By Matt Wolfe
2017 Hall of Fame Inductee Jack Roush has been involved in numerous racing and automotive business ventures during his career. From his beginnings in NHRA and IHRA drag racing, to his successes in IMSA GT and SCCA Trans AM and his impressive string of victories and championships in NASCAR, Roush has made his name famous by making everything he touches faster.
One of his most successful business ventures outside of racing has been his longtime partnership with Ford Motor Company to develop high performance versions of the venerable Mustang. It was in 1988 when Roush first contacted Ford about giving its pony some extra performance. Roush took a contemporary Mustang GT and installed two turbocharges and a slew of other upgrades to bring it up to 400hp, nearly double the car’s factory horsepower. Roush wanted to partner with Ford to sell his Mustangs in Ford showrooms around the country. However, Ford did not take Roush up on his initial offer over concerns of production costs.
Undeterred, Roush did not give up on his idea. In 1995, he founded ROUSH Performance Products in Livonia, Michigan. The company initially offered aftermarket performance parts and crate engines, as well as customized Mustangs, which they began assembling at their own facility in 1997. The first Mustangs to bear the “Roush” name were based on the 1996-1998 “SN95” GT model. There were three available trim levels: Stage 1, Stage 2, and Stage 3. Each stage provided more performance parts, starting with the Stage 1’s exterior enhancements all the way up to the Stage 3’s full complement of engine and suspension upgrades which pushed the car’s performance to a level far beyond the standard Mustang GT.
The vehicles quickly gained popularity with enthusiasts, and demand soon became strong enough that Ford agreed to start offering “Roush” branded Mustangs through select dealerships. Thanks to this early sales success, Roush has continued to offer these “stage” packages for Mustangs up to present day. Additionally, Roush has also produced a plethora of special edition Mustangs such as the Blackjack, which featured an all-black motif with design cues by Jack Roush himself, 427R Trak Pak, a track-ready edition Roush Mustang fitted with a Roush-designed Supercharger, and the P-51A, a nod to the P-51 mustang fighter plane and one of the most sought-after Mustangs Roush has produced.
Roush even offers performance parts and packages for other Ford vehicles like the F150 and Focus, and maintains a parts catalog for customers who want to hot-rod their own vehicles with Roush superchargers, exhausts, exterior parts, suspension pieces, and brake kits. Today, Roush Mustangs can be found at more than 400 Ford dealers across the United States and Canada.
Jack Roush will be Inducted into the Automotive Hall of Fame with the class of 2017 on July 20 at Cobo Center in Detroit, Michigan. Click here to learn more