Skip to content

Posts tagged ‘Mustang IRS’

7
Dec

Analysis: 2015 Mustang IRS! (pre-production prototype)

As originally posted here in June 2012, when an engineering mule of the 2015 Mustang was spotted by spy photographer KGP Photography and the new IRS was photographed, it was clear that the 2015 Mustang would have an all-new IRS rear suspension and that by design it would be a standard feature across all models. The detailed pictures also told us that the new IRS would not share parts with any other design or application, and that the rear track would be slightly wider. And it told us that the independent rear suspension that was originally developed for the S197 for 2005 has been abandoned and replaced by this all-new design. And that there is no relationship to the Falcon IRS whatsoever (that design having been abandoned in the earliest days of S197 development).

The Mustang shown in the images below is a pre-production prototype, hand-built, so the painted mufflers and plated exhaust pipes certainly aren’t representative of a production build. They are only there so that the press photos look good. Production is planned for the fall of 2014, so the purpose of this particular car was for photography and marketing. It’s one of the Mustangs that was used for the images provided this week by Ford’s Media group, so it wasn’t driven at the press events this week and is kept in immaculate condition and appearance.

The press introductions this past week (articles here and here), as well as the public appearances that were made, provided a flood of new details about the car. We attended the press briefing in Los Angeles and were able to look under the car to re-familiarize ourselves with what we’d seen before. Here is a panorama image of the new IRS (several images were stitched together to create this view, so the proportions are a little splayed):

2015 Musyang prototype - IRS

Everything we’d reasoned out from those first images in June 2012 has held true, and now we have the final architectural details as well.

Mustang_Suspension (Custom)

2015 Ford Mustang suspension

What’s been made clear?

The architectural details of both the front and rear suspensions. In the rear, the upper camber link and integral link (to provide an even better camber curve) couldn’t be seen in the earlier pictures. Now we know exactly how this suspension works. And it would have been reasonable to assume the upper shock mount was the usual vertical single bolt, but it isn’t and we didn’t. And we’ve only seen the vaguest outline of the subframe. And with the back, we’ve seen the new front suspension. It works on concert with the rear suspension to provide considerably more anti-dive and anti-squat. But again we have only been able to see a vague outline of the new (and lighter) front subframe. All we knew before was (aka all that we could see from the engine compartment spy photo) that the upper strut mount was very slightly lower and that the strut mount used 3 bolts instead of 4. Now we know about the dual-balljoint design with separate arms. It is not only lighter, but also provides better geometry and a better camber curve (although double a-arm would be better yet). And we learned that the front knuckle is steel, and the rear is aluminum.

What’s changed since June 2012?

First an interesting change – the finned differential cover on the engineering mule is missing here. As pre-production parts are hand-made (and therefore scarce)… perhaps the finned cover was just not available. And there is another odd hole just to the right of the drain plug that we can’t identify. It’d be great to see separate provision made here for a cooler, so that the drain and fill holes don’t have to be used.

2015-mustang-pre-produciton-prototype_diff-cover

2015 pre-production prototype

2015-mustang-mule_diff-cover

2015 engineering mule

We know from the Boss program that a finned aluminum cover is needed to help with heat dissipation – in a sold axle hot fluid will expand into the axle tubes (and even escape thru the vent). In an IRS there is no such room for expansion. That may explain what appears to be a vent tube that wasn’t on the mule. Or this may be a drain for the fuel tank (used during development for calibration and emissions). In any case, racers will need a cooler for the differential.

2015-mustang-pre-production-prototype_vent

2015 pre-production prototype. Vent tube?

The exhaust system has also changed very slightly. Note the green arrows – these were the points we had issue with in our original analysis of the IRS. The bend going into the center resonator looks abrupt, but it may be just the angle of the original photos. The exhaust hangers on the mule hang down to the point where they are very visible underneath the car (after all, owners will want to show off their IRS just as they want to show off their engine – and these look ugly). And the pipes were not to production spec, they had been cut by machine and seam welded. That’s good, but that it’s not how it is done in production.

2015-mustang-mule-exhaust

2015 Mustang mule

Here’s the pre-production system, built to final spec (with the possible exception of the cover). The hangers have been moved, and are now on the top of the pipes. Good! And the pipes use production welding techniques (and there is obvious aftermarket potential here for a better flowing system and smooth – but more expensive – joints). Better to get it in final spec now, rather than change it at the last moment and screw up the power output – as in the ’96 Cobra!

Also, we can’t see the center resonator here in the picture, but it was on the car. We think it may have been raised up a bit but the angle wasn’t good and of course everything is painted black underneath. This is probably the same car that will be shown at the Detroit show next month. And we understand that a special edition model might be previewed there as well.

2015-mustang-pre-production-exhaust

2015 Mustang pre-production prototype

We also know from the specifications provided by Ford that every model will get a limited slip differential.  Available gear ratios depend on application, and include 3.15:1, 3.31:1, 3.55:1, and 3.73:1. No surprises there. Coupled to these are slightly improved versions of the existing MT82 6-speed manual and the existing Ford 6-speed automatic transmission. Disappointing, but not surprising.

What don’t we know yet about the IRS?

  • driveshaft – one piece or two
  • spring rates, shock types, sway bar size – base model and upper editions.
  • availability of multi-piston rear Brembos (already spotted in a spy image of a special edition)
  • any built-in provision for camber adjustment.

The press introduction on December 5th was only a preliminary and early introduction to the car. We understand that another one is planned for later in 2014 before production begins. If delivery starts in the fall, then the usual press introductions in May and June will probably be where we find out the rest of the details. Until then, we’ve got a lot to process, and probably more to see in Detroit and in the 50th anniversary events in April.

Read more 2015 Mustang news on DrivingEnthusiast.net:

8
Jun

Analysis: 2015 Mustang IRS! (engineering mule)

Very exciting news for Ford fans (and true driving enthusiasts) this week, revealed by Car and Driver: http://www.caranddriver.com/news/2015-ford-mustang-spy-photos-news! A lucky spy photographer for KGP Photography found an engineering mule of the 2015 Mustang with an independent rear suspension underneath. And managed to get some fairly detailed pictures. The pictures tell us four things:

– The 2015 Mustang will finally enter the 21st century and shed ye olde ox-cart solid rear axle
– The 2015 Mustang is based on a revision of the current S197 platform, not an all-new design. Even with the Ford Evos Concept-like styling that will no doubt be its highlight, it’s simply an evolution of the current car. And it’s essentially the same width – possibly a couple of inches at wider at most.
– The independent rear suspension that was originally developed for the S197 for 2005 has been superseded by this all-new design.
– Given the update of the existing platform, the “S197+” chassis probably has another 6 years of use. More if the economy in 2020 is poor or if the market for this type of product declines. Or if the S197 platform remains an “orphan” – meaning it does not fit into “One Ford” planning.

And these also tell us that cavemen are no longer driving the future direction of this product. That is, a non-representative subset of owners, probably .0001%, who use the car to go only in a straight line. Lets hope that same kind of sample set doesn’t drive our Federal election this November!

So, unless another disaster happens inside Ford, we will finally have an independent rear suspension in the Mustang, 11 years after one was last offered. That’s progress, Ford style.

First let’s review some history, so that you can see the warning signs and get a heads-up in case it happens again. In 2004, Phil Martens (Group Vice President, Product Creation) canceled the IRS that had been developed in a fit of cost-cutting of various programs including the then-new 2005 Mustang. The IRS was axed, followed by the 7 liter engine, followed by the SVT Cobra (replaced by a dumbed-down iron-block solid-axle Mustang labeled “Shelby” – which could have been called anything but ended up as a licensing scheme from Shelby himself for a product that he didn’t have any engineering input into). Then Martens himself was “cancelled” and out the door from the company. Good riddance. And then Hau Thai-Tang (former Director, Advanced Product Creation and Special Vehicle Team:), who had given the press statements that an IRS would indeed be offered, backtracked and told us we didn’t need it anyway – labeling us all as “snobs”. In progression over the course of several months, he went from addressing the requirements of Ford customers (and customers who would be new to the brand) and promising they would be met, to outright insulting them:

  1. “Drag racers and Ford’s accountants will be pleased at the choice of a live axle out back. Among our customer groups that know and care what sort of rear suspension their car has, a large number of them want a solid rear axle; they’re primarily the core enthusiast drag racers, and they like the durability, reliability, and ease of modification with it, changing axle ratios, etc.,” says Thai-Tang. “There’s another group that wants the sophistication and cornering advantage of an IRS, and we’re going to offer it on the upcoming SVT Cobra. Unlike the last time, when we kind of shoehorned the IRS in [an older platform]; this time, we’ve designed the rear architecture to accommodate both right from the beginning.”
  2. “Ninety-two percent of (Mustang) Cobra customers wouldn’t have considered a Ford product”
  3. We’ll never appease those IRS snobs.”

And then, thankfully, Hau Thai-Tang was himself ”cancelled”, sent to South America to lead the development of a micro-SUV. Unfortunately, now he is back in the corporate HQ in Dearborn and will hopefully stay out of the way of the delivery of the IRS. In our opinion, after watching his progression of statements above, it would have been better for the Mustang if he had stayed in exile in South America. Hau Thai-Tang is a corporate apologist, and no friend of driving enthusiasts.

And let’s make one other point perfectly clear: the IRS suspension below has zero relationship to the Australian Falcon “Control Blade” IRS. That idea was dropped over 10 years ago. The Falcon’s Control Blade suspension was never seriously considered because it’s too flimsy, has poor geometry, and is not strong enough for the power that was planned for the 2005-up  Mustang. If Motor Trend had more thoroughly researched their article on this topic, the question would never have come up again.

Now let’s go to the real thing. The pictures published by Car and Driver are extremely interesting, note the copyrights and be sure to read the full article above. Here is our reaction to them.

This is likely the final production prototype of the IRS, but it is installed into a current 2013 model year car. This tells us that the rear track of the 2015 Mustang will be all-but identical, along with the rear frame rails and related hard points. Lots of details here of interest:

  • Fits neatly in the existing space. Unlike the S197 prototype (or the 99-04 SVT Cobra, which used very lightweight but strong hydro-formed steel tubing) this time a series of steel stampings are used for the structural subframe member. It appears to be a bolt-in. It’s going to be inexpensive to build, quick to install from the assembly line perspective, and unless the frame is changed further would also allow a solid axle to be used in some cases. Apparently we can’t relegate the caveman to the fringes of society.
  • Production cost has been addressed: instead of a multitude of expensive castings and forgings found in the S197 IRS prototype of 2005, this one is built mostly of welded steel stampings.
  • A new differential carrier, unrelated to any earlier carrier (such as the Explorer 8.8 used in the prior design). And, we would suspect from the shape that this is no longer the familiar 8.8″ – perhaps Ford farmed it out to ZF? Cooling fins on the rear cover (good, but too few), along with provisions for drain and fill that could be used for a cooler for track usage. In the rear it is mounted to the upper structural beam of the subframe with two large rubber/composite bushings.
  • Prototype exhaust, hacked together, and not in final form (look at the individual sections, some with mandrel bends – as well as the odd bends coming out of the resonator). As far as we can tell, it is a one-piece exhaust from the cats all the way back. This is unlikely for production; the rear section will probably be replaceable.

  • The lower arm is a nice aluminum casting, but it is not an a-arm. Instead, it goes from a single inboard point to a single point on the hub upright. On the front side is the toe-control link, which appears to be a steel stamping. Note the adjustable toe – and also the lack of camber adjustment on the lower aluminum arm. Hopefully one is provided on the upper arm.
  • A separate spring and shock is used, similar to the current Nissan FM platform rear suspension. Look at the spring “cup”. The upper mounting points on the frame for the shock and spring are probably identical to the current S197. That’s a critical point for putting both a solid axle and an IRS car down the same assembly line – IF that is what is indeed going to happen.
  • The sway bar end link is very much outboard, likely providing a 1-1 motion ratio. Very effective.
  • It’s difficult to tell what type of upper arm is used… stretching a bit we think we see a steel stamping but it is hard to tell.
  • A center resonator is used just before the differential.
  • This shot also shows some of the non-production fabrication of the exhaust system. In our opinion, the mounting should be reworked because enthusiasts will want to look under the car at the IRS and the two hanger brackets are in the way and look bad. The IRS is a point of technology and of pride – owners will want to show it off.

  • A closer view of the right left suspension. It’s not immediately clear how the suspension bolts into the car.
  • The dark black steel stamping to the upper right  appears to be there solely to mount the swaybar.
  • The parking brake appears to be cable-operated and external (part of the caliper – note the circular tension spring), instead of the better drum-in-rotor design which would allow a set of Brembo 2- or 4-piston calipers to be used. This is a change from the earlier S197 prototype and a disappointment. It’s possible that the caliper is the same iron single piston with integral parking brake that is used on the solid axle car. That’s a shame and a cost-cutting design. No telling if the rotors are solid or vented here… would be hard to believe that could be solid but it’s been done before on Mustangs.
  • We can also see a little more of the structure of the IRS subframe here… a structure crossing over in front of the carrier, and a longitudinal reinforcement between that and the toe-control mounting point.

What else do we know at this point?

  • Styling will change according to J Mays, getting away from the traditional mid-sixties styling and more to the modern. Look at the Evos as the guide here.
  • A new EcoBoost 2.3 liter 4-cylinder will be either the entry-level engine, or the first option. And don’t insult the original SVO by calling this an SVO. The SVO was the top of the line premium Mustang, a better car all around than the GT, and faster in any performance measure. Especially on the race track (and this author had back-to-back ownership of original GTs and SVOs to prove it on Watkins Glen).
  • The 3.7 V-6 and 5 liter V-8 were designed from the start for Direct Injection. Port was used at first to keep costs down.
  • The Mustang will be sold worldwide, particularly in Europe. With the far more sophisticated M3 costing far more dollars going forward, the Mustang could be a viable alternative to buyers who could settle for some significant loss of refinement in return for a familiar size and performance return.

What don’t we know?

  • Whether the MT82 transmission disaster will be fixed, permanently (rather than by band-aid). The transmission design is inherently extremely weak, and has too little fluid for effective cooling.
  • Whether the 3.7 and 5 liter engines will get Direct Injection in the first year… or as in the SN95 and S197 the “improved” engines will come to market 2 years or more after the initial new platform does. Leaving the initial owners with obsoleted cars and half of their car payments left. In our humble opinion, they had better have it: D.I. provides nothing but benefit (mileage, emissions, drivability, tune-ability, performance). Perhaps Ford will introduce further improvements such as variable valve lift technology 2-3 years into the cycle.
  • How much the 2005 Mustang will weigh. Ford has a program to take literally several hundred pounds out of their existing cars over the course of this decade… it’s hard to see how this can be done on the existing or updated S197 platform. A couple of inches bobbed off the back of the car (about 5, judging from the pictures) and a lot more high-strength steel isn’t going to do it. We’d bet on a hundred or so pounds shed… and any major loss to wait for an all-new platform some other decade. Plan for the full-tilt models to push 3800 pounds.
  • What this suspension and revised S197 platform could mean to the future of the Ford Falcon…. perhaps as much as parts sharing and (stretching even further) Federalization of a replacement Falcon on the 2015 Mustang platform (Ford has commitments with the Australian Government to build a locally-sourced Falcon in Australia until 2016). And what this might mean to any future rear-wheel drive Lincoln. Now we’re really dreaming… even with Ford rolling in record profits, this seems too unlikely to be possible given the history of the company.
  • How the 2015 Mustang will stack up against the 2016 Camaro (built on the new and even more-sophisticated Alpha platform shared with the Cadillac ATS). It doesn’t look good.

Now comes the difficult part: the long wait for the production car. Before then we will certainly see additional mules and eventually full prototypes. Perhaps at the NAIAS in 2013 we might even see a concept… however given the sales failings of the current Mustang anything that might put potential buyers on hold would further hurt Ford. It’s a sure bet that we’ll see the production car at NAIAS 2014 and an April 2014 launch.

Kudos to Car and Driver yet again! We very clearly remember the day we returned from a disappointing test drive of a ’78 Mustang II Cobra II to find an issue of Car and Driver in our mail box with the first spy pictures of the upcoming new ’79 Mustang… and again many years later as we were wondering what to do with our ’91 Mustang when an issue arrived with a cover photo of a clay model of the upcoming ’94 Mustang.  At both those points in time we were never again going to buy another Mustang… and an early view of a much better future eventually led us to do so yet again. History may repeat itself here again.

Read more 2015 Mustang news on DrivingEnthusiast.net:

21
Apr

Lost Mustang History: Ford Designs an SLA and IRS for the SN95 Mustang

The SVE Mustang King Cobra (1994) and the SVE Super Stallion (1997) were two Ford engineering exercises built to explore modernization of the SN95 platform by the addition of state-of-the-art SLA (short-long arm) and IRS (independent rear) front and rear suspensions. Ford knew that the SN95 platform, with architecture originally designed in the mid-seventies for the 1978 Fairmont, couldn’t remain competitive or leading edge in the market for very much longer, much less meet upcoming Federal safety (gas tank location) or crash (structural integrity) standards. The SN95 platform itself was simply was an update of the original FOX platform (an all-new platform designed for the 1978 Fairmont and 1979 Mustang, later used for the Thunderbird, LTD 2, Lincoln Mark VII, and several other cars). The SN95 is so closely related to the FOX platform that most SN95 parts easily bolt onto earlier FOX Mustangs.

Why is the story of the King Cobra and Super Stallion story important? Because these two cars, along with the MN12 based Mustang production prototype, the FR500 showcar, and doubtless other lost engineering exercises, are an important part of the history of the Mustang. They show that Ford had a much greater vision for the Mustang than what we eventually received in production. They also show that Ford’s budget – as well as the vision and acceptance of the top Executives, was the constraining factor (with the exception of Jacques Nasser, who personally sponsored both the 1999 Cobra and the 2003 Cobra – and said at the time of the 1999 introduction “Isn’t it about time we offered an IRS on the Mustang…!”). Those constraining factors continue to this day, and in the case of the current Mustang originally cost it use of the full DEW platform and then before production an IRS suspension developed for the (dumbed-down DEW) S197 platform.

Ford’s Special Vehicles Engineering (SVE) organization was at the time the internal engineering arm of the Ford Special Vehicles Team (SVT). SVT was purely a marketing organization at the time, and as of this date is a shell of its former self with basic engineering and testing carried out by the platform teams rather than a separate organization such as SVE. This change was introduced (with some internal controversy) because of the severe engineering and quality issues introduced by SVE re-engineering the cars as they saw fit, with much less rigorous engineering and testing before production release. Warranty issues were first seen in the 1994 Cobra (magnesium seat brackets and front suspension bushings, differing from the standard parts) and (as the SVT products further differentiated their engineering from the base products) in the 1999 Cobra horsepower and cooling recall. Clearly a “post-engineering re-engineering” methodology had to stop and Ford eventually put an end to it. But before that, the two SVE cars shown here were examples of just that type of “band-aid” engineering. Only the supercharged 4.6 DOHC engine persevered, and it had more than its share of severe quality and warranty issues (perhaps the worst ever for SVT) as well (as this author personally suffered thru).

Let’s review the King Cobra and Super Stallion (from our Ford Motor Company concepts, prototypes,. and show cars section – with over 150 examples), along with images from the time:

SVE Mustang King Cobra

The SVE Mustang King Cobra came first, almost at the same time the production 1994 Mustang was being introduced. Due to cost constraints, the 1994 Mustang was introduced with ye olde iron pushrod 4.9 liter OHV engine. This was not what was originally intended when the SN95 platform was conceived (which itself was only a last-minute substitution for an MN12-based Mustang originally intended for the 1991 timeframe). Ford had planned to use the “modular” 4.6 liter engines from the start, including the 4.6 DOHC engine introduced 1993 Lincoln Mark VIIII. However cost constraints held Ford back, so the old engine would have to suffice for the time being. Meanwhile, the future of the Mustang was being examined internally with the King Cobra. Images of the King Cobra – and it’s very existence – have never been released or discussed by  Ford. It was purely an internal prototype of the originally intended SVT Mustang Cobra – a plan that was considerably dumbed down (and delayed) before final production in 2003.

The supercharged 4.6 is related to that of the Mustang Mach III, with changes suitable for production use. You’ll note that the layout below is very close to that of the 2003-04 Cobra.

Elements of the 1996 Mustang 4.6 V-8 (SOHC U& DOHC) can be seen here including the use of the Hydroboost braking system, the pre-production air filter, and the placement of the fuse box and other underhood elements.

Many of the engineering elements of the future 2003 SVT Cobra can also be seen here – from the supercharger placement (although not the same supercharger), to the expansion tank for the intercooler, to the shape and location of the MAF, air filter, and air inlet. The battery, however, is located in the trunk – something that would prove impossible for the eventual production car. Note that the power steering reservoir is located where the battery would normally be found and that would also change by necessity.

There was also an emphasis on building in anti-lift geometry in the rear suspension. It was apparent that this car would have a very heavy engine up front, and this architecture was necessary for handling and braking ability. Anti-lift would be an important benefit of the final production 1999 SVT Mustang Cobra IRS suspension as well.

Features

  • IRS with special attention paid to achieving low unsprung weight and anti-lift geometry
  • SLA front suspension
  • PBR fr/rr brakes w/specifically-tuned ABS
  • Torsen differential
  • Unique body components – hood for clearance, and functional side scoop to cool rear suspension
  • Unique interior trim

The Mustang King Cobra shows that SVE had in mind a demonstration of its suspension ngineering capabilities.  As we know, none of these major engineering elements made it to production. Nor has Ford been able to actually offer such a front and rear suspension on a production Mustang. It’s a shame that SVE and Ford fell so far after showing what they were capable of here, and again later on with the FR500.

Specifications

0-60 mph 4.9 seconds (estimated)
60-0 mph 130 ft. (estimated)
1/4 mile 13.0 @ 105 mph
200 ft radial skidpad 0.87g  (estimated)
600 ft slalom 65 mph  (estimated)
Horsepower 380 hp
Torque 440 ft.-lbs.

SVE program managers included Al Suydam and Steve Anderson. Team members included Ron Smith and Eric Tseng.

A number of issues were encountered in the development of this car (and the related show car Super Stallion – which perhaps was one and the same car underneath?). The chief problem was excessive heat in the shocks – pushrod operated, and located in a “tray” in the trunk. The side vents cooled those shocks, but only to a degree.

Also, of course, was the entire issue of cost: since the SN95 hadn’t been engineered for an SLA up front and an IRS in the rear, production costs would be excessively high – especially for a short run of 8-10,000 cars per year. As it turned out, as we now know for the 2003 Cobra, the SLA front suspension was dropped, the IRS was totally redesigned to make it considerably more production-friendly, and the supercharged engine would continue in development for a few more years before finally appearing in 2003.

SVE Mustang Super Stallion

While the SVE Mustang King Cobra was originally an exploration of intended things to come, the Super Stallion was nothing more than a show car (introduced at the 1997 SEMA show). However, it did reveal to the public for the first time the front SLA and rear IRS development work that had been done. Several magazine articles of the time showed detailed photos of the front and rear suspension. Unfortunately, none of these unique suspension pieces would ever be seen again, much less in production. However, the improved 4-valve cylinder heads, the T-56 (previously seen in the Mustang Mach III show car), and the use of front Brembo brakes were an early indication of things to come on future SN95-based Mustangs.

The bodywork of the Super Stallion takes a step forward from the King Cobra by providing proper room for much-needed larger wheels and tires. Custom front and rear fenders provide extra width and opening size. The King Cobra, given the standard early SN95 fender wells, was left at a strange angle in order to get the needed wheels and tires under the car.

Possibly this car was simply the King Cobra underneath, with the new engine added. In any case, when the car was revealed, the production 1999 SVT Mustang Cobra with it’s entirely different IRS suspension was already well in the pipeline and would be shown to the press 6 months later. The reworked 1999 Mustang was the result of a 750-million dollar (over-)budget project, led by Janine Bay, including the cost of the design and production prep of the IRS that was used in production.

This car, and the King Cobra, showed that Ford engineers were trying to give the Mustang a world-class suspension, despite the desperately outdated and unbalanced platform – and the intent to replace it with an entirely new platform after the turn of the century (delayed until 2005). A prior “last shot” at improving the FOX platform had been seen in the FR500, although that car was never (despite press releases to the contrary) intended as anything other than a show car.

Specifications

  • Engine:
    • 5.4L “modular” V8 with improved 4V cylinder heads and 16 injectors
    • Flex fuel compatible
    • Dual MAF and throttle body assemblies
    • Garrett (Allied Signal) Positive Displacement Supercharger w/Cockpit Controlled Disengagement Clutch
    • Garrett Air to Water Intercooler
  • Borg Warner T56 6-speed
  • Suspension:
    • Front: SLA Front Suspension w/Koni DA shocks
    • Rear: SLA IRS w/pushrod actuated Koni DA coil over shocks mounted in the truck
  • Brakes:
    • Front: Brembo 4 Piston w / 13″ x 1.25″ cross drilled and slotted rotors
    • Rear: stock Cobra rear calipers w / 12″ x 1.0″ cross drilled rotors
  • Wheels/tires:
    • Speedline 3 Piece Racing Wheels (18″ x 8.5″ Front / 18″ x 9.5″ Rear)
    • Goodyear 265/40ZR18 Eagle F1-GS Fiorano Tires

Engine Output

Gasoline Flex Fuel
545 HP @ 6000 RPM (101 HP/Liter) 590 HP @ 6000
497 Lbs-Ft @ 4750 (84% of Max Torque at 2000 RPM) 536 Lbs-Ft @ 4750 RPM

Development Team Members

  • Steve Anderson – Program Manager
  • Bill Lane, Kevin Lambert, Dave May, Primo Goffi, Al Oslapas, John Moore

Photos

 

 

Press Release

Mustang Super Stallion – technology with attitude

LAS VEGAS, Nev., November 3, 1997 – Roaring down the Las Vegas strip, the Mustang Super Stallion technology concept makes its debut at the Specialty Equipment Market Association Show.

“The Super Stallion is a showcase of the innovative high-performance technology that Ford has up its sleeves,” said John Coletti, manager, Special Vehicle Engineering (SVE). “We’ve enhanced some of the already great Mustang features and added a few new twists to make this car every performance enthusiast’s dream.”

Technology Leadership

Leading the way in innovative powertrain and chassis technology while developing exciting, high-performance cars and trucks is the focus of Ford’s SVE group.

Super Stallion serves as a test bed for new engineering processes in addition to reinforcing Ford’s product passion. While Super Stallion is not intended for production, many of its technologies may be considered for mainstream application in the future.

Under The Hood

Powered by a 5.4-liter four-valve DOHC V-8 engine with a high capacity Garrett supercharger, Super Stallion is capable of 545 horsepower at 6000 rpm and 495 foot-pounds of torque at 4750 rpm. Super Stallion’s engine was built at Ford’s Windsor, Ont., engine plant and was modified by SVE in Allen Park, Mich. The engine modification was made possible by the flexibility of Ford’s modular engine family. The overhead cam engines are easily modified because they share basic architecture, tooling and components.

Out on the track, Super Stallion puts up some impressive numbers with a top speed estimated at 175 mph, a 0-60 mph time well under five seconds and a quarter-mile time of less than 13 seconds at 112 mph.

Specially modified aluminum cylinder heads provide better air flow, while 16 injectors keep fuel pumping through the performance hardware. The engine compression ratio is 8.2:1.

Air enters the engine through twin throttle bodies that are mounted to the high-capacity, clutch-activated, Garrett supercharger. This configuration relieves the engine of the parasitic losses incurred during the normal periods of “non-performance” operation. The end result is a significant improvement in fuel economy.

Shifting into gear is made possible by a multi-disk McLeod clutch system and a Borg-Warner T56 six-speed manual transmission.

Super Stallion’s engine is also equipped for flex-fuel operation. It is capable of running on gasoline, alcohol or any combination of the two. The system’s optical fuel sensor tells the computer the exact composition of the fuel allowing the EEC-V module to make necessary changes automatically. The benefits of having flex-fuel capabilities include cleaner emissions and improved performance, with the ability to achieve 50 more horsepower on E85 fuel.

Chassis Highlights

Super Stallion’s suspension is tuned for optimal performance, ensuring the car will remain stable even under maximum handling conditions.

The front independent short/long arm suspension features an all new SVE design, replacing the standard McPherson strut system, and includes Koni double adjust shock absorbers. This configuration provides more negative camber during maximum turning, for improved cornering performance and anti-dive characteristics.

Another innovative design is the competition-style independent rear suspension. The springs and shocks are part of a unique module that is mounted in the trunk minimizing the unsprung mass while providing exceptional anti-squat during acceleration and anti-lift during hard braking.

The five-spoke, three-piece aluminum wheels from Speedline measure 18 x 8.5-inches in the front and 18 x 9.5-inches in the rear and feature 265/40ZR18 Eagle F1Fiorano Goodyear performance tires. Stopping power is provided by Brembo calipers and 13-inch vented discs on the front. The rear uses 12-inch vented Brembo discs. In addition, hard stops are controlled by electronic ABS. Stopping distance from 60 mph is 116 feet and from 100 mph is 310 feet with exceptional anti-fade characteristics.

Performance Look

The aggressive stance and sleek lines of the production Mustang are enhanced by unique graphics and carbon fiber accents to give the Super Stallion a distinct performance look.

An all-new hood design, with nostril-like openings, allows this beast to breathe a little easier. Improved air-flow into the engine compartment keeps the 5.4-liter V-8 cool under the most intense driving conditions.

The front fascia has been modified to include two large, round driving lights along with integral ducts that feed air to the engine, while the rear fascia features integrated dual exhausts. Both the front and rear treatments as well as the mirrors and scoops are made of carbon fiber to keep weight at a minimum.

The quarter window ducts and quarter panel scoops allow for rear shock and brake cooling, which ensures peak performance of these vital components. The rear decklid and spoiler have been modified to improve the aerodynamics of the car and provide outstanding high-speed stability.

A dramatic exterior graphics package completes Super Stallion’s “street racer” appearance. The car takes on two different personalities with radically different color configurations on each side. The passenger side is painted in a deep metallic blue base color giving the car an unassuming look, disguising its true power. In contrast, the driver’s side is white and stands out to give Super Stallion a menacing look, hinting at its true capabilities.

Innovative Interior

Super Stallion’s interior features four leather-wrapped ebony bucket seats. The front seats include integrated three-point safety restraints, which improve the rear seat ingress/egress, and dynamic seat bolsters. The seat bolsters are unique in that they articulate to hold the occupants in place during hard cornering. The bolsters retract to make entry and exit of the vehicle more comfortable.

Keeping track of all of Super Stallion’s systems is made possible by an on-board performance diagnostics system mounted in the headliner. In addition, two extra gauges are mounted on the A-pillar to monitor intake manifold vacuum/boost and fuel system pressure. The rest of the performance-oriented white faced gauges are housed in the instrument cluster.

The supercharger is activated with the flip of a switch that is mounted in the center stack area of the console. When the system is on, the “armed” light is illuminated and Super Stallion is performing at its ultimate. Also found in the center stack area is a digital readout that measures the amount of alcohol present in the vehicle’s fuel.

The center console runs the length of the car and houses the leather-wrapped shifter. It also provides extra storage space and cup holders for the rear passengers.

To complete the driving experience, Super Stallion is equipped with a Mach 630 watt sound system from Visteon Automotive Systems. The radio/CD unit is housed in the instrument panel and features two amplifiers, a center image speaker mounted in the dash, 2.5-inch speakers in the A-pillar sails, 5.5 X 7.5-inch woofers in the doors, three sub-woofers and two mid-range tweeters mounted in the package tray.

“We’ve taken high-performance technology to a new and exciting level with the Super Stallion,” said Coletti. “It’s the ultimate ride!”

3
Sep

All about the missing S197 2005 Mustang IRS

Editors note: this article is *not* about the IRS that has been developed for the 2015 Mustang. Instead, this article covers the IRS that was developed for the 2005 Mustang, then abandoned due to all-too-typical Ford cost-cutting. But read on anyway, since the Mustang IRS story is long and tortured – and will make you appreciate the S550 IRS even more.  Read all about the 2015 S550 IRS here.

We’ve written extensively on this topic before, but the October 2011 issue of Motor Trend spurs us into action yet again. Their topic is the upcoming 2015 Mustang, which they say will be an evolution of the current chassis, with an IRS. As we know, an IRS that was developed for the S197 (2005) Mustang was cancelled at the last-minute by Ford executive Phil Martens to save development budget (who was then himself downsized right out the door).

Motor Trend only has a portion of their story correct… where they first go wrong is their image of the car, which is updated from the current Mustang by only a new front bumper. It’s  hard to believe that Ford would reach an important milestone, the 50th anniversary of an American icon, the greatest brand that Ford has today – and only change the front bumper.  C’mon, Motor trend, you can get a bit more imaginative than this. We already know the design direction Ford will take, not only from recent statements by J Mays, but also by the new Ford Evos concept. It’s possible that the Evos front end *is* the 2015 Mustang front end.

But where Motor Trend really gets it wrong is their claim that the IRS design which would be used is the Ford of Australia Falcon “control-blade” suspension (nothing special there, just stamped steel, inexpensive bits, and less than optimal geometry). That’s not at all correct (or desirable), and it’s not even consistent with what Motor Trend has claimed in the past. The Falcon design was evaluated well over ten years ago during the 2005 Mustang development process and dropped from consideration as inadaquate. Ford then designed an all-new IRS from scratch, the production engineering and testing was completed, and it was only shelved at the last moment due to budget cuts. The IRS was never revealed in public, but it was briefly mentioned and it was seen on a production prototype driving around Dearborn during that timeframe. And, better yet, an intact example was recently discovered in a Ford warehouse. It’s a work of art, it will blow you away with numerous beautiful aluminum castings, and the end result is a nearly state-of-the-art bolt-in unit that is lighter and better in every way than “ye olde” solid axle. Imagine a Mustang whose owner would be as proud of what is underneath the car as of the engine and styling. Today we’re going to share actual pictures of the IRS. But before we take a look, lets review some history.

First, before we get accused again by uninformed naysayers of being “bitter and biased”, we’ll provide our credentials. This particular post was written by the owner of this site. I’ve owned 20 brand new late-model Mustangs, every significant one from the first FOX Mustangs on up, and open-tracked or autocrossed them all. Each was modified by me to mitigate inherent deficiencies in suspension and braking. I owned two Mustang Cobras with the factory IRS and spent considerable time talking to the IRS designer inside SVT. I’ve been high-speed open-tracking these cars and many others for over 32 years, and currently instruct in one of the best HPDE groups in the country (for the last 12 years). That means driving all kinds of cars around all kinds of tracks at very high speeds, and certainly not just Mustangs. And, especially important, successfully teaching hundreds of students how to drive the same cars they drove to the track. For me, that’s what it’s all about. Sure, I’m biased. Now, back to our topic.

Here’s what the current solid rear axle and brakes look like, from the 2005 thru 2014 Mustang: very pedestrian and very very crude. With tremendously high unsprung weight. And, despite engineering “band-aids” to keep it in place, it still tries to redistribute weight to the wrong side of the car in every turn – no matter what you do or how carefully you tune it.  It’s been extensively tuned with all sorts of bushing changes over the years, but it’s still the single worst design element of the car.

Here, on the other hand, is what the rear end of a 2005 Mustang development prototype looked like on the planned and partially announced (magazine interview quotes) 2006 Mustang Cobra: note the IRS (large nut in the middle of the hub) and 4-piston Brembo calipers. This prototype was spotted several times driving around Dearborn.

Cobra, you say? Yes, a new generation SVT Mustang Cobra. However at the last-minute SVT itself was all but eliminated due to quality disasters, the Cobra was cancelled, and the IRS was shelved due to budget cutbacks. Product plans were dumbed down (Cobra eliminated, 4 liter SOHC V-6 extended), options and entire models were cut (3.0 liter DOHC V-6, 7 liter DOHC V-8, both SOHC and DOHC supercharged 4.6 V-8s). The resulting Mustang GT was competitive in a class of 1 since the current Camaro hadn’t yet been introduced. The resulting “Shelby” Mustang had a solid axle, tiny rear brakes, 58.5% of it’s weight up front due to the substitution of an iron engine block, and multiples of poseur scoops and stripes and silly fanged worms (and the only involvement of old man Shelby himself was to sign a licensing agreement to his name). The Shelby has gotten a bit more competent since it first came out, but it still has faults inherent in the crude, tall, narrow, and top-heavy platform. And despite endless tuning of various rear suspension bushings, all solid-axle Mustangs including the newly famous Boss still hop, skip, jump and shift weight in the wrong direction if the pavement in the turns has any bumps whatsoever. And forget about back-roads drives – there couldn’t be a worse choice of car for that.

How do we know that this was an IRS? Lets compare it with two other Ford IRS suspensions: first the ’99 to ’04 SVT Cobra IRS. Notice the nut in the middle the hub.

And here’s how this goes together on the ’99-04 (image from the Ford shop manual) – notice the threaded area on the half-shaft to the upper left, and nut at the lower right. This is typical of all IRS suspensions. The half-shaft is bolted thru the upright or hub.

Part 4B477 is the nut you see above.

The large nut is the giveaway: the red engineering car above has an IRS. A couple of other observations, based on the low-res spy photo:

  • The red mule has 4-piston calipers front and rear. And not just the “baby” Brembos found on the 2000 Cobra R, but much larger “real” Brembos.
  • The rear hub on the ’99-04 IRS has the tie rod attachment point located very close to the rotor – resulting on a lot of heat transfer into the tie rod and also the inability to fit larger rotors. It’s located further inboard on the red mule.
  • It’s not clear how provision is made for rear parking brakes… they aren’t integral in Brembo calipers. There isn’t a second set of small calipers. Therefore, the system must use small drum brakes within the to the rotor (aka the Supra, C5/6, Jaguar S-Type R, etc).
  • Tire size continues to be much taller than SN95s – the tires are 285/40ZR-18s Goodyear F1s.

Unfortunately the spy photos are such low-res that we can’t see any further detail… there appears to be an aluminum lower control arm.

2nd reference: this is a Lincoln LS rear suspension, 2002 vintage. It might be logical that this is what would be used to source some of the parts… however there are some fundamental differences in component location. Note that the LS suspension is state-of-the-art… including coilover shocks. The same rear suspension is also used by Jaguar on the S Type, and also on the Thunderbird (and on the Mustang GT concepts from 2003, which were literally rebodied Thunderbirds using the complete platform including the full SLA/IRS front/rear suspension). Note that on early Jaguar S Type R models, Brembos are used along with rotor-integral drum parking brakes (Lincoln used the cheaper version, with conventional iron calipers and caliper-integral parking brakes).

Conclusion: We know the IRS had been under development from the start, as Ford had been talking about it right from the start as being standard on the future “Cobra”. This time out, given the new platform, it’s an integral part of this new platform rather than an afterthought. And one of the even earlier spy pictures of a development mule appeared to have an IRS underneath as well. The intention was to bring the rear suspension into the 21st century.

 

History of the Red Mule: A later version of what was likely the same red mule has a solid axle, as shown in these two images.

This happened near the end of 2004 when Martens cut the budget.

Notice the standard brakes, and the standard swaybar hanging down behind the axle. And the lack of the “nut” as shown above. This has now become a solid axle car – once the decision was made to leave the IRS behind, a standard GT axle was simply swapped into the car. This is the same car ole ‘Shel Himself is shown driving, just before it’s debut at the New York Auto Show (2005). Some early Shelby press collateral even referred to the larger rear brakes and 4-piston Brembos although later this oversight was corrected and removed from that material. I spent over a year corresponding with the senior executive inside Ford who was running a project to study the feasibility of the IRS in the Mustang (as well as their original plan, to base the new Mustang on the full DEW98 platform), a few years before the S197 design was finalized. It was his job to figure out how to cost justify it, and it turned into a major political battle against the cost cutters. I won’t mention his name because I was asked to keep it confidential, but from our talks I learned a lot. I’ve also talked to some of the Ford engineers who worked on the S197 IRS project and every single one of them were “mad as hell” that they weren’t allowed to put into production what they worked so hard on, and what they believed should be standard in the S197 across the board. Yes, across the board – every single model. Those folks wanted to build the best car they could – not a low common denominator for customers who (as they said) “didn’t know any better”. Of the people I talked to, only two are still in the company. One was bounced out of the former SVT group and wound up designing a suspension for a worldwide Ranger replacement that little Billy Ford cut out of the budget years ago.

Let’s make sure we all know who to blame inside Ford: both Phil Martens, who canceled the IRS, as well as Hau Thai-Tang (former Director, Advanced Product Creation and Special Vehicle Team:). It was HTT who gave the press a couple of statements that encouragingly revealed the IRS, then later told us we didn’t need it anyway and labelled us all as “snobs”. In progression over the course of several months, he goes from addressing the requirements of his customers and promising they would be met, to outright insulting them:

  1. “Drag racers and Ford’s accountants will be pleased at the choice of a live axle out back. Among our customer groups that know and care what sort of rear suspension their car has, a large number of them want a solid rear axle; they’re primarily the core enthusiast drag racers, and they like the durability, reliability, and ease of modification with it, changing axle ratios, etc.,” says Thai-Tang. “There’s another group that wants the sophistication and cornering advantage of an IRS, and we’re going to offer it on the upcoming SVT Cobra. Unlike the last time, when we kind of shoehorned the IRS in [an older platform]; this time, we’ve designed the rear architecture to accommodate both right from the beginning.”
  2. “Ninety-two percent of (Mustang) Cobra customers wouldn’t have considered a Ford product”
  3. We’ll never appease those IRS snobs.”

And then, thankfully, Hau Thai-Tang was himself “canceled” – sent to South America in exile to build a cheap SUV with no future. This was followed up by SVT itself being cancelled, at least in it’s original form as independent innovators and builders. The reason for that was simple: every product SVT engineered on their own got progressively worse from a quality standpoint. The further away the product got from the “base” production vehicle, the worse the quality became. Their final product, the 2003 Cobra, had terrible engineering problems in several areas (including harmonics, general engine tuning, cold weather warmup, cylinder head casting, and transmission input shaft). Many owners suffered thru engine replacements that Ford didn’t want to perform (including myself, who was amazed to find three identical red Cobras like my own lined up at the dealer for the same purpose – total engine replacement). Finally, the crowning achievement of SVT – the Ford GT – turned into another debacle. What was billed as “the pace car for the entire company” turned into an engineering and warranty disaster. It may well be that the Ford GT debacle was the final straw that forced Coletti into retirement. Great guy as he was, as popular as he was, his products got great publicity but were all flawed from rushed engineering and testing and the resulting quality and warranty issues (and expenses).

The S197 Mustang has not been without issues either, starting on Job 1 with fuel tank pickup issues (and a corresponding refusal by Ford FSEs to acknowledge the issue). We are very disappointed in the current Mustang, and not only for the antique rear suspension but also for the failed MT82 transmission, which has left many owners with broken dreams and an aggravating service experience.

So now it’s time to show what the final IRS design looks like. Here, at last, is the final production-ready IRS. Found in a warehouse of discarded Ford engineering bits outside of Detroit. 1) This is a bolt-in IRS, attaching directly to the frame with welded-on frame tabs (not found with this unit). A subframe is not used; instead, to save weight (and eliminate flex), two structural beams fore and aft provide mounting points and locate the upper and lower control arms and differential. Note the use of aluminum everywhere possible: all structural components, upper and lower control arms, hubs, and differential. This, and careful computer modelling, result in a total weight that is actually less than ye olde solid iron axle. And of course far less unsprung weight.

This is a rear chassis mounting point, rubber isolated.

2) Half-shafts bolt on at the differential. Also shown is the bolt-on mounting point for the upper control arm.

3) This is the aluminum hub, with mounting points for the 4-piston Brembo brakes directly on the bub. Parking brakes are integral to the rotor – note the parking brake cable. The sway bar is a slight compromise, mounted inboard, so it’s not a 1:1 ratio. There is also a wire hanging out for the speed sensor in the hub, used for both traction control and anti-lock braking.

The indentation in the lower arm is the mounting point for the lower end of the shock absorber. The upper shock mounting point is the same as the solid-axle car, again for compatibility. The bracket and bolts to mount the lower end of the shock are missing here.

4) The two large bolts are the mounting rear points for the differential, and note the differential drain at the bottom. The differential is shared with the Explorer, circa 2004 (note speed sensor mount in the picture below that was not present in earlier Explorers without traction control). The Explorer diff uses the familiar 8.8″ ring gear, and of course a limited slip differential would have been standard.

5) Here’s the other side, showing the hub in more detail including the toe link below. Like everything in this IRS (with the exception of the Explorer diff), everything was designed from scratch and owes nothing to any prior Ford design. It’s nice to see the toe link (underneath the lower arm) mounted well away from the rotor so that heat is not transferred. The image also shows the front IRS mounting point on this side.

6) Another view of the same side. The short vertical link maintains the geometry of the hub to the lower control arm and also provides a controlled degree of toe change for stability in turns. We’re again struck by the sheer strength of this unit – there are no compromises in strength at all. The spring and coil are separate in this design, due to having to provide for compatibility with the solid axle car which mounts the spring above the axle.  This isn’t optimal from a geometry standpoint, but it is necessary to provide for compatibility (the option of offering both rear suspensions).  There is a rubber insulator missing on the spring mounting point on this side.

7) Details of the Explorer differential. Note the blocked off speed sensor point on the lower right – this is used in the Explorer but not the Mustang.

8) More details of the differential. Note the holes in the subframe where the half-shafts pass thru. Also note the reinforcing plates for the front mount (top of image) – these look fabricated and may not be production. They help maintain the geometry of the differential as stresses are applied. Also note the scrape on the bottom of the frame, in the lower middle of the image. This was probably a stress test prototype unit, and the scrape may have been from an impact. Which is probably why this unit was disposed of – its integrity may have been compromised.

9) Another view of the complete IRS unit. Yet again we’re struck by the strength of the unit. It’s also nice to see how large the rotors are, and of course that they are ventilated. Note the lower shock mount and the mount for the 4-piston Brembo caliper.

10) This side shows the rubber locating bushing for the spring. The top end of the spring mounts in the standard point on the rear frame, shared with the solid axle.

11) Drivers side suspension, with mounting points. Until this IRS ends up in a production car, we’ll never know how well the geometry works, but it’s a good assumption to say that Ford has designed it with much-needed anti-dive geometry (as in the ’99-04 Cobra IRS, which had far less dive than the standard car). Like the solid-axle SN-95, the current S197 car suffers from severe nose-down braking. Lousy!

12) Front, showing the driveshaft mount. Ford had issues with harmonics in the earlier SVT IRS. The balancer built into the differential pinion here solves that issue.

An interesting question is where the exhaust system would be routed… it’s apparently the lowest point on the car and passes under the IRS (blue circle) to each side of the bolt-on reinforcement bar (yellow).

13) The lower side of the Explorer differential, with the breathing tube. This is an area where racers would need to install a cooler to prevent over-heating. In sold-axle cars, as the diff fluid heats, it expands into the axle tubes and is eventually expelled thru the breather near the right side of the tube (where it ends up spraying onto the tire). In an IRS their isn’t enough room for expansion in the diff casing, so excess fluid is just expelled. If cost were no object, Ford would have developed an entirely new differential casing with extensive cooling fins – reusing the Explorer differential was a concession made for cost.

14) The sway bar follows the shape of the rear structural beam. This also allows for the exhaust pipes to pass underneath the IRS from front to rear.

So here we have it: the S197 IRS sitting on the shelf and ready to go. It was originally designed in the 2002-2004 timeframe, so it’s possible that there might be updates to it for 2015.

But given that the 2015 Mustang will apparently be an evolution of current S197 chassis,  the engineering is done and the main engineering focus can be on reducing the weight of the basic chassis. Weight reduction will be critical to meet the new and far more challenging Federal mileage standards, and it’s the only way that a V-8 engine option will be able to be offered for a few years more. Given the amount of engineering that went into the design of the IRS, the IRS is actually part of the weight reduction program rather than an afterthought. The Camaro will be moved on an all-new platform in the 2015/2016 timeframe (shared with the Cadillac ATS), one which will be lighter than the current Mustang. An enormous amount of engineering has gone into the new ATS program and the result is a very lightweight and nearly state-of-the-art platform. The next Camaro will easily be lighter than the current Mustang and with direct-injected engines across the board (270 HP turbocharged 4 cylinder, 323 HP naturally aspirated six, and a new 5.5 liter V-8) the new Camaro will be well ahead of the current Mustang.

How will Ford compete? With an evolution of the current chassis, the IRS across the board, direct injection on the 3.7 V-6 and 5 liter V-8 (which both are already engineered for), an EcoBoost 4 for the entry level car (most definitively not an “SVO”!!), and a weight loss program. Additional high-strength steel and use of aluminum for further components (doors, trunk, roof) are very likely. To beat Federal standards, compete, and better yet to keep ahead of the Camaro, a loss of 250 pounds might be hoped for. A gram-by-gram examination will be needed – something that former Partner Mazda was very good at (lets hope Mark Fields brought the philosophy back home with him). An entry level V-6 could weigh as little as ~~3273 pounds, and the base model EcoBoost another 75 less.

Unbelievably, it will be 11 long years since the Mustang last offered a modern rear suspension. Lets hope that this time it’s standard, and that we never again see a solid rear axle. There have been too many excuses made, too much outright FUDD delivered, and too many years lost where we could have been enjoying a dynamic drivers car. Couple this with a serious weight reduction, and maybe even the paradigm-breaking EcoBoost V-6, and we might finally have a truly world-class sporting coupe – the likes of which haven’t been seen since the Supra TT left us. Let’s hope this dream comes true, that idiots like Phil Martens don’t get in the way, or that apologists like Hau Thai-Tang don’t try to tell us to be satisfied with obsolete engineering left over from a century ago.

And let’s hope that Ford engineers show us what they are truly capable of, rather than what they can manage with negligible budget and management that doesn’t have the vision to support the them.

7
Jul

2013 Shelby Mustang – sorry, no IRS.

The spy pictures of the 2013 Shelby at the Nurburgring have been seen all over the net and are interesting to examine in detail. Focusing on the suspension, one publication claimed that the Shelby exhibited obvious negative camber in back, and concluded that Ford finally rolled out the IRS that it originally developed for the all-new S197 Mustangs.

We’re very sorry to report that it doesn’t have an IRS: we’re here today to shoot down the IRS notion. It pains us to do so, because the Mustang very badly needs an IRS to replace ye olde solid axle. Covered-wagon axles from the mid 1800s have no place on a modern Mustang. And as you’ve probably been reading, the Mustang also badly needs a transmission, but that’s another story.

Here’s the picture of the Shelby at the Nurburgring track in Germany. Look at the position of the brake caliper, and the size of the caliper. Same as all the other pedestrian Mustangs. Solid axle and stock brakes. Sorry, the IRS that was originally developed for the S197 stays on the shelf (picture below!).

First, here’s what the pedestrian solid rear axle and brakes look like: very very very crude.

Here, on the other hand, is what the rear end looked like on the planned and partially announced (magazine interview quotes) 2005 or 2006 Cobra: note the IRS (large center nut) and 4-piston Brembo calipers. This prototype was spotted several times driving around Dearborn.

Cobra, you say? Yes, a new generation SVT Mustang Cobra. However at the last minute SVT itself was all but eliminated due to quality disasters, the Cobra was cancelled, and the IRS was shelved due to financial cutbacks. Plans were dumbed down, the result was the Shelby Mustang with a solid axle, tiny rear brakes, 58.5% of it’s weight up front due to the substitution of an iron engine block, and multiples of poseur scoops and stripes and silly fanged worms. It’s gotten better since it first came out, but it still has faults inherent in the crude, tall, narrow, and top-heavy platform. And it will still hop, skip and jump if the pavement in the turns has any bumps whatsoever. Forget about back-roads drives.

And what of the IRS? We’ve got other articles covering it in this site, and Ford even said a year into the rollout of the 2005 Mustang that they would consider offering it as an option to stay competitive. Too bad it never happened, because the final production version was absolutely bullet proof (having gone thru three generations of development, the first being the Australian Falcon IRS). Here it is:

With a couple of brackets on the frame, it’s a simple bolt in. That’s a double a-arm design, with a massive but lightweight aluminum subframe. It’s total weight was lighter than the solid axle and of course it’s unsprung weight was considerably less.  It uses an Explorer rear diff, and was designed to be more easily installed in the production line that the more clumsy SN95 IRS was from 1999-2004.  The brakes are mounted to the rear, opposite that of the production single iron caliper on the solid axle. That makes it a dead giveaway to spot in spy picture now or back when the 2005 Mustang was being developed. You may well have spotted one then if you were driving around Dearborn with your eyes open… as several people did.

4
Feb

Loss of Falcon effect on next-gen Mustang?

The Sydney Morning Herald has reported that the existing rear-wheel drive Falcon will be replaced by a front- and all-wheel drive Taurus-based product in a few years.  This is a very important bit of news for Mustang enthusiasts because a common rear wheel drive platform could have been shared for the next generation of the Falcon and Mustang, saving significant development costs and enabling a financial model that could have paid for more extensive advanced weight-saving technologies.
If this move by Ford is confirmed, then the future evolution of the Mustang becomes an open question. We know that a replacement Mustang is coming in a few years, and the big question is whether we will get a warmed-over version of the current dumbed-down chassis, or something modern and perhaps even approaching state-of-the-art. Federal regulations have determined the future course of the Mustang: total weight will need to be reduced so that fuel economy can increase even further. And if weight can be significantly reduced, variations of the current base V-6 and the GT V-8 engine can be used further out into the future that they would be able to be used otherwise.

Our primary interest is of course in the suspension, where the Falcon has had an independent rear suspension (and SLA front) for many years while the Mustang (with the temporary exception of the troublesome SVT bolt-in) remains stuck with the most antiquated suspension design of any Ford car in North America (even the Expedition has a more sophisticated suspension design than the Mustang). Can the next Mustang solve the weight question and the suspension question?

Background: http://smh.drive.com.au/motor-news/ford-falcon-to-ditch-rearwheeldrive-20110111-19lel.html.
If you thought that the new engines in the 2011 Mustang were the sole savior of the Mustang’s future, you’d be wrong. They were the easy part, since they were just hand-me-downs from other platforms. The hard part is losing a couple of hundred pounds of weight at a minimum in the next iteration of the car, and several hundred pounds in the longer term. Hard not only in engineering, but particularly in cost. In fact cost is the overriding challenge and it will have the largest impact on Mustang enthusiasts. Alan Mullay’s “One Ford”  strategy means that investments in technology are spread across several products. The best example of this is Ford’s C-class platform, which will yield 10 separate products, all of them offered worldwide. And “One Ford” precludes having an “orphan” chassis in Australia or North America. So both the Falcon and Mustang must change. “To what?” is the unknown.
There are a couple of possibilities for the next Mustang platform:

  1. Simple top-hat update on top of the existing platform. Unlikely, since that’s what the 2010 was.
  2. Further mechanical evolution of the current platform
  3. Reuse of a revised Falcon platform
  4. Creation of an all-new platform for both the Mustang and Falcon.

Per the Australian article above, the reality of the Australian market is that there isn’t very enough volume left in the segment to support a stand-alone platform and manufacturing for the Falcon. As the article says, sales are at the worst point in 50 years. Holden isn’t doing very much better, although they do have the benefits of an export market with variations of products on this chassis going to worldwide markets including the Middle East and soon for Chevrolet to North America. Remember that the Camaro is built on a variation of this chassis – it was changed slightly, but in any case is moving to a lower-cost variant of the new Alpha chassis in 2015 or thereabouts. So the volume of the Camaro will not benefit Holden any longer.

Technically the Falcon platform is out-dated… the last update was just a “top hat” on top of a platform that didn’t receive any particular focus on weight reduction or efficiency. It’s not the rear wheel drive platform we’d want for a new Mustang given the far forward position of the engine, more like an SN95 than an S197. And while the rear suspension is independent, it was done on the cheap with a lot of stamped parts. And a trailing-arm design, while space-efficient, isn’t optimum for handling.

The current Falcon uses a short/long arm front coilover suspension, and a rear trailing-arm independent suspension.

When Ford developed the final S197 chassis and it’s planned IRS (canceled from production at the last moment in a cost-savings move), they had already abandoned the Falcon IRS early in the development process and ended up developing their own aluminum-intensive and highly optimized IRS. And it’s weight was very comparable to ye olde iron and steel solid axle. Too bad it’s stuck on the shelf.

The cancelled S197 Mustang IRS

“One Ford” means literally that – the Taurus platform is intended to be be the sole worldwide large-car platform. If, as the article states, a decision on the future of the Falcon chassis is due in 6 months, then the Australians are scrambling to create a business model for their otherwise-“orphan” Falcon product line. The Mustang would almost certainly be a part of that plan so that the financials can be spread across multiple products.
A new Mustang is likely for 2015… whether it will be a variation of the current car or use a shared platform with the Falcon is the big question. The idea of sharing a platform with the current much-larger Falcon would add weight and size to a future Mustang, as this same plan did with the Camaro. A 190-inch 3900-pound Mustang won’t work when increased Federal mileage and emissions regs will require a car a little smaller than the current Mustang and much lighter.
We have have to remember when talking about a future Mustang that Ford doesn’t have something like Nissan’s FM platform, which spans everything from the Z on up to the Infiniti M. This makes for a slightly too-heavy Z, but it does give Nissan/Infiniti planners the advantage of enormous cost savings and the ability to share a wide variety of engines across the products. As one example, the new hybrid components first used on the M in production (first publicly shown in early development form on a G) could even be used to create a hybrid Z, which would increase performance significantly and deliver significantly increased fuel economy. The FM platform is very flexible and was certainly an extremely worthwhile investment for Nissan to undertake many years ago.
Ford had something like the FM platform in the DEW98 platform… it was very efficient and very highly aluminum-intensive. It was used for three products (Jag S-Type, T’Bird, LS), planned for several more, and was also intended to underpin an all-new Mustang as well. However, after a lengthy internal study was conducted (I corresponded with the person leading the study at the time), the plan to use it for the Mustang was dropped due to cost restraints. Too bad, because we would have been enjoying a Mustang with a world-class chassis for the past 10 years. Now this platform is gone (although living on with Jaguar), and with it any idea of rear wheel drive products for Lincoln. Blame it’s loss on Little Billy Ford, who thought he could run a car company but ended up running it into the ground, ruining lives and killing booked product plans along the way.
:SPECULATION MODE ON
Given the recent news and all this background, the worst case (for us) but most likely (for Ford) scenario is that Ford will have to to soldier on with a variant of the current Mustang chassis. Ford engineers will need to bring the structural integrity up to the expected standards while simultaneously dropping a couple of hundred pounds.
Fortunately, because the engines are hand-me-downs from other much higher-volume products, there is a path already established to even better mileage and emissions just from the engines alone. Shifting the engine mix around a bit could help, as would the use of the EcoBoost 2 liter for a base engine (and at a minimum of 237 HP there’s nothing wrong with that), dropping perhaps another 150 pounds.
So perhaps the chassis people will aim for a 200 pound drop (perhaps using some of the technology being developed for the next-gen F-150, you may have read about this project). A shorter rear overhang, with a hatchback and IRS, would eat up part of the loss, perhaps resulting in a car overall 100 pounds less than todays Mustang. That’s hardly enough on it’s own to meet the upcoming Federal requirements. But combine erngine improvements already in the pipeline (such as Direct Injection) and planned (variable valve lift) with a net loss on a base 4-cylinder models of as much as 250 pounds, and an evolution of the current platform could suffice into the next decade.
:SPECULATION MODE OFF
Speculation is just that… we’ll have to wait for spy pics of development mules in a couple of years to know what decision Ford makes in June of this year. But as one driving enthusiast to another, we’re very disappointed with Ford. Ford has never shown what it’s capable of with the Mustang from an engineering standpoint… only from a budgetary standpoint. Given the enormous profits that Ford generated in 2010, and with every expectation of an even better 2011, it’s time to spend the money on a state-of-the-art rear wheel drive platform.

18
Jun

More on the S197 Mustang IRS

Motor Trend’s blog “2010 Ford Mustang: Near Enough is Not Good Enough” talks today about the IRS suspension that was developed for the S195 (2005) Mustang.

They’ve got a couple of points wrong in their article, but by and large it’s right. My own involvement with the IRS Mustang begins in 1999, when I took delivery of the 1st or 2nd IRS-equipped Cobra in Texas. And I took delivery of another in 2003, with the improved IRS (thicker half-shafts, and very much improved bushings). Both cars were so good on the track – especially my 2003 (with 2000 Cobra R springs and shocks) that I swore I’d never do another solid-axle Mustang. I spent some considerable time talking to the lead engineer of the IRS at SVT on several occasions and learned from him what it would take to make it work best on the track (start with doubling the spring rates, for one).

Like Joe over at My Ford Dreams, I hold the current Mustang in complete contempt. But it’s even worse than Joe knows – an IRS for the Mustang wasn’t just stuck in development, it was out being tested on streets and test tracks. So much so that it was encountered on the street and photographed (the exact same car later had a solid axle transplanted into it and became the engineering mule for the Shelby). I have the photo preserved, and put it on my blog years ago. I’ve copied that entire post below (or follow the link below to view *all* my posts about the IRS).

Motor Trend claims the IRS that was finalized for the Mustang came right out of the Australian Falcon. That could be true, although the photo of the IRS doesn’t support it. Trying to build an IRS out of some backwards stamped-steel components on the cheap does not make for a good IRS. Ford knows how to build one, but the eternal cost cutters inside Ford ruined it. If the Australian rumor is true, it’s another example of those types at their worst.

But I don’t think it was from Australia. I spent over a year corresponding with the senior executive inside Ford who was running a project to study the feasibility of the IRS in the Mustang, a few years before the S197 design was finalized. It was his job to figure out how to cost justify it, and it turned into a major political battle against the cost cutters. I won’t mention his name because I was asked to keep it confidential, but from our talks I learned a lot and I hope he did too. I’ve also talked to some of the Ford engineers who worked on the S197 IRS project and every single one of them were mad as hell that they weren’t allowed to put into production what they worked so hard on, and what they believed should be standard in the S197 across the board. Yes, across the board – every single model. Those folks wanted to build the best car they could – not a low common denominator for customers who didn’t know any better. Of those folks, only two are still in the company. One was bounced out of the former SVT group and wound up designing a suspension for a worldwide Ranger replacement that little Billy Ford cut out of the budget years ago.

Lets make sure we all know who the real idiots were in Ford: both Phil Martens who canceled it and especially Hau Thai-Tang (Director, Advanced Product Creation and Special Vehicle Team:) for running around saying it it wasn’t needed anyway. It was Hau Thai-Tang who told the press a couple of statements that made me see red. First, the IRS was “go” as an option. Later it was off and those of us who wanted one were “snobs”. In progression, HTT goes from addressing the requirements of his customers and promising they would be met, to outright insulting them:

  1. “Drag racers and Ford’s accountants will be pleased at the choice of a live axle out back. Among our customer groups that know and care what sort of rear suspension their car has, a large number of them want a solid rear axle; they’re primarily the core enthusiast drag racers, and they like the durability, reliability, and ease of modification with it, changing axle ratios, etc.,” says Thai-Tang. “There’s another group that wants the sophistication and cornering advantage of an IRS, and we’re going to offer it on the upcoming SVT Cobra. Unlike the last time, when we kind of shoehorned the IRS in [an older platform]; this time, we’ve designed the rear architecture to accommodate both right from the beginning.”
  2. “Ninety-two percent of (Mustang) Cobra customers wouldn’t have considered a Ford product”
  3. We’ll never appease those IRS snobs.”

Note that the IRS was canceled and the Cobra was canceled, Yes, there was a real Cobra – it was a model above the Shelby (which Shelby has nothing to do with developing).

And, finally, thankfully, Hau Thai-Tang himself was canceled – sent to South America in exile to build a cheap SUV with no future. Straight to hell, where he belongs. And then SVT itself was canceled, at least in it’s original form. The reason for that was simple – every product they brought out on their own got progressively worse and worse from a quality standpoint. The further away the product got from the “base” production vehicle, the worse the quality ended up. Their final product, the 2003 Cobra, has terrible engineering problems in several areas. Many owners suffered thru engine replacements that Ford didn’t want to perform (including myself, who was amazed to find three identical red Cobras like mine all lined up at the dealer for the same purpose – total engine replacement). Finally, the crowing achievement of SVT – the Ford GT – turned into another debacle. What was billed as “the pace car for the entire company” turned into a quality and warranty disaster: http://www.drivingenthusiast.net/sec-blog/?p=726.

I suspect – without evidence- that it was also the final straw for Coletti that forced him into retirement. Great guy as he was, as popular as he was, his products were seriously flawed. And I know, I had 4 of them. The IRS was finally perfected, but the engines got worse and worse. Cooling problems in all of them, and a total lack of engineering and testing process for the final one. And despite it’s great suspension, that car was a worthless POS because of that damned poor engineering.

Somewhere inside Ford, the S197 IRS suspension sits on a shelf ready for production. It’s not too late – it can still be done. Indeed, not one year after the introduction of the 2005, a Ford executive said that they “needed” to offer the IRS as an option. That may have been back-tracking, but it was said. Fast-forward to today, where there is no platform for a Mustang replacement in the pipeline. The Mustang is too big and too heavy (although not anywhere near as bad as it’s competition) for the long term. Ford needs a platform like the Nissan FM platform to build a family of small rear wheel drive cars on. It doesn’t have it (the Australian Falcon is a very poor chassis, and very much out-dated).

The current Mustang will probably be patched up in a few years, like the SN95 Mustang was half-way thru it’s lifespan (as the FOX Mustang was 3 or 4 times). If Ford’s plans to take a few hundred pounds out of each model in it’s lineup works out, it may even last another ten years. But who wants one, when every year that goes by shows how backward it is? Oh yes, we have a “track pack” option – but that is nothing more than something we could have easily done ourselves (and better) and it does little to actually prepare the car for open track weekends. The brakes are still too small, and the cooling is still too poorly done. I remember shaking my head in disgust when in 2006 the demo Mustang brought by Ford to the SVT events kept garking it’s coolant all over the place – and they had retired their Ford GT a year earlier for the same exact reason. The SVT engineers that came with the Mustang told me that they had already totally rebuilt the Ford GT’s engine once and never could make it work on the track. Yes, it’s a pace car for the entire company – the company that went down the drain at the same time.
Here’s the reprint of the article from my site on the S197 IRS.

————————–

S197 Mustang IRS Suspension

2005.03.21 (updated)

Many pictures have surfaced of a red engineering prototype of a future high-performance flagship Mustang. What hasn’t been known to date is what rear suspension would be used in the eventual production car – although it’s been repeatedly told to us during the original development of the all-new 2005 Mustang that it would be an IRS. Now we have confirmation of those statements.

A lucky member of the online Mustang fan community, fortuitously equipped with a camera, came across an engineering prototype on the streets of Dearborn recently. His pictures have ended up all over the web, across several sites. The red mule he encountered has an independent rear suspension (IRS). How do we know? Look closely at the photo below and you’ll see a large nut in the center of the hub (in addition to 4-piston Brembo brakes).

 
Now look at the following picture of the standard solid axle suspension on an ’05 Mustang: note that like all solid axle setups from Ford the center of the hub is just indented – no nut. There is very clearly a significant engineering difference from the car above.
 
For comparison, let’s look at a stock ’99 Cobra IRS (same as ’99 thru ’04). Notice the nut in the middle the hub.

And here’s how this goes together on the ’99-04 (image from the Ford shop manual) – notice the threaded area on the half-shaft to the upper left, and nut at the lower right. This is typical of all IRS suspensions. The half-shaft has to be bolted to the hub thru the upright.

The large nut is the giveaway: the red engineering car has an IRS.

A couple of other observations, based on this low-res spy photo:

  • The red mule has 4-piston calipers front and rear. And not just the “baby” Brembos found on the 2002 Cobra R, but much larger “real” Brembos.
  • The rear hub on the ’99-04 IRS has the tie rod attachment point located very close to the rotor – resulting on a lot of heat transfer into the tie rod and also the inability to fit larger rotors. It’s located further in on the red mule.
  • Its not clear how provision is made for rear parking brakes… they aren’t integral in Brembo calipers. There isn’t a second set of small calipers. Therefore, the system must use small drum brakes within the to the rotor (aka like the Supra, C5/6, Jaguar S-Type R, etc).
  • Tire size continues to be much taller than SN95s – the tires are 285/40ZR-18s Goodyear F1s.

Unfortunately, the spy photos are such low-res that we can’t see any further detail… there appears to be an aluminum lower control arm, but the resolution is really too poor to verify the meaning of it’s position or the type of rear suspension.

Reference: this is a Lincoln LS rear suspension, 2002 vintage. It might be logical that this is what will be used to source some of the parts (some, given that the LS uses an 8″ differential)… however there are some fundamental differences in component location. Note that the LS suspension is state of the art… including coilover shocks. The same rear suspension is also used by Jaguar, and of course on the Thunderbird (and on the Mustang GT concepts, which were literally rebodied Thunderbirds using the complete platform including the full SLA/IRS suspension front and rear). Note that on Jaguar R models, Brembos are used along with hub-integral drum parking brakes (Lincoln uses the cheaper version, with conventional iron calipers and caliper-integral parking brakes).

Conclusion: We know the IRS has been under development from the start, and Ford has been talking about it right from the start as being standard on the future “Cobra”. This time out, given the new platform, it’s in integral part of this new platform rather than an afterthought. One of the early spy pictures appeared to have an IRS underneath. In any case, the rear suspension is being brought into the 21st century (at last), and Mustang buyers can now follow along.

History of the Red Mule: A later version of the red mule has a solid axle, as shown in these pics:

Notice the standard brakes, and the standard swaybar hanging down behind the axle. And the lack of the “nut” as shown above. This is a solid axle car – once the decision was made to leave the IRS behind, a standard GT axle was swapped into the car. This is the car ole ‘Shel is shown driving, just before it’s debut at the New York Auto Show (2005). Some early Shelby press material even referred to the larger rear brakes and 4-piston Brembos – this oversight was eventually corrected and removed from that material.

So, the Mustang performance flagship has a solid axle. And as we’ve found out since, the “real” Cobra was cancelled by Ford. In various interviews, we have been told that the “real” Cobra (aka with the IRS, big brakes, and something on described as “more” under the hood) had been cancelled (this decision was made in November 2004). The Cobra moniker was then added to the Shelby, which otherwise was simply a special edition model (like the Mach, et al, used to be). The Shelby was never an “SVT”, although it was engineered by SVE. All that changed when the big shakeup inside SVE/SVT at the end of 2004. The Cobra moniker was then removed and SVT was killed off as a product organization. The remaining SVT engineers are a virtual team split across several development groups.

Will we ever again see a real sporting “SVT Cobra”? Just exactly why did SVE/SVT drop out of product creation? Those are questions for which there are no public answers. Ford’s premier Mustang is dead, replaced by a straight line muscle car.

Will we ever see the IRS? We at least now know that Ford has the suspension… and it’s ready to go.

23
Aug

Interested in the Interceptor? Join the conversation…

You may not be aware that Ford runs it’s own blog covering auto shows and concepts:



Lots of topics are under discussion – and you can add your comments without registering. One of the more lengthy “conversations” concerns the Interceptor concept.



Follow along here. Note that you can subscribe via RSS to the comments of this or any particular thread:



The Interceptor is one of the more promising concepts built recently by Ford… a 5 liter DOHC aluminum V-8, a short/long-arm front suspension, and the infamous “missing” IRS that was supposed to be offering as part of the canceled SVT Cobra (which is not what was delivered as the “Shelby GT500″).


Of course none of these features will show up in production in exactly this form: we know that this car can’t be built on a Mustang S197 platform (which is dated and due for phase out in a couple of years anyway), we know we won’t ever get a 5-liter “modular” engine into production because it’s can’t meet production durability standards, and we know that somewhere there is a new RWD platform being developed in Australia for production sometime after 2012 or so that would be intended as a global platform and would have to be used. So the Interceptor is nothing more than a concept, an idea of what could be several years out.


So enjoy the “idea” of an Interceptor… and keep your fingers crossed that in another 5 or 6 years something like this might appear.

24
Apr

Ford Interceptor showcar – independent rear suspension!

This is the only known photo of the Interceptor showcar showing the suspension. 

Ford Interceptor showcar suspension

While it was basically built on a stretched Mustang floorpan, there is actually much more to it than that. 
The Interceptor has an SLA front suspension instead of the Mustang’s antiquated struts. 

And look carefully – in the rear it has the IRS that was developed for the Mustang from the start – but cut for cost purposes at the last moment. 

The Interceptor was built for more than show – it’s an engineering evaluation project for one potential rear wheel drive production vehicle. The other alternative is the Australian Falcon replacement coming up in a year. 

You’ll notice that the front suspension is neatly done – tucked close to the frame to allow big tires no interference with the engine. The lower arm is aluminum and the upper is an iron alloy common to suspension components (you’ve seen it before in the SN95 IRS upper arms).  

And the rear IRS has a nice big lower control arm, in aluminum, and with broad mounting points. It’s an SLA type again, rather than the cheaper (but perhaps more robust) trailing arm type (recently adopted by the Explorer and Expedition). 

These same components were also used for the Lincoln MKR showcar. 

So this is nice, and brings the S197 chassis into the 21st century. The big question is, of course, when will we see it? Or if. With little engineering budget, a looming bankruptcy, with a limited market, and with CAFE increases looming – will a rear wheel drive 4-door platform ever see the light of day at Ford of North America again? 

GM has already put it’s own platform of this type on hold, except for the Camaro program (already too far along) and the imported Pontiac (from Australia). That platform was to have been used for a new Impala, as well as an unnamed Buick program. Those are now on hold.

10
Oct

Philip Martens Resigns

Phil Martens, Group Vice President, Product Creation.

Philip R. Martens, who oversaw the design, engineering and development of all Ford, Lincoln and Mercury cars and light trucks in North America, resigned from his post over the weekend, a company insider told Inside Line this week.

This is the same person who oversaw the 2005 Mustang development. And who in December of last year made the decision not to put the new IRS suspension into production, relegating the special-edition Shelby to single-purpose muscle-car mindset and canceling the Cobra outright (which had an IRS, large 4-piston Brembos at all 4 corners, and a lighter and more powerful engine).

There are a number of members of his former staff he should take with him, starting with Hau Thai-Tang.

So – good riddance!