Tick­ford Mus­tang 360 Power Pack

Australian Muscle Car - - Muscle News -

Hunkered down over black 20-inch al­loys, sin­gle GT stripe run­ning its length and a quar­tet of big­ger tailpipes sprout­ing from its rear dif­fuser, this is patently no stock-stan­dard Mus­tang. Even stand­ing still, the Tick­ford Mus­tang 360 Power Pack winds up the Mus­tang GT’s styling punch to de­liver a knock­out in terms of vis­ual im­pact.

There’s also vis­ual wow at night, from the Pony greet­ing pro­jected onto the road along­side to the il­lu­mi­nated scuff plates and the cabin’s mood-lit strips. There re­mains more than a whiff of the donor’s built-to-a price North Amer­i­can plas­tics, but unique leather trim, a big, smooth three-spoke wheel and a legs out coupe driv­ing po­si­tion ce­ment the high-per­for­mance coupe’s over­all ap­peal.

Kick the en­gine via red-ringed starter but­ton and it set­tles into a bur­bling, mo­tor­boat idle, oblig­a­tory stabs of right pedal rock­ing the coupe sub­tly from side to side.

The Tick­ford 360 isn’t the eas­i­est car to thread through ur­ban traf­fic. The gear lever, topped with a spher­i­cal knob works through a short and notchy throw, with­out be­ing es­pe­cially me­chan­i­cal or tac­tile and, with the mod­er­ately heavy clutch, im­me­di­ate smooth progress is elu­sive.

The bent-eight seem­ingly breathes more freely ev­ery­where other than just off idle, where it suf­fers a mo­ment of lethargy that’s ex­ac­er­bated by the ex­tra re­sis­tance of the hill-holder to make ini­tial take-offs look like those of an L-plater.

It doesn’t take long to tune into the slightly clunky driv­e­train’s quirks and nail­ing a take-off – just a nor­mal one, not a drag launch – be­comes a source of sat­is­fac­tion, while fre­quent ex­plo­rations of the V8’s rapid top end and new­found bassheavy blare be­come a must to jus­tify the ex­tra ef­fort of pi­lot­ing the beast smoothly.

The revs hang in be­tween gears, so there’s no need to rush your shifts, and be­sides the sixspeed prefers a steady rhythm.

The rear view mir­ror’s gun-slit view out the back win­dow and the coupe’s typ­i­cally re­stricted over­shoul­der vi­sion com­plete the chal­lenges that come with pi­lot­ing a mod­ern mus­cle coupe in the city, but a week­night beaches blast al­lows the ticked Mus­tang to shout about its skill set.

Re­sponses to the big wheel are smooth and the weight­ing is quite meaty, even out­side the heav­ier sport set­ting (which also livens up the ac­cel­er­a­tor), yet it’s not rich in feel. Rather than han­dling in­ti­macy or ul­ti­mate tac­til­ity of con­trols, what the Tick­ford 360 is about is de­liv­er­ing an in­creas­ingly un­com­mon, rough-edged mus­cle car ex­pe­ri­ence.

Roll your wrists through a series of sub­ur­ban chi­canes and you can sense the coupe’s fun­da­men­tal good bal­ance and the lower, stiffer sus­pen­sion’s con­tri­bu­tion to kerb­ing body roll, of which there isn’t much.

At a cruise, the 5.0-litre’s flex­i­bil­ity and torque please. The 360 is no­tice­ably stronger than the stan­dard car and is in con­trast to some tuned atmo machines that can feel less well-en­dowed un­til high revs are in­volved.

Pick up the pace and squeeze the throt­tle harder and ear­lier and the coupe slips read­ily into sat­is­fy­ing squirms of over­steer on a damp road, but you’d bet­ter be ready to catch it...

In­take and ex­haust mod­i­fi­ca­tions de­signed to free flow and bring the 5.0-litre V8 alive make the two-door feel re­ally rapid up top – some­thing the stan­dard GT doesn’t quite man­age. The Mus­tang GT-based Tick­ford 360 stays the atmo course in its power up to 360kW, and you can cer­tainly feel the 54kW in­crease.

The pow­er­ful mid­dle pedal re­sponses cer­tainly have the mea­sure of the Tick­ford 360’s ac­cel­er­a­tive abil­ity but, like the other ma­jor con­trols, works best when used hard be­cause there’s a lack of sub­tlety to the ini­tial brake pedal travel that makes smooth mod­u­la­tion dif­fi­cult.

On dry, smooth tar­mac the coupe has tena­cious grip and ex­hibits im­pres­sive bal­ance, while con­tin­u­ing to con­tain roll. How­ever, when the sur­face is un­even the overly firm springs and dampers re­sult in a lumpy ride that can be wear­ing.

How­ever, ap­pre­ci­ate it for what it is, while over­look­ing the slight short­age of pol­ish, and the Tick­ford Mus­tang 360 is – par­tic­u­larly in the vis­ual and the en­gine com­part­ment – a more in­spir­ing ma­chine than the base GT. On the right road it’s a hugely en­joy­able ex­am­ple of the in­creas­ingly rare breed of rear-drive, bent-eight mus­cle coupe. The Ford tun­ing house’s of­fer­ing also has mo­tor­sport cred cour­tesy of its Pro­drive Rac­ing Aus­tralia roots.

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