The car you see here may look like nothing more than a modified Ford Escort from the outside, but only when you peer through the windows would you find the beast lurking within. The students enrolled in Washtenaw Community College partook in a challenge unlike one we've ever seen before, to fit a mid-engine super car's engine into a four door family sedan.
The build-up, which was spearheaded by Course Director Gary Sobbry, was actually hatched over beers shared between a WCC auto-mechanic instructor and a couple of Ford engineers. The program is no stranger to big projects, as Sobbry’s group had previously built promotional vehicles for Dodge and GM. The class worked on Sobbry’s personal Dodge Magnum which displayed at SEMA in Las Vegas back in 2004 and also was enlisted by GM to shoehorn a 572CID 620hp crate-motor into a 1970 Chevrolet Chevelle for Rides. However, this project was the most complicated to date and required very specialized help to make it a reality.
The team’s original plan was to replace the Five Hundred’s 203hp V6 with the GT’s supercharged V8 in front and mount the six-speed transmission at the rear axle, joining the two via lightweight torque tube. However, given the project’s truncated timetable, the plan was way too complex and the team was forced to choose an alternate route. The crew decided to mount the GT’s entire mid-engine powertrain into the rear half of the Five Hundred, which fortunately actually offered more space than the GT’s narrow aluminum frame.
This isn't your typical engine swap. Luckily the team involved with this project was able to get their hands on a prototype Ford GT engine that was intended to be scrapped. We think it was put to a much better use.
Much of the Five Hundred’s innards were removed to accommodate the GT frame that the WCC students had to build a steel-tube frame to keep the chassis from collapsing. Other fundamental modifications included the custom fuel cell and engine cooling system, not to mention the alterations to the front suspension for the GT’s massive brakes and wheel bearings.
Sporting a show-quality GT-inspired paintjob and rear fender flares more suited for a racecar, the WCC Ford GT-R debuted to a crowd of dropped jaws and amazement. And this Frankenstein proved to be no slouch, as it posted 0-to-60mph times of 4.1 seconds and covering a quarter-mile in 12.8 seconds. Not bad for a car weighing over 4,400lbs.