Tom Wilson
November 1, 2008
Mention a V-6 Mustang and this isn't the mental image that comes to mind. It is, however, fall-off-a-log easy with the X-Charger pumping up the torque. The smoke is for real; the hoodscoop is for fun.

For the seven states not requiring California emissions compliance, Explorer Express offers the high-output kit. It differs from the standard kit by replacing the GT airbox with an open-element air filter, an Explorer intake hose, and a slightly larger 4mm mass air meter housing.

Standalone options are aimed at those folks who must have all the toys and those counter-culturists who insist on trying to make a V-6 do a V-8's job. These parts include smaller blower pulleys and more aggressive custom tuning from BamaChips.

One item standard with every blower is a straightforward installation. The blower sits atop the engine-where all your buddies can see it-and is supplied with an Explorer Express intake manifold. The majority of the install approximates an intake manifold swap.

As a high-output installation, the X-Charger causes a net weight gain of only 45 pounds. Similar to the rest of the V-6 engine, almost every ounce of that is behind the front-axle centerline. Bill's coupe benefits from custom BamaChip tuning and puts down 304 hp to the rear tires.

At the front of the engine, a thick plate is added to mount pulleys and provides a nose support for the supercharger. The nose support is likely overkill, but it was suggested to Dave by Bruce Griggs to guarantee the blower and its belt loads don't compromise gasket sealing at the rear of the intake manifold.

No engine accessory is moved for the installation, nor are any holes drilled or brackets ground; there isn't even a need to jack up the car. The blower carries its own lubrication, so there's no oil plumbing to deal with. It's also not necessary to get into the fuel tank and install a second fuel pump. The result is a 6- to 10-hour installation, Dave says. As always, we're pessimists-or optimists with experience-when it comes to gauging installation times, so we'll stick to our typical "all-weekend" advice when tackling a job this size. That seems accurate for the first-time amateur, although we agree that rapid wrench-benders out there should be able to handle this in a day. Dave says with his repeated experience, he has the install down to five hours but that shops should quote eight hours. Individuals have reported anything from 7- to 17-hour installs.

In any case, Explorer Express includes a thorough installation manual that can be downloaded from the company's Web site should you wish to preview the work. Dave says the manual is nearly too step-by-step, but its completeness means he receives almost no tech phone calls.

Explorer Express experimented with several air inlets to its Eaton/Magnuson supercharger, finally selecting this parallel arrangement called the inlet extension. Its location and shape were chosen to minimize intake air heat absorbed from the exhaust manifolds, something it does 20 degrees better than earlier designs. Large 30-lb/hr fuel injectors mean there's plenty of fuel on hand for extra cooling.

We were able to give the silver coupe in the pictures the old burnout-around-the-block test drive, and we have nothing but good things to report. Driveability is stock, and the Eaton blower is its usual quiet self until called upon. You really have to listen for the blower at idle or cruise. When you romp on it, the blower screams like a banshee, adding to the fun. The power is exactly as if the engine were much larger; the hit off idle is instant, big, and stays with you until redline. It's a stronger feeling than the stock Three-Valve V-8 in the Mustang GT, meaning there is plenty of fun on tap. The high-torque personality is also a natural with automatic transmissions, a real plus with commuter cars.

We didn't get a chance to test any fuel-mileage claims, but giving the bypass valve allows the blower to essentially freewheel when not making boost. Explorer Express' statement that it takes only one third of a horsepower to rotate the blower off-boost seems in the ballpark. Dave says he gets 25 mpg on the highway, which also seems correct. Premium fuel is required.

As blower kits go, the standard Explorer Express kit is reasonably priced at $3,995.95. The cold-air intake is something we'd like to have, as it helps the blower breathe; that sets you back $200. From there, you're la carte with pulleys and tuning, so knock yourself out. For our commuting and errand needs, or even for a fun weekend machine, we recommend the standard boost first. We have so much fun passing gas stations that we don't want to stop for anything more.