops ($465), and a rear spoiler ($775). The quad exhaust and rear valance come as a package ($2100), and Herrod offers a lower front grille ($450) to blend with the upper section.

It’s all unexpectedly tasteful.

Factory fettling

Ford Oz has just announced it will offer a selection of Ford Performance options through its dealers. Bits include a mandrel-bent 2.5-inch exhaust system from the cat back with dual 4.0-inch tips in either chrome or black. An FR3-M9 Track Handling Pack brings lowered springs, new front struts and upper strut mounts, new anti-roll bars, rear dampers, rear toe links and toe-to-knuckle bearings.

Or you can just have the springs, dropping ride height by an inch. Manual versions can also be optioned with a short-throw shift kit and Ford Performance gearknob.

Order your Mustang optioned from the time of purchase and you get Ford’s full factory warranty; existing owners who add the gear get a 12 month/20,000km warranty.

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