I attended ZDayZ (an annual event for Nissan Z cars/Infiniti G cars) for the first time last week despite owning at least one g35 since 2005. I was one of two Mustangs there, the other being m4a1mustang. Nice meeting you man; I enjoyed talking about the Mustang a bit, though I'm sorry I didn't get a chance to ride in yours.
This event is a combination social gathering/party with some driving mixed in. I'm a bit too old to party like most folks there, so I planned on driving the famed mountain roads. While there, I put over 400 *hard* miles on the car, all coming from driving some variation of the Dragon or the Skyway. My car is a 2011 Brembo/3.31 car, 10k miles, with the only change being roush mufflers. My goal was to see how the car stacked up against the lighter g's/z's in the twisties (ignoring the power difference). I know all about the comparison between the Mustang and the M3, but I really had a hard time believing the Mustang's chassis was that competitive. I've autocrossed the mustang several times, and done a few backroads around town, but this would be a good opportunity to see how the mustang performed head-to-head against cars with which I actually had experience.
I have to say that I am completely overwhelmed with the dynamic capabilities of this car. I'm just blown away. I've always been impressed with the mechanical grip of this car, but I've never really had anything on the road at the same time with which to compare. Over the past few days, I've played cat-n-mouse with many FM platform cars, none of them on the stock suspension. I even had a chance to play with a Cobra kit car. The only car that I could not compete with is a friend's 350z, which is nothing to be embarrassed about. This particular z is much more race-prepped than most cars, and I did not expect to be competitive with him.
Anyway, I was pushing most of the cars in front of me. Several times the cars I was chasing pulled over to let me by, both on the complicated dragon and in the more highspeed skyway. I was even told several times that I was driving too fast for some of the cars. I think I really surprised some of the folks there. On the drive up, one of the local guys in a coiled-overed 350z with excellent tires asked if I thought I could keep up. A few days later, he was asking around if people thought my performance was due to the car or the driver. He and I were never alone on the same segment of road, but I didn't have any trouble staying with him.
Regarding the Mustang's performance: the tires were great, the chassis was great, the mechanical grip was great, and the braking was great. m4a1mustang mentioned to me that I would notice the inadequate performance of the stock dampers, but I must say they didn't bother me much. Sure, the car pitched and yawed like a boat (nothing like the other cars there), but the grip was just stupendous. The chassis kept a firm hold of the ground despite the body wiggling around. Once I developed trust in the grip and ignored the body roll, I found the car was extremely fast. I'm sure dampers and sways would help, but I think the first $$$ I put into the car will be into braking or possibly a different diff.
The braking withstood everything I threw at it over last 4 days, except for my last run on the dragon. I had a passenger for the first time(not a skinny person), and the brakes just couldn't keep up. Pedal feel was still pretty good, but the ABS kept wanting to intervene, despite not feeling anywhere closing to the lockup threshold. The smell of brake fluid was pretty bad, but it was only from the right-rear corner. I didn't get under the car to look, but I wonder if this might not have been an issue with the brakes at all, but instead an issue with the diff's vent tube like others have reported? Regardless, the car will have higher temp fluid and possibly new lines before I go back.
The only major weakness was the performance of the rear differential. There was entirely too much spin from the inside tire. I don't think I could have possibly killed my diff yet, so maybe the stock unit is just not very good? This is an area that I rarely see mentioned in personal reviews. Anyway, I need to research differential options for the future.
I am now in the market for replacement tires. My tires all had a minimum of 5/32nd's tread depth when I arrived. When I left, most grooves measured ~3/32nd's. On the last day, I experienced greatly reduced grip. I attribute the grip issue to he diminished tires. I don't want to pay $350 a corner, but these Pirelli's really showed their worth this past week. Still, I cannot justify that expense for one 4-day event in a year's time. I guess I will have to compromise raw lateral-g's a bit with some cheaper tires. Unfortunately, I did not have any camera with me, nor any device capable of reading g-forces. I won't be so underprepared next time.
Anyway, if anyone ever gets a chance to go to NC and try out the Dragon, I highly recommend it. It was a religious experience.
I understand Michelin makes some UHP summer only tires that not only are supposed to have better grip than the Pirellis,but have a 30,000 mile tread wear warranty.
Sometimes, I see cops with their backs turned writing tickets. When I drive by I can see them stick their heads up,and sniff the air,catching a whiff of exhaust and burning rubber,the crimson smell of speed,telling them a Race Red Mustang is somewhere nearby!
2012 Race Red GT, Kenwood Navigation system with Metra dash kit,GT500 steering wheel,Steering wheel buttons INCLUDING BT enabled,Takeoff leather seats with seat heaters.