Don Roy
August 2, 2010

Meet The First S197 Six-Banger To Hit The 11s!
Mike Bowen's 2005 Mustang V6 Turbo

It's kind of funny how casually we accept modern performance numbers. When Mike Bowen from Powerhouse Automotive in Girard, PA, took delivery of this 4-liter, SOHC V6 Mustang, he immediately took it to the track where driver, Chris Niebauer, began turning in consistent 14-second runs. In 1971, it took a 428 cid-powered Mustang Mach I to break into the 14s, but now our V6 Ponies do it with ease.

Fortunately, Mike is not easily satisfied and so began a quest for additional performance from the six pack of cylinders buried under the hood of this car. The next step was to add a 100-shot of dental anaesthetic which served to bring the ET down to 12.79 seconds while he was participating in the 2005 Fun Ford event at Norwalk, OH. Stepping up the gas later by another 25 points during a private test run at Norwalk netted almost a half second improvement to 12.31 ticks of the stopwatch.

This particular car is one of a pair, having a 'big brother' GT model, both of which were being used to develop new performance parts for the Mustang market. Along with a plethora of chassis goodies available through Powerhouse Automotive, the company also provides turbo kits for both motors. The turbo development program was responsible for taking this Mustang's results to the next level. After removing the giggle gas and strapping on an 8-psi hair dryer, the car turned in a 12.50 result during the 2005 NMRA year ender in Bowling Green.

Grand Beginnings
By his own admission, Mike has been a car guy "since he first found wheels." Early involvement in car audio and accessories at the retail level set the stage, then he started Powerhouse Automotive 12 years ago. Over the years, he's owned a number of Fox Mustangs, including a 1989 GT that was bone stock, but for a single 9-psi turbocharger that could turn 11.79 @ 117 mph, while still retaining its original 2.73 gears. Talk about a sleeper!

But, all of his turbo fascinations stem from a proverbial skeleton in the closet. See, even earlier, his attentions were occupied by the Buick Grand National scene. He could almost be forgiven because these legendary V6 cars were the scourge of dragstrips around the country in their time. Mike's own model had a built engine, so that head gaskets were no longer a continual issue for him. He told us that his Grand National was a "potential 10-second car", but there always seemed to be something turning up to keep him from getting the power down to the track.

Once he found Mustangs, though, he never looked back. Aside from the shop cars, Mike keeps a 1987 Saleen Mustang in the garage for his own use, while his girlfriend drives around in a 1992 'Summertime Edition' Mustang.

Sturdy Is Good
One of the best ways of validating a product is to prove it in competition, so the NMRA Mod Motor and Fun Ford Ultra Stang classes proved ideal for the Powerhouse effort. A top priority was to keep the engine stock for as long as possible. The 4.0-liter engine is a sturdy design, built in Cologne, Germany and featuring one item in particular that current GT owners covet - forged connecting rods.

Still, other areas of the car need reinforcement and were addressed for the sake of durability and reliability. Once the Pipeline Air Inlet Systems single turbo, intercooled kit was installed, a shopping list of additional changes were needed. A set of 39 lb/hr fuel injectors replaced the stock units and a fuel pump voltage booster was added to deliver the goods. A set of JBA shorty headers help to extract those goods once the engine has had its way with them. The Powerhouse custom three-inch stainless steel exhaust system then feeds into a single Borla muffler.

A good dose of chassis work was called for and this car got it. The rear axle was replaced with an 8.8" unit from a GT and the 31-spline axles were upgraded with Moser Engineering's replacements. A Detroit Locker True Trac differential was added later, in the never-ending search for lower 60-foot times. The front suspension remains largely stock, except for removing the sway bar.

With his appetite whetted by the first turbo runs, some tuning magic was applied along with a bump in boost to 12 psi. A late season trip to Milan Dragway was rewarded with a run at 11.81 seconds, making this Pony the first V6 to break that particular barrier. Bear in mind that this was still with the stock clutch, flywheel and T5 transmission. Development work over the winter of 2005 saw new chassis components evolving, including fixed length rear lower control arms and a rod-end double adjustable upper arm. Sway bar relocation brackets allow the use of 16-inch Bogart wheels at the rear, with Mickey Thompson ET Street Radials mounted. The 16 x 5-inch versions up front carry Yokohama 205/60-16 tires up front.

The Envelope: Tattered
As the performance of this competition car increased, something was bound to give out, but nobody quite knew what it would be. Would the bottom end of the motor go first, or perhaps something else? In the end, it was the manual transmission. The original stocker was replaced with a G-Force modified T5 that lasted for quite a while. That version let go late in the 2006 season. That season had started at Orlando and Bradenton, FL, where the car showed a best of 11.85 due to the heat, but kept on delivering 11.8's throughout both the FFW and NMRA events.

While the flywheel and clutch pressure plate still remain stock, the clutch disk was replaced with a McLeod semi-metallic affair. By the FFW Richmond, VA, event Mike was preparing to lean harder on the car. Additional driveline and chassis improvements included his newly-released one-piece aluminum driveshaft (See the install article for this in our June 2006 issue, page 118) and his own prototype lowering springs. These were supplemented by QA1's 12-way rear shock absorbers and an Eibach rear sway bar. Other goodies to be found at the traction end include a replacement tubular Panhard Bar brace and double adjustable Panhard Bar.

The driveline upgrades were becoming neces-sary as the power of the 4.0-liter engine was growing. When dialed in for 8.5 psi of boost and running 93-octane premium gas, the car was throwing out 337 RWHP and 345 RWTQ, measured on the Powerhouse Automotive in-house Mustang dyno. Moving up to 12 psi of boost required feeding the Pony on 104-octane race gas, but the reward then was 412 RWHP and 435 RWTQ output. At last year's FFW Norwalk event, a best-ever run of 11.53 @ 125.75 mph was recorded.

After a replacement stock T5 tranny
provided "about one and a half hours of service," winter plans call for a definitive sorting out of this driveline issue. At the moment, Mike is balancing the pros and cons of either a TKO-600 manual gearbox or just going the automatic route.

What is for sure is that this six-cylinder, equipped with its 61mm Precision Turbo unit, is going to keep tyrannizing drag strips around the country, along with Mike Bowen and the rest of the team at Powerhouse Automotive. While they look after many of the local racers in Pennsylvania, the turbo kits (there is a V8 version as well) and chassis components are available for your own Mustang, through a phone call or Web site visit. When it comes to tyranny, the first victim is the parts that he's put together.

Mike Bowen's 2005 Mustang V6 Turbo

Ford 4.0-liter V6

Engine Modifications
Pipeline Air Inlet Systems single 61mm turbo kit, intercooled; Ford 39 lb/hr injectors; McLeod semi-metallic clutch disc; Ford 39 lb/hr fuel injectors; JBA Shorty headers; Powerhouse Automotive single, 3" stainless exhaust with Borla muffler; SCT tune by Powerhouse Automotive

G-Force modified T5 manual transmission; Ford 8.8" axle assembly from a 2005 GT; Moser 31-spline axle shafts; Detroit Locker True Trac differential

412 RWHP, 435 RWTQ Best Et To Date: 11.53 @125.75 mph *12 psi boost, 104-octane gas

Interior / Exterior
Mike Bowen's 2005 Mustang V6 Turbo

CHE K-member brace with torque limiters

Custom Powerhouse paint stripe by Sinister Cycle

Ford Mustang premium model steering wheel, shift knob, sill plates; Simpson 5-point safety restraints; Auto Meter Sport-Comp boost gauge

Stock front sway bar removed; Powerhouse Automotive prototype lowering springs; CHE fixed length rear lower control arms, double adjustable upper control arm, sway bar relocation brackets, anti-squat brackets, tubular panhard bar brace, double adjustable panhard bar; Eibach rear sway bar; QA1 12-way rear shock absorbers

Wheels And Tires
Bogart Racing GT wheels, 16 x 5" front, 16 x 9" rear; Yokohama 205/60-16 front tires; Mickey Thompson ET Street 255/50-16 rears