In our world of insane power and race-inspired daily drivers, owners and builders continue to push the performance envelope. What was considered extreme 10 years ago is now mild at best, and as the American muscle car has evolved, so have the wants and needs of its drivers. Although big power is still at the forefront of most build plans, the desire for stability now goes hand in hand with speed. As the OEMs design and build better cars, the aftermarket strides to improve on the provided foundations.
APR Performance of Walnut, California, has stepped up to the challenge. Specializing in aerodynamic packages, APR has developed some of the most technologically advanced aero enhancements for the S197 Mustang. "We know the Mustang can produce massive horsepower," explains KC Chou, marketing manager for APR Performance. "But traction is limited due to the relatively small tire sizes that can fit within the bodywork. Our job is to design aerodynamic widebody components that accommodate larger tires, while producing downforce with minimal drag." The end result is APR Performance's nine-piece Mustang GT-R Widebody Aero kit.
Model: Melanie Tillbrook
APR's aero kit consists of a replacement front bumper, widened front fenders with wheel-turbulence vent ports, widebody side skirts, quarter-panel skins, a widebody drag-reduction rear bumper, a carbon-fiber vented hood, a GTC-500 widebody Mustang Spec Carbon wing, a carbon-fiber wind splitter with adjustable support rods, and APR's carbon-fiber rear diffuser.
The build began in March of 2008 with a few hand-sketched designs. As the design team decided on its likes and dislikes, the sketches were turned into 2-D computer renderings, which the team used to make its design and style changes before the final version was approved. Over the next few months, the 2-D computer model became a reality in the form of a foam model.
Once the foam model was complete, it took a team of three designers 1,400 man hours to construct the prototype body panels that make up this one-of-a-kind body kit. After all of the bodylines and detail work was perfect, APR used the nine prototype pieces to build the molds for the production body panels. The final design offered an extra 45mm of wheel and tire clearance in the front and 50mm in the rear. The body kit also gave the Pony a lower, more aggressive profile, bringing out its racecar-inspired persona.
While the tooling and molds were being completed, APR took advantage of the downtime to add a little extra power. The S197 went to SP Engineering in City of Industry, California, for some work under the hood and in the interior. A single T4 60-1 ball-bearing turbo from Turbonetics would soon breathe some extra life into the otherwise-stock Three-Valve 4.6L. A Spearco intercooler keeps the intake charge temperatures under control, while an Evolution wastegate keeps the boost levels in check. A fresh set of 60-lb/hr injectors, fed by a Ford Racing dual fuel pump kit, ensures the hungry mod mill always has enough fuel; a custom tune from SCT ties it all together. A slew of polished piping and detail work under the hood adds a little extra show to this Pony's go. The result is a healthy 550 rwhp with 8.5 psi of boost.
With the new turbo, the crew at SP realized the stock suspension couldn't handle the S197's newfound power. SP turned to KW Suspensions for its Mustang Variant 3 coilover kit. This gave APR complete control over ride height as well as ride quality for street and track use. SP also added a new set of sway bars from KW to replace the stock bars that once took up residence under the Mustang.
When the team at SP Engineering shifted its attention to the interior, things were kept relatively simple. The driver's compartment was updated with Recaro Profi Race seats, as well as four-point harnesses from AutoPower. A MOMO steering wheel replaced the stock hoop, and a slew of gauges keep the driver in touch with what's going on under the hood. Some carbon fiber from Carbign Craft ties the racy look of the exterior to the interior, and a Magden Auto M1 Performance Data computer monitors and records anything the driver may want to keep tabs on.
As the build carried into September, APR Performance knew the SEMA show would be the perfect place to unveil its wild widebody Mustang. Having received the first production body panels at the end of September, the APR team had a lot of work to finish to make the SEMA deadline. Once the new body panels were installed, the Mustang quickly went to paint. The Stang was coated with APR's Code Red hue from BASF.
With a significant amount of extra room in the wheelwells, choosing the right wheels and tires was a critical decision. When all was said and done, custom black-faced wheels from Work Wheels wrapped in Toyo rubber filled the new wheel wells perfectly. The front wheels are 20x9.5-inch and sport 285mm T1R Proxes, while the rears are 20x12.5 and use 345mm T1R Proxes to get the power to the ground. Behind the custom wheels, StopTech brakes add a big-brake look and give the car all the stopping power it could ever need.
When it came time for the SEMA show, APR Performance rolled in with one of the most unique Mustangs on display in 2008. Ford even awarded APR its Product Excellence Award. With extreme style and performance, we can see why.