Jack Roush started his career as an engineer at Ford in the ‘60s, but though he loved Ford’s vehicles, he needed a little more speed in his life. After a successful career partnering to create vehicles for NHRA, IHRA, and AHRA events, Roush went on to create a NASCAR team and Roush Performance.
S197 Roush Mustang
Roush Performance makes aftermarket parts, but Roush Mustangs have been Roush’s biggest contribution to the Mustang community. When people talk about Roush Mustangs, they’re actually talking about a pretty broad spectrum of Mustang variations and performance upgrades.
In addition to special variant Mustangs, Roush also produces modified and tuned street-legal Mustangs. Since 1997 they have offered three stages of Mustang performance packages. These performance packages are sold as new cars, much the way a Shelby Mustang would be, and carry with them the warranties and protections that come with purchasing a new car.
In some ways, the connection between Jack Roush and Ford Mustangs seemed fated. He started his career at Ford in 1964, the same year the Mustang debuted. Roush saved up his money and bought himself a Ford Mustang after graduating college. He quickly discovered that he had a passion for drag racing, something a lot of people with classic Mustangs learned about themselves.
Jack Roush prides himself on his engineering prowess and his passion for speed, and he’s made a career out of combining the two. Being a loyal Ford-enthusiast, most of his developments have focused on ways to make the Mustang faster or improve the off-roading performance of the F-150.
So, how good is Jack Roush at tuning Ford Mustangs?
Well, in 1999 Car and Driver tested a Stage III Roush Mustang against Ford’s own SVT Cobra R, and the Roush came out on top.
Roush Mustang vs SVT Cobra R
|Spec||SVT Cobra R||Roush Stage III|
In short, Roush Performance is good at what it does.
Roush Stage I Mustangs
In a surprisingly simple naming scheme, the three stages of Roush Mustang are referred to as numerical tiers, with one being the most basic and three being the most involved of the modifications.
Though the individual components vary from year to year, Stage One Roush Mustangs are typically outfitted with a variety of aesthetic modifications that don’t significantly impact performance, but that do create a pretty great looking ride.
In 2019, the Stage One Roush Mustang comes with:
- GT Performance Pack Wheels
- Dual Black-Tip Performance Exhaust System
- Aero Corner Pockets
- High Flow Upper Grille with “1” Badge
- High Flow Lower Opening
- Front Chin Spoiler
- Hood Heat Extractors
- Body Side Scoop
- Matte Black Side Stripe Graphics
- Roush Fender Badges
- Rear Blackout Panel
- Body-Colored Rear Decklid Spoiler
- Front Windshield Banner
- Hood Strut Lift
- Roush Floor Mats
- Roush Illuminated Door Sill Plates
And a few other small goodies, as well as the option of adding several other appearance options if you want.
Though these are all incredibly attractive modifications, the horsepower rating stays the same. It’s still not a bad value at $6,720. The major component here that most people are interested in is the Roush exhaust. Roush exhaust systems have a great sound, and it’s hard to deny the allure of getting a brand new Mustang with a great rumbling exhaust already installed. The Roush Stage One package is only available for the EcoBoost Mustang.
S550 Roush Mustang
Roush Stage II Mustangs
The Roush Stage II Mustang is a blend of performance upgrades and appearance modifications. In addition to the aero modifications and Roush badging you get with the Stage I Roush, you also get a coilover suspension system that is height adjustable.
Though Stage I and Stage II come with a set of good looking wheels, the Stage II takes the extra step and outfits those wheels with Continental ExtremeContact Sport Tires.
It’s the optional components that really draw people into the Stage II Roush though. The Quad Black Tip Active Exhaust System is impressive to say the least, and an improved performance set of coilovers is also available.
Because the Roush Stage II is available on the GT as opposed to the EcoBoost-based Stage I, it’s really the base Roush package for anyone who wants V8 power. It’s designed to be ready for the track from the day it’s delivered, and for the most part the Stage II is well-regarded.
Roush Stage III Mustangs
Since the late ‘90s, the Stage III has been the Roush Mustang that focuses the most on performance and shows what Roush products are capable of. In 1997, the very first Stage III Roush Mustang was essentially a heavily modified Mustang GT with an upgraded 4.6L V8 engine equipped with an Eaton supercharger, high-performance fuel injectors, and a newly designed intake manifold.
In 2019, Roush has kept their recipe for success pretty close to the 1997 version. The Roush Stage III Mustang produces 710 horsepower as opposed to the Coyote’s standard 460 horsepower. It’s a huge improvement, and Roush is very straightforward about how they’re able to achieve their horsepower increase.
In addition to all of the aero and performance features from the Roush Stage I and Stage II packages, the Stage III Roush also receives a 2650 Supercharger. Installing one of these superchargers is an involved process, but there’s no doubt that it delivers the performance it promises.
The Stage I, Stage II, and Stage III Mustangs have been available for three generations of Mustang, starting with the SN95s and running through today. In addition to these standard productions though, Roush also has occasion to work on interesting variant Mustangs.
They’ve helped Ford in their aviation series with the addition of the Old Crow Mustang, and worked to commemorate the troops with the Roush Warrior Mustangs, and even gave a nod to Ford history with a special one-off Roush Mustang that came in the famed gulf livery that Ford GT40s wore for their final two wins at Le Mans.
Roush has also introduced occasional limited edition runs that run parallel to their own Stages. For 2020, this includes the Jack Roush Edition Mustang.
Jack Roush Edition Mustang
So, with a lifetime of racing and engineering achievement, what makes a performance enthusiast finally name a car after himself?
Well, nothing short of the most powerful Mustang that Roush has ever produced.
A custom calibrated MagneRide suspension, active exhaust (complete with H-pipe), and supercharger are just the beginning of the upgrades that are offered on this exclusive limited edition Mustang. All told, it’s able to create 775 horsepower and 670 lb-ft of torque.
Only sixty of these units will be produced.
Jack Roush Mustang at SEMA
Three Generations of Roush Mustangs
The three stages of Roush Mustang debuted in 1997 and have been offered nearly continuously since then, through three generations of Mustang.
Ford has a long history of working with third-party performance shops. Even in its first year, the Mustang was a vehicle that seemed to attract the attention of folks who enjoyed adding tweaks that could customize the appearance as well as the performance.
Shelby-American may have been the first to sell heavily modified Mustangs with Ford’s assistance as an authorized third-party, but since then Saleen, Steeda, and Roush have all also made their mark on the Mustang’s history.
Roush Performance parts continue to be a popular choice for Mustang enthusiasts looking to give their pony cars a boost, and they’re available at CJ’s!
Image Credit: autoweek.com