Auto NewsProdrive reveals HERO-ERA 1 'Desert Challenger' Mustang

Prodrive reveals HERO-ERA 1 ‘Desert Challenger’ Mustang

Advanced engineering company Prodrive has transform their rusting 1967 Mustang Fastback

Rally organisers HERO-ERA has revealed its state-of-the-art historic desert rally machine to take on major endurance events like the Peking to Paris Motor Challenge, a collaboration with Prodrive.

HERO-ERA commissioned motorsport and advanced engineering company Prodrive to transform their rusting 1967 Mustang Fastback, over the past year. The car was revealed to historic motorsport enthusiasts at the Flywheel event by David Richards CBE (Chairman, Prodrive) and Tomas de Vargas Machuca (Chairman HERO-ERA) with ex F1 driver and Le Mans winner Jackie Oliver pulling the wraps off the 400 bhp V8 long-range rally challenger.

The muscular rally machine has been painstakingly constructed to cope with the rigours of HERO-ERA’s endurance rallies including the world-renowned Peking to Paris Motor Challenge – 14,000 kms and 37 days, across the world’s largest landmass (June 2024).

HERO-ERA Mustang with Prodrive

The rusting chassis was rejigged, bead blasted and strengthened with full forensic detail of the anticipated stresses. The suspension and struts have been carefully crafted to absorb the worst pummelling expected over any desert, mountain, and forest tracks. The 5.4 litre 400 bhp Dart Ford 302 V8 engine is designed to run for long periods at high revs whilst the Tremec TKX five-speed (with overdrive) gearbox is tough, mated to a robust rear axle with a 9” limited slip differential to transfer all that power to the rear wheels. 

Dakar-style thought has gone in to produce full under-body protection for the Mustang designated HERO-ERA 1. The under body skin will also afford protection for the 70-gallon 400-mile long-range fuel tank required for great distances between refuelling points. 

HERO-ERA Mustang with Prodrive

The Prodrive Legends engineering team, led by Senior Engineer Richard Thompson, have restored and rebuilt the car down to the finest detail, including making sure HERO-ERA 1 can operate at an altitude range of 300 to 3500 metres and at temperatures from -10 deg C to plus 40 deg C. The car specification conforms to a mix of FIA Appendix K, Motorsport UK and HERO-ERA technical regulations. 

Tomas de Vargas Machuca, Chairman of HERO-ERA who commissioned the build said; “I am blown away by the car, I am so happy with the result – although it nearly didn’t happen! I originally asked David Richards to see if Prodrive could do anything with our old Mustang. At first he wasn’t sure as it was a bit of a departure, but then thankfully he came with a positive reply.

That was fifteen months ago, since then Prodrive’s enthusiasm, experience and skill have transformed a ‘basket case’ into a historic motoring masterpiece, ready to take on the best in the desert and be the flagship vehicle on our Arrive Drive fleet. It is a big thank you to David, Richard, and the team, it is a world first for Prodrive as this is their first historic American car restoration, and if it is successful as we expect, we may produce more!” 

David Richards, Chairman Prodrive, added: “This project started life a long time ago as a casual conversation with Tomas about my wife, Karen’s interest in taking part in the Peking to Paris Motor Challenge. The collaboration between Prodrive and HERO-ERA has resulted in a unique classic rally car specifically designed for the rigours of long-distance events. The Ford Mustang was a significant departure from our usual projects, but we have utilised all our rally experience and the result is testament to everyone who worked on the car at Prodrive. I’m very confident that Tomas and his team at HERO-ERA will enjoy the Mustang as much as we have enjoyed working on the project.” 

The car is now on the Club Des Autos Tour for a gentle familiarisation run to France after leaving Flywheel at Bicester Heritage. Further testing will lead to the first big event test for HERO-ERA 1, the Badawi Trial in the Middle East. The 7500 km 16-day event starts in Jordan (Oct 10-26 2023) and traverses Saudi Arabia, Oman and the UAE. 

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