Driving the 2010 Ford Mustang GT, we discovered it was basically a tuner version of the old model. So how does the latest ROUSH Mustang Blackjack stack up to the factory version? Let's find out.
For 2010, Ford's taken the old Mustang and bolted on nicer suspension, a new intake and exhaust, given it a more svelte body, a nicer interior and called it day. ROUSH has taken a slightly more aggressive approach, adding huge amounts of power, heart-stopping brakes and the blackest black-on-black paint scheme ever. But it's the suspension that really makes a difference.
Cruising down I-94 at paralegal speeds, we slide over to the interchange onto I-696. The little yellow sign warns us to knock it down to 35 MPH, but everyone knows those are simply warnings. We toss the car into the left handed banked sweeper, but I get an immediate pucker-moment and my heart jumps into my throat. My sense of speed must have been off, we're rocketing around the embankment with the g-forces doing their best to pull our faces clean off. Surely, we've overcooked the turn and my time on this cruel planet is over. Can someone remember to feed my goldfish? But wait, nothing bad happened. No tire squeal, no crunch and I'm not eating dirt through the convertible top. The Blackjack took what seemed like a kamikaze corner without even sweating. Maybe Blackjack is code for black magic, as there is seriously some kind of witchcraft going on in the undercarriage. What seemed liked a simple spring/strut/swaybar hop-up package actually acted as a total revamp of the pony car's driving dynamics.
The ROUSH Mustang Blackjack is no mere sticker-and-fiberglass-only pretty kit. The engine is a supercharged 4.6-liter V8 producing 430 HP. The Stage 3 suspension, available on the entire line-up of ROUSH Mustangs, is a complete replacement, including reimagined struts, much tougher and lower springs, gigantic swaybars front and rear and a wheel-hop elimination kit. The brakes are a lesson in pure ridiculousness: the fronts are two-piece 14" rotors and four-pot calipers with a smaller slotted rotor and pad upgrade in the rear. The tires are absolutely massive BFG KDs, rivaling the rubber fitted to the 2008 Dodge Viper in both size and composition. The exterior is fitted with a seven-piece body kit and a mile-wide flat black racing stripe. The interior is the only place we find to be gravely lacking compared to the 2010 Mustang - The Blackjack only received some minor suede inserts and a shiny dash appliqué. For $62,000, we would've liked to see some grippier sport seating, as we flew into the center console and door panels many a time. The gun-bolt-like shifter was one of the best we've ever had the pleasure of rowing through, albeit a bit too tall.
The proof of this laundry list of go-fast parts comes in the driving experience. It's easy to sit street side and bullshit about who's got the bigger supercharger or the suedeist seats, but it is on the pavement where the Autozone customs are separated from the engineering masterpieces. Where the 2010 Mustang GT has picked up a couple of extra horses, a solid suspension upgrade and a cabin that doesn't make you bleed from the ears, it's still just an improved version of an aging chassis. For the Blackjack, this goes double. There are certain things you can't easily ignore, like the improperly geared 5-speed, far too soft clutch, portly sheetmetal and Fisher Price interior. Although these shortcomings can be remedied with cubic dollars, the price tag would be shot right past the already shocking $62,000 entry fee. If you're looking to buy your way into exclusivity, there are only 100 Blackjacks slated to be sold, so you've got the 2010 GT on that front.
The question you ask yourself is, "Do I really need 430 HP and a track-ready suspension in a silly, old chassis?" The answer is a resounding yes. This obscene ride is what American tuning is all about: Take a slightly apt set of wheels, remove all of the fluff while saving cost on the bits that don't make you go any faster and set it forth to destroy some namby-pamby ricer ass. Although there are some aspects we'd change in the pursuit of greater and greater speed, it's nothing the common enthusiast wouldn't be capable of taking care of himself in his own driveway. So if ridiculous is your middle name, the Blackjack may be the car for you.
Photo Credit: Alex C. Conley