November 1, 2003
Michael Boatwright (right) and Tom Honsaker (left) pose in our lead photo with their respective pride-and-joys. Prompted by a previous 5.0&SF story, both owners asked us to follow along as they did real-world cam swaps. How'd they make out? We tell you the truth in this follow-up story.

Horse Sense: The best reason to buy a cam from one of the leaders in the Mustang world-such as Steeda Autosports-is that innumerable cam combinations have come and gone. It is likely the company has experimented with-and designed-cams for your exact collaboration of parts.

In a previous issue, our esteemed Editor-at-Large Tom Wilson brought you a monstrous 11-page encyclopedia on all things cam-related for the 5.0 Mustang ("Cam Quest," Dec. '02, p. 147). Tom enlisted the help of several of the country's top cam companies and engine builders to get their secrets, experiences, and predictions about different combinations with the right camshaft, calling the shots on four popular 5.0 variations.

We thought the story ended there, but it was only the beginning. We got e-mails. We got phone calls. We got offers we just couldn't refuse. Chief among the contributory ideas was the one sent by Mike Boatwright, who just so happens to live in your author's city of residence, Cincinnati, Ohio. Mike believed the only things missing from the story were some actual cam installations with typical combinations such as his. He wanted us to follow along as he installed a camshaft in his nicely upgraded '95 GT, using Mr. Wilson's technical article as a guide for selection.

So, off we went to Paul's Automotive Engineering-a place we've practically lived at for the last couple years-to follow along with the install/results. As luck would have it, shop manager Tom Honsaker was also considering a cam swap for his '95 GT convertible. And, unbeknownst to us, Tom had chosen the same Steeda No. 19 camshaft for his shop project car.

We talked with Adam Louramore of Steeda about the development of the Steeda No. 19 camshaft. "It's similar in design to our No. 18 cam," Adam says, "which was popular for years down here [Florida] when the 5.0 Mustang thing was just taking off. We designed the cam with the help of Crane Cams, which still manufactures the camshaft.

As it turned out, both owners wanted to try their combinations with the Steeda Auto-sports No. 19 camshaft calling the shots. Tom's blown street cruiser needed something to liven up its Vortech blower, ported aluminum heads, and good-flowing induction components. Michael wanted his naturally aspirated GT to be able to hang with the LS1/LT1 crowd, while a future blower installation loomed heavily on his selection.

"[The No. 19 cam] is for the guy who wants the extra power of a custom camshaft without having to put up with any compromises. It's for a street/strip daily driver. It's emissions legal, it won't beat up the valvetrain-and, above all, it maintains excellent driveability. The wider lobe separation angle allows for a better vacuum at idle, which is especially important with the '94-'95 cars as they have a more sensitive factory computer setting. This cam also features a split pattern, which favors the exhaust side of the head-excellent for supercharged cars. I know the No. 18 cam has been a best-seller for years, but the No. 19 Steeda camshaft has to be close to that."

According to Steeda designer Dan Carlson, "There is not just one 'typical' combination for this cam, since it works so well with and without a supercharger. The most common thread is a lot of people have '94-'95 Mustangs, but the cam works very well for other years as well. Typically this cam works best for those wanting maximum power within the rpm constraints of the factory rev limiter. This is not a 7,500-rpm cam, but neither are the popular manifolds, stock lifters, or stock bottom ends suitable for that rpm range. Typically, the cam is used with such heads as the Edelbrock Performer, the GT-40, the TFS Twisted Wedge, and so on, and long runner-style intakes. It's a good match for 302 through 351 ci. Customers with 351-based strokers usually opt for a cam with more lift and duration."

Problems with the '94-'95 computers getting along with hotter cams can be an issue. Steeda's No. 19 cam seems to fit right in the range of adding significant performance while not disturbing the sensitive stock computer programming. Both of our test cars have taken advantage of this technology-and the heavy testing-to come out with nice combinations. As you read the captions and the bottom lines on these cars, please keep in mind that Paul's Automotive handled all installations, final tune-ups, and chassis dyno testing for this story.

Here's what the cam card for the Steeda No. 19 looks like. The cam specs out at 0.480/0.480-inch lift with a split-duration profile of 220/226. The lobe separation angle for this mild street cam is 115. Steeda designed the cam to work with '85-and-up Ford small-blocks. The company specifies a 1.60 roller rocker with the spring requirements as shown. The "Recommended RPM Range" defines streetability with a 2,500-6,500-rpm band that doesn't drop off or hesitate, unless you have the sense to get your foot off the loud pedal.

Michael's '95 GT features a 105,000-mile stock short-block; unported GT-40P heads with stock valves; an unported Cobra intake; a stock 60mm throttle body; a 75mm Pro-M bullet mass air; MAC P-head-specific 151/48-inch short-tube headers, a MAC off-road X-pipe; and a stuffy, stock after-cat. The five-speed car has 3.73 gearing and a Ford Racing Performance Parts Extender to help tune the stock computer a bit. Before the cam change, the GT was good for consistent 14.00s at around 101 mph, with a best e.t. of 13.90 at 101.16 mph (at 3,640 pounds with driver). After the addition of the Steeda No. 19 cam, the Paul's Automotive Engineering chassis dyno registered 270 rwhp and 300 rwtq with the Extender on the No. 8 setting (12.25:1 air/fuel ratio, which was measured as actual air/fuel of 12.36:1). At the track, the car ran a best e.t. of 13.57 at 102.84 mph, with a 2.02 60-foot time on street tires.

As manager of Paul's Automotive Engineering, Tom knows a thing or two about choosing the right camshaft for good street manners and excellent power. Through years of trial and error, the gang at Paul's has found the Steeda stick to be one of the best for the picky stock computer found in '94-'95 GT Mustangs. Tom's convertible is much more of a street cruiser than a drag racer, so you can use that tip-off as an indication of which side of the manners-versus-power scale he leaned toward. The car features a stock bottom end with 80,000 miles, a Vortech S-Trim making 11-12 psi, Roush CNC-cut GT-40 aluminum Y heads with Paul Faessler finishing work, a ported Cobra intake, a 65mm FRPP throttle body, an 80mm Pro-M mass air, 42-lb/hr injectors, MAC short-tube headers, a Dr. Gas off-road X-pipe, a stock after-cat, and a custom Paul's Automotive-tuned Autologic chip. On the dyno, this combination belted out 471.6 rwhp and 451.7 rwtq with a mild tune on pump gas. On the street, the car is a mild-mannered monster, able to shred all but the most exotic of cars. Without a rollbar, track testing is a ways off, but expect something in the low 11s at more than 125 mph with sticky tires.

"I'm very pleased with the results of the No. 19 cam," Michael says. "It has run great on the street, even with the A/C on, and I have no regrets. It doesn't give up any low end to the stock cam. It starts to pull away from the stock bumpstick at 3,000 rpm, then it really takes off at 3,500. It continues to pull hard until 5,500 with my combo. The idle and driveability have been great. It has a mild chop at around a 750-rpm idle-pretty smooth, but enough to know it has a cam. It will sound a little meaner and shake the car with a lower idle around 550-650. The most noticeable difference was the improved power throughout the entire rpm range. I was expecting to lose some low end, but that didn't happen. I got to have my cake and eat it too!"

Unfortunately, Tom changed several other parts on his car with the cam, so we don't have a valid baseline to compare only the cam. There is, however, no doubt the cam worked nicely with his combination. "I chose the Steeda No. 19 camshaft," Tom says, "because of the wide-pattern lobe separation (115 degrees), the emphasis that it puts on the exhaust side of the engine, and the specified '94-'95 application. As far as I'm concerned, it's the perfect blower cam. I've recommended several of them for our customers. After living with the cam for a few months, I can report that the driveability is excellent. The '94-'95 cars are extremely hard to get a cam to drive well. They want to lug at low rpm. The power is higher than I expected. I contribute that to the good heads, the Vortech blower, and the cam working well together."