When you see a Ford Fusion, performance is usually not the first thing that comes to mind. Sure, there are EcoBoost versions that make the mundane daily commute much more invigorating, but this isn’t that sedan. This Fusion is a highly customized, one-off, super bad ass Coyote-powered, rear wheel drive Fusion built to live life slideways!
How does something this awesome come to be? Great question! What better place to go than the source. Matt Soppa of Phoenix, Arizona is the mastermind behind this four-door smoke machine. “I felt the 2nd generation Fusion deserved to be rear wheel drive,” explains Matt. “With its Aston Martin-like front looks and aggressive lines, not to mention there’s no V8 RWD sedans in the Ford line up, I had to make it happen after discovering that the rear suspension design was practically identical to the current generation (S550) Mustang. The IRS from the Mustang practically bolted right in. It was also specifically built to go sideways with the type of knuckles and A-arms used in the front.”
Even with a rear suspension system that nearly bolts in, make no mistake; this is not a simple, quick, or easy project. The factory engine (a transversely mounted four or six cylinder) and all of its mounting apparatus is essentially useless when you look at installing a V8 in a traditional RWD configuration. Aside from engine mounts, the firewall and floor pans need to be heavily modified to make room for the transmission and driveshaft. But let’s start at the beginning.
“The Fusion started out as a base S model that ended up at an insurance auction after sustaining front end damage,” Matt tells us. “I purchased the car with 34,000 miles on it, trailered it home, and then drove it into my garage with the stock 2.5L FWD power for the last time. All with the A/C still working and the interior still smelling like new. The following week I received a complete S550 IRS dropout from a salvage yard for $350. Definitely worth the gamble to see if it would just bolt into the rear of the Fusion. And with minor work it did. I did have to modify a portion of the body to fit the larger differential and its portion of the subframe to get it in.”
Matts explained to us that the rear mounts for the IRS lined up perfectly, but the front mounts were a little more difficult. The bolt hole location was off, and after examining multiple mounting options, he made some offset spacers to put the holes in the correct locations. The differential area required the removal of parts of the floor pan. The differential in the Mustang is fairly large and wouldn’t allow the cradle to sit flush in the car. Modifications to the floor and body of the car often mean reengineering components and systems on the car. You can also count on lots of custom fabrication and building the specific parts you need to make everything work.
“With the rear of the car modified for the IRS, the fuel tank straps lost their anchor points. I ended up just using a fuel cell in the trunk. I fabricated the transmission and driveshaft tunnel, along with all the little nuances that come with doing a project like this. I didn’t have any tube bending experience, nor the tools until later in the build when I revised the control arms, so besides the cage, and tube front, I built it all myself.”
The front of the car is really where a large of portion of the custom work was done. Matt told us the entire front suspension was removed, the factory frame rails were heavily modified, and a K-member from an S197 Mustang was installed. This meant the front suspension was largely S197-based, making suitable parts easy to find. Luckily, Matt owns a fabrication company called Make It Modular, which specializes in drift-spec Mustang components. The car utilizes the spindles, A-arms, and custom steering components needs for the harsh drifting environment.
“I’ve learned a lot taking this build on 90-percent on my own,” Matt explains. “A lot of people gave me the weird look and asked ‘why?’ when I first mention the idea, but it’s all been worth it. It’s essentially the four door Mustang that was never made – if you don’t count the Fox-body LTDs. The hardest part is figuring out what to build next that can top it!”
Topping this build would be a tall feat. After all, it doesn’t get much more custom than this. Thankfully, when it came to the powertrain, Matt didn’t need to focus his attention on reinventing the wheel; the biggest challenge was packaging.
When you open the hood of the Fusion, you’re met with a naturally aspirated Coyote that looks like it could have come from Ford this way, assuming the car wasn’t cut up with a tubular front end, tucked wiring, and a bunch of aftermarket components. The engine is a stock Coyote from a 2016 Mustang GT. It resides between the modified frame rails in nearly completely stock configuration. This simplified the process of making power. The wiring for the swap was accomplished via a Ford Performance Coyote Control Pack. The simplified wiring and ECU make swaps like this a breeze. For the calibration, Matt turned to Lund Racing and uses an SCT X4 handheld tuner for tune revisions and datalogs. The Coyote cranks out 450 horsepower at the rear wheels with 400 lb-ft of torque to get it moving quickly.
Power is transferred to the drivetrain through an Exedy Mach 600 clutch that applies power to a TR6060 six-speed transmission from a 2007 GT500. Once the gears do what the gears do, the tailshaft spins a custom Full Torque Driveshafts driveshaft, which is connected to the S550 super 8.8 differential. The IRS is largely in factory trim, but Matt upgraded a few items to add strength and adjustability to the rear suspension. He added subframe and differential bushing inserts, adjustable toe links, and vertical links to solidify the IRS.
The driver’s compartment is also an interesting part of this unique build. If you open the door expecting to find plush comfortable seating and the finer things of a well-appointed luxury interior, you’re in for a rude awakening in the best way possible. The factory seats have given way to a set of OMP buckets designed to keep the occupants firmly planted at all times. From the driver’s position you have access to each needed element of an all-out drift car. First and foremost, three pedals and a steering wheel for basic car control. To the far right is the shifter, and to its immediate left is the all-important hand brake. Beyond the controls, the interior is all business. No frills. Nearly every nonessential part and piece is gone. Even the factory gauge cluster is nowhere to be found. “But how does Matt know what’s going on with the engine?” Matt uses a Windows based tablet with a touch screen gauge display to monitor the engine’s vitals. Simple. Clean. To the point.
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The outside of the car has also received is fair share of custom touches. The first thing you notice are the awesome Variant Alloy wheels in all four corners, which Matt uses to routinely destroy Federal 595 RSRR tires. The front brakes are factory S197 GT brakes, and the rear braking system is a dual-caliper Wilwood system that uses Hotline Garage’s S550 caliper brackets and rotor hats. Back to the aesthetics, the next this you’ll notice are the front fender flares. We aren’t aware of anyone who makes rocket bunny fender flares for the Fusion, and apparently neither is Matt. So how did he do it? He simply took a set of Toyota BRZ fender flares and made them fit. The rear of the car is finished off with a 2017 Fusion Sport rear lower valance.
All in all, Matt Soppa’s Fusion is extremely unique. It is highly customized and rather off-the-wall in a lot of ways. If you’re a Mustang fan, you like it because of its Pony parts. If you’re a sedan person (kind of weird, but ok) you like it because of its four doors of fun. If you’re a drift fan, you can appreciate its uniqueness and ability to slide corners. If you’re a car person, it’s the ingenuity, fabrication, and outside-the-box thinking that makes it awesome. For us, it’s simply all of the above!
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