Who holds the record for top speed in a vintage Ford Mustang? If you guessed Carroll Shelby, you’d be close. The racing legend once hit 170 miles per hour in the 1967 GT500 Super Snake. Or you might think it was Mario Andretti, who stuffed a racing engine inside a Mustang and cracked 174 on the Bonneville Flats. But both answers are wrong. The fastest vintage ‘Stang is Zombie 222, the product of Blood Shed Motors out of Austin, Texas.
Zombie 222 is also the quickest electric car in the world — Tesla Model S P100D included — and most likely the quickest street car of any kind after going zero to 60 in 1.79 seconds. With a stripped-down, ultra-aggressive look, it’s without question among the meanest cars on the planet, too.
To find out more about the Zombie, Autos Cheat Sheet spoke with Mitch Medford, founder of Blood Shed Motors, about how this monster came to be and what is was like toppling racing icons like Shelby and Andretti. Here is the first of two articles stemming from that conversation.
Birth of the Zombie 222
With everything going on in electric vehicle performance, we started out asking about the motivation behind the Zombie, and whether it came from anything other than high performance.
“It was a combination of two things,” Medford said. “I’ve always been fascinated with old stuff combined with new. I was one of those guys if you could make a telephone to look like it was from the 1930s, but it was wireless, I’m in. Way back, I remember watching an animated movie called Heavy Metal. In that movie, there was a vintage Corvette, like a ’58 ‘Vette, that was actually a spaceship. I remember thinking how freakin’ cool that was…
“So I’ve always been intrigued by that. Then I was watching ‘Top Gear’ one day when they were testing the first Tesla Roadster, and they were kind of making fun of it — laughing at it. But I started noticing every time they got in a straight line, the Tesla out-accelerated its gas counterpart. On a hunch, I Googled ‘electric drag racing’ and discovered the White Zombie. When I looked at the performance numbers, I thought, ‘Oh yeah. Somebody needs to do this, but to much cooler cars than a ’72 Datsun.'”
By cooler, Medford meant the vintage American rides of the past that get muscle car fanatics’ blood pumping.
“I thought if this kind of electric power can scale up to muscle-car category (i.e., bigger) cars, there could be something there. So I reached out to John [Wayland, creator of the White Zombie] and he thought it was an amazing idea. He threw the White Zombie on a trailer, drove it from Portland to down here in Texas, and stayed at our house for about a month. I got my guys together and John basically put us through electric car boot camp.
“He helped us get the Zombie 222 mobile enough that we hauled it down to San Antonio,” Medford continued. “I flipped him the key and said, ‘You should be the first guy to take it down the track.’ He did, came back, flipped me the key back and said, ‘I won’t drive that car again until you do a lot more work on it.’
“We had rushed three nights in a row to get it there and I had left off the sway bar, shock tower reinforcement, and hadn’t even set the toe on the front wheels using a tape measure. And, we were using a loaner battery John had arranged from Big Daddy Don Garlits’s electric rail dragster, so it was significantly more battery than we needed.
“So as soon as he punched the car, it jerked the front wheels a foot in the air, and the thing went all over the track. That was the birth of the Zombie 222.”
Choosing Mustang, beating Mustang
Once you decide you want to create an electric beast in a muscle car frame, you need an appropriate platform. Wayland asked Medford which car he wanted to go with, and after an extensive discussion Medford decided on the classic Mustang fastback.
“You know, I’m not a Ford or a Chevy or a Mopar guy; I just love cool cars. I thought about it and kept coming back to the ’67 and ’68 fastback because of movies like Gone in 60 Seconds and Bullitt. It’s probably the most iconic muscle car there is. People argue about it, but globally it has that level of awareness, and I always wanted this business to be a global business. So we picked that bad boy and got started.”
Once Zombie 222 was alive, the time came to take on the quickest Mustangs of the past. We asked Medford how important it was that he knock previous Mustang racers off their pedestals. It turns out it was essential once Blood Shed Motors was up and running.
“When we first started out, our goal was to focus on vintage Mustang performance and to try and beat the fastest vintage Mustang records ever held. And we’ve beaten both records. One was held by Carroll Shelby himself in the 1967 GT500 KR: he had that clocked around 167 miles per hour, I believe.”
“Then Mario Andretti made a high-speed Mustang with an Indy 500 race motor and took it to Bonneville Salt Flats in 1967. Technically it wasn’t a street car, and we didn’t have to beat it, but we did anyway. He ran 174 [miles per hour]. We ran 177.8 [miles per hour]. We’re real proud of the fact that, not only do we have the quickest street electric car in the world; I suspect it’s probably the quickest street car, zero to 60. But we can also say we beat every vintage top-speed record ever.”
Medford and his team are hardly sitting pat. In July, Maryland-based Genovation GXE broke its own land-speed record of 186.8 miles per hour with a new run of 205.6 miles per hour. The GXE is a 2006 Corvette Z06 running on a 660-horsepower electric motor and 600 pounds-feet of torque. Even though it’s not a vintage record, Medford wants to top that number, too. GXE is the first street-legal EV to hit 200 miles per hour.
You can’t get your classic ride turned into a Zombie at Genovation like you can at Blood Shed Motors, but a record is a record, and — if you couldn’t tell from what he said above — Medford has a thing about records.
“It doesn’t matter — that’s the record we’re after now,” he said, referring to the GXE’s top speed. “We’ve done Mustang. We’ve beaten everybody that’s ever driven them. Now we’ve got to go after the top record.”