Something memorable was bound to happen. Maybe it would blow its gearbox to pieces, or tear the rear axle clean off. Or perhaps it would twist the bodyshell so violently that the roof would crease and the windows would pop out. Doubling a car’s power output -which is exactly what performance car dealer and tuning company Clive Sutton has done to this Ford Mustang – seems like a somewhat foolhardy thing to do, like using a shoebox to contain a lit stick of dynamite, sol was extremely interested to see how cat a strophic the outcome would be.
As it turned out, there were no such dramas. The carbonfibre ducting that connects the airbox to the supercharger did come unattached repeatedly during the cornering photography, snuffing out the engine each time, so that is something Clive Sutton will need to address. Heroic mechanical failures, though? There were none. The CS800 Mustang starts out as a relatively cuddly and benign 410bhp GT, but by the time Clive Sutton is done with it, the thing is transformed into a snarling and malevolent brute. A stage two Whipple supercharger, larger throttle bodies and high-flow fuel injectors bump the power output to a faintly absurd 825bhp. The internals remain untouched.
At £13,716, the engine upgrades are far from cheap, and you’ll pay a further £3117 for the exhaust system and £1920 for installation and a 12-month warranty. The adjustable KW coil-overs, meanwhile, cost £2928 and the 20in wheels are £3120. This demonstrator vehicle ticks every single box on the Clive Sutton options list, including a truckload of carbonfibre styling parts, which means the total cost is just about as ludicrous as the peak power figure: £101,735 all in, including the donor car. Some of the carbonfibre bits and pieces look the part, such as the £3270 bonnet, but the rear quarter window louvres and faux side intakes are questionable. You can at least pick and choose the styling parts you want, as you can for all the upgrades.
In this spec, the CS800 has huge visual presence. It’s hard work to drive, though, not least because a short-shift kit makes the manual gearbox tight and heavy and fourth gear seems to melt away entirely when the transmission gets hot. The soundtrack is complex and multi-layered: the rumble of the V8, the manic wind rush of the induction system and the crazed rattle of the exhaust, like Zeus with a chesty cough, and all underscored by the wailing supercharger. Quoting such a vast power figure does present certain problems. If the car doesn’t feel like the fastest thing you could possibly conceive of, it’ll be a bit of a disappointment.
The CS800 is, of course, brutally fast and there are occasions out on the road when it draws in the horizon so rapidly that you feel your eyes widen involuntarily, but it doesn’t feel much more rabidly accelerative than a Nissan GT-R, for instance. The linear power delivery means the engine doesn’t quite have the punch of a heavily turbocharged motor, and the gear ratios are long enough to span Cheddar Gorge. It all means the rate of acceleration builds and builds throughout the rev range, rather than taking your breath away the moment you dig into the throttle pedal. Somewhat surprisingly, though, the CS800 finds good tract ion, even in second gear, thanks in part to those long ratios. They are so lengthy, however, that you rarely get a chance to stretch the engine all the way out one gear after another, so you don’t tap into the full 825bhp that often.
The car’s chassis is let down by vague steering and a slightly washy front end. The balance is safe, at least until provoked with the throttle, at which point it can get rather snappy. The ride is also very busy, with far too much of the texture of the road jabbed into the body, but it doesn’t hunt out cambers or tramline too rampantly. The dampers are adjustable so it may well be possible to tune some missing ride quality back in. The CS800 doesn’t standup to objective scrutiny, but if there’s a car out there with a greater sense of occasion, I’d very much like to try it.