How Ken Block's Hoonifox Mustang Could Become a Tire-Smoking Reality
The Hoonifox Mustang is only a rendering for now, but we have some ideas about how Ken Block could build it.
Ken Block and Hoonigan surprised the automotive world on April 30, 2020, with the announcement of a new concept Gymkhana car: the Hoonifox Mustang. The fact that Block is considering building a Gymkhana vehicle out of a Fox-Body Mustang doesn't surprise us, but what is surprising is that they unveiled it to the world before the car was finished. The folks over at Hoonigan have never done this before, always waiting until a physical vehicle existed before the reveal, usually with hints at another internet-breaking Gymkhana video to go along with it.
Maybe it's the current climate—everyone being stuck at home and begging for an escape from the monotony—that drove the Hoonifox announcement before it was actually built. All we know is we couldn't be more excited about it. If you haven't seen the Hoonifox, check out the the reveal video. Ken Block, Hoonifox designer and CGI wizard Ash Thorp, and Brian Scotto of Hoonigan all discuss the inspiration behind the build and what they hope to do with the Miami Vice- and DTM-inspired Hoonifox. But how might they execute this wild dream, which so far has yet to be detailed much beyond those hot renderings? We have some thoughts.
Rally-Bred AWD System
To date, all but one of Ken Block's Gymkhana vehicles have had World Rally Championship-spec all-wheel drive system, save one—the 1972 Ford Escort MK2 RS—which is a rear-driver. Before the Hoonicorn, all the Gymkhana cars were, in fact, Block's WRC and Global Rallycross race cars. Knowing this, we can say with a very high degree of certainty that the Hoonifox will be all-wheel drive, most likely with a SADEV system and matching six-speed sequential transmission.
Although it wasn't intended for Gymkhana, the sadly destroyed 1991 Ford Escort RS Cosworth Group A Rally Car was the only vehicle in Block's fleet that wasn't equipped with a six-speed sequential box. But Ken Block didn't build "Cossie V1," he picked it up for global rally events and it was already equipped with the seven-speed sequential transmission from its days as a WRC racer. For "Cossie V2," Block's tribute to the rolled and burned 1991 Escort, he went back to his favorite SADEV six-speed sequential transmission. So, it's more likely than not that all four tires will be subject to six forward ratios of tire-melting awesomeness.
Packaging Rally Car Independent Suspension in a Fox-Body
We're looking at the Hoonicorn (a 1965 Mustang), Hoonitruck (a 1977 F-150), and the 1972 Escort as examples for the chassis of the Hoonifox Mustang. All three came from Ford with a live rear axle. That just doesn't cut it for Ken Block. Keeping unsprung mass low and having independent wheel articulation are both pivotal in providing the handling Block needs to execute such high precision driving.
All three of the aforementioned vehicles were modified by Block and the builders to have independent rear-suspension (IRS). It wasn't until 2015 that Ford made a Mustang equipped with IRS from the factory as standard, so it almost goes without saying that the Fox-body base car will be converted to IRS. But how will the builders achieve it? When Block and ASD Motorsports were building the Hoonicorn, they ran into packaging issues, especially at the front of the car, trying to squeeze the front differential and 410ci Roush-Yates V8 under the hood. At all four corners, the control arms and suspension components were one-off pieces and utilized push-rods to get the necessary wheel articulation in the small spaces.
With the Hoonitruck, built by Detroit Speed, fitting the AWD and four-corner independent suspension was a cakewalk. Detroit Speed was able to use off-the-shelf parts just about everywhere. It helps that a 1977 F-150 is dramatically larger than a 1965 Mustang, the track width of the Hoonitruck is wider than 6 feet, 8 inches (Brian Scotto's impressive wingspan). While a Fox-body Mustang has similar overall dimensions and track width, the wheelbase is 7.5 inches shorter than a 1965 Mustang. Whoever ends up building the Hoonifox will have to get creative in fitting everything under that gorgeous carbon-fiber body from Ash Thorp's rendering. Because they are so similar in size, we think Block should go back to ASD Motorsports and have a duplicate rolling chassis of the Hoonicorn made. It's a proven platform and all the packaging issues have been solved.
What Engine Could Power the Hoonifox?
This is where things get tricky. The Escorts, Focus', and Fiestas in Block's Hooni-fleet are all built to compete in various forms of sanctioned racing, so we can, without a doubt, rule out a turbo-four under the hood of the Hoonifox. You're probably thinking, "It's got the same scoop as the V1 Hoonicorn, doesn't that mean they'll use the same Roush-Yates V-8?" We had the same idea. But, and this is a Kardashian-sized but, is that going to be enough power for the Hoonifox? Earlier we mentioned that, amongst other things, the design of the Hoonifox was inspired by Miami Vice and, if you watch the debut video, the 1980s in general. The '80s were a period of excess and while the Roush-Yates V-8 makes a very healthy 845 hp, we don't think this exemplifies the inspiration behind the Hoonifox. That's not to say the Roush-Yates mill is out, Hooicorn V2 is still powered by its original engine—just with two huge Garret turbos bolted on and methanol running through the fuel lines. The combo makes 1,400 of some of the scariest horsepower Ken Block has ever experienced.
Another dino-juice and turbocharged option would be the twin-turbo Ford Performance 3.9L EcoBoost V6 used in the Hoonitruck. At the time of the build, that engine was still in development for use in the Ford GT MkII Le Man racer. In Hoonitruck trim, it made 914 hp, but now that Ford has had a few years to work on it, we bet the Hoonigan guys could tune it up a bit and make four-figure power numbers with relative ease.
But there's a game-changer in the midst. Recently, Ford Performance unveiled a vehicle that could change drag racing as we know it—the Mustang Cobra Jet 1400. On the outside, it looks like your standard Mustang Cobra Jet NHRA Pro Stock special, but lift the hood and you'll find a 1,400hp electric motor capable of pushing the Cobra Jet 1400 down the 1/4-mile in less than nine seconds! When Tom Ford of Hard Cell tested this lightning-powered beast at the strip, it was difficult for him to keep the front wheels on the ground—even mid-run! If that motor found its way into the Hoonifox, we doubt it would have any difficulty turning tires into smoke.
But is Ken Block willing to go electric? Part of the allure of the Gymkhana videos is the fire-breathing, rip-snorting roar of high-performance fossil-fueled engines. Whether it's a big V-8 or a high-strung turbo-four, some of the best shots in Gymkhana history are those with fire coming out of the side-pipes as Block executes a drift no one thought possible. More so, if he sticks to the rendering, the Hoonifox needs an engine that sucks air through that very distinctive scoop. Plus, batteries are heavy, and anyone who's hooned around in an electric vehicle knows the batteries drain exponentially faster under hard driving. Does anyone want to see Ken Block pausing for 15 minutes at a supercharger station?
That's why we think there will be fire under the hood, not lightning. We're leaning toward another Roush-Yates V-8, but maybe Block will surprise us with something we've never seen before. Possibly a flat-plane crank 5.2L Coyote like the one found in the current Shelby GT350R? Ford Performance direct metal 3D printed the intake on the Hoonitruck, we're sure they could work something out that could connect the scoop to a roots-type supercharger and make over 1,000 hp. Besides, you can't call a car "road cocaine" (Ken Blocks own words) and not have absolutely bonkers amounts of power.
Where the Hoonifox Might Be Built
Based on assumptions we've made here—and to be clear, these are all assumptions—we think ASD Motorsports could be tapped to build the Hoonifox. Detroit Speed did a masterful job in building the Hoonitruck, but they didn't have the size constraints that ASD had with the Hoonicorn. Also, the body of the Hoonitruck is made from the same aluminum alloy that current Ford F-150s are made from, and Detroit Speed doesn't currently make any carbon-fiber or composite body work. First-gen and Fox-Body Mustangs are so similarly sized, it makes sense the shop that built the Hoonicorn would have no difficulty handling the next generation of hoonible Mustang. But there is one shop that already specializes in combining carbon-fiber and American muscle—SpeedKore. The techno-wizards at SpeedKore could exactly duplicate Ash Thorp's rendering to make those huge DTM-style fender flares a reality.
So, there you have it, all the details that could eventually live under carbon skin of the Hoonifox. We hope the Hoonifox will be a reality someday, and we look forward to its starring role in Gymkhana 11: Miami Vice. Oh yeah, Ken Block teased that, too.
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