Tom Wilson
December 1, 2004

Horse Sense:
Have you ever seen a tech drain coolant from an engine using a shop vac? We did when Bryan Rogers hooked the ol' Hoover up to his Cobra. This does save undoing hoses, but it also sucked all the water out of the engine, not just that in the heads and intake.

As BBK continues its march from parts packager to bolt-on manufacturer to, now, an engine parts maker, it is introducing consistently more sophisticated parts. The company's latest push is intake manifolds, so, besides the Single Stage Intake for 5.0 engines we're testing here, BBK has introduced Chevy LS1 and Honda intakes as well.

It's also likely we'll see even more intakes from BBK in the not too distant future as this ever-growing company ramps up its engineering and manufacturing muscle. But for now, we went to BBK's distribution arm, Brother's Performance Warehouse, to watch the brand-new Single Stage Intake bolt onto a 5.0 test car and get the numbers on the company's in-house chassis dyno.

As luck would have it, our visit was mere days away from using pure production parts. The castings we worked with for this article are thus last of preproduction prototypes. They were cast from production tooling, however, and the only meaningful differences from run-of-the-mill production SSI intakes is they had been beaten up some from being bolted on and off the car repeatedly during final development. That work had mainly consisted of trying minor shapes inside the plenum as BBK searched for any possible last-minute horsepower before signing off on the production tooling. No secret bumps or hollows were found, so the SSI production was set to begin just as we began to pen this story.

While we have previously described the Single Stage Intake in detail in our March '04 issue ("Early Warning," p. 130), by way of quick review, the SSI is an open-runner, high-rise, twin-plenum intake for 5.0 engines. It is aimed at the typical bolt-on Mustang-with the usual exhaust system, short-tube headers, large mass air meter, throttle body, and so on. An intake in this market needs to demonstrate a clear superiority over the stock inline-oval intake, and preferably compete head-to-head with the dominant aftermarket offerings.

Installing the SSI follows conventional practice. The old intake is stripped of all its fittings while on the car. Then the intake is removed, the fittings are transferred onto the BBK intake, and it is installed on the long-block. We've hit the highlights of the install in the photos and captions, but expect no surprises. The only caution we can note is to fit the PVC parts to the lower intake before installing the intake as clearance at the rear of the SSI is limited.

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Did the new BBK offering hit its power goals? It sure did. It posted at least a 28hp gain over the GT intake using the strictest test criteria. If you accept a bit of ignition timing optimization, then the SSI is worth 30 hp. Those are fine gains, and strongly in the hunt with other intake manifolds in this class. Combined with its aggressively low pricing and included fuel rails and adjustable fuel-pressure regulator, BBK's distinctive-looking SSI should have no trouble establishing itself under many a 5.0 hood.

Dyno Results
  Stock 5.0 H.O. Intake,
Stock Throttle Body
BBK Single-Stage Intake,
BBK 75mm Throttle Body
1,600 229 70 222 68
1,850 238 84 243 85
2,100 243 97 246 98
2,350 246 110 248 111
2,600 253 125 253 125
2,850 271 147 266 144
3,100 277 164 279 165
3,350 286 183 285 182
3,600 289 198 288 198
3,850 285 209 292 214
4,100 280 219 296 231
4,350 273 226 294 243
4,600 262 230 291 255
4,850 253 233 283 262
5,100 238 231 273 265
5,350 215 219 255 260

This is a simple story. The stock and BBK Single-Stage intakes are equal to approximately 3,800 rpm, where the stock manifold noses over but the BBK continues arcing upward to 5,100 rpm and thus produces a big power bonus before dropping off.

When power curves diverge at higher rpm as we see here, there typically is a meaningful horsepower increase when comparing the respective power peaks-in this case, 29 hp-yet notably larger power gains when comparing the two curves at even higher rpm. In this example, the BBK manifold is a stupendous 41 hp ahead of the stocker when comparing the overrun area north of the SSI's 5,100 rpm power peak. This indicates the engine will pull harder and feel distinctly sportier as it revs-always a fun thing, especially when no torque was lost down low.

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Our Test Car
Getting paid to work on his own '93 Cobra hatchback was Bryan Rogers, the Brother's tech seen swinging the wrenches in our bolt-on photos. Of course, Bryan had been swinging the same wrenches over the same intake for weeks by the time we got to him. Prototyping can be such a pain.

BBK said it designed the SSI to work with the typical bolt-on 5.0, and Bryan's car fits the bill. Running a stock cam, computer, and 24-lb/hr injectors on a stock-spec 306 short-block, the combination benefits from a Pro-M mass airflow meter, Edelbrock Performer RPM heads with 2.02x1.60-inch valves, BBK 1 5/8-inch full-length headers, an H-pipe, and a smog-pump eliminator kit. Also helping are electric fans and a deleted engine-driven fan. A daily driver, this early Cobra retains its stock pulleys and sports BBK's relatively new 5.0 valve covers.

There was no missing this effect on the test car, even when simply free-revving the engine like a happy teenager at a stoplight. With the stock intake, this resulted in a sonic performance and engine acceleration associated with a stock 5.0 Mustang with noisy mufflers, while substituting the BBK intake to this otherwise hot-rodded combination gave a distinctly more throaty exhaust, much faster engine acceleration, and a generally unmistakable gain in energy.

All testing was done on Brothers Performance's Dynojet chassis dyno, on the same day. The baseline was obtained using 14 degrees of ignition timing, which was optimum for that combination according to BBK. The final power figures we're showing for the BBK intake are after tuning the fuel pressure and sparking timing to optimum values. The fuel pressure ran best in the same place it did with the stock manifold-38 psi. A couple more degrees of ignition timing helped with the BBK intake, putting it at 16 degrees of advance. Running the timing at 14 degrees-in other words, the exact same tune as the baseline engine-resulted in the same power curve shown here, but with two less horsepower at the peak.

One anomaly in our test, if you want to call it that, was the stock 5.0 H.O. intake manifold on a '93 Mustang Cobra. Cobras came with a cast version of the freer-breathing GT-40 intake, but for our test, a standard GT intake was pressed into duty. This is clearly breathing through a straw with the Performer RPM heads and the free-flowing exhaust system, but it is indicative of what a typical, modern, bolt-on 5.0 engine-GT or early Cobra-would breathe like using the stock intake. It's therefore a valid comparison of what the usual 5.0 would gain with the BBK SSI intake over a stock manifold.

Finally, in the interest of full disclosure, the stock intake was slightly port-matched between the upper and lower sections, but we doubt if it amounted to a hill of beans, so we're ignoring it. If anything, it should have helped the stock intake, but it's highly doubtful it had any effect.

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