Steve Turner
Former Editor, 5.0 Mustang & Super Fords
April 1, 2009
Contributers: Tom Wilson Photos By: Tom Wilson

Horse Sense: Prior to the SEMA show, the naysayers were forecasting a ghost town of empty booths and vacant attendees thanks to the morbid economy. In reality cutbacks were visible, but still a healthy flow of visitors and tons of new product were on hand. It'll take more than semi-strangled economy to kill hot-rodding.

Although a few heavy-hitters such as Holley and BFGoodrich, along with a smattering of mid-level companies, decided not to display at the Specialty Equipment Marketing Association convention, the mood was business as usual. We certainly didn't feel lonely trying to beat our way through the crowds while rushing booth-to-booth to see what was new.

To put numbers to it, there were approximately 100 fewer exhibitors this year at 1,900, and about 17,000 fewer attendees, at 100,000. As there have been far too many tire kickers and sticker-grabbers in recent years, fewer people in the aisles didn't bother us a bit.

So what was new? A fair number of Ford or Mustang items, it turns out. We didn't expect another Mustang parts orgy; it was an in-between year for Mustang gear, after all. The rush to service the red hot S197 market has cooled now that the industry has had four years to fill that parts pipeline, and anticipating the '10 Mustang later this year means a few companies are waiting until the new car hits.

The New Edge Mustangs are in the meaty years of performance modifications, so we saw some new hardcore hot rod parts for them, while Foxes have definitely turned the corner into collector-restorer status while maintaining their evergreen performance credentials. There were a few new Fox restoration parts at SEMA, and at the same time, it's amazing how many companies report the Fox cars remain A-list parts sellers.

Specific highlights were Trick Flow's Two-Valve modular head-finally a serious casting for this affordable engine with unrealized potential. Vortech's new TVS blower was a surprise, and Edelbrock's similar supercharger shows how mainstream forced induction has become. Likewise the introduction of Vortech's new screw blower shows just how big a demand there is for all flavors of boost.

As for Ford itself, their booth was pleasantly basic; we get uneasy whenever viewing lavish displays. And while much of what Ford was pushing at SEMA was bling rather than zing, some was cool nonetheless. Having Ford Racing chief Brian Wolfe rumble out in one of the new Cobra Jet Mustangs was an inspired introduction (even if it did sound like it had a flat lifter or something), and having a factory-built, 10-second Mustang in the stable is obviously great stuff.

Read on to find out what you'll want to buy next year.

SEMA first-timers, as a company anyway, were the crew from Abaco Performance [(877)693.9269; www.abacoperformance.com], who were thrilled with the outpouring of interest in their company's new digital mass air meter, the DBX. Available in three versions ranging from 85 to 97mm in diameter, the Abaco meter can not only car a number of onboard, upgradeable calibrations, but its design also reduces noise in difficult applications, like blow-through supercharger applications, resulting in vastly improved driveability. You can check out our story on the DBX in the March '09 issue (p. 90)

It was the year of the coil-on-plug coil, and ACCEL [(216) 688-8300; www.accel-ignition.com] was on target with Two-, Three- and Four-Valve coils. These feature 10-15 percent more energy than stock coils and help on blower motors, although ACCEL says many go on near stock cars as they are an inexpensive and easy, direct plug-in upgrade. The Two- and Four-Valve coils are $24.99 apiece; the Three-Valves are $34.99 a shot. There are eight-packs at a small discount. Coming this spring are Three-Valve sparkplugs. Competitively priced in the $10 to $12 range, they are silver tipped, with no stirrup (use a conventional ground electrode) so they are adjustable. ACCEL has also added EDIS coil packs for the V6 fans. Besides a higher ignition output, these are available with either horizontal or vertical harness connections, the better to clear blowers or other accessories.

Got up to 2,300 hp you need to feed? If so, Aeromotive's [(913) 647-7300; www.aeromotiveinc.com] baffled, in-tank, universal fuel sump may interest you. It needs fabrication into your fuel tank, but comes with either an A 1000 or Eliminator fuel pump and stainless steel screen pre-filter built in. If you need a Fox Mustang tank, Aeromotive has a pre-welded version for bolt-in installation. The company has also revised its fuel pump controller into a more compact, efficient package that allows you to run a huge fuel pump by situationally managing its voltage.

AFR [(661) 257-8124; www.airflowresearch.com] showed off this rapid prototype of its new 175cc Outlaw Street head, one of a new series of heads designed to service street/strip engines with great torque and razor-sharp throttle response. On the Brand C side of things, they also had a new composite manifold, and company reps hinted that composite Ford manifolds might be in the offing.

Showing off a new high-quality, OEM-appearing cold-air kit for the Ford Shelby GT500 was Airraid [(800) 498-6951; www.airraid.com]. The kit features a one-piece inlet tube, a sealed airbox, and a high-flow air filter. The company also has kits for the S107 GT and V-6, as kits for most '86-'09 Mustangs.

When drag specialist Chris Alston Chassisworks [(916) 388-0288; www.cachassisworks.com] discovered customers were putting their 2-inch lowering Mustang drag strut on street cars they realized there was a market for a stock ride height, coil-over strut. Shown at SEMA and to be available by the end of November 2008, the new strut allows ride height adjustments starting at stock ride height instead of mandating a 2-inch lowering. Everything except the required camber plate is included in the $1,188 retail price; Alston uses the excellent Maximum Motorsports camber plate. The shock is double-adjustable, offering sophisticated tuning to drag, street and even road course cars. Chassisworks is also offering a new Fox Mustang 9-inch coil-over kit using a stout, fabricated-steel 9-inch rear axle housing.

The brightest lure in the APR Performance [(909) 594-3796; www.aprperformance.com] booth was the company's wide-bodied project 'Stang, which showcased the company's nine-piece body kit for the S197 Stallion. However, the bait that really lead Editor Turner into to the booth was APR's Carbign Craft (www.carbigncraft.com) line of carbon-fiber interior gear, which includes a gauge cluster, dash panels, a center console, a Three-Valve plenum cover, Three-Valve fuel rail covers, and sick mirror housings.

Seemingly always rolling out new products, Auto Meter continued that theme with a flurry of new releases, including its Competition Series gauges with always-on High-Def illumination, an Ecometer gauge to track fuel economy, and Elite series gauges with led lighting and full-face redlight illumination. What really caught our eye were its new, racy CAN-based gauges, which streamline the gauge install for lightweight and efficiency.

Americans pioneered the West, the cup holder, and now apparently, WiFi for the car. This is Autonet's [(800) 891-5101; www.autonetmobile.com) in-car WiFi router. It works off 3G and 2.5G cell phone connections; $29 monthly gets you 1 GB per month; $59 monthly scores 5 GB of data. There was no word on what the router itself cost.

It's been a journey but Baer Brake Systems [(602) 233-1311; www.baer.com] has finally assembled the engineering and manufacturing resources to deliver the holy grail of aftermarket brakes; the affordable, performance-oriented six-piston caliper. This new six-piston caliper uses six staggered-size pistons in a two-piece, CNC-billet caliper that's smaller, lighter (just 6 pounds) and most importantly, considerably less expensive than previous six-piston designs. For $1,895 a pair the Baer PRO-PLUS system delivers two 6P calipers, Corvette-based pads, and 13-inch two-piece rotors (14-inch rotors available). The existing $2,995 monoblock six-piston caliper remains in the Baer line-up for racers and the ultimate hardcore crowd. Baer's [(602) 233-1311; www.baer.com] rear brake options now include the T4, a cost-conscious yet stiff four-piston caliper. Another two-piece design it uses widely available pads and costs $1,250 per kit (including rotors). Baer Brake also showed a new line of ceramic brake pads aimed at the usual specialty calipers as well as early domestic calipers used on muscle cars. Said to produce a low-visibility brake dust and a good pedal the pads retail for approximately $125.

Get 70 amps from a 7 lb package with Robert Bosch's [(888) 715-3616; www.boschautoparts.com] ALRACE2 racing alternator. Not Mustang-specific, but good for all-out racing applications.

Fast and Furious aspersions aside, Boss Noss [(801) 785-3413; www.boss-noss.com] came to the show touting a nitrous technology refinement called a Liquid Nitrous Pressure Regulator, which is said maintain constant bottle pressure and eliminate the need for a bottle heater. The company's carbureted systems also feature a Nitrous Powered Fuel Injector to provide the extra fuel. Both systems can be tuned on the fuel side with the Boss Noss Fuel Controller.

Italian brake giant Brembo [(800) 325-3994; www.brembo.com] continues to service the Mustang performance market. At SEMA it released drilled or slotted (but not both) Sport Discs for S197 Mustangs. Pricing is $200 to $220 a pair, except for the approximately $300 GT500 discs.

Righteous cam stutter and more mid- and top-end power-about a 25hp gain-is what you get with Comp's [(901) 795-2400; www.compcams.com] new Thumpr bump sticks for Three-Valve Mustangs. The stock valvesprings are retained, but a Cam Phaser Limiter Kit and some computer tuning are required.

Showcasing a pair of ultra-high-performance tires, Continental Tire debuted its Extreme DW and Extreme DWS tires at the show. The former is designed for maximum grip in the dry and wet, and Conti is so confident you'll approve they are offering a 60-day satisfaction guarantee. Besides the obvious focus on traction, these tires will actually tell you, with visible D and W letters in the tread, when the tire is still optimized for dry or wet conditions. The DWS offers similar dry and wet benefits, but uses a unique tread compound to add capability in the snow as well. An S in the tread lets you know the DWS is still good in the snow.

Durability is the key feature of Crane Cams [(386) 252-1151; www.cranecams.com] Ultra Pro hydraulic roller lifters. Their Mikronite 8620-steel body is stronger and more stable for high-rpm small-block applications. The company also has 29 new cams for Two-Valve, Three-Valve, and Four-Valve modulars, plus 429/460 Fords. All the modular grinds are built on steel billets and induction hardened, and the applications run from Mustangs to trucks, near-stock to hardcore. The Two-Valve cams are under the PowerMax label, the Three-Valve are Zcams, the Four-Valves street/strip grinds and the big-block 460 offerings Special Firing Order shafts with cylinders two and eight swapped in the firing order. That helps with fuel distribution with carbureted single-plane intakes.

Specializing in high-quality hardcore parts, Crower [(619) 661-6477; www.crower.com] was showing three stages of Billet Cam Core Glory camshafts for 4.6/5.4 Three-Valve modular's. Mild-to-wild off the shelf or custom-ground, all on new steel billets, the Crower cams retain full-base-circle geometry. Crower also lists new steel billet connecting rods for Powerstroke diesels and Econo Billet con rods for 4.6 modulars. An H-beam, the Econo Billet is 4340-steel, rated to 700 hp and just $550 for eight.

Besides showing off a working prototype of the long forthcoming Trinity handheld tuner the tuning devils at DiabloSport pitched a surprise as well. The Trinity boasts the usual tuning and diagnostic functions plus a performance calculator, customizable gauges, and datalogging in a attractive package. Taking that theme to the next level is the new device, which Tuner-in-Chief Mike Wesley says will tune anything short of the space shuttle, is the i-1000 inTune, which will be available by the middle next year. This cell-phone-style unit features a touchscreen interface, the usual tuning and diagnostic features, plus the capability to tune any Ford, Dodge, or GM vehicle.

Classic Mustang fans have been buying Scott Drake [(702) 853-2060; www.scottdrake.net] reproduction parts for years, and now it's Fox Mustang fans turn as these '79-'93 door bezels indicate. Besides their own booth at SEMA, The company was showing with Shelby, with which it partnered under the Shelby Performance Parts banner, and they are offering a host of Shelby gear there, including some new five- and six-speed shifters.

Bearing gifts for both the Terminator and S197 crowds the Driveshaft Shop [(704) 633-2380; www.driveshaftshop.com] showed off new Pro-Level axles and hubs for the Terminator's IRS, as well as a slick new two-piece driveshaft for the S197 Mustang, which is said to be lighter and smoother than the stocker while still capable of enduring up to 1,000 hp.

Eagle Specialty Product's [(662) 796-7373; www.eaglerod.com] push at SEMA was ESP Armor, a surface-treatment for crankshafts ($175) and connecting rods ($75). Not shot-peening, but a three-stage tumbling treatment that smoothes the casting, ESP Armor is best thought of as a stress-reliever with a secondary benefit of shedding oil faster than an as-cast part. Eagle says treated parts are less prone to surface rusting when left out in the shop and can add 17-20 hp at higher rpm.

Edelbrock's [(310) 781-2222; www.edelbrock.com] new E-Force supercharger for S197s got plenty of interest, and we got the big tour when we ran into old friend Rob Simon, lead engineer on the Edelbrock blower and late of Saleen. A complete bolt-on package at $5,799 retail, the Eaton Gen VI, TVS-sourced, four-lobe rotor pack makes 466 hp and 439 lb-ft with the stock fuel pump. Everything is included, meaning all manifolding, a throttle body, mass air meter, hardware, and more. We'll have a full article on this interesting water-to-air charge-cooled installation shortly, but our first quick look was reassuring, with the expected Edelbrock attention to detail. February 1, 2009, was the expected on-sale date; a CARB E.O. was pending at press time, but it shouldn't be a problem. Besides the blower, Edelbrock put up a whole board of new S197 parts. At top is a Touring Kit with springs, sway bars and rear suspension links; below are short and long 4.6 water pumps; an EFI nitrous kit, ceramic and Ti-Tech coated short-tube headers, and a single-plane Victor Jr. intake with a fuel rail kit and Victor Series throttle body. Yet another Edelbrock [(310) 781-2222; www.edelbrock.com] newbie is the Pro Flow XT intake manifold. Said to have long enough runners to preserve torque, the new casting uses a 90mm throttle body and is designed for a 1,500-6,500-rpm powerband. Obviously it's designed to work with the matching Edelbrock Pro-Flo XT EFI system.

Here's an old friend we ran across in the Falken Tire booth. It's pilot, drift champion Vaughn Gittin Jr. was on hand as well, but busy as ever. The rad-looking 5.0-liter Four-Valve is listed at 650 hp and 450 lb-ft of torque. Falken is making a name in motorsports, from Formula D drifting to Pikes Peak and starting in 2009 in ALMS sports car racing with Black Swan Racing's Ford GT-R entry in the GT2 class. Yes, the car is a racing version of the recently discontinued Ford GT and not an updated GT40.

Missing the booming throb of your 5.0 with Flowmaster mufflers? Here's your big chance to relive old glories thanks to Flowmaster's [(800) 544-4761; www.flowmastermufflers.com] issuing the same old 40 Series, square-cased muffler in an S197 fitment. Now built with 409S stainless steel, these boxes are direct replacements with a 10-year limited warranty.

Fluidampr [(716) 592-1000; www.fluidampr.com] now has a harmonic damper for '05-and-later 4.6 and 5.4 internally-balanced engines. Unlike earlier Fluidampr units that were anodized-aluminum, this late-model Mustang part is black steel.

Brian Wolfe did a fine job introducing the Mustang Cobra Jet, complete with an unveiling and some high-rpm free revving besides the speech. We're still marveling that Ford is building 25 of these 10-second sweeties. The real thing, the FR500CJ's sport a supercharged 5.4-liter engine, 9-inch rear axle, a choice of five-speed manual or three-speed (!) auto; the cars are NHRA-legal sportsman racers.

Last year Garrett (www.turbobygarrett.com) showed this same GT and Three-Valve turbo kit; this year it was back after winning in NMRA True Street competition. Typical times are 11.59/118 mph with 9 pounds of boost; to run consistent 12s only 5.9 pounds of boost was used. The news is a complete kit for S197 Mustangs for this dual GT28 60RS turbo layout should be ready when you read this. Garrett is developing the "full" bolt-on kit with George Lee at ATP Turbo [(510) 445-1682; www.atpturbo.com]; ATP Turbo already offers the less-complete Garrett "tuner" kit at $2,975.99.

We've always said someone needed to make some cool Fox Mustang models; now GMP [(800) 536-1637; www.gmpdiecast.com] is offering 16 of them. These are fabulous 1/18-scale metal display models. The steering works, everything opens, the seatbelts play in and out; the detail and workmanship is excellent wherever you look. There are various Fox models-GMP typically makes only 1,000 of any model, then moves on-so if you see a color or model you like, lay out $99 and take it home.

Adding to its robust lineup of S197 ignition and suspension gear, Granatelli Motorsports [(805) 486-6644; www.granatellimotorsports.com] flashed this new billet Watt's link for the latest Mustang. The rugged, bolt-on part offers the expected lateral axle control along with an adjustable roll center. If you already have the full GMS suspension on your S197, this is the next logical upgrade.

For all the flaming auto-craziness at SEMA there aren't that many we'd actually want to drive, but this black GT500 in the Griggs Racing [(707) 939-2244; www.griggsracing.com) booth is an exception. A customer's ride, it carried a full GR-40 A-arm and coil-over suspension, Kirkey seats, and a driver data acquisition system. It ought to have the chassis to match the prodigious GT500 power.

Given the economic climate around the time of the SEMA show, it was great to see an attractive, but affordable S197 body package from Grip Tuning [(800) 435-1197; www.griptuning.com]. This seven-piece body upgrade kit features a front splitter, rear valance, side skirts and rear spoiler for only $499. Grip also a retro strip package for the Mustang; it's available in red, blue, black, onyx, silver, yellow, green, and purple.

A quick stock at Hedman Hedders confirmed the legacy header maker was moving into stainless steel header production in 2009. Starting with early Mustangs, but moving to the latest generations as quickly as possible, Hedman will be delivering a new line of stainless units across its model line.

If you just can't get enough billet in your S197 interior, check out Hot Rod Air's [(877) 693-3200; www.hotrodair.com] parts. They are direct replacements for your stock vents and are available in brushed-aluminum or polished finishes.

For a fun bit of overkill, consider Sean Hyland's 1,050hp 5.4 modular stuff into a Cobra kit car. Built around one of Sean Hyland Motorsport's [(519) 421-2291; www.seanhylandmotorsport.com] own aluminum race blocks, dry-sumped and topped with a Kenne Bell screw blower, this little bit of thrust costs right around $50 large. But it runs on E85 and looks good with the polished KB "Mammoth" up top. Sean was jazzed about picking up Shelby mod shop status, too. He's the only one in Canada so ordained.

Showing off a slick iPhone/iPod Touch OBD-II interface for its new diagnostic was Innovate Motorsports [(949) 5028400; www.tuneyourengine.com]. Known primarily for its wideband O2 sensors, Innovate keeps expanding its product line. A few other of its new gadgets at SEMA were its closed-loop fuel and ignition controller, the FC-1 Fuel Injection Controller, and its G2 and G3 gauge lines.

Some people must still go for the locomotive wheel look as there were a few show Mustangs so equipped this year. But the fad has definitely peaked, with reduced numbers of such extreme fitmets visible. These are 245/30R-22 Kumhos [(800) 445-8646; www.kumhousa.com] on a Giovanna [(800) 307-8708; www.wtwcorp.com] rim.

Melling's oil pump line is extensive to say the least, and now its added a third modular V-8 pump. It's anodized with a cast-iron cover and comes with multiple springs to adjust the oil pressure-handy when adding more lines, fittings, coolers, and other pressure-robbing accessories. These pumps are offered under the Melling Select [(517) 787-8172; www.mellingselectperformance.com] brand.

If you run a tightly strung blower and still want to run an electric water-pump on your mod motor, Meziere [(760) 746-3273; www.meziere.com] has the pump for you: the Ford Modular Extreme Duty Electric Water Pump, which features a "robust" idler for high blower-belt tension.

You may know Mid America Motorworks [(217) 540-4200; www.mamotorworks.com] for its Corvette or VW parts. Now, under its Performance Choice in-house brand, the company is getting into the Fox restoration business. At SEMA the company had just these prototype floor mats (the licensing hadn't been finalized at show time), but there are more parts coming.

There was not a Ford version of Moroso's new Dura Billet multi-phase distributor for small-blocks on hand, but they listed it in the new products section. It's a premier-level, pure-race piece listing for $1,250. Moroso [(203) 453-6571; www.moroso.com] also shows a new axle-back muffler kit for '05-'08 Mustangs in their catalog. It's a Spiral-Flow design; Moroso says it flows 18 percent more air than stock and doesn't boom. The company probably had more new part numbers for Mustangs than anyone. There was a new line of black-coated, front-sump, street- and road-race oil pans for small-blocks; new 4.6/5.4 oil pans; a whole series of Mustang-specific coolant, expansion, charge cooler, and power steering tanks in sturdy aluminum; even a small-block valve-cover gasket, a universal towhook, fabricated FE valve covers, and more. The 7-quart modular oil pan shown here is for drag- and roarace applications, with a diamond trap door, baffling, plus a 1/2-inch bung for a supercharger oil-drain back-fitting and another for an oil-temperature sender. It fits Foxes to S197s, uses the stock dipstick (accurately) and pickup tube. The various coolant tanks look great for replacing the plastic, fragile, split-prone '96-'04 Ford stockers, while the small-block valve cover gasket boast a steel insert; perfect for whenever the valve covers come off all the time. Not shown here is Moroso's new 351W drag race oil pan with clearance for four-bolt mains. Definitely a company to check out. Moroso's chassis line is Competition Engineering [(203) 458-0542; www.competitionengineering.com], they also showed plenty of new Mustang product. Foremost is a 5-inch diameter driveshaft loop for modern large-diameter aluminum shafts; both street and race rear lower control arms; and, get this, subframe connectors for '05-and-later Mustangs.

There's nothing new in the hardware, but with the proliferation of Ford crate engines, MSD [(915) 57-5200; www.msdignition.com] has packaged up complete ignition kits, to including a Ready-to-Run distributor, Blaster SS coil, 8.5mm wires, separators and distributor hold-down. The best part is the kits are priced at a savings over the individual prices at $620 per kit. Ask for a Ready-to-Run Ford Crate Ignition Kit. Tuners using aftermarket engine management such as FAST, Big Stuff, and others, typically still need a distributor. To that end, MSD [(915) 57-5200; www.msdignition.com] now offers the Cam Sync Distributors for all but FE pushrod V-8s (okay, probably no Y-block distributors, either). The distributor incorporates both magnetic and Hall-effect sensors, plus the LED lamp we're looking at here. It lights up when the distributor is turned to the #1 terminal; a help when getting the electronic systems dialed in. Like everyone else in the sparks trade, MSD [(915) 57-5200; www.msdignition.com] was showing coil-on-plug coils. They say there's no real gain with these on naturally-aspirated mills, but the blower engines definitely perk up with these. Also in the MSD booth was the new 6AL-2 spark box and ignition control. It offers a programmable boost-referenced ignition curve with laptop interface and MSD's Pro-Data software, two rotary dial-controlled rev limiters (one for over-speed, the other for launch limiting), higher energy output and a new cast-aluminum case.

Regular readers know we've had great success with Nitto's [(800) 648-8652; www.nittotire.com] NT555 and NT01 series tires, and we were excited to examine Nitto's new NT05 summer max performance radial. Designed for ultra dry weather street performance-with some road course utility as well-the NT01 is aimed at hard-charging street and track drivers. We'll test a set on our track car soon; Mustang-friendly fitments in 17-20 inch diameters are expected in the first quarter of 2009.

PRW added small-block Ford rockers to their stainless steel line this year. Performance Racing Warehouse [(714) 792-1000; www.performanceracingwarehouse.com] lists the rockers at $360 per set; various ratios are available and construction is conventional, with needle bearings. Built from rigid, high-yield-strength steel, these rockers seem good for durability applications, including long-lived street use.

It was just a glance as we were running down the aisles, but noticed Pertronix [(909) 599-5955; www.pertronix.com] is offering bronze drive gears for racers mixing and matching their iron and steel camshafts and distributors.

To celebrate the release of their P Zero Nero All Season tire, Pirelli asked Chip Foose to do a little something with their tire. He responded with this '09 premium edition V-6 convertible wearing 19x8-inch front and 19x9-inch rear DFS Foose wheels with matching 245/45-19 and 275/40-19 Nero's. Foose decked the otherwise stock cruiser with his Stallion body kit, a custom paint job and positively glowing white interior by Stitchcorp. Then he handed the keys to his wife, keeping the work in the family.

Sorta cute, but $103 is Proform's [(586) 774-2500; www.proformparts.com] compact adjustable, aluminum AN wrench set. The smaller of the pair handles -3 to -8 fittings; the larger goes -10 to -20. The small size helps in tight spots, of course; the aluminum construction won't deform the fittings (just the wrench).

Prothane [(714) 979-4990; www.prothane.com] has two new Mustang part numbers. For S197s there are front control arm bushings and brackets; these replace the liquid-filled stock bushing. Prothane also has urethane bushings for '99-'04 Cobra IRS rear suspensions.

Headlined by a new bumpsteer kit and caster-camber plates for S197 Mustangs, QA1's [800-721-7761; www.qa1.net] lineup with robust with new parts, including a new line of double-adjustable shocks.

Our pals at Raceskinz [02057a8.netsolhost.com] expanded its lineup of ultra-sexy carbon fiber stripe packages to include a kit for the GT500KR, joining the standard GT500 and Shelby GT kits in the company's lineup. The KR on display also highlighted the company's new carbon-fiber-lidded rear-seat-delete kit, Ford GT-style front seat upgrade, and carbon rear valance applique. The stripe kits are coming to for under the Shelby Performance Parts moniker.

Last year Roush Performance [(800) 597-6874; www.roushperformance.com] unveiled its P-51A at the SEMA show, this year it was the P-51B. Just 51 of these most-powerful-ever Roush cars will be built at $65,800 apiece; specifications are nearly identical to the 510hp P-51A, save for detail improvements. One such is the move to Cooper Zeon RS3 tires, said to be a worthy dry-weather specialized performer with a back-up wet weather ability. Look for the Cooper on all future Roush Mustangs.

Gadget freaks will be lining up to sell their wired tuners so they can upgrade to this sexy piece of tech from SCT [(407) 774-2447; www.sctflash.com], the Touch Screen Xtreme. This device has a base station that plugs into your car's OBD-II port. You can then hold or mount the touch screen where you like, and transmit tunes to the base station via Bluetooth. One the tunes are briskly downloaded to the base, they are then flashed to the car's processor. The Touch Screen Extreme also handles the expected diagnostic and datalogging functions.

Speaking of 'ol Carroll, it just wouldn't be a SEMA show without him showing up somewhere. This year we need looked no further than the Shelby booth where he helped announce his company's sponsorship of the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Las Vegas. The race will lengthened by 18 laps to make it the "Shelby 427"; collateral action includes the inevitable "Las Vegas Motor Speedway Limited Edition Shelby 427 package for the Ford Shelby GT500 Mustang." Owners of '07 and '08 Super Snakes can purchase the "pace car upgrade" by emailing shelby427@lvms.com. And you can guess how many of these upgrades will be available: 427.

No doubt a spin-off from Shelby production cars, Shelby Performance Parts [(702) 405-3509; www.shelbyperformanceparts.com] showed a bumpsteer kit for S197 Mustangs. Priced at $159.99 the tie-rods feature aluminum construction, rod end bearings and the all-important Shelby logo. Down in the booth we took a double take when poking inside the red Shelby GT500 Super Snake standing guard. Turns out it is a righthand-drive conversion for the Australian market by Crossover Car Conversions [00 61 3 9753 5822; www.crossover-car.com.au].

Putting on quite a display at SEMA, Silverhorse Racing [(321) 722-2813; www.silverhorseracing.com] had its project car and a nice group of new products on display, including a GT/CS grille insert, and Tru-Billet Switch Control Plates in chrome and satin finishes. The plates are not just overlays, but complete replacements, and Silverhorse reports that it takes a specialized CNC machine to create these masterpieces.

If you are looking for an OEM-style way to add GPS and Bluetooth speakerphone capability to your ride, Azentek's [(810) 694-4500; www.axentek.com] sleek SmartMirror setup offer both products in a replacement rearview mirror assembly.

If you want to get better mileage, Snow Performance's [866-365-2762; www.snowperformance.net] new Boost Cooler MPG-MAX is said to offer up to a 9-percent improvement in fuel economy. Snow also showed off a pair of new methanol injection controllers, including one that reads of the vehicle's mass air meter.

If you want to secure the boost fittings in your big-boost race car, Synapse Engineering [(858) 457-1700; www.synapseengineering.com] offered up Synapse Boost Connect fittings and hoses designed to stay leak-free in boosted environments.

Crafty as ever, Tein [(562) 861-9161; www.tein.com]--that's TEchnically Innovation-displayed this fine-looking GT with a host of Tein gear, plus a ProCharger blower. The $200 gas lift struts for the hood caught our eye; recent experience with hood struts has us spoiled for them. A little deeper was Tein's new cockpit adjustable coil-over suspension. Stepper motors atop the shocks allow in-flight shock adjustments.

Our friends over at TMI/Classic Interiors [(800) 624-7960; www.tmiproducts.com] are working hard to expand their line of Fox Mustang restoration gear. The latest additions are a full complement of replacement headliners, plus exact-reproduction door panels for '87-'93 Foxes. They also have added vintage Pony-style upholstery for Fox seats.

If you want to hide your license plate number from potential thieves at the car show or cruise night, check out Switchable License Plate Film, which you can engage with the push of a remote button, from Tric Plate [(954) 328-9507; www.tricplate.com].

The most interesting part in the whole show was the new Twisted Wedge [(330) 630-1555; www.trickflow.com] street/strip head for 4.6/5.4 Two-Valves. The alloy head boasts re-canted valves for vastly improved breathing and a much thicker deck. We'll be testing this head for sure, but the preliminary evidence is definitely reassuring. Core specs are a 38cc or 44cc chamber, 185cc intake port, and 1.840x1.450-inch valve package, and it accepts all stock hardware and manifolding. Trick Flow already makes so many Ford heads-they have 14 small-block heads already-that they're ready to fill in the gaps. Hence this Cleveland street/strip piece. Good for making Clevors (check out the new Edelbrock intake manifolds) as well as hot 351 Clevelands, 351M and 400Ms, the new aluminum heads feature 190 cc intake ports, 62cc chambers and 2.080x1.600-inch valves. No price was given. Saying they can nearly match CNC-ported head numbers with careful standard production practices, Trick Flow released its Fast As Cast small-block Ford head. A street strip piece with 190ccx60cc ports and 2.020x1.600-inch valves, it sports CNC-ported 64cc chambers but as-cast ports. Retail is $1,450 for the pair, assembled.

The Ford 5.0 Mustang Platinum Series Water Pump from Tuff-Stuff Performance [(216) 961-1800; www.tuffstuffperformance.com] is available in chrome, polished, or powercoated form. Not only does it look good, but it is said to provide 30-percent more flow.

If huge turbos are your thing, Turbonetics [(805) 581-0333; www.turboneticsInc.com] is singing your tune with the Turbonetics TNX-122, a massive, heavy-duty ceramic-ball-bearing turbo designed to support over 2,500 hp.

Vortech [(805) 247-0226; www.vortechsuperchargers.com] is now the only company to offer both centrifugal and screw-type superchargers. At SEMA Vortech showed this display GT 500 Four-Valve arrangement which was little more than a prototype VL Series blower sitting atop the stock manifold. The extremely tricky-to-build blower internals are from Lysholm; first Vortech VL fitments are Chevy trucks and GT500 and GT500KR Shelbys. Vortech is working on 2.3- and 3.3-liter fitments, 20 pounds of boost are definitely possible. Expect water-to-air charge cooling, Diablo Predator tuning and both bolt-on and tuner kits. When they arrive they'll be complete, including a 3-year/36,00 mile limited warranty.

Australian speed outlet Whiteline [00 61 2 4340 2355; www.whiteline.com.au] had a full sway bar and chassis brace arrangement-chassis control they call it-for S197 Mustangs in the new products showcases. It works with the Whiteline Rock kit that reorganizes the front roll center with special balljoints and tie rod ends to reduce front body roll.

At Wilwood Engineering [(805) 388-1188; www.wilwood.com] the news was this 13-inch rear disc brake for S197 Mustangs. Detailed to fit the .8-inch rear axle, the 12.88-inch diameter, .810-inch thick disc and sliding caliper are designed for 17-inch or larger wheels. Options are slots, drilled or both, along with a few color options on the powdercoated calipers. A mechanically-actuated parking brake is included in the approximately $1,000 per axle price.

Piston specialist Wiseco [(440) 951-6600; www.wiseco.com] says demand for modular engine pistons is high, and they've finally brought five Two-, Three- and Four-Valve pistons to market. These forgings use full skirt coatings and compact 1.0 x 1.2 x 2.8mm ring packages. Most intriguing is this flat top for Two-Valves with Trick Flow Twisted Wedge heads; it should be a good seller.

All-out racers who can't keep their heads on will be interested in World Products [(631) 981-1918; www.worldcastings.com] new 6-bolt Man-O-War 10-degree small-block heads. Two extra head stud holes per cylinder help withstand blowers and nitrous, while huge 2.250 x 1.625-inch valves and equally voluminous 255cc and 275cc intake ports show this is a pure race piece. Heads are sold bare or complete, including Manley stainless steel valves and ARP hardware. If you need a six-bolt block to go under these heads, World Products has their existing cast iron Man-O-War block to suit, along with a new aluminum version of it. It features the extensive strengthening and oiling improvements associated with these championship blocks, along with optional main bearing sizes, 8.2 or 9.5-inch deck heights, etc. Going the other direction, World also announced a new 18-degree small-block head-with four-bolt retention. Runner volume is 200 or 235cc, with 2.055 x 1.600-inch or 2.100 x 1.625-inch valves. Chambers are all 64cc; valve lifts to .700-inch are accommodated.

Black is the new purple over at Zex [(888) 817-1008; www.zex.com] thanks to its sleek new Blackout Nitrous Systems for carbureted and EFI vehicles. The nitrous tech is the same effective, easy-to-install setup as before, with the black-goes-with everything aesthetic, including some sweet, carbon-fiber-look hoses.

For as much gee-whiz coverage the SEMA show receives, many principle SEMA facts are not well known outside the industry. Here's a bullet-point primer:

SEMA: Specialty Equipment Market Association
Number of member companies: 7,358
Member companies gross business revenues: $38.1 billion
2008 Official Vehicle: '10 Chevrolet Camaro
Number of OEMs displaying at the show: 15, representing 32 nameplates
Approximate number of displays at the show: 1,900
Approximate show attendance: 100,000
Exhibitors in Tires & Wheels: 320
Exhibitors in Mobile Electronics: 165
Exhibitors in Racing & Performance: 475
Largest diameter wheel displayed: 42-inch Lexani

Core values at SEMA revolve around the traditional U.S. activities at the dry lakes, drag racing, musclecars, and street rods. In later years, the import, off-road and bling lifestylers have come to the party with varying success, and now the trend is green.

Green-what used to be called the ecology movement-resonates today, and thus SEMA is on it. This year SEMA's eco-experimentation resulted in a "Making Green Cool" press conference. This was right after a technology briefing seminar, "The Green Scene: Clean Diesels, Wild Hybrids, and Muscle Electrics." How much of this will stick through a changing economy is yet to be seen, but it's certainly a sign that mainstream societies move toward ecological sustainability is hitting the performance world.

Something else that we've never seen that was scattered throughout the legacy performance parts makers are price reductions. Often on simple things such as stamped steel valve covers, we noted enough price reductions in the 5-15 percent range to make it a small trend.

You can file the following excerpts from a SEMA press release in the "Glad to be an American" folder.

"In a historic decision reached in August 2008, the (communist) Chinese government lifted a ban on specialty equipment products, making it legal for consumers in China to personalize and modify their vehicles. This decision has opened the door for SEMA member and non-member companies to tap into the world's second largest automotive market, estimated at $15 billion.

"There were over 4.3 million vehicles sold in China in 2007, and in the first seven months of 2008, there had already been a 26 percent increase over the same period last year.

"The market in China for aftermarket accessories and performance parts is estimated at $15 billion, with street tuning accounting for $125-$150 million, off-road modification at $50 million, and what's referred to as "car beauty" at $12.5-$15 billion.

"The Chinese government officially legalized over 500 products that cover all segments of the SEMA industry...

"The U.S. Embassy predicts sales of $23 billion in this sector by 2010, and some predict China to become the largest car market in the world by 2025.

"Three top Chinese agencies collaborated to legalize and deregulate automotive accessories throughout the country: the Chinese Ministry of Commerce, the National Development and Reform Commission, and the Ministry of Public Security."

We may have a Department of Homeland Security, but at least they don't regulate camshafts and floor mats. Yet.

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