Once the car went public, we hooked up with the folks behind the V-10 project, thanks to modular racer John Tymensky, who supports his quarter-mile hobby with employment as a Ford engineer. Our plan to wring it out for you was good, but-as is often the case, time turned out to be our enemy. We wanted to meet with the Boss 351 out at Milan Dragway's freshly refurbished quarter-mile, west of Detroit, and dip it well down into the 11s-something which, if its previously posted 123-mph trap speeds are any indication, the car should be easily capable of, at least if given the right amount of traction. Good intentions, of course, sometimes go astray.
After some on-again, off-again phone negotiation, we managed to get into Milan (thanks to the generosity of the folks at Visteon, who had the track rented for the day for their employees and allowed us to slip in). This was our first face-to-face encounter with the Boss, which has an oh-so-subtle outward appearance guaranteed to draw little attention. Lift the Cobra R hood, however, and that situation soon changes as bystanders are drawn like hummingbirds to nectar.
The first pass of the day was made with yours truly strapped into the passenger seat like some unwitting test dummy (for whatever reasons, Ford was not about to relinquish driving duties to anyone other than a corporate employee). After assuring track officials he wouldn't make any sub-12-second passes with a passenger, Jim O'Neill-who had played such a large role in the car's construction-blasted off, and, true to his word, let off at about the 1,000-foot mark. We coasted through the beams to a high-12-second performance. My first impressions? This is a Mustang that runs as if it has a Saturn booster secreted away in the trunk-and where do we get one? It pulls at least as well as a stroked blower car, but with no waiting for boost since torque is plentiful and is fully on duty at low rpm. It exhibits the grunt of a big-block, but, because of the deep-breathing Four-Valve heads and R cams, it also keeps on pulling all the way to its 6,800-rpm rev limiter.
I then stepped out and grabbed the camera as Jim made a couple more passes to try and find a combination of launch rpm and tire pressure that wouldn't overwhelm the car's worn drag radials. These passes were in the mid 12s, and things were looking up, right until the gutsy V-10 put a sudden and terminal hurt on its Cobra R clutch-its seventh, by the way-thus ending our brief day at the track and temporarily spoiling our 11-second plans. It was all we could do to limp the car around for some stationary photography. It was kind of sad, really, much like watching a wounded lion. But the lion recovered the next day, with clutch number eight bolted up, and with the repair of catalytic-converter media that had somehow twisted sideways in its canister, effectively corking the exhaust. Unfortunately, there was no more track time-or my time-available. Deadlines are such a pain.
The good news is, a few days after we left, Jim was able to get the Boss 351 to Ford's Dearborn proving grounds and make an 11.93-second pass at 117 mph, with a best 60-foot time of 1.83 seconds. He asserts-and we agree-that there's much more potential in the car. A decent pair of slicks would have this thing running mid 11s all day long-or at least until the clutch or some other drivetrain component gave out.
Where does the V-10 project go from here? Predictably, no one's talking, but it was "an extremely bored and stroked" version of this engine combination that showed up in last year's "427" concept car. Ford's a big company, and who knows which-if any-of its divisions might be looking favorably toward the idea of short-deck, 10-cylinder production applications.