Horses For Courses

Time to welcome a brand new project car into the fold as TV Salvage Hunter Paul Cowland unveils his 5.0 litre Mustang build. Take a good long look, it’s not gonna stay stock for long…

In the world of performance cars, things are moving pretty quickly. Drivetrains are becoming more efficient and hybridised. Brute horsepower these days is usually made by a turbo or two tickling away at the inlet of some smallish four-banger, as a wealth of smart computers and noise generators fill in the sensory gaps missing from the overall symphony. All very well, of course, and perhaps inevitable when you consider the mess the planet is in, but it’s certainly not the stuff I dreamt about growing up, devouring any American film, cop show or series that made it to British TV.

And then there are the current crop of gearboxes. Shift-on-the-fly paddles, dual clutches, semi autos and all manner of clever widgets that ensure that progress has never been more rapid – or faithfully delivered to the tarmac. From a technical perspective, I can only doff my hats to the technical genii involved, but as an enthusiast that favours super unleaded over lithium, I can’t help feel a pang of regret. I know it’s progress… so don’t write in. I just prefer some signals in analogue, rather than digital, that’s all.

Thankfully, in a sea of high-tech, semi-skimmed, Fairtrade motor vehicles, there’s still a car that’s stuck in a different time; the Ford Mustang. This wonderful dinosaur is still proud to atomise and burn a distilled soup of its forebears, with dynamics that, at best, might be placed somewhere around the mid-80s, with the best bit, if you so choose, being that the gears can be still shifted with some funny stick in the centre console. Is it the technical contemporary of something like a BMW M4? Absolutely not! But does it possess the soul of something more exciting an exotic and evoke the spirit of a simpler motoring epoch? Unquestionably…

Fearing that the days for big, lumbering, manual V8 coupes may be somewhat numbered, I decided to put my money where my mouth was and recently bought one. My local dealer, Sandicliffe, in Nottingham did me a cracking deal, and at the end of last year I was lucky enough to pick it up as a brand new car. And you know what? I’m never going to sell it.

The plan was simple; run it around as a stocker for a few months and get to learn its foibles. What works and what doesn’t? What can be left as stock, and what should be improved. It’s a great car out of the box, but one of that many things I loved about the Mustang when I first drove it was the fact it was tangibly imperfect. As someone that’s tuned and restored cars for almost 25 years, I like to feel that I can make a small difference somewhere in proceedings. With the Mustang, whether you talk about suspension feel, braking performance, handling, power – and a whole host of small aesthetic touches, there are plenty of places I can see that money can be spent, fun can be had and enhancements can be made.

That brings us up to the present day then. I know where the car is strong, and where I feel I need to make a difference. Over the next few months, I’ll be working with some of the biggest names in the business to look at every aspect of the car and see what can be done. From induction, exhaust and maybe even forced induction, expect things to take a bit of a turn. And then, of course, I’ll need to up the ante in terms of grip, braking and even styling.

With so many changes on the horizon, I needed an ECU solution that was able to be flexible – and would then work with every single change that I made. Something that could flex a little of that latent muscle before any real improvements are added– and then grow with each new addition, allowing me to precisely configure each new map to suit, and make sure I’m getting the true benefit from each new component.

To that end, I’ve treated myself to the HP Tuners MPVI2 tool – something you’ll be seeing a lot more of over the next few months. Although lockdown means I’m not at the point of being able to visit tuners to dial in power just yet, in the meantime, I can simply download its app functions and use it as a powerful workshop diagnostic solution, allowing me to interrogate the car via its OBD socket. On a car like the Mustang, given the features it has, that alone is worth the asking price.

After that I’ll be looking to wind up the horsepower, once I’ve finished the running in miles on the ‘Stang, so it’ll be great to see how the versatile tool allows me to tune and play. Join me back here next month when I begin the process of making the car exactly what I want it to be! Should be fun!

Until then…