This take-no-prisoners street Mustang is the research mule for the most sophisticated Mustang suspension on the planet.
Your first hot rod. Having those keys in hand is a huge moment in any gearhead’s life. It’s your ticket to the open road. It’s responsibility. It’s freedom. It’s the first time you get to be a real member of the hot rodding community. Whether it was actually your first car, or it followed hard time behind the wheel of beaters, time and experiences with your first hot rod will create some of your best and worst memories and can even frame your future. This particular Mustang project actually altered the entire course of one gearhead’s life.
Of course there was no way Filip Trojanek’s mom could have known that back in 1968 when she picked up the little ’66 V-8 coupe as a daily driver. Actually, Filip didn’t see it coming either. While he had a budding interest in muscle cars, for most of his youth it was just his mom’s Mustang—a neat car, but not something he fixated on. All that changed thanks to a bad break that kept him immobilized for several weeks while his leg healed. During that time he stocked up on car magazines to occupy his time and quickly became immersed in the hot rodding world.
When he was back on his feet, Filip had a parts list and plans for what he now planned would become his Mustang. Luckily his mom agreed and at 14 years old, Filip started what would become literally a lifetime of wrenching. Once he was legally driving it, not much time passed before Filip started with all the typical high school muscle car mods. You know the stuff; it was all focused on looking and sounding cool in the parking lot and going fast in a straight line.
After he enrolled into a mechanical engineering program at Oregon State University, however, Filip’s focus began to shift. He became less concerned with just how fast cars could move in a straight line and more interested in how they became fast on all fronts: cornering, maneuvering, and braking. Of course the whole time he was basically just thinking about the inherent structural deficiencies of vintage cars versus modern ones, and learning what could be done to improve his Mustang. Actually his first major engineering project was an independent front suspension clip designed to work on vintage Mustangs. He ended up scrapping it as his education continued, but the inspiration was set.
After graduating and accepting a position in San Francisco, Filip began hanging around Infineon Raceway in Sonoma regularly and studying the menagerie of modern and vintage street cars and race cars that lap the challenging track on a daily basis. From there he began formulating how he could take what he’d learned in school and meld that with racer’s experience to transform his Mustang into an extreme track car capable of performance on par with NASA AIX, ALMS, and SCCA World Challenge racers—all while still maintaining some semblance of street driveability.
That’s a tall order to say the least, but Filip took it a step further since he wanted to accomplish those goals with the Mustang’s original unibody and subframes intact. “It’s not like I approached it with the idea that a ’66 Mustang was the ideal platform to build an outrageously fast track car,” Filip says. “It had style and a V-8, but not too much else going for it considering the direction I wanted to go. I could have built a perfectly designed tube chassis with Mustang panels on it, but there’s something about working with an original car.”
That doesn’t mean there wasn’t going be some cutting and welding involved. Around 2003, Filip cast aside any notions that the sheetmetal was sacred and began designing and building a torque arm–style rear suspension with coilovers based on what he saw on fast cars on Infineon, and his own calculations of how to integrate it into the Mustang. That suspension was such a dramatic improvement in handling that the floodgate was opened. After that, Filip turned his attention to the front suspension. Opting to go for ideal geometry rather than working with anything Ford gave him, he stripped the Mustang down to the ’rails and grafted in a custom tubular K-member and an SLA front suspension designed for maximum adjustability and tire clearance. Of course, to run massive 18×12 wheels with 335-series tires that the math told him he needed, the skinny Mustang chassis still required some generous flares.
So did he hit his goals? Yes and then some; through engineering and a few years’ worth of refinement on both the street and the track, and essentially a complete reimagining of what a ’66 Mustang could be, the Mustang, now known as Xecution, can generate cornering forces of 1.6g static and 2.2g jerk. That’s more than many supercars are capable of. Plus, it’s been driven over 200 miles to events and then back home after besting other cars with hundreds of thousands of dollars invested. It’s still pretty quick in a straight line too; in full road course setup (ride height, spring rates, sway bar settings) Xecution has laid down a 10.709 at 128 mph with a 1.550 60 foot at Infineon Raceway’s dragstrip. That’s ridiculously quick for no prep work.
Somewhere along the way Filip realized that the same passion that had driven his education might also be a driving force behind a career. Despite already having developed a high regard as an engineer, in 2008 he took a leap and launched CorteX Precision Racing Technology with the Mustang serving as the rolling testbed for extreme handling products for vintage Fords. Unless you’re an engineer, words can’t quite do justice to the level of sophistication of the parts Xecution has helped bring to market; instead check out the photos on CorteXRacing.com to get the real inside scoop.
Or you can search PopularHotRodding.com for Project Max Effort updates. That’s because we were so blown away by the CorteX Racing products that we partnered with Filip to build our own envelope-pushing project car known as Max Effort. All the delicious chassis and suspension innovation you’ve seen on that car in the past year or so were all developed at CorteX via testing on Xecution, and the refined versions on Max Effort are now available for your own car. One big difference: We’re going with genuine Ford power instead of the LS-based mill in Xecution.
As for the choice of engines in Xecution, we’ll let Filip tell it in his own words: “I didn’t have tons of money back then, and it would’ve cost a lot more money to build a Windsor at that power level than an LS. And the LS is significantly lighter than a Windsor. When I started the build in late 2006, the Ford mod motors didn’t have the power and displacement I was looking for. My second requirement was that it sit below the factory hood. That was also the year GM released the Z06 with the LS7 motor. This motor isn’t the LS7 crate motor; it’s an LS7 block that has a Callies bottom end with Wiseco pistons and ported LS7 cylinder heads. I’m also using the GM hydraulic roller cam that was developed by Katech for Grand Am and World Challenge. If I was building this motor today, I would probably use the Coyote Ford motor. Some engine builders I work with are reporting 600hp naturally aspirated. I’m definitely considering it just because I’d like to have it all Ford. Some people might have a negative view of it, and I’m conscious of that. I’d prefer to someday have it all Ford again.”
Once finished, Xecution caught the attention of Amir Rosenbaum and his crew of racers at Spectre Performance and was invited as a guest in their booth at the 2011 SEMA show. It was a showstopper to say the least, and easily garnered an invite to the Optima Ultimate Street Car Invitational where Filip drove it to an easy Ninth Place overall finish amid some very stiff competition. On top of all that, Xecution was awarded Best Domestic Car at the Ninth Annual Sony Computer Entertainment America (SCEA) Gran Turismo Awards.
To say the past couple of years have been a whirlwind of long hours and hard work for Filip and his fledgling company is an understatement, but it’s all beginning to pay off. CorteX Racing is getting on its feet, and Filip has never been happier. And all because he embraced his passion for hot rodding his ’66 Mustang and letting it take him where it led. We think all of us could use a bit more of that philosophy in life. Where could your hot rodding passion take you?
Also published on Medium.