Tom Wilson
February 1, 2004

Horse Sense:
Don't try these bolt-on tricks on pre-'99 Mustang V-6s. Before it was reengineered for the '99s, the 3.8 breathed with asthmatic cylinder heads, intake manifolding, and camming. Hopeless without lots of work, those earlier 3.8s don't respond as well to bolt-ons.

There are good reasons-most of them associated with your money-to keep a '99-or-later V-6 Mustang in the garage. Less expensive to purchase and operate-definitely to insure-the base Mustang also offers reduced front axle weight; naturally lighter, more responsive steering; and stealth, should you want it. On top of that, the V-6 is not that far behind the V-8 when both are stock. They're certainly not that far apart in the slog of urban traffic or other daily realities.

Don't get us wrong. Big horsepower and pole-position lap times are V-8 phenomena, but for light-duty, daily driver fun, the V-6 is a bargain. This works whether you're a starving student (or magazine editor) who simply can't afford a turbo'd 408 Windsor and T56 combination, or you're the parent of a student who wants to keep the horsepower-per-testosterone ratio in check, or you're simply looking for a second car for the household.

Of course, a stone-stock, 190hp, 220-lb-ft 3.8 is a good place to begin, but what can you do to it? Bolt-ons.Forget big-power modifications-that's what V-8s are for. But perking things up with some easy bolt-ons makes sense.

To get an idea of what bolt-ons you might want, we worked with BBK Performance and Brothers Performance Warehouse. BBK got the ball rolling with the introduction of its prototype V-6 header. After agreeing to try it on the Brothers Performance Warehouse Dynojet, it didn't take long to figure out testing the full range of V-6 bolt-ons offered by BBK and Brothers was the V-6 testing opportunity we'd been hoping for.

Mike Galley, who works the counter at Brothers, provided the test mule-an '00 five-speed coupe. He had a few trinkets already installed on his car, but for the test he removed all of them to return the car to stock. Strapping his blue coupe to the Dynojet rollers netted a baseline of 154.3 hp at 5,100 rpm.