Meet the Ford Mustang R-Spec, a limited edition, homegrown supercharged special that will land in Australian Ford showrooms in early 2020 for around $99,980 with a full five-year warranty.
Denied the possibility of a Shelby import program due to the lack of right-hand drive availability, Ford Australia has teamed up with long-time Blue Oval tuning guru Rob Herrod and his team at Herrod Performance to deliver a power-packed Pony Car for the 21st century.
At the heart of the R-Spec is the Ford Performance supercharger kit, consisting of a Roush 2.65-litre blower, new lower intake manifold with integrated air-to-liquid intercooler, 87mm electronic throttle body, new air inlet system and fuel rails.
Ford Performance claims outputs of 522kW and 827Nm, but Ford Oz is keeping tight-lipped on local figures until the car has been certified. “We want genuine power outputs,” says Ford Australia’s Product Communications Manager, Damion Smy. “Whether it’s in a Focus, a Fiesta ST or whatever, we want real-world performance figures that are genuine. We’re not here for the biggest number for a quick headline.”
Expect Aussie outputs to differ slightly as the local certification process is different – US Mustang GTs produce 343kW/570Nm, which becomes 339kW/556Nm in Australia – and the R-Spec uses a different exhaust, built to Herrod’s specifications to Ford Performance supplier Borla.
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The engine calibration itself is the product of Ford Performance, which is the key to Ford Australia being confident enough to offer a full five-year warranty. “The check and balances on that kit, that’s all managed by Ford Performance in the States,” explains Ford Australia’s Special Vehicles Engineering Manager Justin Capicchiano. “they do all the validation and durability work. Our job is to deploy that kit in a productionised environment.”
To achieve that Ford Australia has set up a small-scale production line in its Campbellfield facility to turn standard Mustang GTs into R-Specs. The line will be staffed by Herrod Performance employees trained by Ford Australia to ensure OEM levels of repeatability and quality. “Doing what I’ve done for 40-plus years, I’ve had to be re-educated on how to productionalise the build of a car,” says Herrod. “It’s been a whole new learning curve.”
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Like the recent Bullitt, the R-Spec will be manual-only. The official line is that customers for these limited-edition cars – 500 vehicles will be produced – prefer manuals, but while that may be true, MOTOR understands getting the supercharged engine to work with the 10-speed auto in a certifiable package proved too high a hurdle.
However, while supercharged grunt is the R-Spec’s main calling card, it’s more than just an engine upgrade. Adjustable anti-roll bars are fitted, while new progressive-rate springs drop the ride height by 20mm and require the standard MagneRide suspension to be reprogrammed to suit.
Ford Performance rims measuring 19 x 9.5-inch front and 19 x 10-inch rear (a half-inch wider than standard) wear the same Michelin Pilot Sport 4 S tyres (255/35 and 275/35 front to rear respectively).
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The exterior styling is primarily the work of Dave DeWitt, lead exterior designer for the Ranger Raptor. The exact colour palette has yet to be confirmed, but will include both MY20 hero colours, Twister Orange and the Grabber Lime you see here.
All details above the ‘belt line’ – mirrors, vents, grille, rear boot panel, that giant spoiler lifted from the 2020 Shelby GT350 – are gloss black with everything below – wheels, lower skirts – satin black. An R-Spec badge replaces the standard GT at the rear, while inside it’s all standard bar a Ford Performance shift knob and scuff plates.
Ford Australia has publically said it’s been working on a supercharged Mustang program for a while, but with little progress most assumed it was dead. It’s a testament to the ‘car people’ inside Ford Australia, not to mention the crew at Herrod Performance, that a factory-backed mega-horsepower muscle car will soon be available.
“It’s been a passion project within Ford,” says Smy, “We’ve stopped at nothing to get a supercharged Mustang for our customers.” Capicchiano adds: “It’s touched every part of the business. If someone asks if you want to help out on a supercharged Mustang project, the answer is not no, it’s ‘yes and when can I have the keys?’”
We’ll bring you official specifications and, of course, a full review as soon as we can.