KJ Jones
Brand Manager, 5.0 Mustang & Super Fords
June 4, 2014
Photos By: KJ Jones

As time continues forward at warp speed, those of us who have remained dedicated to ’Stangbanging through the years now find ourselves acknowledging—albeit begrudgingly—the notion that the very early versions of our beloved, late-model Mustangs (Fox, SN-95/New Edge, and even first-gen Three-Valve S197s) certainly aren’t getting any younger.

However, despite this maturation, we strongly believe a Pony’s increasing age doesn’t necessarily mean it should be put out to pasture, so to speak; retired for a more-current-year ’Stang; or in an absolute worst case, a replacement of some other (brand) vehicle.

To the contrary, in this era of ’11-’14 Coyote-, Roadrunner-, and Trinity (5.8L)-motivated ’Stangs, the present actually is a darn near perfect time for the slightly older late-model Ponies. As we’ve said in past reports, bone-stock versions of the earlier rides—especially S197s—are in abundance, and they certainly are perfect for upgrading in whatever way your mind and budget can support.

With the the ’05-’10 Mustang GT being such a strong platform, many enthusiasts are now exploring upgrades that theoretically put the Three-Valve–powered Ponies in the same performance space as their younger, V-8-motivated siblings (’11-’14 GTs, and especially ’12-’14 Boss 302s, in naturally aspirated trim). Dale Hargrove is one such enthusiast. He owns the ’09 GT that headlines this tech effort, which focuses on making the Three Valve ’Stang’s power, handling, and braking characteristics as good as those of a ’12-’13 Boss.

Dale Hargrove’s ’09 GT sits low and ready after receiving a performance-and-handling makeover designed and installed by the crew at Brenspeed (highlighted by Edelbrock’s E-Force supercharger system, handling bits from Whiteline and Ford Racing Performance Parts, and a big-brake upgrade from StopTech). If you’re thinking the surgery took place in Indiana, you’re wrong by roughly 860 miles. We caught up with the installation and dyno tuning of this setup at the company’s new Lone Star digs located just outside Dallas in Cedar Hill, Texas.

Of course, making such moves is best done with assistance from a reputable Mustang shop. Consultants and technicians who know the cars from stem-to-stern can help you make your vision become a reality. In the states near Texas (Oklahoma/Arkansas/Louisiana), Brenspeed’s Dallas-based hub is the place where dreams like this come true.

“For many years, we have had a very large mail-order customer base in the Dallas/Houston/San Antonio area. This is about an 18-plus-hour drive to our installation facility in Indiana,” says Don Jones, Brenspeed Texas’ man-in-charge. “Only a small percent of our customer base has the ability to visit Indiana for a professional installation. Opening an installation facility in the Dallas area made sense, as the drive is now much shorter for our customers in this region of the United States.”

In early 2014, yours truly made the trip to Dallas to check out Brenspeed’s new digs. While there, we watched Mustang specialists Cliff League and George Dockery transform Dale’s S197 from stone-stock to street-stout with a Brenspeed-designed suspension-and-power package that Don says is becoming quite popular with the Three-Valve set. The project’s highlights and dyno results are covered in these photos and captions. Check out the story for the full lowdown on how the boys get things done deep in the heart of Texas.

1. In addition to adding more than 225 (crankshaft) horsepower, Brenspeed Texas’ goal is to set up Dale’s Pony to handle turns as well or better than a ’12-’14 Boss 302 Mustang, and also whoa down the big steam. This is the rear setup, developed with Whiteline’s lower and upper control arms, with relocation brackets for the lowers, and Ford Racing Performance Parts’ lowering springs, shocks, and antiroll bar (Adjustable Handling Package).

2. Cliff bolts in the Whiteline Watt’s link, which will enhance the ’Stang’s traction and handling. Unlike a Panhard bar, which is stiffer due to its fixed attachment points, a Watt’s link allows the axle to remain centered below the car and move up and down in a true vertical plane. By moving in this fashion, the ’Stang’s roll center behaves exactly the same in left- or righthand turns. The Watt’s link system can be adjusted according to ride height, with changes coming by way of adjustable, chrome-moly control arms that are attached to the differential. Keeping the rear centered allows the rear tires to stay as close to equally weighted as possible in a live-axle environment.

3. For lowering the front, Brenspeed Texas also uses Ford Racing Performance Parts struts, springs and antiroll bar. A set of Whiteline’s aluminum ball joints and bumpsteer kit also were added. The bumpsteer pieces are required for all lowered S197 Mustangs, as excessive bumpsteer (a radical change in toe angle caused by the suspension moving up or down) is a direct byproduct of lowering the car and altering its suspension geometry.

4a-b. The balanced brake upgrades from StopTech’s Big Brake (front) and Sport Stop (rear) kits were chosen to ensure Dale can slow the Pony to safe stops once the power is added.

5. Having the ability to stop on a dime is something often overlooked by Mustang enthusiasts when serious engine-performance upgrades are made. The four-piston-caliper Touring version of StopTech’s Big Brakes shown here use a one-piece rotor design. The rotors are physically larger in diameter and mass than the stock discs (in this instance, 355x32mm versus 316x0mm), for superior braking leverage and heat dissipation. Brenspeed selected StopTech’s Para-aramid composite Street Performance brake pads for Dale’s Pony.

6. With suspension and brake installations complete, Brenspeed’s George Dockery begins the engine-upgrades process by removing the ’Stang’s fascia, radiator, intake manifold, throttle body, fuel injectors, serpentine belt, and various other components from the front and top of the engine.

7. Here is a comparative look at the stock radiator and Ford Racing Performance Parts’ bolt-in, aluminum radiator for ’05-’14 Mustangs. The new rad features a two-row core (1-inch tubes) and hand-fabricated aluminum tanks. Brenspeed likes to use this unit for performance packages such as ours, as it efficiently dissipates heat for engines producing nearly 700 horsepower.

FRPP’s Performance cooling fan (right) is the second piece used in Brenspeed’s cooling upgrade. The new fan, which actually is OEM equipment on ’13-’14 Shelby GT500s, features one additional blade, and a set of unique flap-style vents in the lower-left and lower-right corners.

8a-b. FRPP’s Performance cooling fan (right) is the second piece used in Brenspeed’s cooling upgrade. The new fan, which actually is OEM equipment on ’13-’14 Shelby GT500s, features one additional blade, and a set of unique flap-style vents in the lower-left and lower-right corners.

9. George lowers the new aluminum radiator in place. The radiator bolts right into the factory location without modification.