Tickford Mustang 360 Power Pack
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.