EngineSC 5.0L V8
As Tested Price$137,095
"I always wanted to do a Mustang," Henrik Fisker told me as we walked toward his latest creation, the Rocket, parked outside the Inn at Spanish Bay in Pebble Beach, CA. The man knows a thing or two about design, after all. He penned the BMW Z8, as well as the Aston Martin DB9 and V8 Vantage. But this Rocket is, well, ugly. The rear end isn't totally terrible, and those 21-inch wheels are sort of cool, but taken as a whole, it looks like it swallowed something it doesn't like the taste of. But beauty is in the eye of the beholder – or perhaps, the creator – so we'll let Mr. Fisker explain why the car looks the way it does. See the video below for his brief design walkaround.
If you can get past the looks, there's a world of performance to unleash, thanks to the boys at Galpin Auto Sports – the same folks responsible for the GTR1 I drove last year. The Mustang's 5.0-liter V8 gets a 2.9-liter Whipple supercharger that improves output to 725 horsepower (the torque figure isn't available), and the car's suspension has been thoroughly reworked to help put all that grunt to the ground. It's very good, yet very familiar. Let me explain.
- Like the stock Mustang, it's really easy to drive. The car fires up with a growl, you move the shifter into first gear, and the action of engagement is as solid as it is in the normal 5.0-liter car. Both the clutch and throttle have a progressive action, so it's super easy to launch the Rocket (sorry).
- Once you get going, there's a ton of power to unleash. It doesn't smack you in the face right up front, though – the power delivery is smooth and linear. Easy to manage, too, thanks to that slick six-speed manual transmission. Credit Ford (and Getrag) for making a manual that's able to handle so much extra grunt.
- That said, the Rocket feels like your typical fast Mustang. It goes like hell in a straight line and there isn't a ton of steering feel. Galpin retuned the electronic power-assisted steering, but it's still too light considering the added power of the car. Initial turn-in is sharper than in a stock Mustang, and it's a welcome improvement, but I want more feedback while turning.
- Upgraded front Brembo brakes with six-piston calipers are available, and they do a nice job of stopping the Rocket with immediacy. They don't bite too hard upon initial action; instead, you get nice, secure stopping feel without the car getting all squirrely.
- The upgraded suspension components are great. Galpin says that instead of cranking up the aggression on standard dampers, the team took already-harsh race units and softened them for added compliance on everyday roads. The dampers aren't too harsh for normal street driving, but keep the Rocket planted and balanced while cornering. Combined with the more aggressive turn-in from the steering, I felt very confident throwing this thing into turns at high speed – more so than in any other tuned Mustang I've driven to date. (Note: I have not driven the Shelby GT350. Yet.)
- The interior gets a less-gaudy-than-the-GTR1 Galpin treatment, with red, Italian leather everywhere. (Seriously – the seats, dashboard, center console, door panels, and rear deck panel are all covered.) There's also suede on the pillars, headliner, and some interior panels.
- It's still a Mustang, though, meaning the controls are logically organized and easy to use, there's a MyFord Touch infotainment system, and all of the usual Track Apps and things in the gauge cluster.
Galpin's creation does a lot of things right, and feels genuinely special. But for $110,000 – or $137,000, as tested – it ought to. That's more than twice the price of a base GT350. It's not the prettiest 'Stang by a long-shot, but it's really great to drive, and is a totally unique creation that's more powerful than anything Roush or Saleen is doing these days. Those who want it will love it. And there's certainly nothing wrong with one more fast Mustang in the world.