What’s up Speedhunters! I am pumped to share some of the finer details around the Hoonicorn RTR that ASD Motorsports and RTR built for my good friend Ken Block so that he could shred downtown LA for Gymkhana SEVEN. If you haven’t seen it yet (unlikely we know), here’s a link for your enjoyment.
There is simply too much to share about this car and build (see the link at the end of the story for more photos), and without writing a novel I have done my best to showcase two years of work within the box we have to play with here on Speedhunters. As you go through the story you will have to excuse some of these photos, as I realize they are not the standard quality you are used to seeing on the site – but we did the best we could given the priority of building the car.
Ken introduced me to his idea of a four-wheel tire-slaying classic Mustang during a hangout session one evening at his home in Park City, Utah. He wanted a classic Mustang that looked period-correct and was absolutely bat-shit crazy. Low, wide, and a slayer of all tires summed it up. This beast needed to be reliable enough to support demos and video projects, but serious enough to win Gymkhana competitions. This got my brain going crazy with ideas…
After a bit of wild brainstorming and idea spit-balling, Ken asked me if it was a project that RTR would like to take on. I was absolutely flattered that he had asked us to build this car and we absolutely wanted to make the insane concept a reality. That’s pretty much where the ‘Hoonicorn RTR’ idea was born and the two-year-long project began.
Over the last 10 years I have been fortunate enough to meet and work with some of the best in the business to bring wild ideas and my visions to reality. I am grateful that such talented people choose to spend their time supporting our project car builds and global motorsport activities. There was no question that we were going to require the best in the business to support this one-of-a-kind project every step of the way. Our first choice for the build was utilizing the talents of ASD Motorsports, a group that I have entrusted to support many of my projects and competition efforts since 2007. Ian Stewart, the owner of ASD, is an absolute genius when it comes to engineering, and the entire crew over there is unbelievable with metal fabrication and pretty much making any and all impossibilities come to life.
In translating the interior and exterior design from verbal concept to paper, we teamed up with Andy Blackmore, who I worked with on the RTR-X project. Andy and I connect very well and I knew he would be the best person to crank this off. Ken and Hoonigan were handling the livery design and wheel design, so those were a couple things that we did not have to worry about adding to the plate.
My brain buzzed for weeks as I compiled inspiration for the interior and exterior design. The excitement of what this project was turning out to be in my head was causing me to lose sleep. Once the inspirational elements consisting of Group B rally cars, DTM cars, Mad Max movie vehicles, classic American muscle, wild Japanese builds, and old school racecar interiors were collected, the very collaborative design effort between Ken, the Hoonigan team, the RTR team, Andy Blackmore, and myself began.
The design process was a long one, and it was constantly being critiqued and adjusted well into the first months of the build.
This was a simple result of having so many perfectionists on board, all with the passion to make this one of the most epic machines ever built.
In hindsight, it was a very fun process to have the opportunity to narrow down the possibilities. For the most part, we were only limited by our imaginations.
The design process continued until we had a truly unique concept that everyone involved was proud of.
The process to get this final concept locked took us months.Achieving The Impossible
Obviously this project was an extremely technical one. We had to build a AWD racecar inside of an obnoxious, aesthetic-defined box.
Traditionally, when a project is required to end up a fully-functional racecar the aesthetics are built around engineering needs. The process we embarked on was about as ass-backwards as it gets.
While working to lock in the aesthetic design, the ASD Motorsports team began designing the car from the ground up in CAD. This was the true start of making the dream a reality.
This beauty right here – ‘The Unicorn’ – was on eBay looking for a new owner to baby and nurture it. Well, it got a new owner, but the babying and nurturing was not in the cards. We had some other plans that we like to think offered the Mustang a better future. A future full of 100 per cent throttle usage, loud 8,000rpm-plus screams, clutch kicks, and other general smile-inducing, tire-slaying fun.
Following three months of CAD development The Unicorn went under the knife, being completely clipped from the firewall forward and totally gutted.
The Hoonicorn RTR started its life at ASD Motorsports, the same place many incredible world-first cars – including my championship-winning Ford Mustang RTRs – have been born.
The body was then attached to the hand-built box tube frame, and the mock-up and initial component placement based on the CAD data began. Mounting the Roush Yates/Ford Racing 410 cubic inch V8 heart was one of the first things happened. This is same animal I have been using in Formula Drift for the last three years and it is an incredible engine. With 845 horsepower, over 700 ft-lb of torque, and capable of reliably revving to 9,000rpm, it was perfectly specced for what Ken ‘The Rev Limiter Is My Best Friend And It Better Shoot Fire’ Block had planned to put it through.
One of the biggest challenges created by the aesthetic box was the overall width of the car and the fact that we required some wheel lip up front. AWD cars work similar to FWD cars under throttle, and you will notice most front-wheel drives use high offset wheels to create the desired scrub radius. The small scrub radius would allow the Hoonicorn RTR to have great steering feel and no wheel-jerk under throttle. The target scrub radius of 850 thousandths of an inch and desired wheel profile was achieved by making custom uprights, rotor hats, and using thin brake calipers.
In addition to that challenge, we had caused another aesthetic-induced dilemma. The stacks and air scoop were required to stick out of the hood of course.
That worked great on paper, but in reality there was a Sadev differential that had to sit in front of the motor and locate at the centerline of the wheels.
Without the stacks it would have been easy to just move the engine back, however the cowl defined how far rearward the engine could go. Standard catch 22, right?
Well, the guys were able to make it work, if barely. This hurdle was overcome by moving the wheels on the body 1¼-inch and making a custom oil pan for front diff clearance. They were able to allow for 38 degrees of steering angle while maintaining perfect Ackerman geometry, which is crucial to rule out understeer in an AWD car.
This beast here is the Sadev SC90 sequential transmission, which was designed for factory teams that compete in the Dakar Rally. Take note on the metal porn that is a 100 per cent custom CNC-machined bell housing built to locate everything exactly where it needed to be.
The snake that you see here is how the power gets to the ground. The load is transferred to the front and rear through a transfer case, and a driveshaft connects directly to the differential up front. Between the transfer case and differential in the rear is a driveshaft disconnect, which frees the driveshaft when the fun stick – aka hoon handle, aka handbrake – is pulled. Both of the differentials are the same Sadev units that Ken uses in his rallycross cars and the transmission is very similar – if only a bit beefier. For Gymkhana SEVEN they were setup for 140mph wheel speed and power distributed at a perfect 50/50 split.
Now that the required components were located and mocked up it was time to start hand building the bodywork prior to it being made from carbon fiber.The Beast Takes Shape
Right from the start, the plan was to make everything out of metal first. After fine tuning, these panels would then offer the best base to make the carbon molds from.
Burkes Metalworks of Christchurch, New Zealand, was tasked with taking the aesthetic design from paper and turning it into reality. Jason Burke the spent eight weeks to complete this task.
The end result is nothing short of mind blowing. Hand-forming metal like this is a dying art unfortunately, and nothing makes me nerd-out more then some beautiful metal work!
In addition to Jason’s work on the body, just about every piece of hand-made metal work on this animal is stunning.
The entire car was TIG-welded with such perfection, and I feel like I could stare at these photos forever. It’s seriously mesmerizing and similar to a dancing flame for me. You can tell the amount of passion and detail that the ASD Motorsports crew put into the Hoonicorn RTR. This level of detail is something that is so hard to find these days.
After a bit more metal magic…
A massive amount of assembly and a tune of the MoTeC M1 engine management system…
It was time for Ken to take the Hoonicorn RTR on its maiden voyage.
Right out of the box, he started throwing the car around like he had been driving it for years. This was very impressive considering the difference in this car’s chassis and the power delivery is completely different to what Ken is accustomed to. One thing about Ken is that he has no fear. He is full-on behind the wheel and I love that about him. Perhaps that’s why we get along so well? Looking at the lead image to this story, clearly he got very comfortable during the test. That’s a great thing as this would be the only seat time he had in the car prior to shooting Gymkhana SEVEN! Ken’s initial reaction to the car was “Holy f**k!” and he expressed that it drove better than he ever imagined it would. That’s a pretty stout comment considering the car had just come out of the shop for a shakedown.
With only eight weeks until the Hoonicorn RTR had to be on set in LA, it was time to finish some of the detail work. That of course included some more metal magic…
And test-fitting and mock installation of the carbon panels that had by now been made.
Every little detail was checked twice until it was certain that the car was ready to leave the fab shop.
The entire car was then stripped down to bare bones and headed to paint. The chassis was painted silver and the body was painted satin black.
While this was happening all of the custom suspension parts and other machined bits were sent out for anodizing.
Immediately following paint, the Hoonicorn RTR was moved into the final assembly area.
It was go time!Final Assembly
Piece by piece the Hoonicorn RTR was assembled for the last time.
The cantilever rear suspension utilizing JRi shocks and the fuel system all slotted into place.
While assembly was going on, the vinyl was also being installed. Did I mention it was all hands on deck?
The tire smoke extracting gills are one of my favorite design elements on this animal.
It was pretty surreal to see this wild front end become a finished reality, as just two years earlier it was only a dream. I absolutely love that hand-fabricated Mad Max like hood scoop in which the car can run with or without.
Every final piece came together just as we designed and dreamed it would.
The finished specimen was a perfect execution of the aesthetic design we originally presented to the team.
Every minor detail on this project was clearly done under a microscope.
Custom Hoonigan x Auto Meter gauges for that period-correct look and a MoTeC C125 display to monitor some of the other required vitals. Every AWD Mustang has a switch for Donuts, right?
Everything was custom. Even the RTR badging are one-off machined pieces and the Mustang emblem was custom coated.
Following seven weeks of very hard work and long nights by an extremely talented team, it was almost time to send the Hoonicorn RTR on its way.
Following one final check of the massive to-do list, of course.
Finally, the world’s first performance AWD Ford Mustang touched down. The Hoonicorn RTR was ready to be loaded onto the Hoonigan Racing Division trailer and pointed towards LA where the two years worth of groundbreaking design, fabrication, and overall awesome was to be flogged with my good friend Ken Block behind the wheel.
I am so proud to say that the Hoonicorn RTR ran flawlessly during the filming for Gymkhana SEVEN – it’s massive praise for the build team. The absolute biggest reward was when Ken told me it was the most amazing car he had ever driven. Coming from a guy that drives WRC cars, that’s an incredible statement. I am so honored Ken wanted RTR to handle this amazing project and I am so appreciative of the time and effort that the ASD Motorsports crew put in to make every piece of the dream come true. I cannot wait to see what else Ken and his team have in store for the Hoonicorn RTR!
Vaughn Gittin Jr.
Gymkhana SEVEN action images courtesy of Ron Zaras at Hoonigan Racing Division
For those of you that want some more details/eye candy, additional photos can be found on the RTR Facebook page here.
lot of love put into this machine. you really can see it in every bend and every weld. this car is a dream come true.
I don't understand why there's so much hate for "destroying a perfectly good 65 mustang." it's not like there's a shortage of near mint mustangs of that that year. A quick google search reveals that 559,451 mustangs were produced that year. I go to local car shows about once a month and I see at least one every time. I recall hearing on multiple occasions about how they sold like hot cakes. like for every one charger sold, there were 500 mustangs sold. (that's why chargers are worth more at auction) my point is they ain goin anywhere so I ain't care. (just had to :P)
Ken Block is a millionaire sponsored by a company worth over $3 billion. what they do with their money is really up to them. and taking a pretty common classic car you can prolly get near mint for under 30K (seriously look online) and transforming it into this one of a kind marvel (words have not been invented for this machine's level of awesome) isn't such a bad thing in my book. my only quarrel with this is why Hoonigan, Monster, RTR, or anyone has sold a diecast scale model! i want that thing on my desk. seriously missing out on some very good merchandising here!!!
The car look bad ass.. There are just too many haters on here that expect everything to look like a old chevy or old honda.
They are just jealous.
I just don't understand why everyone has to bash the car. I too am a GM guy, but this car is an engineering and fabricated masterpiece. It's art. But how many bone-stock 66 mustangs are there in the world? I don't know the exact number, but probably thousands of them. How many AWD mustangs are there? One.
I don't get it. Year One make the body parts needed to build this car (all 4 of them). Why trash a complete car.
You could've started with a MONSTER energy drink can and got to the same finishing point. Yeah, and it's pretty ugly too. I guess that's what they were going for. NASCAR meets Mad Max vs. Monster Can.
Anyone else notice that Mr Jr is dropping in tech buzzwords that he clearly doesn't understand? Disappointing given his CV...
When you say the Mustang had "A future full of 100 per cent throttle usage, loud 8,000rpm-plus screams, clutch kicks, and other general smile-inducing, tire-slaying fun." - presumably you just meant the Head and Tail Lights, roof and the quarter panels?
Epic build, but you'd have won bonus points for saving a shed.
Daaaamn, im speechless thats a lot of serious work and engineering i mean beyond imagination, im a GM guy (and just because i am one doesnt mean i talk bs about FORD's) and i personally dont like mustangs, but this one is sooooo awesome. Congratulations to rtr for making a RC gas car in real life scale.
@HugoHartigan No one cares what you personally like.. You could have left out all of the GM guy nonsense and just said damn, it's soooooo awesome.
Dos fotos que resumen todo el proceso. Vaya cambio... pic.twitter.com/bIe9HMwg9z
Thank you for taking the time to put this article together. I loved Gymkhana 7, but if I had to choose between seeing the video and the build, I'd choose the build!
This car looks as good as a MONSTER ENERGY drink tastes. Not good.
Sad to see that original Mustang being hacked up.
It's the build of the coolest car on the planet. Built from scratch, from a crazy idea to reality in 2 years using the best tech and people available.
My mind is officially boggled!
Tick every fantasy check box and you get this car.....
I love a good tech breakdown for such unique project cars, and this piece really delivers. However, it really irks me to STILL not have an answer to the question I've been wondering since I saw the first feature on the Hoonicorn RTR: WHAT DOES THE DONUTS SWITCH DO, MECHANICALLY?! Or is it just for lulz?
@returnity I am Totally with you on that one! Does it disconnect the front drivetrain so it can be RWD again and do old school Donuts? Or is it something even more amazing with the AWD system???
I don't care I still like it even if it was a near perfect 65 mustang it's a very well done car the design overall fits the bill of a bat-shit crazy car like was the original goal so anybody that doesn't like it shouldn't look at it the car is insanity on wheels being what it is now still wish it would've been a more beaten frame or a recreation body like the RTR-X but not my car or my money so who cares this thing is insane
Looks stunning. Impressed how close the original design by Andy is to the final car. Also shows the car would look better without the livery. (Commercial realities)
Found G7 to be a bit blah, but the car IS the star
The top photo reminds me of the time Sports Compact Car took a sawzall to a car to get it to go faster...
How I miss SCC glory days... at least we have SH now thankfully. Someone should convince Mike Kojima to reprise his tech column here; his wisdom could use a wider audience than motoiq.com gives him.
well, I still don't like the cartoon paint job but damn this is a awesome ride! freaking unbelievable. i just keep studying the images and discovering new stuff. i bet anybody, no matter their build experience, can also fine new ideas here. Great job!
and the pics are killer, too! keep the photo skills high!
@cutterjones13 You obviously don't understand what it means to have sponsors.
The paint job reflects their sponsorships and the people that made this happen.
Great build and amazing way of implementing technology. Positively breath taking to watch it in action
This is like the ugly girl that is fun to get down with. Great when you're behind the wheel, but not pretty to look at. Sad about the old Mustang being torn apart. Oh well, this is what happens when you have more money than taste.
awesome!! thanks for documenting the evolution of this beast / beauty of a machine. and congrats to your team and ken for such a success! everything really worked out perfectly.
I watched the whole movie and sure, I grinned at the "donuts" segment, but I really do believe Ghymkana jumped the shark with this one... No jumps (San Francisco kicked SO much more ass), a vehicle that just had to be a Ford, even though it really isn't anymore, and way too much money poured into a car that couldn't drive through the LA channels without its frontlip being removed first. Meh...
On a brighter note; I got a total boner when I saw the ITB's pointed out by Chris Harris on his Hoonicorn feature.
This is now officially the ugliest Mustang I've ever seen. And I agree with other commenters, sad to see an almost perfect Mustang was destroyed for this.
Please take a cheaper car or a rotten/rusted car next time.
But nice fabrication and all, pretty expensive build, wasn't it?
@PrestoChango come on dude......he has an opinion, your post comes across a bit troll-y. I think this site and comment section is for all, not just pro builders and the lucky ones who can afford to have others build for them.
@PrestoChango You've got to be joking right? You have 3 pictures of a toilet seat on your facebook page and you're going to criticize someone you don't even know because they don't have a "custom car." And then call them a "troll" for doing so?
Get a life dude. Heres a little life tip: just because someone doesn't have a "custom" car doesn't mean they haven't built something or raced something. A lot of people out there with a ton of knowledge aren't going to tell you what they have and everyone is entitled to their opinion.
Get a life and get off other enthusiasts until you have proof you own more than a toilet seat. Yeah..."thought so."
@Chris @PrestoChango And the funniest thing is that I actually have a 'custom' car. ;) And it's not the one on my Facebook profile.
@Manuel Compaan They took an almost perfect mustang, and made it perfect.
Wow, I thought this car was kinda ugly. Now knowing that they destroyed an original Mustang to build this SCI FI looking kit car makes me hate it more. Great fab work but though.
If this doesn't bring new blood/youth into motorsports we're doomed. Pinto For Gymkana Ocho set in Nicaragua's Granada and then to the coast to see if it can catch a wave with pontoons added to it.
This car is so bad ass how can you guys complain about a survivor car being turned into this monster that car has had the honor of becoming the craziest mustang in existence. I would of gladly donated my mustang to them just to see her turned
Into anything like that
@BrandenEtre Too bad you don't have a Mustang to give. :(
OMG, sad end for that Mustang. I don't know why you had to buy perfectly saved oldtimer and destroy it!? Taking such a beauty and mutating it to this monster! Sad story.
@Seitori I don't know if you're trolling or not. But looking at that picture, I'm 99% sure that roof and trunk piece is a reproduction stamping, Nothing on that car is original FoMoCo, unless you want to count the engine.
Really beautiful car. A lot of thought and hard work went into this and it really turned out great. I'm sure everyone put in long hours to achieve the end result and it's a really unique build that made Gymkhana 7 what it was. By far the best car in any of the videos. Good job!
@cpdave link to pics or build thread?
@zapsnyder Well there's this: http://users.erols.com/dmapes/ and more directly: http://users.erols.com/dmapes/BSTLY.HTM, but I haven't updated the site in about 7 years, the new motor (went in 2 years ago) is a FMS BOSS block based 337 that's currently putting 422 HP and 370 FTBL to the wheels. Redoing the exhaust in January...
@VaughnGittinJr @zapsnyder Lets face it... :) It's a ratty mustang, but a quick & fast one. It started out as a basic body & mechanical restoration, with a little hotrodding on the OEM 289, but I was a little disappointed about the way it handled & stopped... and that kind'a got out of hand. By now it's the product of a long term, mutually abusive relationship. ;) I'm just glad SCCA Regional Solo doesn't have a "neat-n-cleen" rule! :D
Anyway, here's a shot of the car that's eaten up the Mustang's paint & bodywork money... '66 Dodge Dart Vintage A/Sedan: