Steve Turner
Former Editor, 5.0 Mustang & Super Fords
August 10, 2010
Photos By: Paul Rosner

This was the cutting edge of Copperhead tuning at the time the car was released, as many of the commercial tuning companies had not released tuning for the '11 Mustang. With that in mind, these learning endeavors will result in ready-made Evo tunes ready to ship when the '11 flash tools are ready to ship. That will no doubt happen by the time you are holding this issue in your hands.

During that maiden voyage down the track, Nelson Whitlock quickly learned that wheelhop was still part of the Mustang landscape despite some changes in the factory suspension geometry. To cure that ailment, Evolution installed its complete suspension, including an '11-compliant upper control arm, which was designed longer anyway. On the engine side, the '05-and-up cars benefitted from a K&N drop-in filter, which added a couple ponies on its own, and that custom tuning. Those mods accounted for an increase in rear-wheel horsepower to 384 hp and 368 lb-ft of torque.

Though it had more power and a better suspension, the Evo '11 retained the stock wheels and tires and the heavy Brembo brakes. All told, it clocked in at 3,824 pounds with Nelson behind the wheel and a tank full of gas. In this configuration, it was time to return to the dragstrip. After the initial trip to Cecil County Raceway in Maryland, the Evo crew practically lived at Atco Raceway ( in Atco, New Jersey. On this trip, the freshly modded GT ripped off a series of 12-second passes on those factory tires, including a best pass of 12.85 at 111 mph with a 2.0-second 60-foot. A quick switch to Bogart rear rims and Mickey Thompson ET Streets dropped that to 12.49 at 112.55 mph with a 1.80-second 60-foot.

Elevens were looming, so it was time to get more serious. To reduce front-end weight and rolling resistance, it was off with the big Brembos and on with stock GT front brakes. This also allowed for adding the matching Bogart wheels and skinnies. It was time for some exhaust mods as well, but the '11 features an all-new exhaust design, so the '10 stuff wouldn't fit. Evo had to build a custom off-road X-shaped crossover and a custom after-cat built with Borla Stinger mufflers, resulting in 405 horses and 375 lb-ft of torque at the wheels. Back to Atco with this combination found Nelson battling with the rev limiter going through the traps. Still he was able to click off a 12.04 at 117 mph with a 1.70-second 60-foot. So close, but the clutch seemed hurt.

"We brought the car back to our shop and pulled the transmission to inspect the clutch and flywheel. We cleaned up the clutch disc, flywheel, and pressure plate and put a little moly grease on the input shaft," Fred explained. "While everything was apart, we added a 4-inch aluminum driveshaft, which is 20 pounds lighter then the stock two-piece." At this stage the car weighed 3,618 pounds with driver and Jon Lund had raised the rev limiter. Upon another trip to Atco, the car reeled off several 11-second passes, including a best run of 11.82 at 118 mph with a 1.63 60-foot, making it the first 11-second '11 Mustang.

After eclipsing the 11-second barrier, the next goal was obvious. However, Fred and Nelson were determined to do it in a streetable fashion. The next round of mods included a prototype of Steeda's forthcoming cold-air induction system, which moved the needle over to 407 hp and 377 lb-ft of torque at the wheels.

Obviously the CAI is tied to a tune these days, and the Evo car was already tuned with a drop-in K&N, so there was a smaller window for gains. Remember Ford engineers said there was only 7-percent airflow loss in the stock induction system, so there isn't a huge restriction in the first place.