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<em>Tokyo Drift</em> Test: Skyline-Powered 1967 Ford Mustang

Cross-breeding classic American muscle with Japanese technology and Hollywood hokum

For the past six decades the quintessential hot-rodding move has been shoving a big engine into a relatively small car. For The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift, the transportation department faced the truly odd task of installing a small engine in a relatively large car. What we have here is the result of that bizarre surgery: a 1967 Ford Mustang fastback with the turbocharged 2.6-liter DOHC 24-valve straight-six from a mid-'90s Nissan Skyline GT-R between its front fenders. And it actually works well.

Fortunately for the Tokyo Drift crew, Mustangs were sold with six-cylinder engines, so the engine bay is designed to accept that configuration. Unfortunately, that engine bay was designed back in the '60s, before anyone was using either computers or the metric system in America. And the stock Nissan twin-turbocharger system would have found itself crammed by the left-hand-drive Mustang's steering column. So this Skyline engine uses a single turbo system custom fabricated at the Tokyo Drift shop that incorporates a Sparco intercooler under the front bumper. Otherwise, the engine is very much in the condition it was in when Nissan first built it — including the fact that it's bolted to its original five-speed manual transmission.

Though the Skyline GT-R's six carried a 280-horsepower rating when it was sold in Japan, that number has always been low. So it wasn't much of a surprise that the Skyline-powered Mustang showed 340 hp at 7,300 rpm at the rear wheels on the chassis dyno. It also showed a healthy 264 pound-feet of peak torque at 5,950 rpm.

Riding on Volk Racing 19-inch wheels and P245/35R19 front and 275/35R19 rear tires, this weird hybrid drives sweetly. The five-speed manual transmission shifts with a light touch, the spool differential in the Ford 9-inch rear end is benign, and the car even rides well despite the fact the suspension was primitive even by 1967 standards. Of course, it's a nearly 40-year-old Ford, so there are plenty of squeaks and rattles, and the exhaust sounds more like a UPS truck than a high-performance Mustang, but it's a unique and oddly attractive ride. And it was decently quick, too, running to 60 mph in 5.4 seconds and completing the quarter-mile in 13.5 seconds at 109.8 mph.

Of course the only reason that this Skyline-powered Mustang exists is because some Hollywood writer imagined it. The question for hot-rodders should be, why didn't any of them think of it first?

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