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Mustang R-Spec could spawn more Ford-Herrod tie-ups

Under the hood: Herrod Performance managing director Rob Herrod had been developing the Mustang R-Spec for some time before Ford Australia decided to green-light a factory-backed showroom version.

Ford Australia not ruling out further factory-backed hi-po conversions with Herrod

10 Oct 2019

FORD Australia and Herrod Performance are both keen to keep collaborating on tuned-up, factory-backed models if the supercharged Mustang R-Spec is a hit with customers – and they are broadening their horizons beyond the iconic pony car.


Speaking with GoAuto at the Mustang R-Spec reveal in Sydney this week, Ford Australia and New Zealand president and CEO Kay Hart told GoAuto “there is no doubt that we will look at further opportunities to apply the learnings” from this project.


To produce 500 examples of the R-Spec – expected to develop more than 500kW and 800Nm – Herrod Performance undertook additional vehicle compliance certification, while Ford set up a small ‘second-stage manufacturing’ production line at its Asia Pacific Product Development Centre in Broadmeadows.


It is a similar setup to the ‘hot shop’ established at Broadmeadows to build FPV Falcons after Ford took full ownership of FPV from Prodrive (now renamed Premcar) in late 2012, except that the Mustang R-Spec line will be staffed by Herrod Performance employees.


Herrod Performance managing director Rob Herrod told GoAuto the process of shifting from respected aftermarket tuner to production partner had been “mind blowing”.


“The same effort and pride still goes into the cars I’ve always built but to productionise the car is another level, it really is,” he said.


“It’s so different to what I would do in my normal workshop; seriously it is so anal and so thorough that I wondered what I had got myself into.”


Mr Herrod agreed that the shift and expansion necessary within his company to execute the R-Spec project made it logical to seek follow-up projects with Ford Australia.


“I’ve learnt so much from this car. It’s been productionised and it’s going into production, not just one car, (and) there will be a team of people building them,” he said.


Ms Hart told GoAuto that from the Ford side, the R-Spec project had also required “a lot of learning and a lot of time by a lot of people to make it happen”.


“That’s why we’re so proud of it … this has been such a big collaboration and the first time we’ve done work with a second-stage manufacturer in using Rob (Herrod).”


Ms Hart was also open to working with Herrod Performance to muscle up other Ford models, such as hot ST variants of the Fiesta and Focus hatches that will arrive in Australia next year.


“I don’t think it needs to be (Mustang),” she said. “I think the learnings that we’ve had with how we’ve worked with the second-stage manufacturing process, the ADR (Australian Design Rules), our design team and Ford Performance, I think that opens us up to other vehicles in our line-up.


Ms Hart agreed that breathed-on hot hatches were a logical step but would only respond with a smile to GoAuto’s suggestion that an amped-up version of the four-cylinder ‘High Performance’ variant of the Mustang EcoBoost could be on the cards after it launches here is February.


The 2.3-litre four-cylinder turbo-petrol engine in the Mustang EcoBoost High Performance develops 236kW and 448Nm,which is 12kW and 7Nm more than the outgoing model. It is closely related to the the Focus RS hyper hatch powerplant, from which Mountune has managed to extract 276kW and 510Nm overseas, while maintaining the Ford factory warranty.


“There’s no doubt that our tuning partners will be looking at that (High Performance) Mustang EcoBoost,” she conceded. “Focus ST and Fiesta ST are great performance products that we’ll bring in and get feedback.”


However, Ms Hart made it clear that Ford and Herrod Performance would not rush into the next project.


“With anything like this we really wait to see what the demand is and what the feedback is from consumers in terms of what we put together… we will absolutely take the feedback as it comes,” she said.


Ford Australia product communications manager Damion Smy said the Mustang R-Spec was made possible because “Rob Herrod’s background and knowledge enabled us to bring it to market faster”.


“For us to do a full factory version of this car would be a massive program and therefore for us, with customers wanting this car, Rob was a natural partner and a perfect fit.”


Mr Smy described the R-Spec as “a step on the road for Mustang in Australia towards more individualisation and customisation as the Mustang brand develops here”.


“Obviously the Mustang has been a strong brand globally and in the US for decades. Although that global enthusiasm has spread to Australia, we’ve only had the car a few short years so we’re in the early days of the Mustang as a road product in Australia, and this is just another step as we go along that road.”


As reported, the Mustang R-Spec is available as a manual coupe only, priced at $99,980 plus on-road costs, with pre-orders now open ahead of initial deliveries early in the New Year.


The R-Spec carries a five-year, unlimited kilometre warranty and the regular Blue Oval aftercare package including $299 ‘A’ services.


Maintenance intervals are 10,000km rather than 15,000km for the standard GT on which it is based, and the R-Spec has an oil condition monitor that automatically recommends an early oil change if the car has been driven hard.


Mr Herrod explained that upping outputs of the Mustang’s ‘Coyote’ 5.0-litre V8 by around 179kW and 258Nm using a supercharger required no changes to the engine internals due to its sophisticated quad-cam design.


“It’s a high-compression engine but with the quad cams we can actually bleed off compression through valve timing,” he said.


“You don’t have to put lower compression pistons in to supercharge the engine and for it to live, you can actually bleed the compression through the inlet and exhaust valves. It’s very complex.”


Mr Herrod said the electronic engine re-calibration to achieve this “comes from Ford’s end”.


“Through this whole program, me working with the mechanical components of this car has been me working with Ford Performance in the US to get the car to where we’re at and then we go testing the car here in Australia at the proving ground to make sure it does everything is has to.”


Due to the R-Spec having completed full factory validation by Ford Australia, all warranty claims are handled through the Ford dealership network.


“Nobody rings me, you ring the Ford dealer,” said Mr Herrod. “It’s a point of difference.”

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