We don’t make a habit of bringing modified cars to PCOTY. While there is precedent with Peter Dichiera’s CSVs about 20 years ago, in recent years our main event has been on OEM-only affair. So what changed?
The obvious muscle car entrant this year was the Ford Mustang R-Spec, but the combination of that car’s heat sensitivity and this year’s contest being held in the height of summer was unlikely to be a happy one.
Having been impressed with not just the SM17’s power but its chassis modifications, not to mention the steps Herrod took to improve durability, we reasoned that anything the R-Spec could do the SM17 could do better.
Its 10th place suggests we were mistaken but a closer look reveals a slightly different picture. While the mighty Mustang sits in 10th it is a mere half-point behind the Audi RS6 and only one point behind the GR Yaris.
Unsurprisingly, it scored best in Performance, that 578kW supercharged V8 endowing the SM17 with acceleration to match the PCOTY-winning GT R Pro.
Combined with the noise it makes, it’s arguable whether any other car at PCOTY whitened knuckles under full throttle like it.
The SM17 completed more than half a dozen runs without the slightest degradation in trap speed, which hasn’t always been MOTOR’s experience with modified Mustangs. This much power requires respect, but it’s also useable thanks to the wider rims, fat Michelin Pilot Sport 4 S tyres and unique calibration for the MagneRide suspension.
The same changes certainly went a long way to putting the SM17 fourth on the lap time chart with an impressive 1:33.7sec. There might have been more in it, too, but sadly the Herrod could only manage one flying lap before the coolant temp soared into the red.
Our experience took the Herrod folk by surprise and they’re investigating as it doesn’t match their testing, but it’s fair to say the SM17’s lack of stamina was disappointing. The other Achilles’ heel is part-throttle mapping, which is the primary reason most judges marked the Herrod down heavily for accessibility.
In that crucial 20-80 per cent range there isn’t enough finesse, especially when you’re controlling the best part of 800bhp.
Nevertheless, Herrod can hold its head high with the SM17. Bar on track, where it backed itself off rather than blowing up, it completed the entire week without a single hiccup, while producing some stunning numbers and scaring a few people in the process.
If you like your cars on the wild side... – SN
0-100km/h: 3.70 sec
0-400m: 11.42 sec @ 206.95km/h
Lap Time: 1:33.7
Sit down, strap in, hold on, and hope to see you on the other side
A scud missile with a steering wheel that can struggle to keep its cool
Possessed pony manages to harness its dynamite thrust... just. Not quite OE tempered in areas it needs to be
Virtually a DNF. There’s genuine talent here but it seemed only to be able to cover 6000 metres at full noise
The Mustang turned up to 11. Or perhaps 12. Flawed but such an experience