Owning a Mustang no longer requires you to regularly attend rodeos and listen to Bruce Springsteen, as Ben Dunn’s supercharged Ford Mustang S550 so effectively proves. German sports cars: you have been warned…
Feature taken from Fast Ford. Words: Sam Preston. Photos: Jason Dodd
If we asked you to paint a picture of a group of American muscle car owners, what would be the first image to pop into your head?
Rightly or wrongly, there’s often a pre-determined set of connotations that we associate with those who run vehicles of specific marques and styles, which in this particular case are likely to revolve around huge, unrefined burnouts, plenty of drag racing and proudly pitching stars and stripes-adorned flags into the ground next to club stands.
And it’s exactly these naïve pre-loaded assumptions that made our first interaction with the owner of this fine S550-shaped Mustang here – Ben Dunn – all the more surprising…
“As far as I was concerned, the Ford Mustang was nothing more than a big lump of pig iron, just like every other American muscle car out there,” he rather frankly admits early on. “The key word being ‘was’, as I’ve since discovered the modern S550-shaped variant couldn’t be any further from this description!”
It’s clear from the outset, then, that Yorkshire-based Ben hasn’t followed the same path as many when it comes to Mustang ownership. So how did he end up in possession of this fine steed you see here before you?
Those who are fond of Japanese sports cars may already recognise the man for heading up Rotary Revs – one of the Europe’s biggest Mazda RX-7 and RX-8 rotary engine specialists – a job he still proudly carries out to this very day. “Although rotary power is still big business, it’s unsurprisingly in slow decline thanks to Mazda not releasing any new models with these engines for many years,” Ben continues. “With such cutting-edge facilities at our disposal, we decided the time was right to branch out…”
It’s for this reason that the recently-launched ‘Motorsport And Performance’ outfit was conceived – now capable of making any car out there much more enjoyable to drive, but particularly focusing on modern-day Mustangs thanks to a series of chance events with an old business friend, Robbie Kazandjian from Steeda EU.
Fast forward to a rather reluctant Ben finally snapping up his own S550-shape Mustang a year or so back, then, and it’s safe to say all of his prior expectations of this coupé were instantly blown clean out of the water.
“I soon realised I hadn’t fully ‘got’ this car,” he sheepishly reveals, overwhelmed with the way Ford had stepped things up a notch when compared to older models to help it directly compete against more sophisticated European metal. “I was amazed how well it not only pulled, but also handled and how refined it was inside… it seemed to represent far better value-for-money than its German rivals!”
Fascinated by this new, grown-up stance that Ford had boldly taken, Ben soon set his heart on spreading the message of this car’s greatness to as many potential new customers as possible, spurred on by becoming an official dealer of the much-loved US firm, Steeda, whose range of parts only seem to strengthen the car’s deceptively capable abilities without making a huge song and dance about it in the process.
“Ford had finally given its muscle car to Europe, so I decided to show them what the Europeans could do with it,” he puts it, promptly going to town on this black supercharged Ford Mustang S550 GT example with the refreshing brief of exploiting its driving dynamics without losing any of its impressive levels of maturity along the way – not something we’ve often seen with tuned Mustangs up until this point, it must be said.
As you’d expect with such a specific blueprint, one of the highest priorities from the outset was to ensure the car’s independent suspension-adorned chassis really was a worthy match to some of its more-respected counterparts. It’s why Ben and his workshop team could soon be found pouring practically the entire ‘chassis’ chapter of Steeda’s performance catalogue onto its underbelly, including the likes of anti-roll bars, billet vertical links and a heap of other bracing, alignment and strengthening goodies. “This successfully transformed it from a GT cruiser to a useable sports car,” Ben proudly explains, clearly delighted with the initial results.
Now protecting those huge Brembo six-pot brakes are some bronze Velgen alloys shod in sticky Michelin rubber – striking that perfect balance between helping the stealthy car to stand out enough to be admired whilst never over-stepping the mark – an ethos which has continued throughout the rest of the exterior thanks to subtle carbon fibre Paint Killers pieces and a low-flying Steeda rear spoiler that allow the car’s rippling factory lines to continue doing the majority of the talking.
Inside, the cleverly-spec’d tan leather interior continues to surprise and delight when it comes to the Mustang’s impressive levels of refinement, altered only with touches like a Steeda ‘Cue Ball’ gear knob and a billet start/stop button courtesy of 5-SPURS to help showcase just how far Ford has come with its long-running muscle car in recent years.
All very well and good so far, then, and it’s fair to say things could’ve happily ended around here, with Steeda well-known for making some impressive normally-aspirated tuning packages that act as an entry level into ramping up that 5.0-litre Coyote engine’s performance. But with such an accomplished machine now at his disposal, Ben had slightly more ambitious ideas…
Pop that long hood and you’ll now be greeted to a hefty 2.9-litre twin-screw supercharger staring back at you atop of that huge V8 lump – a Whipple unit that is similar to the one found on the brutal Shelby Super Snake. Also featuring a billet throttle body, huge 1000cc fuel injectors and the mother of all KOOKS tubular exhaust systems, this beast now offers up no less than 846bhp, combined with 701lb/ft of torque, to ensure this supercharged Ford Mustang became one of the very fastest cars you can now pilot down a British B-road.
It’s common knowledge that these bulletproof Coyote lumps can handle seemingly endless power upgrades without the need to upgrade the internals, so it’s down to some Modular Motorsports Racing goodies such as billet chain guides and oil pump gear to act as preventative measures and ensure the driver can man-handle the car in a guilt-free fashion despite all that extra grunt now being present – something which Ben ensures he does on a regular basis.
“It’s a manual, it’s a V8, it’s got 850bhp and it handles better than a Mazda RX-8… what on earth beats it for the money?!” Ben gleams, explaining how this impressive state of tune can be supplied by Motorsports And Performance for under £60k, which includes the price of a second-hand base car – not too shabby for what you’ll be driving away in, that’s for sure. “This car has embarrassed 911 Turbos and Teslas on numerous occasions… it really is a no-brainer.”
Ben explains how his plans in the near future involve attempting to convert as many petrolheads as possible to his way of thinking; pushing the envelope of what can be achieved with a Ford Mustang S550 and single-handedly altering that prancing horse badge’s reputation in Europe for the better. And you know what? We don’t think it’ll be long until his order books are completely choc-a-bloc…
Tech Spec: Supercharged Ford Mustang
5.0-litre V8 ‘Coyote’ engine (featuring Modular Motorsports Racing GEN X billet chain guides and arms, billet secondary tensioner bracket, billet primary tensioners, billet oil pump gear, billet crank gear and billet secondary chain guides), Whipple 2.9-litre twin-screw supercharger, Whipple 132mm billet elliptical throttle body, Whipple 3.625in supercharger pulley, Fuel Injector Clinic 1000cc fuel injectors, VMP Performance fuel pump booster, Mishimoto engine hose kit, Mishimoto 52mm 3-row radiator, Steeda coolant expansion tank, KOOKS long-tube exhaust manifolds with de-cats, full KOOKS 3in cat-back exhaust system with H-pipe, custom Motorsport and Performance ECU re-map
846bhp and 701lb/ft torque
Factory 6-speed manual gearbox, Steeda Tri-Ax short shifter set, Steeda adjustable differential bushing system, Steeda MT-82 transmission mount bushing insert
Full Steeda chassis upgrade system (featuring IRS alignment kit, IRS bush support system, IRS braces, billet vertical links, adjustable rear toe links, Extreme G-Trac brace, adjustable billet roll bar links, front and rear anti-roll bars, billet roll bar mounts and ultralight jacking rails)
Brembo 6-pot calipers and 380mm discs (front)
WHEELS & TYRES:
20in Velgen VMB5 alloy wheels in bronze, 265/35/20 (front) and 295/35/20 (rear) Michelin Pilot Sport 4 S tyres
Factory black paintwork, carbon fibre Steeda Q-Series rear spoiler, Paint Killers carbon fibre side skirts, rear valance, front splitter and foglight surrounds, APR carbon fibre lower front spoiler, Cervini front grilles, Motorsport and Performance retrofit headlight upgrade, Motorsport and Performance sequential rear indicators
Factory tan leather interior, 5-SPURS billet start/stop button, Steeda billet bonnet release, Steeda Cue Ball gear knob, HP Tuners N-Gauge digital multi-gauge (with touch screen, switchable maps and OBD connection)