When it comes to going fast, traction is key. If you can’t put your power down, you might as well not have it. This is something self-proclaimed all-wheel-drive fanatic Tim Roman is all too aware of. The Minnesota native, a mechanical engineer by trade, is currently modifying a 2017 Ford Mustang GT S550 to drive all four wheels. Think he’s crazy? Well, he’s almost done. He’s been documenting the whole thing on his criminally underrated YouTube channel.
Modifying any car that wasn’t originally AWD into one that is can be extremely challenging, but as we found out by speaking to him, Roman is no stranger to this sort of swap. He’s previously converted a Merkur XR4Ti to AWD, which was something of a warm-up for him. He later put a 5.0-liter turbocharged Ford V8 into the car, which propelled it to 10.72 in the quarter-mile at 134.6 mph. The Mustang project he’s embarking on now isn’t quite the same sort of beast, though. He wants it to be a comfortable car he can drive long distances. That being said, twin turbos are in the cards.
When Roman bought the Mustang in the fall of 2019, he didn’t know if it would even be possible to convert the car to AWD. “I spent basically the first two winters just figuring out how to do it,” he told The Drive. “The whole first winter was, ‘Was it even possible?’ Like, ‘Can I even fit a front diff in [it]?’” As it turns out, he could. “I looked at Mercedes, BMW, Toyota, Nissan,” to find the right differential, which is the vital part of the swap.
There were several different attributes he was looking for, but in the end, the unit that fit the bill was from a 1986-1995 Toyota Hilux pickup truck. “It’s a low pinion, it’s relatively narrow, and the Toyotas you can get all the various [common] gear ratios. You can get 3.55s, you can get 3.73s, you can get 4.10s,” etc.
Finding the right differential was a big step, but this swap is a grind to find all of the right parts to get power to the front wheels. The stock front spindles on the S550 Mustang were never intended to support front axles, for instance. He eventually decided to heavily modify a set off of a different Mustang. Roman also needed to source a good transfer case, a new manual transmission, and more. There are so many options for these parts that it was hard for him to narrow down the best combination.
Eventually, he started to get a good idea of what it all was going to look like, though. “I spent like six months figuring out ‘Can I make spindles?’” He realized he could definitely make them from scratch if he had to. “Can I get the transmission to fit in the car?” To him, that seemed much less risky. “A big enough hole in the floor and any [transmission] will fit.” The particular transfer case he wanted wasn’t easy to get, though.
“I really wanted a variable torque split transfer case,” Roman told me. Then he could flip a switch and instantly do burnouts. The problem is that the best units, out of R32-R34 Nissan GTRs, are now JDM-taxed into orbit. That led him down the rabbit hole of modern AWD systems that do not have a center differential, just a clutch pack to control torque flow to the front/rear axle. The logic to control many of these modern systems is mind-bogglingly complicated, though. In the end, Roman landed on a unit made by Borg Warner, commonly equipped to 2010 and newer Dodge Chargers. It uses a simple electrical signal to control the amount of clutch pack engagement, and several aftermarket controllers are readily available.
The transmission he selected is likewise straightforward, a six-speed Tremec TR-6060 found on many performance cars. The transfer case from the Dodge bolted up with a little convincing, and both of these parts have now been installed in the vehicle. “It’s all good to go. Now the spindles are done as of last week, and now I’m back working on the oil pan, the diff mount, and the CV axles… that gets us up to where we are now.”
Roman has documented this entire process in a series of videos on YouTube, although the title of his channel, “No Production Value Garage,” should give you a hint about his ambitions on the platform. He wants to have a record of the project and not much else. “I’m not putting a lot of effort into the videos. I don’t have the time,” Roman told me. “Am I trying to be a YouTuber and get like 100,000 subscribers? No.” He wants to get the filming done, get it online, and continue working.
His ambitions for the project itself are considerably higher. “If I get it on the wheels [and done] in say June, I don’t want to wait until the following May to have boost,” he told me. Yep, Roman wants to take advantage of all of his newfound traction no matter what that means. “I wanna do turbos,” but that would take a lot of fabrication. A much more straightforward solution would be a supercharger, he said. “I’ve been eyeing trying to buy a used one, like a VMP or a Whipple.” He would prefer a roots-style blower in order to maximize the torque off of the line.
Needless to say, when that happens you’ll hear about it from us. Before then, keep an eye on Roman’s channel for occasional updates. He may not have much production value, but when it comes to insight and practical advice about doing something like this, his videos are an incredible resource. It’s not every day someone tries to make an AWD, supercharged Mustang, and if you want to do something similar, well, he’s currently writing the bible.
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