Though a lifelong gearhead and chronic tinkerer, Alex Ortner tells us he had no particular interest in Mustangs until a friend and associate of his--Jason Etter--purchased and started heavily modifying an S197 GT. Witnessing Jason's subsequent buildup apparently struck a chord with Mr. Ortner, a creative Detroit-area machinist, fabricator, and all-round mad scientist, whose previous work includes projects as diverse as vintage Can-Am race cars, a succession of custom Ducati motorcycles, and even a line of highly regarded attenuators for guitar amplifiers. How's that for diversity of interests?
Anyway, after watching and helping with Jason's build, and with some definite ideas of his own in mind, Alex bought a new Sterling Silver '10 GT coupe and launched into an upgrade project like a man possessed, designing, engineering and fabricating his way to what you see here in less than a year. Alex's overall design theme was inspired by FIA GT1-class road-racers, yet that track-star concept had to be tempered by the reality of using the invigorated coupe as his three-season daily driver (like most sensible beings, he shies away from piloting a hair-triggered, rear-drive musclecar through the icy, salty insanity of Michigan winters).
Bottom line? This project--which he labeled the GT/RR--had to remain reliable, completely civilized, and safe, while making quantum leaps in styling, handling and power. In setting such goals, Alex was clearly no different than most of us but, where that majority of us would turn readily to the aftermarket for bolt-on solutions, he relied primarily on his own innate design and fabricating skills. (By comparison, I have a hard time even fabricating an excuse.) While our normal practice is to weave a feature car's mods into some form of narrative, given the astonishing extent and variety of Alex's own personal handiwork, we just don't have room. So check out our Homegrown Remedies sidebar for his point-form list of the carefully crafted modifications and enhancements that you won't likely see on any other Mustang.
With the exception of a Tiger...
With the exception of a Tiger Racing hood, much of the road race-inspired bodywork on Alex Ortner's '10 GT came from his own imagination and in-house craftsmanship. Yet the philosophy here is strictly
Alex's taste for carbon fiber...
Alex's taste for carbon fiber continues in the cabin with appliques everywhere, right down to the shift knob atop that girder-like shift lever. The steering wheel and shift boot are GT500 pieces. And few would question his choice of grippy Recaro buckets..
Though the big news underhood...
Though the big news underhood has to be the fitment of a GT500's M122 blower to the GT's Three-Valve 4.6-liter, especially the billet manifold that allowed it, careful scrutiny of the engine bay reveals various other functional enhancements, some of which are undergoing prototype testing for possible sale in the future. Oh, and we like the old Case tractor oil pressure gauge now used to monitor fuel pressure.
There is one modification on the GT/RR, however, that hopefully will show up on many S197 GTs, and that's the machined-billet intake manifold that permits bolting a late-model Shelby GT500's Eaton M122 Roots supercharger to a Three-Valve 4.6-liter. Said manifold was a tag-team design and fabrication effort between Alex Ortner and Jason Etter. From Alex's otherwise stock Three-Valve, the result is a stout 450 rwhp.
As we write this, Jason (under the business name, Department of Boost, www.departmentofboost.com) is preparing to market the manifold for about $1,995, thereby making it possible to bolt readily available--and quite affordable--GT500 take-off superchargers and supporting hardware to any Three-Valve 4.6-liter GTs. (In fact, the manifold is said to accept any blower with the GT500 M122's bolt pattern.) The guys worked with Paul Svinicki of Paul's High Performance for ongoing dyno testing and tuning calibration, so the car runs with OEM civility. Our sidebar, Department of Boost, sets out the complete list of hardware used to supercharge the GT/RR (which served as development mule for the manifold and other Department of Boost projects).
We're in awe of the man hours--and skill sets--that went into bringing Alex's vision of a proper Mustang to fruition. But he was also smart enough to know where to draw the line so as to avoid completely reinventing the wheel. Meaning he happily turned to the aftermarket for products he felt worthy of his GT/RR. So there you have an admittedly compressed look at a rather amazing--and inventive--exercise in Mustang personalization. Alex sums up his GT/RR project--which of course continues to evolve--quite succinctly: "I find it devilishly satisfying to push the boundaries of what most people associate with Mustang..." They say the devil is in the details, so be sure to check out our sidebars.
Horse Sense: For GT500 owners, Department of Boost is also working on three stages of intercooler upgrades.
To say that Alex Ortner put some custom touches into his GT/RR is a massive understatement.
Here's a list of the custom bits that make his ride special:
• Splitter--carbon-fiber with billet- aluminum bracing and titanium tow hooks
• Carbon, aluminum, and magnesium front-splitter support rods
• Billet-aluminum rear-wing supports with different geometry than delivered
• Carbon-fiber wing end-plates
• Completely "boxed-in" intercooler, radiator, oil cooler for optimum cooling in aluminum
• Trimmed front fascia to core support in aluminum for air control and aesthetics
• Grilles--upper and lower in lightweight aluminum
• Rear diffuser with side-diffuser extensions made from Sintra
• Vented rear bumper cover with grille above diffuser
• Air deflectors on all four wheels made from Sintra
• Carbon-fiber Canard winglets
• X Chassis brace from K-member to radiator support/sway bar mounts, billet-aluminum
• Watt's-link billet differential cover with 18mm titanium pivot pin and integral spacer; titanium and aluminum mounts forbillet-aluminum arms, with stainless rose joints with a urethane bushing at one end
• K-member-to-frame aluminum reinforcement
• Billet-aluminum rear sway-bar mounts with urethane bushing
• Billet-aluminum front sway-bar mounts with urethane bushing
• Motor mounts, 3/4-inch lower than OEM, billet-aluminum and urethane
• Ceramic-coated stock exhaust manifolds
• Crankcase vacuum system/breather tank/oil separator
• Adjustable crankcase vacuum valve mounted on supercharger
• Billet oil filler and crank-case vent
• Aluminum intercooler reservoir located in stock battery area
• Porsche Brembo mono-block rear calipers, rebuilt and powdercoated red
• Billet-aluminum rear-caliper mounts with floating mount to prevent pad "knock-back"
• Wilwood disc hand-brake calipers mounted on custom billet brackets
• Brake ducts with "sealed" aluminum backing plates
• Relocated fusebox and ECU
• Block-mounted remote oil filter/coolant hose adapter plate, billet-aluminum
• Remote oil-filter mount, billet- aluminum
• Access door in driver-side front fender for remote oil filter
• Hood struts--titanium tube and carbon-fiber rod
• Washer nozzles
• Fuel-tank breather replaces EVP system, lightweight aluminum tank and vent
• NASCAR-inspired billet-magnesium shift lever
• Magnesium front-bumper reinforcement
• Sealed rear seat/trunk pass-through with aluminum bulkhead
• Seat/trunk pass-through carpeted and trimmed to look OEM when seats are down
• Battery moved to rear with circuit breaker
• Black powdercoated Denzo alternator
• Titanium lug nuts
• Custom fuel-pump wiring
• Billet pedal covers and dead pedal
• Carbon hand-brake handle
• Delrin single-gauge pod
• Aeroforce digital OPDM gauge with custom carbon gauge face
• Aluminum baffle shield for airbox
• Billet fuel-pressure port adapter for mechanical fuel-pressure gauge
Obviously the car is a calling card for Department of Boost's supercharger kits. Here's what's included in the box:
• Department of Boost billet intake manifold
• Bell intercooler core with billet tanks, 10x5x5-inch
• Frankentensioner double OEM belt tensioner
• Billet-aluminum alternator and idler pulley mount
• OEM GT500 2010 Eaton supercharger
• OEM GT500 throttle body
• OEM 2010 GT500 air-filter housing
• OEM GT500 mass air
• OEM GT500 fuel rails
• OEM GT500 52-lb/hr injectors
• OEM GT500 fuel pumps
• OEM GT500 intercooler water pump mounted to reservoir
• Custom fuel line to rails
• Aluminum heat exchanger, 24x9x1.5-inch with -12 AN fittings
Engine and Drivetrain
Cylinder Heads Stock Three-Valve
Intake Manifold Department of Boost, billet aluminum
Power Adder 2010 GT500 (Eaton M122) Roots supercharger
Fuel System GT500 pumps w/ GT500 injectors, and GT500 rails
Exhaust Magnaflow crossover w/ Pypes Super System
Transmission Stock with SPEC Stage II+ clutch
Engine management Stock, tuned by Paul's High Performance
Gauges Stock w/ SunPro boost
Suspension and Chassis
A-Arms Stock w/ billet rear bushing supports
Brakes 14-inch Girodisc floating rotors, aluminum hats
Wheels 20x9.5-in TSW Interlagos, forged
Tires Nitto Invo, 275/35R-20
Control Arms Stock w/ J&M Polyball bushings
Brakes 14-inch Baer floating rotors w/ Porsche Brembo mono-block calipers
Wheels 20x10.5-in TSW Interlagos, forged
Tires Nitto Invo, 315/35R-20