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Which car to start with?

2
2
Exp. Type
W2W Racing
Exp. Level
20+ Years
Aliso Viejo, CA
Ok, so if you wanted to build a very high performing HPDE Mustang, which one would you start with any why? I'm looking at S550 vs the 197 chassis. Beyond that I'm open. Here are my basic thoughts, feel free to poke holes in them, i will not take it personally. I've always loved the looks / sound of the Mustang, time to have one.

Option 1 Mustang GT
Then add MCS coilovers, cooling, heads / cam, exhaust, bushings, 4 pt rollbar, seats, Alcon / Essex brakes, headers & exhaust, etc.... I'm sure that list would grow, but you get the idea. Full tilt HPDE car, with very little left untouched.

Option 2 GT350 - more expensive base, but more power, probably only add exhaust, but almost certianly coilovers, brakes?, safety stuff for sure. How much does it need? How would it compare to #1? motor reliability?

Option 3 GT500 - I love the thought of leaving the motor completely stock. I had an M3 that made 660 at the wheels, but it was tempermental and expensive. How good is the rest of the car? The DCT is also interesting to me. This is the upper end of my budget though, so probably only 20-25K for playing. Also are the wheels really what you want to track? I'm assuming a nice set of Forgelines or Signature wheels would be better (sizes, etc...). Is tracking the $^%^^ out of it going to kill resale value (along with adding a rollbar, etc...)

Also note I'm in CA, so once every 4 years I have to put back anything on the motor to stock to get it smogged.
 

Mad Hatter

Gotta go Faster
4,311
2,953
Santiago, Chile
I guess you need to decide how far down the rabbit hole you want to go, as far as tracking the car goes..... If its for dual use, then option two seems like the most logical since your are in California etc..

For me, the S197 is the car that jangles the soul.. love the looks and rather wild ride and the genetic line is easy to trace to the original Mustang. Lighter and easier to work on as well. Also just love the looks on the faces of the Porsche drivers when they cant keep up at the track. Yes, getting to that does take a fair sized investment of time and money.... But the people here at TMO will be delighted to help you do it!
 
I think I have a good perspective since I went down rabbit hole #1 (way down) starting with a stock 2013 Boss 302 and I have a friend that I track with who traded his mostly stock 13 Boss for a stock 2016 GT350.

I was slightly faster in my Boss when he had his Boss.......basically driver. When he got his GT350......he disappeared. It wasn't until I got the L&M cams, intake and race tune (along with big brakes, full exhaust, 315 slicks, coilovers, etc) that I was able to haul him in and now often pass him. But all he has done to his Shelby is add LTH's and a tune. That's it. He has a full interior.....I have the headliner and dash and nothing else.

If I could do this over......I would take the Shelby and save some money. But as Mad Hatter said......it's so fun to run down higher-end cars with my analog dinosaur!

Option #3 is way out of my budget at today's prices and the older 500"s are too heavy.
 
4,992
5,258
Exp. Type
W2W Racing
Exp. Level
20+ Years
Pleasanton: 1/2 way between Sonoma and Laguna Seca
I would talk to @Fabman about this rabbit hole with the S197 platform. He has some good info.
I love my s197 but it is very very highly modified. Way farther down the rabbit hole than most will be able to go in their garage.
The s550 is a far better platform, especially 2018 and later. It takes way less effort and money to get a way faster car.Motor, chassis, everything is better. The only down side is its a little heavier, but who cares if its faster?
 

Dave_W

Cones - not just for ice cream
520
554
Exp. Type
Autocross
Exp. Level
20+ Years
Connecticut
Option 2a - Mach 1 w/ Handling Pack instead of GT350. Comes with the Tremec gearbox used in the GT350. Motor Trend puts it pretty even with the updated GT350; both are a bit behind the GT350R.
 
100
44
Exp. Type
HPDE
Exp. Level
5-10 Years
So CA
I love my s197 but it is very very highly modified. Way farther down the rabbit hole than most will be able to go in their garage.
The s550 is a far better platform, especially 2018 and later. It takes way less effort and money to get a way faster car.Motor, chassis, everything is better. The only down side is its a little heavier, but who cares if its faster?

Been following your builds, so for the 2018+ Gen 3 Coyote, can you recommend the Roush Stage II PLUS Cooling upgrade, all Ford dealer installed w warranty? I'm still investigating this. I know it's not cheap but the overall pkg looks solid and reliable for my use.
 

PaddyPrix

If breakin' parts is cool, consider me Miles Davis
563
779
Exp. Type
Time Attack
Exp. Level
Under 3 Years
San Diego
I obviously have a bias, since I went with option 1, and as I was able to limp my 18 to the track for under $20k, it's hard to argue its value. I might even argue that you'd be good without cams/heads, e85 and longtubes are plenty to dispatch just about anything that isn't a bonafide TTU car, and actually ahead of a stock GT350. Not trying to talk ill of my GT350 brethren, but there are plenty of Voodoo horror stories, and while the Gen2 is better, you seldom hear them about the 18+. Only reason to hate on option 3 is the consumable cost, big tires, big brakes, big fuel consumption, I believe a full tank will barely last you a 20-25 minute HPDE session, and thats crazy, coming from somebody who gets under 4 mpg.

If you're considering putting a GT500 though tracking duties, it's obvious that your finances are not as much of an issue, but I can't even fathom how fast one could go if you put $20k of go fast goodies into a 18+ GT. Stock motor, twins and you're easily 650 to the wheels with maybe 6-7# of boost. Stock fuel system is good to about 750, simple Radium drop-in and you're really going places.
 
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Mad Hatter

Gotta go Faster
4,311
2,953
Santiago, Chile
I think in the end it depends what makes you happy. if its just track times and you have a unlimited budget, just get a 911 GT3 cup car and be done with it. Only driven a modified S550 once at the track and with out doubt it was easier to drive fast. But... It was not as fun.. As people have told me here numerous times, there will always be a faster car then you. For most of us, it will depend on how much fun it brings and the size of the smile on our faces after we finish a race. If I had to do it all over again..... would get the same car, but take a different path to make my Boss into a track weapon.

@ajaquilante and his S197 is a for me, the pinnacle of what a chariot axle mustang can do. And thats right up at the very top.
 
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I don’t have a lot of seat time in an S197, but they’re more fun than an S550 if want some of that old school heritage - they slide real fun, sound great, etc. however, the S550 platform is quite a bit better for track use if you’re going for lap times, IMHO.

My GT350 is fairly modified and it’s an absolute animal. For sheer batshit insane, coked out level insanity, I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Once I get a proper set of double adjustables and sequential. I can’t even imagine. To go fast in a mustang, I don’t think there’s a better platform.

however, if you want to spend $30k less and optimize fun, I’d pick the S197
 

Mad Hatter

Gotta go Faster
4,311
2,953
Santiago, Chile
I don't know... My Boss has lap times that are pretty much on par with a flock of modified track only 718 Cayman Gt4's on R7's down here in Chile, don't have a SLA front end or a cambered rear axle (yet!! saving pennies). Honestly think the S550 is a much easier car to drive at the limit, but not so sure its really that much faster. Watching the phoenix S197 putting down times that were faster then a camaro GT4 just shows what development over long period can do in improving lap times...

I guess a 911 is a perfect example. On paper a rear engined car is not the ideal platform, but a ton of track time with a horde of gifted engineers has made it into a legend for over 5 decades.

I always like to look at the TMO times at Laguna Seca to see how the S550 and S197 cars are doing. A 2014 s197 within a few tenths of a new Mustang GT4!!!

1642984252774.png



DISCLAIMER.... Am 100% sure the if a pro driver like AJ tried my car out, he would be several seconds faster, and give me a long list of things that need fixing.
 
I don't know... My Boss has lap times that are pretty much on par with a flock of modified track only 718 Cayman Gt4's on R7's down here in Chile, don't have a SLA front end or a cambered rear axle (yet!! saving pennies). Honestly think the S550 is a much easier car to drive at the limit, but not so sure its really that much faster. Watching the phoenix S197 putting down times that were faster then a camaro GT4 just shows what development over long period can do in improving lap times...

I guess a 911 is a perfect example. On paper a rear engined car is not the ideal platform, but a ton of track time with a horde of gifted engineers has made it into a legend for over 5 decades.

I always like to look at the TMO times at Laguna Seca to see how the S550 and S197 cars are doing. A 2014 s197 within a few tenths of a new Mustang GT4!!!

View attachment 72059



DISCLAIMER.... Am 100% sure the if a pro driver like AJ tried my car out, he would be several seconds faster, and give me a long list of things that need fixing.
Just keep in mind how detuned the GT4 is. It’s what, 450hp? Give it the full 526-580 of the Voodoo or XS and you’re going to crush that S197, IMHO
 

Stanger58

Owner / Lead Instructor / Driver Coach
Build what YOU wan to build.

So many thing to consider... budget, operational cost, ease of maintenance/updatability ... questions that only YOU can answer.

For me: I'm waiting for all these GT350s to start popping voodoo engines that are no longer covered under Ford warranty. Snag one of these and drop in a 5.2 Aluminator XS and drive the snot out of it.

Enjoy YOUR choice.
 
Not Treynor’s GT4. Just saying.
True, but keep in mind who was driving the Phoenix car and how prepped that car is. That's a couple seconds easy. Id love to see a side-by-side of those two laps. I'll bet AJ is on the edge a lot more, tho.

I guess I should clarify...the S550 platform will be the faster platform for most drivers...it's easier to drive quickly because it's better setup.
 

PaddyPrix

If breakin' parts is cool, consider me Miles Davis
563
779
Exp. Type
Time Attack
Exp. Level
Under 3 Years
San Diego
I don't know... My Boss has lap times that are pretty much on par with a flock of modified track only 718 Cayman Gt4's on R7's down here in Chile, don't have a SLA front end or a cambered rear axle (yet!! saving pennies). Honestly think the S550 is a much easier car to drive at the limit, but not so sure its really that much faster. Watching the phoenix S197 putting down times that were faster then a camaro GT4 just shows what development over long period can do in improving lap times...

I guess a 911 is a perfect example. On paper a rear engined car is not the ideal platform, but a ton of track time with a horde of gifted engineers has made it into a legend for over 5 decades.

I always like to look at the TMO times at Laguna Seca to see how the S550 and S197 cars are doing. A 2014 s197 within a few tenths of a new Mustang GT4!!!

View attachment 72059



DISCLAIMER.... Am 100% sure the if a pro driver like AJ tried my car out, he would be several seconds faster, and give me a long list of things that need fixing.
Not trying to take away from things, but those guys are semi-professional, whereas the rest (while they might talk a big game) are all a bunch of fuckin' amateurs
1642999538139.png

ugh, missed the disclaimer. I swear, I can read. edit, also, he's looking for a very high performing HPDE car, which while a Pirelli World Challenge car would be totally badass, that would be like bringing Mark McGwire to your company softball game. (Only because Sammy Sosa would do it for a third!)
(Admin delete this, I'm off my non-existent meds and per usual, contribute nothing)
 
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