Editor’s note: Get more news from the 2018 SEMA Show in Las Vegas by checking out our dedicated page for daily updates.
The sound of squealing tires never fails to turn a few heads, but when those squeals are accompanied by the rev of a high-powered Roush engine or two, that’s when a crowd starts to form.
Such describes the performance company’s booth and adjacent drift area at the recent SEMA Show at the Las Vegas Convention Center. Staged in one the facility’s parking lots, Roush-modified Ford Mustangs and F-150s were drifting and, in some cases, jumping from the time the show opened until it closed.
I was able to take a ride in one of the drift Mustangs driven by Nate Stacy, a driver in IMSA’s Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge. It was my first drifting experience and there’s only one way to describe the loud and tire smoke-filled experience: awesome.
A company using a cool car, model or other gimmicks to attract attendees is a regular sight at SEMA. The drift experience — which was offered to the public and co-hosted by Ford — was designed to do the same, albeit very loudly. In this case, the company was looking to promote Roush’s line of modified Ford vehicles.
The display was focused on Roush’s F-series line. The company offers different modification packages for the F-150 (including the SVT Raptor), F-250 and F-350. Unlike other companies, however, Roush receives its vehicles directly from the factory, makes its alterations and then passes the vehicles on to dealers.
“We don’t look at ourselves as aftermarket,” Jack Roush Jr. told me, adding that his company’s modifications are covered under warranty by Ford, not by a third party like many others out there.
And the modifications are extensive. The company typically works with the XLT trim, which is fairly bare bones. A healthy amount of options are offered by Ford, but nothing like what Roush does.
I was able to peek inside the F-150 SC, which has a 5.0-liter Ti-VCT V8 engine under the hood. Paired with a Roush TVS 2650 Supercharger, the truck is capable of making 650 horsepower and 610 pound-feet of torque.
The truck’s interior had the optional leather seats and some other modifications. The company works so closely with Ford that, for example, the seat sensors are tweaked to measure information through the custom leather opposed to the stock cloth seats.
Outside, the truck has a Fox 2.0 Performance Series Suspension that lifts the truck two inches, and also levels it, altering the traditional truck look. A few Roush graphics — tooled paint, not vinyl — are placed around the vehicle, along with special badging.
The F-150 was also equipped with an active exhaust system, which lets the driver choose exhaust notes. If it’s on the loudest settings, Roush Jr. said, it will “scare the birds out of the trees.”
While you can buy some individual Roush parts, the only way to get the full package is to buy a complete vehicle.
“You can buy the grille, but it’s very expensive,” Roush Jr. said, laughing. “It comes with a truck.”
He said he didn’t have a favorite part of the truck. Instead, “it’s just the whole package,” he said.
Of course, Roush also had a Mustang on display, though tilted on its side to showcase every angle. Equipped with custom suspension and drivetrain, the Stage 3 package is capable of 710 horsepower and 610 pound-feet of torque.
The Mustang Stage 3 also comes with a lot of exterior tweaks to ensure everyone on the road knows they’re driving next to a Roush, while those lucky enough to be inside are treated to optional Roush-branded Recaro seats and other modifications.
For those interested, Roush will soon offer customized Rangers and Broncos. Unfortunately, those weren’t on display at this SEMA Show, but I’m betting there’s a good chance they’ll be parked in the Silver Lot next year.