The Grand Tour finally premiered on the 18th of this month, and man was it worth the wait! Some of us laughed, some of us cried, but no one was more excited to see the holy trinity of cars that were featured on the show than me.
Oh what’s that? You thought I meant the Porsche 918, and McLaren P1, and the Ferrari LaFerrari?
No no no.
While those cars were beyond amazing, I’m referring to another trio; a trio that hits much closer to home. I’m referring to the first three cars we saw in the opening sequence of the debut episode, a trio of Mustang royalty:
- Fisker-Galpin Rocket Mustang | Blue
- Shelby GT350 Mustang | Red
- Roush Stage 3 Mustang | White
Perhaps I’m being a bit dramatic when I attempt to describe the joy in my heart after seeing The Grand Tour kick off the show with these three ‘Stangs. If you hadn’t figured out by now, the Mustang is my absolute favorite car (has been ever since I was but a wee lad), and I am the happy owner of one. It was a beautiful thing to see, especially coming from a show that traditionally dismisses American cars.
The Rocket, GT350, and Stage 3 are all uber performance variants of the Mustang GT, especially in the power department. Producing 435 hp and 400 lb/ft of torque, the standard Mustang GT is more than enough to put a smile on your face when going around town. But of course, this is America, and we Americans (as pointed out by Jeremy on many an occasion), love to modify our cars.
So yes, my 435 hp GT is simply not enough, and more must be done to give it even more pep.
Fisker-Galpin, Shelby (or more accurately Ford’s SVT team), and Roush have taken that sentiment to the extreme, producing three variants that are heavy on the power and heavy on the smiles produced. Since the Rocket was the first one that we saw, let’s start with this…”unique” Mustang.
Fisker-Galpin Rocket Mustang
Fisker-Galpin, for those that aren’t familiar, is a partnership between Henrik Fisker of Fisker Karma fame (yes, the one that looked like a grinning fish) and Galpin Auto Sports. GAS might seem familiar to those that watched Pimp My Ride, as they were the garage featured on the show. With a Pimp My Ride background, no one really expected the Rocket to be subtle. In fact I have to admit, I am not a huge fan of the way the car looks. It’s nice and powerful, no doubt, but it looks like the gaping maw of a whale shark.
Apart from the front grille, I suppose the rest of the car isn’t THAT bad. It has nice flowing lines that give it a sleek, yet “Mustang-y” look. I especially like the hood, which features a dual intake ram air system. I wish it had an actual functional spoiler or wing, though. The integrated raised trunk lid lip thingy doesn’t really look all that great, and for a car that has 725 hp (if you don’t believe it, just look at the big gaudy decal on the hood), you would think a bit of actual, functional downforce is welcomed. But alas, no such thing.
Featuring a carbon fiber body, the Rocket is basically just that; a rocket. Incredibly light with a supercharged V8 motor, this thing can haul some serious ass. It also features a new exhaust by Magnaflow, and a bevy of suspension goodies from Steeda Autosports. It might look a bit gaudy, but if it’s good enough for Jeremy “Powaaaahhhh” Clarkson, then it most certainly is nothing to sneeze at.
Roush Stage 3 Mustang
After marveling at Jeremy seemingly enjoying himself in a Mustang (though to be fair, he did seem to like the 2013 GT500 he drove a while back), who should we see but Captain Slow himself pulling alongside Jezza in a Mustang Roush Stage 3. The Stage 3 is top of the line Roush variant, coming in above the cosmetics-only Stage 2, the Ecoboost-only Stage 1, and the V6-only RS Mustang. The premise is simple; take a Mustang GT, pop on a bunch of Roush bodywork parts, a whole crap ton of aero and suspension upgrades, a really cool Active Performance exhaust system, and slap on a Roush 2.3L supercharger for a grand total of 670 hp.
I love Roush vehicles, and if I wasn’t building my own track day slayer, I would absolutely have bought a Stage 3. Not only do I love the way the Roush parts look (especially that front fascia!), but I love the heritage of Roush Performance, and I love the fact that all these upgrades still net you a 3 year, 36,000 mile warranty. I’ve had my Mustang for just over a year, and my warranty is already LONG gone while not even having a fraction of the power of the Stage 3.
In fact, the RS3 has more horsepower per liter than any other American OE muscle car out there…until the GT500 comes out, presumably. The funny thing is, the RS3 seems so “James” to me. The gaudiness and power of the Rocket was a perfect fit for Jeremy, but the Roush is more elegant looking, and much more understated. It doesn’t scream “LOOK AT ME!” like the Rocket does, but still has more than enough power and handling to make it a worthy contender any race. In fact, the Active Exhaust can even toggle from a bone jarring Track setting to a more quiet and thoughtful Touring setting for everyday driving. Isn’t that thoughtful of Roush?
Now you can have a 670 hp monster without waking the whole neighborhood when you start the car up.
Shelby GT350R Mustang
Finally, we have the appearance of Richard in a Shelby GT350R. If Roush is my favorite aftermarket Mustang variant, then the GT350R is by far my favorite factory Mustang variant. The GT350R is a magnificent machine being offered at a tremendous value. You get a spectacular 5.2L flat plane crank Voodoo V8 engine producing 526 hp which allows you to rev for days before redlining, a completely redesigned front end and fenders, a MagneRide suspension system which adjusts itself thousands of times per second, carbon fiber wheels, and a carbon fiber race spoiler.
The 5.2L V8 was created to be Ford’s most powerful naturally aspirated engine ever, and combined with the GT350R’s other parts, you have a powerful and well handling track beast. Don’t forget, the S550 Mustang finally has independent rear suspension, so this pony can actually make turns without sliding all over the place. Combine that with the adaptable suspension, that beauty of an engine, and a host of other features, the GT350R may very well be the most capable Mustang ever made. If you don’t believe me, just look at all the accolades thrown about by respected auto publications. It’s a thing of beauty.
Within three minutes of the show starting, I was already chomping at the bit. Never mind the fact that Clarkson, May, and Hammond were all back on our screens, never mind the fact that Amazon has given the show an obscene budget to work with, never mind the fact that we are finally going to see the Porsche 918, McLaren P1, and the Ferrari LaFerrari go head to head…forget all that.
The first three minutes, to quote the youths out there, hit me right in the feels by featuring the car that got me into cars in the first place all those years ago. Car culture is a beautiful thing as long as you’re not a douchecanoe that’s stopping freeway traffic doing donuts, and Jeremy, James, and Richard are undoubtedly this generation’s ambassadors for the wonder and excitement of the automobile.
So with that, I would like to say: Welcome back, gentlemen. It’s good to see you on our screens again, and on a personal level, thank you for that wonderful tribute to the Mustang.
PS – If you ever feel like using my Mustang on the show, just shoot me an email. I’ll be waiting….