Muscle Mustangs & Fast Fords
Head To Head Supercharger Comparison - Kenne Bell vs ProCharger - Supercharged Slugfest
It's ProCharger vs. Kenne Bell in a battle for drag strip supremacy
What would a supercharger issue be without a little controversy? After all, the companies that comprise this segment of the aftermarket get along with each other about as well as religious fundamentalists and the porn industry. They do everything but bomb each other's factories. Oops, we may have just given someone a very bad idea.
With this in mind, we decided to pull together four of the latest Mustang body style, each with a different aftermarket supercharger. Vortech, ProCharger, Saleen, and Kenne Bell were to be represented. All of the cars had five-speed gear jammer transmissions--no girl-o-matics here--and slicks were strongly suggested.
Well, sometimes things just don't go your way. The Saleen-infused Stang remained in the chassis shop the day of our slugfest, its interior removed in anticipation of its much-needed rollbar.
We then attempted to procure the Windveil Blue faux Saleen seen elsewhere in this weighty tome as a replacement, but it was not available on such short notice.
Then there was the Vortech-fed Roush Stage 2. Resplendent in bright yellow, we had visions of a cover car dancing in our heads. On judgement day, the owner twice called Raceway Park to let us know he was going to be "a little late."
Well, it's now some three months post facto, and we still haven't seen or heard from him. Good thing we didn't leave the lights on.
That left us with a pair of force-fed combatants--the Kenne Bell supercharged GT of John McGowan and Anthony Stoval's ProCharged Pony, both of which are '05 models. The latter was driven on this day by Justin Burcham of JPC Racing in Glen Burnie, Maryland, who built the car.
As usual, our rules were fairly simple and to the point: no gutted interiors, no nitrous, no race-only blowers. We wanted OE transmissions, stock long-blocks, and you could run any gear you wanted in the back.
Both cars were evenly matched. Each had been fitted with a set of 1 5/8-inch long-tube headers, a catalytic mid-pipe system, and after-cat mufflers. A set of 4.10 gears was present in each car's 8.8 and a Centerforce DFX clutch in each bellhousing. The pair also relied on DiabloSport programming for their respective computers. For two vehicles chosen at random, this was shaping up to be a remarkably fair test. They even had identical chin spoilers.
McGowan's hot rod, which you may recall from the NMRA '05 Mustang Shootout we sponsored last year in Columbus, Ohio, sports the latest 2.4-liter Kenne Bell twin-screw blower, feeding a reported 10 pounds of boost into a 100-percent stock bottom end. Thanks to the OE internals, McGowan said he didn't dare turn up the boost further. Still, it spun the Dynojet rollers to 508.7 rwhp and 452 lb-ft of torque.
As his car sees a lot of strip time, McGowan, who operates P&J Speed Shop (North Tonawanda, New York), already replaced the rear shocks with QA1s and the struts with Santuff coilovers. A set of 26x11.5-inch Mickey Thompson ET Streets on 17-inch factory Bullitt rims ensured proper traction. As luck would have it, the Bogart wheels for his opponent's slicks didn't arrive in time for our party, but McGowan was generous enough to let Burcham use his M/Ts on Stoval's Mustang. Without this act of kindness, the playing field would have been ridiculously lopsided.
Stoval's GT leaned more toward the show end of the spectrum. It had never been down the track, and was absolutely immaculate, but its power output was no less menacing than that of the Mineral Gray GT in the other lane. On a Mustang dyno, which typically reports lower rear-wheel numbers than a Dynojet, the 4.6 Three-Valve kicked out 490 hp and 448 lb-ft of torque.
The driving force behind this was a ProCharger P1SC huffing 11 psi of intercooled boost into the mod motor. Except for colder spark plugs and 39-lb/hr fuel injectors, the long-block is completely original.
Same for the suspension. Only a set of Steeda lowering springs differentiate it from the factory setup. This no doubt gave McGowan an advantage. In Stoval's favor, however, was weight, or lack thereof. With Burcham in the driver's seat, the car was 105 pounds lighter than McGowan's. Part of this was the mass differential between the two drivers, the rest was the fact that Burcham decided to run with the spare tire and jack sitting in the staging lanes, while the crew from P&J Speed ran with those items in the trunk. On the street, Stoval rolls on gorgeous Kazzera KZ-A wheels (18x8.5 in the front, 18x9.5 in the rear) and Michelin Pilot Sport tires (255/45s and 275/40s, front to rear).
Helping generate even more excitement was the fact that this was the first MM&FF Shootout of 2006 at Old Bridge Township Raceway Park in Englishtown, New Jersey. Always the home of superb traction, we were blessed with 45-degree temps and super mineshaft air. Our one concern was with only two cars (instead of four), it might be tough to keep heat in the starting line.
Traction was not an issue. Up first was McGowan, who roasted the ET Streets and then crept into the beams. When the lights came down, he blasted out of the hole. He spun a bit, but still stopped the 60-foot clocks in 1.61 seconds. This two-tone Mustang sounded mean as it sped down the track. Ultimately, it crossed the stripe in 11.340 at 122.67 mph.
Then it was back to the lanes for a quickie tire swap. Burcham had the sticky tires on in no time and was in the burnout area shortly thereafter. After a nice, smokey heating of the hides, he was staged. He brought up the revs, sidestepped the clutch, and was off--hard. Sixty feet came up in just 1.528 seconds, but then problems arose. He dialed "two" at 6,500 rpm, but nobody was home.
"The clutch pedal won't come off the floor at full throttle," Burcham reported. He tried a second time for good measure. The 60-foot time fell to 1.520, but the clutch woes were right there again when he tried for Second. Despite missing a gear, it still went 12.35 at 108.98.
This is not how we wanted to start the day--one set of missing wheels, two cars MIA, and now a recalcitrant clutch. Still, we soldiered on.
In the pits, McGowan mounted the M/Ts back on his hot rod, while Burcham went under Stoval's ride to see what he could do to alleviate the problem.
Round 2 saw McGowan back at the line. He ripped off another 1.61 60-foot, but then it was his time to miss a gear--in this instance, Third. Not happy with the resultant 11.806 at 116, he was back in the beams for another go-round. Bam--he clocked his best 60-foot time of the day, a 1.55, but then the engine laid down upstairs.
"I lost the belt," McGowan said.
The post-mortem revealed the factory belt tensioner was no longer in its original shape. When it bent, the belt walked and shredded.
Not deterred, McGowan and his crew burned up the phone lines trying to get a new tensioner and belt. When a search for a new tensioner proved futile, Justin LaMacchia from John's shop took the old one into the trailer and "persuaded" it back to its factory form--or a reasonable facsimile thereof. As the belt is a Kenne Bell-only size and couldn't be found in the local parts store, they had to make do with one that was the incorrect size and try to reroute it.
While the P&J Speed posse was occupied with this, Burcham swapped on the Mickeys and headed for the line. The recipe would call for lift-throttle speed shifts, and while this was not ideal, it beat the heck out of the alternative, which was packing up and going home.
Burcham made lots of pretty tire smoke and inched up to the Raceway Park starting line. Staged, he brought up the revs and let it rip. The result was his first clean pass of the day, an 11.482 at 117.36 (1.52 60-foot). Now we were getting somewhere. This was just 0.12 second behind McGowan's best--quite stout sans powershifting.
While McGowan & Co. thrashed on the two-tone powerhouse, Burcham gave the ProCharged GT a nice cooldown (you don't need much on a 45-degree day) and then headed back to the 1,320. Time was running out, and yours truly still had a cover to shoot. Burcham felt more comfortable and let it loose. The 60-foot time was slightly off from his previous run, but the end result was not: 11.256 at 118.22 (still without powershifting).
"Kenne who?" Burcham shouted as he rolled back near the starting line. He was elated, as were Stoval and his wife.
Less thrilled, for obvious reasons, was McGowan. Despite a myriad of different combinations, he was not happy with his newfangled belt routing. Ultimately, he found a route he was comfortable with, though he said it delivered a pound or two less boost than it was supposed to. Also, the belt was barely touching the alternator pulley, which meant he had one, maybe two, shots to beat Burcham's time before the battery croaked.
One change to keep things even was Burcham allowing McGowan to mount his Bogarts and skinnies. From past experience, we knew this would be worth a tenth, perhaps a hair more, and both cars would be competing on the exact same tires, front and rear.
Strip Specs Owner Anthony D. Stoval Driver Justin Burcham Year/Model '05 Mustang GT Weight w/Driver 3,575 lbs Engine 4.6-liter V-8 (281ci), three valves per cylinder (stock) Built By Ford Motor Company Intake Manifold Stock Power Adder/Boost ProCharger P1SC centrifugal, intercooled/11 psi Ignition Stock Exhaust JBA long-tubes, ceramic coated, 15/8-in primaries, catalytic H-pipe, MagnaFlow after-cat Computer Factory with DiabloSport calibration Transmission Tremec 3650 with Pro-5.0 shifter Clutch Centerforce DFX Rear Factory 8.8 with 4.10:1 gears Suspension Steeda lowering springs; otherwise stock Wheel/Tires Bogart 15x3.5/M/T ET Fronts (26x4.5) (f) Stock Bullitt with 26x11.5x17 (r) Best E.T./MPH 11.256/118.22 Strip Log Run 60-FT 1/4 E.T./MPH Notes 1 1.52 12.354/108.98 missed Second gear 2 1.52 11.482/117.36 3 1.54 11.256/118.22 Strip Specs Owner John McGowan Driver John McGowan Year/Model '05 Mustang GT Weight w/Driver 3,680 lbs Engine 4.6-liter V-8 (281 ci), three valves per cylinder (stock) Built By Ford Motor Company Intake Manifold Kenne Bell Power Adder/Boost Kenne Bell 2.4-liter twin screw, intercooled/10 psi Ignition Stock Exhaust Kooks 15/8-in long-tube headers, catalytic x system; Bassani after-cat Computer Factory with DiabloSport calibration Transmission Tremec 3650 with Pro-5.0 shifter Clutch Centerforce DFX Rear Factory 8.8 with 4.10:1 gears Suspension Santuff coilover struts (f); QA1 shocks, stock springs (r) Wheel/Tires Bogart 15x3.5/M/T ET Fronts (26x4.5) (f) Stock Bullitt with 26x11.5x17 (r) Best E.T./MPH 11.253/123.40 Strip Log Run 60-FT 1/4 E.T./MPH Notes 1 1.61 11.340/122.67 stock front wheels and tires 2 1.61 11.806/116.00 missed Third gear 3 1.55 11.851/98.36 bent factory belt tensioner, shredded belt 4 N/A 11.253/123.40 Bogart skinnies
With time running out, McGowan pulled into the water, did his burnout, and heated his tires. He staged, and as the lights came down, he brought up the revs. On green, he dropped the clutch and nailed the throttle. Three clean powershifts later, he sailed through the lights. The scoreboard read 11.253 at 123.40.
We had a winner.
This may have been the closest shootout we've ever had at MM&FF. Did we prove who had the better blower? No, of course not. At the end, neither driver had extracted the maximum potential from his machine. Had Burcham been able to powershift, he probably could have lowered his e.t.s by two-tenths. Had McGowan been able to replace his belt and route it properly, he may have gone 10s.
Ultimately, what we showed was that you can't go wrong with either supercharger on a Three-Valve Mustang. They both made mad horsepower (refer to the dyno graphs), offer excellent driveability, and can turn a stock Stang into a supercar.