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.

Also good for launch control at the strip is the softer bottom-end torque. The ultra-low profile tires are not launch-friendly because there is so little sidewall to wrap up, so hitting these tires with massive torque during a standing start would prove nothing more than an all-expenses paid trip to wheelspin city. As it is, the Motor Trend testers were able to control torque delivery with rpm at the launch, with somewhat over 4,000 rpm working well.

No one from the testing crew said much about the clutch or shifting, which is a good sign. Our street evaluation put the clutch feel, weight, and travel right around stock, so the twin-disc Fidanza doesn't add inertia to the shifts. The Hurst shifter, of course, had a touch of buzz, but it returned to its admirably mechanical feel and barely sticky effort pulling out and into gear. It's one of those items we like despite its aural presence because it's so positive and has a steel-on-steel feel.

We thought the 3.55 gearing might prove a bit tall with the Vortech blower, but not so. These freeway-friendly cogs proved a fine street/strip compromise, returning good fuel economy on the street and strong pulling power as long as the tach is kept in the upper range.

Some unexpected fun came from the bypass valve, which goes about its business with the subtlety of a steam locomotive idling in your living room. Shift gears at relatively large throttle openings and you get a satisfyingly loud whoosh, or in our case, hold a steady, intermediate throttle opening around a highway cloverleaf and get an earful all the way around the turn. It's fun while it's new, and if you have to explain too much about it to your date, then it helps identify the future PTA overachievers.

Speaking of cloverleaves, the Griggs torque arm and Panhard bar definitely help. This partial suspension modification gives Brian's car extra stability at launch and in the turns, plus the low-profile tires improve turn-in feel. Together the chassis mods complement the extra power, making the car fast and secure. Braking is powerful from the big Baer clampers, with high-torque easily on tap and, of course, no fear of fade. We noted good pedal feel in our drive notes, with nicely raised pedal effort and just a hair of sticktion on brake release. That's typical Ford vacuum-booster feel, so nothing new there.

In short, it was fun to rekindle an old affair with a hard-running centrifugal blower. The characteristic ramp up in power really is a bit more stimulating than the dead-flat torque curves of positive-displacement blowers, so it's a fun combination to drive. A flavor we're sure Brian still enjoys.

By The Numbers
Our friends at Motor Trend were kind enough to run Brian's car through their acceleration tests plus provide us with their numbers for a Shelby GT-500 KR previously tested as a benchmark. Brian's Vortech-assisted car ran respectable times given it is 50 ci down to the KR and is running daily-driver 3.55 gearing.

  BRIAN' GT GT500 KR
MPH Seconds Seconds
0-30 1.7  
0-40 2.4  
0-50 3.4  
0-60 4.4 4.3
0-70 5.4  
0-80 7.0  
0-90 8.6  
0-100 10.2 9.7
¼-mile 12.7 at 111.3 mph 12.5 at 114 mph
40-65 1.9  

Test notes: 18-psi in rear tires, 85 degrees ambient temperature. Launch "tricky with 4,000-5,000 rpm; a tenth or two left in this combination with harder launch," track not VHT-prepped.

2006 GT
5.0 Tech Specs
Engine and Drivetrain Block Aluminum Ford
Bore 3.554-in
Stroke 3.800-in
Displacement 5.0 Liters, 302 Ci
Crankshaft Stock
Rods Stock
Pistons Stock
Camshafts Stock
Heads Stock
Intake Stock
Injectors 60-Lb/Hr
Power Adder Vortech V-3, Si-Trim supercharger
Intercooler Vortech water-to-air, upgraded charge intercooler and heat exchanger
Exhaust Corsa after-cat with 4-inch tips
Transmission Stock five-speed close-ratio manual, Hurst shifter
Flywheel Fidanza aluminum
Clutch Fidanza 8 3/4-inch twin-disc
Rear Axle 8.8-inch axle, 3.55:1 ratio

Electronics
Engine Management Vortech tune via DiabloSport Predator
Ignition Msd Blaster Coils
Instruments Cobalt digital boost, fuel pressure, pyrometer instruments in center-dash gauge pod

Chassis And Suspension
Front Suspension
K-Member Ford
Control Arms Ford
Springs Griggs Racing Coilover
Struts Griggs Racing Koni Yellow Coilover
Caster/Camber Plates Ford
Brakes Baer six-piston calipers w/14-inch Eradispeed drilled and slotted rotors, stainless steel lines, Ford ABS
Wheels Konig Beyond, 20x9-inch
Tires Toyo Proxes T1R 275/30ZR-20
Rear Suspension
Springs Griggs Racing
Shocks Koni Yellow
Control Arms Griggs Racing Lower
Brakes 13-Inch Baer, Eradispeed Rotors
Wheels Konig Beyond, 20x9-Inch
Tires Toyo Proxes T1R 305/30ZR-20