Tom Wilson
January 23, 2006
What are demonstrators for, if not big burnouts? Vortech's ride had the mid-11 stuff to back up the big smoke.

Horse Sense: Fun as it's been, by the time you read this, Vortech's '05 demonstrator will have hit the auction block-very low mileage for whoever gets it.

Who has more fun at Disneyland? The children seeing the Magic Kingdom for the first time or their parents watching them? It must be something like that for us enthusiasts and Vortech. We get the thrill of driving boosted '05 Mustangs for the first time; they get to prototype new kits.

Following that reasoning, Vortech has been having some serious fun with its in-house '05 GT demonstrator. Essentially a stone-stock '05 Mustang GT sporting Vortech's V-2 SQ T-Trim High Output kit, this car has been fitted with various combinations of Vortech options and the necessary aftermarket supporting items-wheels and tires, for example-to prove itself a standout in truly varied tests. We're seeing it here in drag-racing form; but, a few weeks before, it ran more than 179 mph during Road & Track's standing-start mile contest (and 192 mph running out the back door during the same run). Before that, it logged 150-plus chassis dyno pulls, so this one is well broken in.

As a dragster, Vortech's Windveil Blue machine is equally impressive. The goal was mid-11s, and they got it-the car ran a corrected 11.58 at 122.43 mph in front of us during testing at California Speedway. Gifted with M/T slicks on a not-recently prepped dragstrip surface, the best runs came using generous wheelspin in First gear. As the pictures show, the car transfers weight well and, with 12 pounds of air in the slicks, does a proper job of wrinkling the sidewalls. Put on a truly sticky track, 0.3 quicker e.t.'s are no doubt possible, but given the stock powertrain and 552-rear-wheel horsepower and 495 lb-ft of torque, we'd say parts breakage would also result.

Driving was Mike Regan, longtime Vortech engineer and this car's primary handler. Equally important was Lance Keck, one of those multitalented guys in the shop who can wrench, fab, electronically tune, and, most importantly here, prototype. Mike reported the car is a real squirrel with its combination of radial front tires and bias-ply slicks. Furthermore, with the powertrain trapped between its own supercharged torque and sticky slicks, shifting was a challenge. Let's not forget-half the shifter is mounted to the chassis and the other half on the transmission with the '05 cars, and getting this car into Fourth gear was impossible at first. Pushing the shifter sideways, Mike eventually "tried to shift into Reverse, and that worked."

With the front sway bar disconnected, slicks, and a few suspension bolt-ons, Mike Regan hinted at picking up the heavy Mustang's front end. Fontana's strip is fairly good, but wasn't prepped during our test day, and the air was summertime warm, so this is good stuff.

As a demonstrator, Vortech's GT runs a combination of parts that are close to standard Vortech offerings, but not exactly. We suppose the intake plumbing running through the left headlight bucket might have been a good clue something was up, but we thought we'd at least put it in the record.

It starts out innocently enough with Vortech's '05 GT kit, upgraded with a T-Trim supercharger. An eight-rib drive system was found necessary and, while Vortech has already released its eight-rib kit as you read this, Lance put this one together by picking through stock Ford offerings. The only troublemaker was the air-conditioning pulley, but with enough meat available, Lance was able to machine more grooves into the stocker to turn it into an eight-rib unit.

The inlet side of the blower is pure prototype hand fabrication or, as Lance put it, "probably the most expensive cold-air kit on the planet." The issue is the '05 Mustang, which is so crowded with hardware and complex shape between the front wheels and headlights that there isn't any space to run intake plumbing-at least not without resorting to radical, one-eyed solutions such as this. Using various 4-inch elbows and pipes from other Vortech offerings, Lance cut and welded the cold-air kit to snake from behind the bumper cap to the blower.

To make 17 pounds of boost, Vortech found its T-Trim blower was the way to go. A hot-rodded S-Trim made a valiant effort, but eventually failed in the task, while the T-Trim proved bulletproof at high boost.

Positioning the mass air meter on '05 GTs is occasionally troublesome. Lance noted this one wasn't too temperamental, but if moved closer to the inlet, fan wash was an issue; if moved several inches closer to the supercharger, wash from the bypass caused erratic behavior. Clocking the meter's element in the 4-inch tubing was also no problem as long as it stayed in a 45-degree arc from stock.

Speaking of the bypass, Lance chose Vortech's plus-sized racing bypass to handle the high-volume T-Trim blower. Combined with the two bypass elbows in the stock plastic inlet pipe, this meant fabbing a Y from aluminum tubing to plumb everything together. The stock inlet has two bypass elbows because it's also used on Paxton kits that use twin bypass valves, and hence have two bypass hoses.

Vortech offers its street kits with only the single, normal bypass valve-not its big racing bypass-so this part of the installation will remain prototype only.

How's an aluminum tube-snake running through the left headlight bucket for a signature look? With no room in the fender and little room behind the bumper, this is the only place for a high-flow cold-air intake on the new Mustang.

Charge cooling is another one-off area. Because this car needs to perform only in short bursts, and because vehicle weight is a concern, the charge cooling was built without the water radiator. Also, the reservoir is another Lance-built, oversized unit designed to hold three gallons of water/ice slush. At least the air-to-water heat exchanger is stock Vortech. In practice, the system works great, allowing several dragstrip passes before the water warms to near ambient. Of course, for road racing or street driving, a radiator would be necessary and is included in Vortech's regular-production '05 Mustang High Output kit.

Fuel-system improvements were required to meet the 630-plus horsepower this engine makes at the flywheel. Vortech installed two of its in-tank pumps in the stock '05 Mustang saddle tank. Creative Performance Racing billet fuel rails sourced from Scott Hoag's Mustang Racing Technologies were selected, along with Seimens 60 lb/hr high-impedance injectors. Small wiring jumper harnesses were required at each injector to mate the stock wiring harness to the injectors.

Ford's ignition is strong enough for this power level, but the spark-plug gap was closed from 0.055 to 0.031 inch. No big deal, until you recall the Three-Valve engine uses unusual spark plugs with one-piece, stirrup-like ground electrodes. Vortech made a special plug-gapping tool just for these plugs, and is offering it as a regular accessory.

This air-to-water heat exchanger is the stock part of the charge cooling. Three gallons of iced water in an oversized reservoir and an ultra-flyweight radiator-the kind that isn't there-make up the rest of this surprisingly effective system.

Diablo's Predator handheld flash tuner supplies electronic tuning. Lance and Mike tuned the car on Vortech's in-house chassis dyno, just as they do for standard production Vortech blower kits.

JBA supplied the entire 2 1/2-inch exhaust system, starting with its long-tube headers. Under the car, you'll see cats in the high-flow H-pipe, along with JBA's standard mufflers farther aft, but we're not so sure there's much going on inside those cat housings. As a trailered race car it doesn't matter, and we mention our supposition only because running this much heat and fuel through stock cats isn't advisable due to fire danger, should you attempt to duplicate this race car's performance at home.

Just as the basic engine is dead stock, the remainder of the powertrain is impressively showroom. Centerforce supplied a beefed clutch after Vortech shredded the stocker on the dyno, but the Tremec gearbox is stock save for a shorter Fifth gear. The driveshaft is stock, and the Traction-Lok rear axle is stock but for 4.10 gears from Ford Racing Performance Parts to work with the higher-rpm power the Vortech centrifugal blower supplies. With 31-spline axles stock on new GTs, rear-axle longevity was not a big concern, especially as long as some wheelspin was there to let off the excess steam.

On a Dynojet chassis dyno, the Vortech project Three-Valve produced 552 hp and 495 lb-ft of torque. Vortech used an internally stock Three-Valve engine and 17 pounds of boost to do it. Unleaded race fuel was used exclusively.

With regard to suspension, the car features mainly bolt-on improvements. In deference to the car's streetable mission and other road-course and high-speed testing, the front Ronal wheels and Toyo tires are the heavy stock dimensions (flyweight drag-racing skinnies would have been an effective and easy improvement), and large Stoptech four-piston brakes were fitted. Likewise, Eibach coilover spring/shock units are in all four corners. But Lance disconnected the front sway bar, and fit stiffer rear lower control arms, a Panhard bar, and subframe connectors from BMR. The rear slicks are from Mickey Thompson, while the '03 Mustang Cobra wheels were supplied by FRPP.

Wheelspin was clearly evident during testing, but gave the best times. Obviously, the usual tricks of removing all possible weight and getting on a freshly glued track would pull the e.t.'s into the low-11s; as it is, we think this car demonstrates what big power in a nearly stock '05 chassis can do.

Other items not strictly related to drag performance are Sony tunes installed by Scosche and tastefully subdued graphics by Vinyl Mayhem. They complete a package that is amazingly powerful, reliable, and, in many ways, close to stock. Even the vaunted and much lighter 5.0 LXs had to work harder than this to run deep in the 11s with an internally stock engine, gears, and slicks. Call it progress and, like Disneyland the first time, call it fun.

Stock Stuff
For stock '05 Mustang GTs, Vortech offers:
Kit/Description Retail Est. Installation
Standard Kit
(no charge cooler,
approx. 7-lb boost)
$3,889.95 8 hours
High Output
(adds charge cooling,
approx. 10-lb boost)
$4,995.95 13 hours
Accessories/options (tuner kits, eight-rib drives) are available. CARB E.O. number is pending. The standard blower is the S-Trim.

Photo Gallery

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5.0 Tech specs
4.6L, 281ciFront Suspension
Cylinder HeadsK-member
Stock three-valveStock
Stock Stock
Intake ManifoldSprings
BodyStocEibach coilovers
Power AdderWheels
Vortech V-2 T-Trim High Output kit,18x8.5-in, Ronal
pullied for 17 pounds of boost, Tires
prototype air-to-water charge cooler245/40ZR18, Toyo
JBA long-tube headers, mufflers,Stoptech four-piston caliper,
tailpipes14-in slotted rotors
Fuel SystemRear Suspension
Two 255-lph Vortech in-tankSprings
pumps, CPR/MRT fuel rails,Eibach
60 lb/hr Seimens fuel injectorsShocks
TransmissionEibach coilover
StockControl Arms
RearendBMR lower arms, Panhard bar
Stock 8.8-in, 4.10 gearsWheels
 17x9-in, '04 SVT Cobra
Engine Management17x11.5x26, {{{M}}}/T ET Street
Stock Spanish Oak with DiabloSportBrakes
Predator, Vortech in-house calibrationStock
IgnitionChassis Stiffening
Stock, spark-plug gap reducedBMR subframe connectors
from 0.055 to 0.031 inch