Muscle Mustangs & Fast Fords
Supercharger Shootout - Brothers In Arms
In This Supercharged Slugfest, We Find Out What 20 PSI Of Boost Is Worth On An '03 Cobra, An '05 GT, And A Shelby GT500.
Step By StepView Photo Gallery
Given its humble, normally aspirated beginnings, the Three-Valve GT motor was never designed with forced induction in mind. Where the Terminator and GT500 motors would easily withstand 20 psi of boost, we could hardly expect the same from the GT motor. To level the playing field, we augmented the GT motor with a suitable reciprocating assembly. The stock components were removed and replaced with forged components from Sean Hyland Motorsport. This included a Cobra steel crank, forged connecting rods, and forged pistons that duplicated the stock compression ratio. We could have dropped the static compression, but we wanted to run the test in stock configuration with the only addition being the required stronger rotating assembly. Besides, with only three valves per cylinder, the GT motor was already at a deficit compared to the Four-Valve Cobra and bigger GT500 motor. We hoped the higher static compression and variable cam timing would help offset the valve count. As it turned out, the Three-Valve motor more than held its own.
All three of the supercharger kits run on the GT, Cobra, and GT500 featured air-to-water intercooler systems. The Kenne Bell supercharger was installed along with the Mammoth intake manifold, 4.5-inch intake tubing and MAF and the dual 75mm throttle body. The GT also required a Mafi a, FRPP fuel pump kit (with dual BAP) and 60-pound injectors. The GT motor was equipped with a 6.5-inch crank pulley and 3.0-inch blower pulley to produce the requisite 20 psi of boost. Note that the blower speed (drive ratio of 2.17) was lowest on the GT motor.
Fed 20 psi of boost from the Kenne Bell blower, the Sean Hyland GT motor produced 704 hp at 6,500 rpm and 607 lb-ft at 4,700 rpm. Like the Terminator and GT500 motors, the power output was still climbing at 6,500 rpm. Though the peak power outputs were similar between the two 4.6L motors, it was the Three-Valve that produced much more average power. Torque production on the GT motor was up by 28 lb-ft over the Terminator. Is this enough to make up for the weight difference between the '03 Cobra and the new GT? Only a trip to the strip would settle that argument, but for now, know that the GT motor can more than hold its own against the Four-Valve contingent--at least those displacing 4.6 liters, that is.
'07 5.4L GT500
756 HP at 6,200 RPM
684 LB-FT of Torque at 4,800 RPM
Pulley Combination 7.5 Crank/2.75 Blower (2.73 Drive Ratio)
Looking back to the recent past, we see the T-bird Super Coupe as a possible predecessor of the current crop of supercharged Stangs, but credit probably belongs to the Lightning for starting the current mod-motor mania. Though saddled with the more-restrictive Two-Valve cylinder heads, the Lightning was blessed with an abundance of displacement compared to the Mustangs.
With 5.4 liters of displacement (330 ci), the Lightning motor combined displacement with the immediate boost response of the Roots-style blower to produce one exceptionally torquey machine. We know now that Ford soon introduced the Terminator and all but one-upped the valve-challenged Lightning motors, but the Terminator was still down on displacement. It wasn't until Ford introduced the ultra-exotic, all-aluminum GT supercar that we saw the proper combination of displacement with the high-fl owing Four-Valve heads.
Luckily for enthusiasts, Ford saw fit to drop a version of that motor in the Mustang we now know as the GT500. Though missing the aluminum block, the dry-sump oiling, and the twin-screw supercharger of the GT motor, the GT500 still offered plenty of performance. Compared to the previous Terminator motor, the GT500 mill offers more displacement, a larger Roots-style blower, and free-flowing cylinder heads. Time and technology march on, and we enthusiasts get to reap the rewards.