Feature: Monster Mustang: Vaughn Gittin Jr's Mustang RTR Spec 5 Concept

Story & Photography by Jordan Lenssen

The 2015 Mustang has been all the rage since being officially launched in September, 2014. The bolder lines, standard selectable drive modes, all-new 2.3-liter turbocharged inline-four and fully-independent rear suspension have made this the ultimate muscle car for the 21st century. Being a previous Mustang owner and having test driven the 2015 2.3-liter and, more extensively, the GT Performance Package in California late last year, I can easily vouch that this S550 is a Mustang like no other.

Up until the 2014 SEMA Show in Las Vegas, I couldn’t imagine sitting in a hotter 2015, save for the off-chance of hopping into the soon-to-be-announced 2015 Shelby GT350, which was coincidentally developed just miles down the road from the strip. But once PASMAG hit the SEMA floor on day one, conversation was in full swing to get up close with the weapon that Vaughn Gittin Jr. and his RTR team were hiding underneath the covers at their display in the Ford out Front corral.

“We can’t tell you what it is quite yet,” one of Gittin’s crew members said as I asked about the bright green wheels and bodywork flexing underneath the tight RTR-badged car cover. Just as luck would have it, Gittin and one of his media assistants were walking towards us as we were moving over to take a look at his latest customer project, the 2015 Mustang RTR Spec 2 (pictured, below).

The Mustang RTR Spec 2. ( Photo courtesy of Mustang RTR )

The Mustang RTR Spec 2. (Photo courtesy of Mustang RTR)

“Mind telling us a little about this car, Vaughn?” I asked as we made our face-to-face introductions.

“The Spec 2 is really exciting for us,” he said. “We've taken this amazing car from Ford and added a very unique, aggressively-styled appearance and performance modification package to make it one of the most diverse Mustangs I could have ever imagined. It is a blast on the street and the track, whether you're blasting hot laps, drifting, or drag racing.”

Still undergoing final prototyping on two aspects at SEMA (the front splitter and side profile decal), Gittin explained that RTR will be offering the 2015 Mustang in two versions: the Spec 1 and Spec 2. Both cars are available as either custom order or off-the-lot purchases at select Ford dealers worldwide, and include a front grille with integrated lighting, a matching lower grill and chin splitter, side rocker splitters, and a rear diffuser/splitter setup with an aggressive trunk-mounted aluminum spoiler, not unlike the one found on the Spec 5 Concept we were soon to get up close with. Each of the parts was developed to work painted or unpainted and installs easily, thanks to the team’s development work.

The Spec 2 package takes that appearance pack and bolsters it with custom tuned, 2015-Mustang specific adjustable dampers and sway bars, lowering springs, an exclusive tuned and RTR-badged exhaust system by Magnaflow, and custom engine tune.

Customers wanting to burn rubber like Gittin can opt for a Ford Racing/Roush supercharger, Recaro race seats and Takata x RTR harnesses.

To round out both packages, RTR has put its emblem on a new line of HRE Tech 7 forged three-piece wheels – the same as those ready to fry rubber on Gittin’s secret toy.

Fast forward a few hours and Gittin takes to the streets of Vegas while I ride shotgun to the shoot you see here. Sitting alongside the drift master is a thrill to say the least. Driving through heavy Vegas evening traffic in a car that clearly doesn't belong grabs everyone's attention, and his driving doesn't do anything to keep us undercover, either.

The next day, the Spec 5 Concept is set to make its public debut, burning rubber alongside Ryan Tuerk in the Spec 2 in front of a live SEMA crowd.

There’s no need (or space) for windows in the Spec 5’s wafer-thin, caged doors, which means that all 450-horses are blaring through into the cockpit, which has essentially been stripped down to Formula D spec plus a right-hand seat for a few lucky passengers.

His Bosch DDU 7 displays full telemetry readouts and some special surprises from Ray Shake at MA Motorsports, including a “Stay on Target” mode straight from the X-Wing in Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope.

When I ask him about plans of creating something similar for his next North American drifter, JR smiles and shouts, “Maybe!”

Wow, is this thing loud.

Gittin's Spec 5 Concept uses a naturally-aspirated Ford Aluminator XS 5.0-liter V8.

Gittin's Spec 5 Concept uses a naturally-aspirated Ford Aluminator XS 5.0-liter V8.

The Ford 5.0-liter catapulting this lightweight rocket is the Aluminator XS engine, Ford Racing’s most powerful Coyote-based crate engine ever. Complete with Manley connecting rods, ARP bolts and Mahle forged pistons, the high-compression engine is harnessed in and connected to a Ford Racing close-ratio, short-shift 6-speed box and a completely customized rear end. When Gittin took possession of the car, it was an empty chassis and body, waiting for Mustang RTR, MA Motorsports and ASD Motorsports to work their magic. Being a fresh, bare-bones 2015 model and needing to build a car with parts that essentially weren’t available yet, it meant a sharp development curve to produce parts in time for SEMA.

“The rear end that we used is a Driveshaft Shop nine-inch conversion for the new IRS,” Gittin says. “We also used the beefy Driveshaft Shop axles that come with that conversion as well. That’s how we were able to get the gear ratio we wanted, because nobody was making gears yet for the new ‘Super 8.8’ [diff].”

It was essentially the new ring and pinion that required the diff switch, but one that made all the difference in the world.

“That engine loves screaming to the moon,” he says, “so we put the 4.56 in it and that’s the gear ratio that performs the best for what we’re doing with our drivetrain.”

That’s immediately evident when he pulls out in front of an F-150 outside the SEMA gates and we’re past it before I can even gasp for air.

Shifts feel quick and punchy with the Exedy Stage 2 clutch, which Gittin says he didn’t want to over-beef to a bigger kit (along with the rest of the car), because the primary purpose of the Spec 5 is to use it as a platform for RTR’s growing array of performance parts.

“[The car] serves as a test bed and development platform for the appearance products that we’re offering, but more importantly, the performance products,” Gittin says. “It’s not quite competition-spec for what we do – we need 850 to 900 horsepower for competition – but this makes 450 wheel [horsepower] and it’s super reliable, which is the most important thing.”

“Eventually, it’ll be the car that I tour around and do demos in, and likely it will have a full livery on it and we’ll have all of the parts on it, and I’ll beat the shit out of it and make sure everything works and takes a beating as it should prior to going out on the market.”

What he’s talking about, more specifically, is the RTR Tactical Performance product line which, on top of the appearance and aero parts, includes a full line of suspension components and control arms, a total of five Mustang-only RTR wheels by HRE (three flow-formed and two forged specimens), and a custom-tuned, axle-back exhaust by Magnaflow, custom etched with the RTR logo – with more coming.

By the time you’re reading this (or soon after), 2015 Mustang owners will also be privy to the same widebody body pieces found on the Spec 5 Concept, either in carbon fiber or fiberglass.

“The widebody will be available through Mustang RTR, and just like all of our parts, will be available through AmericanMuscle.com. Everything from the [Spec 5] will be available.”

That’s on top of RTR’s already-long list of accessories available for the previous-gen pony.

The Spec 5 Concept and new Mustang RTR are a solid stamp on a full-fledged effort to bring a fresh perspective to the new Mustang. Muscle car power with sports car handling, the new Mustang looks and performs impeccably, and this latest and most anticipated project is being led by one of drifting’s – and the Mustang’s – greatest advocates.

Great. All we needed was another excuse to get one.

2015 Mustang RTR Spec 5 Concept

Owner: Vaughn Gittin Jr.
Built By: Mustang RTR, MA Motorsports, ASD Motorsports
Engine: Ford Racing 5.0L Aluminator XS V8
Horsepower: 450 whp

Ford Racing Coyote "Aluminator" 5.0L V8  (w/ aluminum radiator, control pack)
American Racing headers
Bosch 044 fuel pump
K&N (air filter, oil filter)

Ford Racing close-ratio 6-speed transmission
Exedy Stage 2 clutch
Driveshaft Shop (aluminum driveshaft, axles, 9-in. conversion w/ 4:56 gears
Revolution Automotive custom tune

Magnaflow custom racing muffler

ASD Motorsports custom front lower control arms
Custom coilovers

Nitto NT05 tires
RTR by HRE Tech 7 3-piece forged wheels - 20x10 (front), 20x11 (rear)
Ford Racing Brembo six-piston big brake kit (front)

RTR (Spec 5 wide flare panels (50 mm front, 75 mm rear), chin spoiler w/ carbon splitter, upper grill with integrated lighting, lower grill, rocker splitters, rear diffuser, rear spoiler w/ gurney lip, composite hood, fenders, doors, rear decklid)
3M 1080 Matte Silver film wrap by Speedesign

Bosch DDU7 Motorsports display
Recaro Racing seats
ASD Motorsports handbrake
Takata Racing harnesses