The 2015 Galpin-Fisker Mustang Rocket is a 725-hp beast that blurs the lines between a muscle car and a supercar. But how did this car come into existence?
From imagination to reality
Well, it all started in the head of a Danish car designer whose name is typically associated with European exotics.
Henrik Fisker needs no introduction. He is well-known the world over for his design talent. and with past credits like the BMW Z8, the original Aston Martin DB9, and the Fisker Karma Plug-In Hybrid. Many would agree he knows a thing or two about drawing pretty cars.
However, Fisker was always smitten with muscle cars, in particular, the Mustang. Fisker says that the sight of the yellow Mustang in the original Gone in 60 seconds movie hooked him, and he has since always wanted to present the world with his interpretation of the ultimate Mustang.
Back when Fisker worked for Aston Martin, the British luxury sports car brand was owned by Ford. Fisker had hoped then to present his vision of the Mustang to the world, but things sometimes don't go as planned. He left Aston Martin at the end of 2004, started his own boutique car company in 2005, Fisker Coachbuild, followed by his own brand in 2007, Fisker Automotive.
After the rise and fall of the Fisker Automotive brand, Fisker decided to return to his design roots and try to accomplish his childhood dream. A chance meeting with his old friend Beau Boeckmann, CEO of Galpin Auto Sports, at the 2014 Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance, lead these two to discuss the idea of building the ultimate Mustang. Boeckmann has the largest volume of Ford dealership in the world, and was instantly interested in turning Fisker’s vision into a reality. In just 10 weeks, the project went from a sketch to clay to a full-size model, and the finished product was on display at the 2014 Los Angeles International Auto Show, last November.
Fisker and Boeckmann wanted to get the public's reaction before committing the Galpin-Fisker Mustang Rocket into limited production. The overwhelmingly positive response convinced them to move the project forward. So, in March 2015, Galpin Auto Sports (GAS) and Fisker presented a near-production version of the Rocket at the Amelia Island Concours d'Elegance.
All this publicity lead to many firm orders for the Mustang Rocket, and with GAS planning to start production on these units by the end of July (deliveries to waiting customers start in September), the Rocket is currently going through its final tests to ensure the car performs as expected.
Setting up the Mustang Rocket
I was able to join in on one of these tests, thanks to an invite from Steve McCord, general manager of GAS, as he took the car down to Willow Springs International Raceway in Rosamund, California to evaluate the latest suspension set-up developed by CorteX Racing -- specifically for the 2015 Rocket.
CorteX Racing is well-versed with the Mustang, as they developed suspension packages for just about every generation of Ford's pony car out there (they skipped on the second-generation Mustang, for obvious reasons).
I had some idea that my invite was quite special. As it turns out, not only was I the first Canadian journalist allowed to drive the 2015 Mustang Rocket, but also became the first journalist anywhere to get track access with this car. McCord even mentioned, that I am only the third person ever to be allowed to drive the Rocket on the track -- ahead of even Fisker and Boeckmann. This was quite the privilege then.
I was certainly grinning with excitement when the trailer housing the Mustang Rocket arrived at pit lane at Willow Springs, and my smile only got bigger when the trailer door opened. Inside, was the 2015 Galpin-Fisker Mustang Rocket in Ingot Silver with a black and red interior finished in hand-stitched Italian leather.
As the Rocket rolled out of the trailer, my jaw hit the floor: the design of the car and the quality of the fit and finish is truly remarkable. The body, which is constructed largely out of carbon fibre, is made by Metalcrafters, Inc., a company that can often be found making concept cars for OEM manufacturers. Their expertise helped bring the Rocket to life, while ensuring the end product kept the industry standards of luxury automobiles with 1mm to 3mm panel gaps. The only standard 2015 Mustang bits left are the doors and the roof, and since none of the hard points have been altered, there is no effect on the cars safety shell either.
While I was admiring, McCord fired up the 2015 Galpin-Fisker Mustang Rocket and headed out to the track. At tick-over, this car is remarkably quiet, but one of the techs informed me I’d want to "wait till you hear it when it’s let loose, it sounds awesome at speed." Indeed it does, as McCord laid into the throttle, its custom Bissani cat-back exhaust system made the kind of music that would impress even the most jaded car enthusiast.
McCord came back in after a few laps, and asked me to hop in for a few explorer laps around Willow Springs -- it was my first time there. I was then allowed to get behind the wheel and sample the 2015 Galpin-Fisker Rocket myself.
Getting comfortable in it was easy, as the driving position is similar to any 2015 Ford Mustang. The clutch and gearbox also felt familiar, because they are unchanged from that of the 2015 Mustang GT. McCord mentioned, for regular street use with occasional track use, the factory components have no issues dealing with the added grunt.
Firing up the Mustang Rocket
And grunt it certainly has. Thanks to a 2.9L supercharger from Whipple, sitting atop a 5.0L V8 motor, you get 725 hp and over 600 lb-ft of torque (an exact torque number will be released at a later date). As you can imagine, this is a quick car. While no exact performance numbers are available right now, expect the sprint from 0 to 100 km/h to be covered in under 4 seconds, while top speed is in the 300 km/h range due to 3.73 gearing, which favours acceleration over top-end speed, the Rocket won't break the magical 200 mph barrier (322 km/h).
Unlike some muscle cars, the 2015 Rocket can actually transfer the power to the ground, because it wears the right rubber. At the rear you get 325/30/R21, while at the front you get 275/35/R21 Pirelli P ZERO tires on ADV.1 wheels (for comparison, the 2015 Dodge Challenger Hellcat wears 275/40/ZR20's all around).
I took my first lap calmly, to learn the ins and outs of the tricky Willow Springs circuit, which has plenty of off-camber, and blind-entry corners. As my confidence grew, I started pushing the 2015 Galpin-Fisker Mustang Rocket. Unlike any other muscle car I have driven, the Rocket is very much dialed in at the track. There is no nervousness or float-y feeling you'd expect from an American muscle car. The power builds up in a linear fashion where it feels potent below 3,000 rpm, and mental above it. On the rather short front straight at Willow Springs, I was constantly hitting just over 200 km/h, which is not bad for someone who was new to the track. I was able to do that for four reasons: 1) the upgraded suspension provided stability; 2) the power; 3) the grip; and 4) the brakes.
Oh the brakes, dear lord are they wonderful. This tester was wearing the optional Brembo 15” drilled rotors with six-piston calipers at the front, and four-piston calipers at the rear. These brakes are just about the best I have ever encountered. Even on half application at the track, they'll squeeze all the air out of your lungs. These wonderful brakes allow you to brake later, thus allowing you to keep your foot into the throttle that much longer.
While no Mustang is the ideal track day toy, at 1,805 kg the Rocket is just too heavy to be that; but it sure proved to be the most fun I've ever had with any muscle car out at the track. This one isn't just built to go fast in a straight line.
Any gripes? If I really must nitpick, the steering is not as direct and feel-some as I'd like it to be, but then that has more to do with the electronic power steering system found in all 2015 Mustangs, which the Rocket has to use. Apart from that, even the ride quality is quite excellent for a stiffly sprung car.
Why test one car, when you can test two?
To get a taste of what the Mustang Rocket on normal springs and dampers would be like, I was invited to the GAS facility in Van Nuys, California to sample the black car you see in the picture gallery. This had the same visual and power package as the silver car, but had not received the CorteX Racing suspension yet. This car bounced around a lot more, and because of its factory springs and dampers, even the braking suffered as the car had more nose dive. Not to worry, this black example -- which will be the first customer car to be delivered, and will be sold at an upcoming auction -- will soon be getting the right suspension components, so its future owner will get the proper Rocket experience.
Dollars and cents
To experience the 2015 Galpin-Fisker Mustang Rocket yourself, you'll need to part with at least US $109,100. That gives you a car with the standard, 435 hp, normally aspirated 5.0L V8. Most customers would likely go with the supercharger option, which brings the tally up to US $125,000. Want the upgraded interior package with hand-stitched Italian leather (even on places where the Flat Rock, Michigan original only offered plastic) add another US $21,000. With all the option boxes ticked, the 2015 Rocket can sticker close to US $160,000.
That is a lot of money for a Mustang, and most people would rather spend that kind of dough on a new Audi R8 or some kind of Porsche 911. However, neither of those will be as exclusive as the Rocket -- only about 40 units will be made annually -- nor will they offer the power, either.
So, if you've been looking for a muscle car that can pester supercars on the road and the track, the 2015 Galpin-Fisker Mustang Rocket is worth a really close look.