Jason Cenora's first project car was a hardly street-legal Mustang that pummeled the road, and probably his checking account, with an astounding 913 hp at the rear wheels. Trailering the car everywhere got expensive, and street driving it was out of the question. So, it came time to get something that was closer to reality, like a 2002 Ford Explorer. But, of course, he couldn't leave it alone, and so the cash and calls for sponsors flowed like water into a trough. Not one to tempt the local constabulary by building an Explorer so massively overpowered as his 'Stang, Jason attempted instead to build the only supercharged Explorer around. And while we can't confirm that he accomplished that exclusivity, we can say that a mega-herd of horses snort and stamp under the hood of this Explorer, and a barn full of audio and video glitters inside.
Xtreme Mustang Performance in Aliso Viejo, California, installed all (and fabricated some) of the Explorer's drivetrain upgrades. Starting from the top of the engine block, we have a one-off, Xtreme-designed Paxton Novi 1200 supercharger, custom 3-1/2-inch polished inlet and discharge piping, Accufab Racing 70mm throttle-body and upper intake manifold plenum, Team Breed polished valve covers, and NGK Iridium spark plugs. JBA titanium-coated shorty headers are sealed by Ford Racing MLS Racing header gaskets and secured with Stage 8 locking header bolts and a Magnaflow high-flow, 2-1/2-inch after-cat exhaust system. For added power, a Nitrous Xpress Wet Fogger Plate System injects a 50hp shot into the arm of this juiced-up powerplant.
A custom dual-beltdrive harmonic damper from Innovators West minimizes torsional vibration on the crank. The stock beltdrive fan was converted to a Flex-a-Lite 15-inch Extreme electric fan that moves 2,550 cfm. The water pump was replaced by a GT Mustang-style Meziere electric water pump. Both of these upgrades help the motor run more efficiently by not relying on the engine to turn them. The radiator, oil cooler, and trans cooler have been moved forward and are secured by custom brackets, and the power steering reservoir was relocated and set with a custom kit. An Optima Blue Top battery and a Tuff Stuff chrome, high-performance, 200-amp alternator augment the electrical system. Not to be ignored is the oil pan, which was replaced by a Moroso 7-quart pan with windage tray. And the intake manifold is painted Merzee Orange by Merzees Paint & Body in Santa Fe Springs, California, to set off the underhood presentation.
The driveshaft was replaced by a Dynotech metal-matrix, composite, ultra-light model. An Eaton posi-traction rearend differential and Superior 4:10 performance ring-and-pinion gear set round out the drivetrain.
So, what's the output of this plethora of pumped-up powerplant? Try 403 hp, 402 lb-ft of torque, and a reported 1/4-mile speed of 102 mph and 13.79 sec time, and top speed of 145 mph.
Peek under the vehicle and you'll notice a 3-inch drop and Ground Force performance springs thanks to a shop called GO-EZ in Placentia, California. The Explorer rolls on 20x8-inch Boyd Coddington 354 two-piece wheels wrapped in Falken 265/50R20 ZIEX S/TZ01 tires. The wheels have a painted center.
Step back to see the Special Effects Mustang-style hood scoop, UPR billet accents, T-Rex upper and lower grilles, PIAA Xtreme White headlamps with P-9000 Halo fog lights, and Lift Support Technologies custom billet hood shocks. In back are the ATS Designs styling wing and Mercury Mountaineer taillights with Merzees Paint & Body smoked lenses. Modern Image in Huntington Beach, California, customized the body with two-toned vinyl graphics, and Tint Pros of Huntington Beach tinted the windows.
The folks at Advanced Car Creations in Garden Grove, California, rolled up their sleeves and got to work installing audio and video inside the Explorer. They put in an Eclipse 5435 multimedia and navigation head unit in the dash to source the rest of the system. A TracVision A-5 Mobile Satellite system mounted on the roof collects DirecTV. Four Vivo 7-inch headrest monitors, and three 10-inch flip-down monitors mesmerize passengers and onlookers with visual entertainment. An Eclipse 8-disc changer in the center console and a PS2 add to the audio and video possibilities.
Driving the audio vibrations are Alphasonik components. Four PSW912 12-inch subwoofers tumble in the custom amp rack and enclosure in the rear cargo space and can handle up to 2,200 watts rms each. Good thing, too, because that's about how much they get from the four PMA 1000DA 1-channel class-D monoblock amplifiers (one per sub). Each of these crank out 2,060 watts. A 4-channel PMA 4150 class-A/B bi-polar amplifier powers the three sets of PCT6501 6-1/2-inch two-way speakers. Helping to manage the load are two PCP50LED 5.0-farad capacitors and three Optima Blue Top batteries. Xtreme Dynamat lines the entire interior of the Explorer, deadening the impact of the system's rather lively performance on the vehicle's panels. And a Viper 791XV alarm with remote start, window control, and two-way paging system secures the vehicle.
Look around the interior of the SUV even more and you'll see interior pieces painted Merzee Orange by Merzees. Hand-laid carbon fiber on the steering wheel got there courtesy of American Stitches, a look carried through to the Auto Meter carbon fiber performance monitoring gauges in the custom TXM fiberglass gauge pod in the driver's A-pillar, TXM gauge pod in the dash, and Gauge Works Mustang gauge pod on top of the dash. To make room for some of those gauges the HVAC controls were moved and replaced by a Custom TXM kit, and some of those Auto Meter gauges were placed in a TXM pod. Hugo's Custom Upholstery in Santa Ana, California, lined the interior with full alcantara suede with orange French stitching.
Jason needed a lot of help from friends to make this project happen, and he wants to thank them: Sunset Ford in Huntington Beach has been a long supporter of Jason's projects; and XMP, Paxton, Advanced Car Creations, GO-EZ, Hugo's Custom Upholstery, Merzees Paint & Body, and C&R Metal Polishing in Santa Ana (they shined the engine components) all contributed mightily to the Explorer. And who knows? Maybe they will again. As a may-be-compulsive enthusiast, Jason himself asks: "When will the madness stop?" Let's hope, not too soon.