Tom Wilson
January 1, 2010

Work at Hershey's and you can't help but get blasé about chocolate. But we doubt Brian Ellis has such a problem. The wholesale account rep at Vortech Engineering (www.vortechsuperchargers.com) obviously consumes his share of high-performance hardware, but judging from his S197 Mustang, it doesn't seem he's grown tired of the taste.

Built as a spirited daily driver, Brian's ride features a big bump in power and some extra chassis control to make it special but not punishing. Pumped up via a Vortech V-3 Si-Trim supercharger, Griggs Racing suspension bits around the rear axle and a healthy dose of supporting pieces and accessories, the black '06 GT certainly has the stuff. Some low-profile rolling stock and grayed-out sponsor stickers give it showy persona as well.

Of course, in the centrifugal world, all things rotate around the blower, so let's get inside the housing. As Vortech is where Brian spends his day and the quiet-geared, internally lubricated V-3 blower is what his GT is built around. Brian's installation starts the basic V-3 kit, which is now shipped with the improved Si-Trim as standard. This latest wheel yields no less than 78-percent efficiency, a jump of 6 percent over the previous S-Trim, not to mention its advantage over the typical positive-displacement units so often found on Three-Valve Fords these days.

Besides the standard $6,295.95 V-Power blower kit, Brian also chose the optional, larger charge-cooling system. This packs a larger charge intercooler down stream of the supercharger and a larger heat exchanger low and in front of the radiator. And from the sounds of it, Brian's car has a high-capacity blow-off valve for venting the intake tract when the throttle is closed.

Otherwise the engine is essentially stock, although we can give some credit to the Corsa Exhaust after-axle system. Actually there is a bit of the Frankenstein amalgamation in the pipe department, as the car originally had an X-pipe, but it wouldn't fit with the torque arm from Griggs Racing, so it was changed back to an H-pipe. We found the Corsa system remarkably muffled at idle and low speeds, but full-throated when the throttle hit the mat-a nice combination.

Speaking of cosmetics, Brian's treatment includes major customizing parts from Street Scene-bumper cap, skirts, and such-along with a Seibon Carbon cowl-induction hood. Those bits give a street feel tempered by the racy-looking heat exchanger hanging under the bumper. Painting Vortech on the intercooler and to a certain extent the mesh grille seem to add a harder edge, foreshadowing the car's 111-mph quarter-mile performance.

Of course, behind the wheel is the place to make up your mind about a car's hustle, and we didn't waste any time getting into the left seat when it was offered. To cut to the chase, this S197 and centrifugal blower combination ran harder than others we've sampled lately, proving both fast and easy to drive.

In fact, pedaling the rev-happy wheel blower it struck us that the centrifugal supercharger isn't as pervasive in the S197 world; just the opposite of Fox and most SN-95 Mustangs where centrifugal superchargers prevail and positive-displacement blowers are rarer. But it didn't take long to recalibrate our Levi's to the stock power at lower rpm, which works great around town, along with the building midrange and exciting top-end charge. It's a surprisingly linear powerband, with some extra rush at the top end but the transition from off-boost operation from idle to 3,000-plus rpm and the ramping up excitement at higher rpm is smoothly done so there's no notch or big jump in the powerband. She just keeps pulling harder.

And just toodling around Brian's car might as well be stock, which is plenty. We noticed the smallest of driveability stumbles as the engine warmed up, but that was it for fussy manners. Once at operating temp the engine ran faultlessly. After driving hundreds and hundreds of modified Mustangs we're here to say that's good driveability for a hot rod.