It is only fitting that the founder of the Yellow Mustang Registry has put together a brightly colored drag boat to market his company. If you aren’t familiar with Steve Shrader’s accomplishments, he is widely known for building Two-Valve 4.6-liter engines that make big power. In keeping with the times, he has expanded to other modulars and Coyotes.
As we mentioned, a new machine joining his Brightmare 1999 Mustang, Coyote-powered Sport Trac Adrenalin, and 2015 Roush Mustang as a promotional vehicle is this 17-foot 1975 Laveycraft V-drive drag boat named “The Riddler.”
Steve Shrader credits Michael Stepp (Shrader Performance), Darren Hart (test co-pilot), Greg Turner (twin-turbo Coyote Jet boat builder) and his wife Jennifer Shrader for helping this crazy build come to life. Beside the powertrain, this boat has some clever tricks inside the front bulkhead in the form of 3,000 play-pit balls. Yes, the same balls kids jump around in should help this hull float to the surface in the event of an accident. (Photo Credit: Shrader Performance)
We’ve had such great results from the S550’s Coyote platform and a Vortech JT that I knew that was the combo. — Steve Shrader, Shrader Performance
“I bought the boat in Orlando, Florida, with a 498ci big-block Chevy engine. It already had the awesome paint job and functional systems that I needed to get started. These boats are hard to find on the East Coast since this was a Southern California craze from the ’70s,” Steve explained. “So this was the best one I found in driving distance.”
Obviously he wasn’t going to leave that Brand X engine in the boat. In order to create a unique marketing vehicle for Shrader Performance, Steve had a plan to power this with something thoroughly Ford and of the moment — a supercharged Coyote 5.0-liter engine.
“We’ve had such great results from the S550’s Coyote platform and a Vortech JT, I knew that was the combo I wanted to go with,” Steve said. “That engine combo on our 2015 Roush Stage 2 made 849 rear-wheel horsepower, which is roughly 980-1,000 at the crank. The boat is meant to be a marketing tool for our shop and to showcase what the Coyote is capable of, and there are large lakes around the Charlotte area that we’ll be dropping it into for some testing and fun runs soon.”
If you aren’t familiar with the Vortech JT-Trim superchargers, they were designed specifically for high-output Mustang engines like the Coyote – so pairing a prepped 5.0 with a blower designed to deliver up to 27 pounds of boost and 1,450 cfm of flow certainly will make for a wild ride. However, before he could enjoy that power, there was the matter of mating this modern powerplant to the vintage drag boat.
Fed by a Vortech JT-Trim supercharger pullied for 16 pounds of boost, this fortified Coyote is estimated to produce over 1,000 horsepower, which should accelerate this drag boat to over 100 mph.
• Vortech JT-Trim w/ 3.33-inch pulley (16 psi peak at 7,900 rpm) and eight-rib conversion
• Vortech air-to-air intercooler
• Blow-through setup, so air filter is right on the blower
• JLT catch can
• Custom Shrader coil covers
• Ford Performance Controls Pack PCM
• ID1000 fuel injectors
• Return-style fuel system w/ Fore regulator and Fuelab external pump feeding 93/VP 110 fuel blend
• Small custom radiator and closed cooling system so no nasty lake water goes through the engine
• Kooks custom headers w/ 2-inch primaries into a 3.5-inch collector muffler
• SCT X4 mounted for watching the data
• 2003 Cobra aluminum flywheel
• Custom driveshaft coupling adapters to mate to the flywheel, made in-house at Shrader Performance
• Casale V-drive gear case
• 1-inch prop shaft
• D21 shaft-log bearing
• Custom 11-inch, three-blade prop from Hill Marine
“The biggest challenge was probably the driveline connection from the driveshaft to the rear of the engine. Since these drag boats don’t ever come with a Coyote there are no parts available,” Steve explained. “Typically you would use a steel power-take-off adapter to go from the flywheel to the driveshaft, but there are none for the Coyote.”
“So we used a power take-off from a Ford 460 engine and then had to drill eight holes for the flywheel pattern, and then four holes to the driveshaft flange. It actually took two PTOs mated together so lots of drilling occurred, along with a few flywheel spacers made for the Coyote,” he added. “We used a T45 bellhousing to cover all of this, and that required lots of cutting, drilling and test fitting to make it all work. The driveshaft cover protects the occupants from any problems there.”
With the hardware end of things scienced out, it was up to Steve to work his magic inside the SCT Performance Advantage III software to make the engine perform the way it should in such an unorthodox setting. Fortunately, he has plenty of experience with the software and the SCT X4 handheld tuner with regard to Coyote powertrain control modules in unusual applications.
“I have spent a huge amount of R&D time on it. One of our most well known available tunes is the Cammed Idle tune, which some other tuners coined as the ‘Ghost Cam.’ We perfected it far beyond most other tuners, so that it’s super reliable and sounds like a real cam upgrade from startup to operating temp,” Steve explained. “My Two-Valve engine is actually operated by the Copperhead PCM from a 2013 GT automatic (The stock PCM still runs the rest of the car and gauge cluster), so I have a tremendous amount of testing on that car, which is the only known application where someone used a Coyote PCM to run a different engine with a 6r80.”
Steve turned to Kooks Custom Exhaust for a set of unique long-tube headers with / 2-inch primaries. These pipes feed 3.5-inch collector mufflers, which help bring the blown Coyote’s howl down to manageable levels.
The beauty of tuning with an SCT device is that I can log everything in the boat during a run with the X4. — Steve Shrader, Shrader Performance
With that in mind, Steve put his tuning experience to use dialing in the combination. Fortunately, in an effort to keep dirty lake water of this pristine engine, he fit the boat with a closed cooling system — filled with distilled water — based on a small radiator from a ’60s Austin Cooper. This setup allows him to start and run the boat on its trailer so he can tune it before it hits the water.
“The beauty of tuning with an SCT device is that I can log everything in the boat during a run with the X4. Initial tuning requires taking the boat slowly up through the rpm to calibrate the MAF and make sure fueling is happening as it should be,” Steve said. “The knock sensors are still in place and help monitor any conditions and save the motor if something goes a wry on a long boosted lake run. The ’15-up controls pack doesn’t require a speed sensor input like the older ’11-’14 so that was one less feature to worry about on a boat.”
Performance is another thing Steve won’t have to worry about either, as this combo should transfer most of its four-digit fury to the propeller and push this boat to triple-digit speeds.
“Since the engine is estimated at 1,000 horsepower, there should be little power loss through the V-drive gear set and to the prop, so most of the power hits the prop all at once,” Steve said. “This engine will spin to 7,800 or so and the beauty of the Vortech setup is that it makes its peak torque (about 750) all the way to the top of the powerband. That should propel the boat to well beyond 100 mph with ease.”
Steve turned to J&J Upholstery to cover the seats and add the Shrader Performance logo. Steve also added a full complement of Auto Meter gauges, which along with the SCT X4 handheld, keep tabs on all the Coyote’s vital functions. You’ll notice there are no harness belts in place. Steve says you don’t want to strap in if things go badly. Instead he wears a $1,000 Lifeline vest that deploys a parachute in the event of a crash.
So if you see The Riddler out on the lake, you might not want to inquire if it’s faster than your boat, because it probably is.
“It’s not the first Coyote boat, but I believe it is only the second one to exist of its kind,” Steve concluded. “Greg Turner built his twin-turbo monster jet boat a few years ago, but this setup is quite different — and hopefully faster!”