Having a driver-seat view of the performance world is the reason I pursued writing about cars decades ago. Today, it is still what gets me to the keyboard early and keeps me there late. While the world is blurring by, it’s difficult to reflect on good fortune, but in reviewing some of the stories of the past year, it’s those where I was on the front lines for which I am most thankful. From driving the new Mustang and attending my favorite show of the year to driving on the wrong side the road in an S550 and blasting around in hot hatches and pickups, 2017 was definitely a great year:
If you are like us, 2017 felt like a 9-second quarter-mile pass. By the time you dropped the hammer and banged through the gears, it was time to pull the ’chute. So here we are about to ring in another new year, but before we do it’s a great time to look back at some of the significant stories that broke on our way to the year-end-stripe.
While we cover a wide array of Ford performance vehicles here, it should come as no surprise that many of the stories that most of you gravitated toward involved the latest Mustangs. The most compelling subject of 2017, and deservedly so, was the 2018 Mustang, its attributes, and some significant modifications built for those cars. Of course, the underlying theme of the stories that moved the needle was performance — and lots of it — which is why we are all here.
So, without further adieu, let’s reflect on our 10 most compelling Ford performance stories of the past year. The stories are all linked here, so feel free to take a trip back in time if you missed them…
Though this one broke late in the year as the SEMA Show took over Las Vegas, it still built enough boost to crack our top-10 list for the year. Hot on the heels of iterating a 2.9-liter supercharger upgrade for earlier Coyotes, Whipple Superchargers developed an all-new Gen 5 3.0-liter supercharger designed specifically for the Gen 3 Coyote that powers the 2018+ F-150s and Mustangs. With an upside-down design and a rev-friendly boost range, we should see some big performance from this supercharger in 2018.
The Shelby brand is a strong as ever and when the company bearing Carroll’s surname announced it was applying its Super Snake magic to Ford’s top-selling pickup, it obviously pulled at the burly heartstrings of Blue Oval truck fans, and we can see why. A striking truck with a supercharged engine pounding out 750 horsepower is definitely something to get pumped up about.
It was only a matter of time before the new Mustang started running impressive times at the drag strip. However, it was in no time at all that Terry “Beefcake” Reeves strapped up his new, automatic-equipped GT with a few bolt-ons and some nitrous to blast the second-gen S550 into the 10-second zone. That instantly kicked off the race to the 9-second zone and lower. We can’t wait to see just how quickly these 2018+ Mustangs will run in the coming year.
Any time a new Mustang is in the offing, enthusiasts have an insatiable appetite for information. When someone snapped a shot of the 2018 Mustang’s engine in advance of its official announcement, it was instantly a point of interest. Fans got a first look at that monolithic engine cover, but we were all left to wonder what lurked beneath it.
From the moment it was announced, the flat- plane crank’d 5.2-liter Voodoo engine under the hood of the 2015-2018 Shelby GT350 has tantalized Ford fans. From its high-revving power to its distinctive idle sounds, this engine most certainly casts a spell. When we spotted one up for auction, it definitely capture the imagination of our readers, who likely daydreamed about what project to swap this vibrant powerplant into. While this engine is most certainly sold by now, others will undoubtedly pop up for sale in 2018. Will you make the swap?
When we got word that Kenne Bell was orchestrating the creation of a four-digit-capable Coyote-Voodoo hybrid engine, we just had to take a deep dive inside the powerplant. Using the Shelby’s 5.2-liter block as the engine’s basis and pairing it with robust internals and a traditional cross-plane crankshaft definitely laid the foundation for huge power when topped by one of Kenne Bell’s Mammoth blowers. We hope to find out just how much power it can generate in 2018.
The only thing that’s possibly more enticing than a new Mustang is a new halo Mustang. In this case, it’s what we believe to be the next Shelby GT500. When a spy photographer captured a mule out testing with what appeared to be a VMP Performance Gen 2 TVS supercharger atop its engine, we immediately took notice and so did many of you. As we have learned since, this isn’t exactly the setup that we expect to boost the new Shelby, but it offered an intriguing insight into just how much work goes into developing these cars.
Rumors, leaks, and outright prognostication are fun for everyone, but it’s the real numbers that ultimately matter. When Ford finally tells us just what kind of performance a forthcoming Mustang is packing, we are definitely going to pay attention. In the case of the 2018 Mustang GT, the performance bump was significant and its Drag Mode acceleration was downright stunning. With this kind of performance foundation, Ford enthusiasts are definitely going to have a Happy New Year!
We had seen it all — from naturally aspirated 7.0-liters to twin-turbo 3.5-liters — when it came to speculation about the next Shelby GT500’s powerplant. Our money was always on an 5.2-liter engine with a traditional cross-plane crankshaft that was boosted by the new Eaton 2.65-liter TVS supercharger. When someone bravely, or unwisely, leaked images that confirmed the existence of just such a powerplant the Ford world definitely took notice. There is still much to learn about the Predator 5.2-liter engine, but the potential of this engine is thrilling.
As a true aficionado of the latest and greatest in Ford performance, our Associate Editor Kelly Getz picked his personal favorites from the past year, and they cover all corners of the Blue Oval world from first drives and deep technical dives to hot hatches and super cars:
As enthusiasts ourselves, we try to dig a bit deeper than your typical online clickbait. Your author has intimately covered the Coyote engine family since before it was born, so when the third-generation of this vaunted engine family was confirmed, we dove into what makes the Gen 3 5.0-liter so special. As it turns out, there were quite a number of upgrades, which should make for an interesting future in modifying these dual-fuel engines. Not many of you missed this one, but if you did be sure to go back and learn just how much Ford improved its latest Coyote.
As you can see, 2017 was a pretty exciting year for fans of high-performance Fords. However, many of these stories portended what’s to come in 2018, so we expect to see these cars and products thrive in the coming year. Naturally, we’ll be here to share all those exciting developments when they do.
Of course, if you are doing really cool things with your Ford, be sure to share those details with us as well so we can spread the word. Who knows? Maybe your story will make the Top 10 in 2018…