Collectors, listen up. Though the much-anticipated '05 models are upon us, the folks at Roush Performance thought maybe you'd like just one more special Fox-4-chassis New Edge edition to finish off that particular era of your Mustang collection. Meet the '04 Roush 440A, its moniker meant to recognize both its 400 hp and the 40th anniversary of the Mustang breed. In another nifty coincidence, the "40" in its name also signifies its production volume. That's right, just two score of the 440A will be produced-with more convertibles than coupes-at Roush's 1,000,000-square-foot Livonia, Michigan facility.
We'd have to guess the reason for the bias toward ragtops is that the single dealership that has bought the entire 40-car allotment is Brandon Ford, located in Central Florida, perhaps all too handily just down the road from our editorial offices. Life doesn't get much better than the sun on your face and 400 ponies at the command of your right foot, but why would one dealer step up for the full 440A production run, especially when the '05s were about ready to start rolling off the trucks at the same time? Brandon Ford's general manager Wayne Hammond rationalizes it this way: "We've been the top-selling Roush dealer for a few years. A majority of our customers buy Roush vehicles as collector cars. When it was announced that the horsepower would be significantly high and that the production would be significantly low, we wanted to capture the entire market." A brave move that will, we suspect, pay off as we bid a final farewell to the New Edge SN-95.
As did those other two Roush supercharged supercars-the Stage 3 and the 380R-the 440A uses an air-to-liquid intercooled Roots blower, with Eaton internals. But this time its pulley diameter is whittled down from 76 mm to 73 mm, resulting in an increase in boost from 6 to 8 psi. To facilitate this additional airflow, a high-flow air filter and a 2.5-inch after-cat exhaust with 3-inch tips also differentiate the 440A from the 380-horse Stage 3 and 380R. Roush tells us the 440A's 4.6 Two-Valve actually dynos at something north of 407 hp, but the company settled on a nice, round 400 ponies for marketing purposes.
As can easily be seen, there's more to the 440A than just power. Its look is toughened with a special hood wearing twin stripes that also extend over the assertive front fascia and the trunk lid, as well as the roof on coupe models. The trunk lid wears a distinctive wing on top and the famous Roush tool kit underneath. Nostalgic '60s-style stripes also adorn the rocker panels, leaving no doubt to onlookers that this is indeed a 440A. At either end of those rockers are chrome 18-inch, five-spoke Roush rims wrapped in BFGoodrich g-Force T/A KD skins, 265/35 up front and a generous 295/35 out back where all the action takes place. The chassis is identical to the Stage 3's, with Roush-specific lowering springs, dampers, a front antiroll bar, and aluminum rear lower control arms. The 440A retains its factory brakes, however.
Inside, two upgrades particularly stand out. First are the "440A"-emblazoned leather sport buckets, which have inserts color-matched to the exterior. Second is a Roush electroluminescent instrument cluster augmented by boost and fuel-pressure gauges in the cluster surround. The shifter is short-throw, actuated via a Jack Roush-designed curved shift lever that eliminates having to do the dreaded "Mustang reach" on every gear change. In front of said shifter is a serialization plaque to authenticate that you have a car that only 39 other people possess (a separate Roush manufacturing serial decal can be found on the passenger-side doorframe, above the striker). Doorsill plates, special floor mats, and even a set of black leather driving gloves-all emblazoned with Roush or 440A identification-finish off the interior accouterments. Oh, and let's not forget that the Cat-in-the-Hat boss man himself patriotically signs "Jack Roush USA" on every 440A's passenger-side SRS cover panel.
We drove and photographed our subject Competition Orange convertible while in Michigan in late July, as the shipments to Brandon Ford were just beginning (by the way, for you collectors who'd like to own "a magazine car," ours was serialized as number 440A-20 on its console plaque-please excuse any leftover tire molecules that escaped its predelivery inspection). Now we know some of you may be scrutinizing our photos with a magnifying glass and are ready to write or e-mail us a nasty note saying this car has stock exhausts and a regular 76mm pulley. Well, you're right, and that's because Brandon Ford will be installing the exhaust, the air filter, and the big-boost pulley once its customers take delivery.
Roush does it this way so as not to affect the 50-state legality of the basic Stage 3 supercharged engine package, nor to offend some states' drive-by noise standards. This means our orange tester drove exactly the same as a Stage 3 or 380R Roush, which is to say it was fast, quiet until the Roots siren kicked in, and had factory-like civility and driveability. We later pedaled Roush Performance president Larry Parker's 440A demonstrator-which wears all the package hardware-and can confirm that the intake, exhaust, and pulley upgrades do provide both a louder bark and a more vicious bite.
To sum it up, the Roush 440A is quick of reflex, easy on the eyes, and will make a fine addition to any collector's or enthusiast's garage. The package adds $26,000 to the price of the Mustang it's added to (plus $910 for the ragtop's optional lightbar), and it carries a full three-year/36,000-mile warranty. Make your check or money order payable to Brandon Ford, and don't wait to be the 41st person in line.
Too Late for an Original? Build Your OwnThough only 40 440As will populate the earth, Roush Performance sells many of its component parts through a nationwide dealer network. So, even if you'll never have the collectibility of a real factory-built 440A, you can personalize your own 'Stang in its image by careful shopping from the Roush Performance parts list.