April 1, 2000

Step By Step

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Alan Dudley and Anthony Turner’s Mondo/Igloo arrangement is typical of the low–8-second breed.
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The water enters and exits the cooler’s core (it looks like a small radiator) through the six fittings visible here. A water tank (usually mounted in the passenger area or trunk) and some form of pump circulates the cold water.
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The latest for ludicrous power is the Igloo on top of a Hogan’s sheetmetal lower, both offered by Vortech.
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So far Junior Ibanez is the first guy we’ve seen running this combination, but by Bradenton, we’re sure to see more.
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For weird combinations, the Igloo can also be had in this universal model, that can be mounted wherever space permits.

Every Mustang freak who's spent some time at the drags knows that if you slap a bag of ice on the intake you pick up a couple of tenths. The concept is well-practiced and simple to understand: cool, dense air slamming through the intake will pack the cylinders and create a more powerful burn when the air/fuel mixture is ignited. Basically, anything that cools the intake charge is good for power because as incoming air temperature decreases, air density increases.

Vortech has taken that concept one step further with its line of aftercoolers designed to augment the performance potential of their centrifugal superchargers. Vortech's street aftercoolers have been shown to help well-prepared S-Trim supercharged Mustangs make a reliable 500 hp at the rear wheels. This story, however, will focus on Vortech's Mondo Aftercooler that has become all the rage on the heads-up circuit in the last two years.

In the past, supercharged 5.0 racers were faced with the constant problem of detonation. Due to the high discharge temperatures of a serious race blower (close to 300 degrees Fahrenheit in some cases), pre-ignition is sometimes hard to avoid. The result is blown head gaskets, broken engine parts, and lost races. Even if detonation is held in check, the heat from the blower builds, and horsepower fades. The hotter the air, the less power the engine makes. For years, 5.0 pioneers have tried to come up with a dependable way to decrease intake charge temperatures and reign in the potential dangers associated with detonation. These things ranged from simply plopping bags of ice all over the intake tract (which can actually cause crashing of the blower casing with the impeller) to homemade air-to-water intercooling devices. While intercooling will always have a beneficial effect on the charge temperature of a supercharged or turbocharged engine, many of the early attempts used protracted lengths of tubing which robbed the motor of boost and ultimately created a decrease in performance.

Vortech's engineers knew that they had their work cut out for them. What they ultimately came up with was an aftercooler that places the heat exchanger closer to the intake than the location of a traditional intercooler. This has several advantages. The packaging of the Mondo Cooler is such that it consists of the minimum length of discharge tubing from the blower to the motor. This keeps boost pressure at a maximum as it enters the aftercooler. It also keeps the cooled air directly in contact with the intake instead of routing it through another series of tubing.

Vortech designed the Mondo Cooler around a highly efficient air-to-water core that soaks heat out of the incoming air like a sponge. Vortech sells the complete Mondo Cooler for around $2,500, but the rest of the installation is up to the racer. Vortech did this purposely since each application will vary. And, we've seen a lot of variance in what guys have done to make these things work. From Jim Summers' braided lines, aluminum fluid cell, and arctic naval submarine water pump (no kidding!), to dairy tubing with a picnic-style, hand-carried Igloo cooler, budget and style determine how you hook up one of these little gems. The lower intake can be ordered to match a 5.0 truck lower or GT-40. A newly designed Vortech sheetmetal lower intake sourced from Hogan's is also available at an additional cost. We first saw this intake on Junior Ibanez's notch, and it has proven itself to be very effective, allowing Junior's 10.5-inch-tired screamer to run 8.20s.

While Vortech modestly claims that intake temperature decreases of 200 degrees Fahrenheit are the result, top racers have seen temperature measurements of below ambient (in other words, the air exiting the intercooler is colder than the outside air). Anthony Turner reports that on Alan Dudley's dyno, they saw intake temperatures below 60 degrees Fahrenheit, which actually caused condensation to form on the inside of the intake tract. Horsepower increases are as you would expect--phenomenal. Documented increases of 300 hp or more have been reported, but we feel that at the Pro 5.0 level, something like 150 is more realistic. Jim Summers made 1,000 hp at 6,200 rpm in early '98 testing with the Igloo on a truck lower. With icewater running through the veins, the power rocketed up to 1,150 hp and over 1,000 lb-ft of torque. Boost losses of around 2 psi are the only cost, and this air is likely unburnable due to the over-efficiency of the motor.

As for the tune-up with all of the added power, the guys who run Igloos say that there is a huge demand for more fuel. With the increased ingestion of more air, the appropriate fuel needs to be added. An adjustment for increased injector-pulse-width in fuel management by a DFI or Fel-Pro stand-alone unit will take care of most applications. Summers puts it best by saying, "You make horsepower, you gotta add gas, bro."

Besides the increased power and performance, the real value of the Igloo is its ability to decrease detonation and ultimately save parts. With documented horsepower increases of over 150, we consider the Igloo a mandatory item on your shopping list if you want to be a top player in the world of high-end 5.0 Mustang drag racing.