Slideways and loving it, Eric...
Slideways and loving it, Eric Cheney airs out the Hess demonstrator on El Toro's concrete playground. Extracting huge underhood heat is a major concern with such high-powered engines and low airspeeds, hence the two reverse NACA-like scoops on the APR Performance hood. The flat black fades to brown coming out of the scoops, which is a tidy bit of paint-booth virtuosity.
Too long ago we wangled a ride with the Blue Angels, the Navy's justifiably famous jet demonstration team. It was, as the resulting Super Ford magazine cover blurb put it, "The ride of your life," and for an event that lasted just one day, it generated a lifetime of memories. One of those memories was the public affairs officer telling us the real work was being done elsewhere by jets painted grey: "...All we're doing here is blowing smoke and looking good."
That thought went through our minds recently when we found ourselves on the now sadly quiet runways of the defunct Marine air station at El Toro, California. We'd seen the Blue Angels perform here more than once, but this time there was a totally different machine blowing smoke and looking good.
Eric might as well work for...
Eric might as well work for Mosquito Abatement as his burnouts are lengthy, crowd-pleasing affairs. Slow tank-slappers seem to be a specialty, the car rotating side to side as it runs down the camera. The extra steering lock is apparent, and there was frayed cord instead of tread on the rear tires after our shoot. Can't imagine why.
Unlike the glossy blue and yellow F/A-18 Hornets of the Blues, the Hess Motorsports demonstrator makes its point with an intriguing matte-brown finish, but with Hess Motorsports director of marketing Eric Cheney behind the wheel, the smoke show is just about as thick.
Eric's eagerness to waste a wide set of rear hides is nothing new. A regular in the SoCal Mustang scene, Eric has built his share of high-torque smoke generators, notably the first Falken drift Mustang that Vaughn Gittin Jr. put such big angle on. Today Eric works at the newly founded Hess Motorsports, which commissioned the S197 as an in-house demonstrator.
Reminding us of a '90s Trans...
Reminding us of a '90s Trans Am car with its fenders hunkered over big rubber, the APR body kit gives the Hess Mustang a broad visual stance. The Kevlar and reinforced-fiberglass kit replaces every panel except the doors, roof, and trunk lid, adding 4 inches total width. These are 20x14-inch rear wheels--20x15-inchers would fit without modifying anything--but if a max steamroller footprint is required, a set of mini-tub wheelwells and a set of 18-inch rear rims carrying Goodyear slicks would do the trick.
We've yet to drop by Hess Motorsports, but to hear Eric describe it, the new performance shop has a lot to demonstrate. Damian Hess has the funds to indulge his car-building urge, the result being a 20,000-square-foot shop filled with all the tools needed to build anything a high-end customer would want. "We have a four-wheel dyno, digital-readout lathes, CNC machines, a full 16-foot chassis table, all-digital hydraulic tubing benders, a chassis rotisserie, and downdraft paint booth..." says Eric, and he went on to describe a multi-engineer personnel line-up that had plenty of pro racing experience.
Even the building is "pretty baller," according to Eric. It turns out Hess' edifice was last a chic Land Rover dealership, so the shop walls are heavily mirrored and inlaid marble can be found under-tire. All slick to attract the pimp-my-Lamborghini crowd. And that's just the Hess herd is gunning for. Mustangs are cool and they're happy to build wild ones, but exotics are the big thrill at Hess, so be prepared to take your Mustang far above bolt-ons and a tune.
A proper racing wheel and...
A proper racing wheel and Cobra Suzuka S seats contribute a serious look to the Hess interior. Not visible here is the 1.5-inch rollbar with aft bracing to the rear suspension, and not visible at all are the missing sound deadener under the carpet and gutted doors.
And a quick glance at the Hess horse shows it's no catalog car. The company started by tearing down the S197 donor to the shell, and then building it back as a streetable but road racy-to-drifting avatar. Power comes from a 5.0-liter Three-Valve, but muscled-up with all good internals and a Garrett twin-turbo get-up for whooshing into the 700hp range at the tires. Eric notes the combination was originally centrifugally supercharged and that did a fine job delivering the high-rpm horsepower he likes, but he's digging the twin-turbo power arrangement much better.
Obviously there's less tedium setting up the blower drive so it won't toss belts in the jagged world of drifting, where the driver works the throttle pedal like Joey Jordison's double bass drums. And even better, there's more torque. With electronic controls, Eric says he has full boost at a diesel-like 1,750 rpm and it stays there up to the 7,500 rpm redline. That bottom end hit goes a long way with Eric's job description--burnouts on demand--and generally gets a heavy car such as a Mustang up on its toes when the driver needs it.
Sparco offers a removable...
Sparco offers a removable steering-wheel hub for S197 Mustangs (which Eric modifies), along with a line of race or street steering wheels. Getting the wheel out of the way helps Eric past the high-sided seat--which he's fixed in position to conveniently avoid the trouble of others trying to drive the car--plus it greatly improves dashboard access. Eric likes to take the wheel off and wave it out the window while showing off, and it's the logical way of getting a proper racing wheel in the car. Aftermarket wheels aren't so popular on street cars these days because of airbags, but like a good seat, they make a noticeable difference to the driver over the numb, slippery stocker.
Cooling the beast is done with a clone of Vaughn Gittin's drift-car cooling system. After a tiresome development process some years ago, the system can shed beau coup BTUs at low-vehicle and high-engine speeds. Hardware behind the engine includes a twin-disc Exedy clutch with billet steel flywheel (handles heat better than aluminum), a G-Force-prepped manual trans, a single-piece shaft from the Driveshaft Shop, cryo'd 4.10 gears, and a Torsen T2 diff, just like in Boss 302 Laguna Seca. Superior 300M race axles and welded axle tubes seem to be taking the gruff without complaint.
Of course, what everyone sees first is the paint. That's not a buzz-bomb finish, says Eric, but genuine Lamborghini Reventon chemistry, bought on the sly a quart at a time as Lambo wasn't hip on selling the stuff outright. Originally blue, the Mustang was taken down to bare metal without chemical dipping, a Snap-on Crud Thug doing the honors with its wire wheel. As for the brown hue, Eric said he originally wanted to go flat black, but it had already been done by the time they were ready to paint, so the much rarer Lamborghini paint got the nod. And rare it is, Eric figuring there are only 16 Reventon's that color, along with one Ferrari, a McLaren ... and now the Mustang.
You might guess one reason it's so rare is that the paint is bleed-for-it expensive, and you'd be right. Combined with the APR Performance widebody kit this is one bit of Mustang outerwear that installed will set you back the best part of $30,000. Such is the price of fashion. And that paint is a game changer. Once on, you can't wax it, can't color-sand it, and really don't want a chip or dent in it as any meaningful repair means a complete re-spray. About all you do to it is wash it.
Sighting down the Hess car's...
Sighting down the Hess car's flanks shows how the APR body kit integrates the stock width doors with the 2-inch-wider rear fenders. A vestigial kick-up in the fender line adds some interest, while the sidescoop is smoothly integrated at mid-body and a rocker arm shelf handles the duty down low. Obviously there are plenty of air entrances to service any combination of rear brake ducts, differential and transmission coolers, or even a rear-mounted turbocharger or two.
At least the wide fenders cover the tires, so there isn't any melted rubber to deal with...
Horse Sense: It's not often that brown is characterized as cool, but one instance is the brown sound. This term is used to describe Eddie Van Halen's guitar tone on the classic Van Halen records. Replicating the brown sound is no easy task, much like the matte-brown Lamborghini Reventon paint job on the Hess Mustang.
Engine and Drivetrain
Aluminum Ford Three-Valve
L&R ported Three-Valve
Garrett turbo manifolds
G-force street six-speed close-ratio manual
8.8-in w/welded tubes, stressed-relieved 4.10 gears, Torsen T2 differential, and Superior racing axles
Engine Management Ford w/Hess custom tune
Suspension and Chassis
There's just enough room at...
There's just enough room at the trailing edge of the APR front fender to provide three narrow air exits. APR Performance's Widebody Aero Kit for the '05-'09 Mustang retails for $4,250.
MacPherson strut with stock K-member
15-in slotted and vented w/six-piston AP Racing calipers
VIP modular, 20x10-in
Toyo Proxes T1R 285/30ZR-20 ultra high performance
Springs White line
Control Arms White line
Brakes AP racing 13-in slotted and vented disc w/four-piston caliper
Wheels VIP modular, 20x14-in
Tires Toyo Proxes T1R 345/25ZR-20
Holed like a block of Swiss...
Holed like a block of Swiss cheese, the front of the APR bodykit offers numerous air inlets and exits. The front splitter is likely an easy casualty on the street but adds to the racy look, while the widened fenders allow 20x10-inch front wheels. Hess chose VIP Modular Wheels for its demo car; the tires are Toyo Proxes T1R's sized at 285/30R-20 front and 345/25R-20 rear. Six-piston AP Racing brakes do the clamping, with the rear rotors sporting a light-blue cast thanks to the constant left-foot braking technique.
Eric opted for 5.0 liters...
Eric opted for 5.0 liters of over-achieving Three-Valve. The stock heads were breathed on by L&R, who also did the block machining, and the valvetrain employs Comp Cams bumpsticks, Ferrea valves, stainless locks, and titanium retainers. Eric opted for a 9.0:1 compression ratio from the JE Pistons to keep the throttle response active, while the billet crank and rods from K1 help keep everything inside. No-fail oiling is vital for road racing and drifting, so an 11-quart Moroso road-race oil pan, a high-volume pump, and a giant 72-passage oil cooler from Setrab are all on board. The offset turbo spacing makes servicing easier and helps with weight distribution.
TEIN electronically controlled...
TEIN electronically controlled shocks are a suspension highlight. Eric says he has a custom drift valving installed to work with the slightly stiffer than expected springs that help loosen up the car with the power hits and Eric cranks in some steering. The rest of the suspension is White Line with roll center correction control arms, a Panhard bar, A-arms, and a bumpsteer kit. The K-member is stock.