When it comes to aftermarket tuners, the cars from Kenny Brown performance are held in high esteem by the MotorWeek staff, especially his stable of tweaked Mustangs. So when Kenny called to see if we would be interested in wringing out a couple of his newest ponies at Virginia International Raceway, we jumped at the chance. Needless to say, we weren’t disappointed!
First out of the shoot is the 2003 Kenny Brown Club Sport Racer, a very heavily modified Mustang that’s aimed at both the street and track. The CSR is built up from a 1999 or 2001 Mustang Cobra chassis, and available in both aggressive street driving and competition prepared trim. The basic tuner package is powered by a normally aspirated version of the Cobra’s 4.6-liter dual-overhead-cam V8 engine, which has been completely rebuilt and now roars with 395 horsepower and 334 pound-feet of torque. Cams, pistons, valves, heads and a high flow intake, from the Ford Racing Parts catalogue, are all new, plus a set of big 13-inch brake discs to stop it.
Optional is the big gun, which substitutes a bored-out 5.0-liter twin-cam V-8 pumping out a thundering 450 horsepower and some 390 pound-feet of torque. This version is fitted to a Borg Warner 6-speed manual transmission to go, and 14-inch brake discs to stop.
To make the CSR really handle, the Cobra platform is beefed up with a 6-point street cage and a hefty steel front shock tower brace. But, much more importantly, it rides on Kenny Brown’s new Advanced Geometry Suspension system. The Front Suspension Module is based on a lightweight tubular K-Member, to which KB mounts stiffer front struts with a coil-over spring conversion. This shaves 40 pounds off the front end, lengthens the wheelbase by 1-inch, and significantly sharpens the Mustang’s normally conservative suspension geometry. The Rear Suspension Module consists of new upper and lower control arms, mounted on the Cobra’s rear carrier, as well as KB’s coil-over-spring shock conversion and adjustable sway bar end links. The weight savings in the rear is 44 pounds over stock.
We recently got to try on a Club Sport Racer at Virginia International Raceway, when we track tested the company’s street legal development car, a bright green 4.6-liter model that the KB folks have dubbed “Kermie.” But unlike its cute Muppet namesake, this Kermie is a monster! Throttle response from the hopped-up Ford Racing V8 is immediate, pinning you to the seat, but its smooth linear delivery is quite unlike the frantic pull of the standard Cobra’s supercharged engine. Power flows like a hurricane throughout the rev band.
But, as always, it’s taking the corners that count, and that’s where the Club Sport Racer really displays levels of agility far beyond that of the factory Cobra. Handling is far more balanced and neutral, though there is still a trace of the stock car’s mid-corner push. The reduced suspension weight is mostly felt in left-right transitions, where the car literally dances from side- to-side, yet keeps the sticky racing slicks firmly planted on the pavement. Steering response is instantaneous and precise, allowing you to place the car exactly where you want it on the track, and catch the inevitable rear end slide when you’re too heavy on the throttle.
All-in-all, it’s a quantum leap forward, reaching levels of balance and precision that we had thought to be beyond the capabilities of the Mustang chassis.
Unfortunately, with a price that ranges from $55,000 to $75,000 beyond the price of the stock Cobra, the Kenny Brown Club Sport Racer is clearly a dream car for most Mustangers as well.
But take heart, because every component can be individually purchased, allowing fans to build their own CSR, one piece at a time. Or, you can opt for the second new Kenny Brown Mustang, a real “performance sleeper” known as the 3.8 Special. This is KB’s response to V6 Mustang owners that want a tuner car that remains insurance and daily commute friendly.
To the stock pushrod 3.8-liter V6, KB adds his own high flow dual exhaust, and low restriction air filter, good for 205 horsepower, and 233 pound-feet of torque. 3.8 Special buyers also get a close ratio sport shifter, beefed up sport suspension and complete chassis reinforcements and 17-inch alloy wheels, as well as slick carbon-fiber-look interior trim and special 3.8 Special exterior graphics.
The power increase is good for a 0 to 60 of 8.5 seconds and a 1/4 mile run of 16.6 seconds at 85 miles-per-hour. The engine revs freer and is far more responsive than stock, while the sport shifter offers shorter throws, but a notchier feel. Our handling test revealed a noticeable decrease in understeer with quicker turn-in. Without a doubt, the 3.8 Special is much more balanced and forgiving at speed than the stock V6.
A great upgrade, for a mere $5,350! You can pile on extra features and expense, but you can’t beat the value of the basic 3.8 Special package or the fun of driving a Kenny Brown tuned Mustang! Choose the Club Sport Racer in either street or competition trim, and you’ll get a mind- boggling pony that rewrites the rules of Mustang performance. Or opt for the 3.8 Special, which kicks the every-man V6 Mustang up a serious performance notch for less money than some folks spend on a custom paint job.
So which approach do we like best? Well, we love ‘em both, and look forward to the next time we saddle up on the maxed-out Mustangs of Kenny Brown Performance!
Engine: 4.6-Liter Dual-overhead-cam V8
Torque: 334 Lb Feet