There is a subtle shift occurring in car crafting. The '08 Car Craft Summer Nationals played it out in sharp detail for those who notice. It isn't exactly a disturbance in The Force but present nonetheless. The majority of cars are familiar machines powered by '60s monster-cubed engines thumping the ground with nasty cams that sound like they could make at least 1,000 hp at the flywheel. The alternate beat was also there. It embraces the new generation of engines that has been powering Detroit for the past decade. An example is Dan Schoneck's mild-mannered '07 Shelby Mustang. Nothing protrudes through the hood, and its idle quality could almost be described as mild. It has a bark to it, yet it cloaks a more sinister power level.
During all this commotion at the Nationals, Dynotune USA's Andy Wicks mentions, "Hey, I know this guy Dan Schoneck who owns a Mustang that should be part of your Street Machine of the Year competition." We agree, with no knowledge of what's under the hood. It's a late-model Shelby, so it's not to be taken lightly, but we're also thinking, How bad can it be? The Shelby idles up to the parking lot in front of the chassis dyno and Dan and Andy trade insults that only friends are allowed to fling. Dan signs the paperwork to enter our event while Andy backs up the Mustang onto the chassis dyno.
Dan asks, "I can run the nitrous, right?" We have no rules about multiple power-adders, so I say, "Sure, go for it," while Andy spins the motor up on the dyno to put some heat in the engine. Chassis dyno veterans instantly recognize the distinctive characteristic all high-horsepower engines make on the dyno-they spin up fast.
Once Dan's Mustang is up on the cam, Andy hits the loud pedal and the Mustang surges for about two seconds-zip-bang-and the run is over. I try to catch the peak horsepower number up on the screen but notice Dan looks puzzled. "The nitrous didn't hit," Andy says. Nevertheless, the peak horsepower number is still a stunning 817 at the rear wheels. Anyone else would probably be thrilled, yet Dan is disappointed. They try one more pass, but the nitrous still doesn't trigger, so Dan has to be content with 800-plus. "It should have made 900," Dan says. "That was just a conservative hundred shot." We decide to take a closer look under the hood.
Stock Shelby GT500 Mustangs come with a blower-but not like this one. The OE Eaton package is gone, replaced with a centrally mounted ProCharger and tied directly into a custom-fabbed intake plenum that sits in place of the old blower.
"The hardest part of this whole install was that composite intake tube," Dan says. He should know, since he and his brother, Derek, own and operate Schoneck Composites, a company they run out of an old lumber building in tiny Minnesota Lake, Minnesota. Try to find nearby Mapleton first because Dan's town is not much more than a pair of burnout marks off Highway 22. Unless Dan gives you directions, you'll never find the shop. How laid-back is it? After 10 p.m., the bar in Mapleton has the closest food that doesn't come in a can. The Schoneck boys are regulars there.
But whatever calmness their rural residence provides is routinely shattered by the resonance of hundreds of thundering Mod-motor ponies. Therein lies the subtle shift we see between the old horsepower formula and where Dan is headed. He's made as much as 860 on the chassis dyno before, which means the 5.4L Ford motor is pushing 1,000-plus at the flywheel. And still, this Mustang could almost be described as pedestrian from the outside looking in. Sure, it's a little hard to start when the engine's cold-not because the Diablo tuner cold start isn't finalized but more likely because it burns E85. But that's the clinical term. Dan just says, "It runs on corn."