Tom Wilson
April 1, 2005

Horse Sense:
While this story documents the Vortech V1/V2 installation, and since the Vortech V1/V2 superchargers interchange with the Paxton 1200 blowers from a bracket and installation standpoint, installation will be identical for the Paxton 1200 blowers as well.

Fitting widgets to the all-new '05 Mustang is the aftermarket's all-consuming passion these days. Mustang sales keep many an aftermarket company in business, and when your number-one seller is redesigned, there's little time to waste in making sure your gizmos fit the new chariot.

And that's why we were at Vortech's expansive Camarillo, California, digs to see them beavering away on a prototype V2 supercharger installation on a new '05 Mustang GT. During our visit, the hardware installation was being finalized, but the electronic tuning was still underway, so we don't have horsepower numbers for you. We have no worries, however, the new blower and Three-Valve engine will conspire to make thrilling horsepower.

Vortech's '05 Mustang kit offers few surprises. The quiet, helical-geared V2 S-Trim blower is the primary street supercharger (the boisterous V1 is still available), with the same oiling, and boost output of current kits. That would be seven, maybe eight pounds of boost on standard, non-charge-cooled kits, and about 10 pounds of boost on the charge-cooled high output kits. The reverse-rotation supercharger sits on the driver side, pulley-side facing the engine and shares the six-rib serpentine belt with the other engine accessories. Ford left a fair amount of room between the engine and radiator on the new Mustang, so working room is acceptable.

Placing the air filter was something Vortech was working on during our visit. There is no room in the inner fender to vertically mount a conical air filter, so it has to go in the engine compartment. Furthermore, the new Mustang has a surprisingly small hole in the inner fender for drawing cool air, so that is something the aftermarket will no doubt want to improve. Vortech was thinking there might be a way to use the lower portion of the stock air filter box, but conceded the cost of an all-new container is almost a given. For the prototype, a simple, open-element cone filter breathing underhood air-but next to the stock inner fender cool air feed hole-was used. Expect molded plastic inlet tubes and under-hood air filter mounts on production kits.

One thing to be happy about is there is no need to relocate the alternator, air conditioning, or other front-engine-dress accessories. The A/C lines need not be opened. The radiator expansion tank must be replaced, and the power steering pump reservoir moves aside, but that's it for moving accessories.

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The traditional Vortech oil supply is used, so the supply line is tapped into the engine at the oil filter mounting flange-a simple wrench job. The return line also follows traditional Vortech practice, and punches into the front of the oil pan.

The radiator and associated water hoses are either replaced or the existing hoses cut and rerouted, and the "bridge" casting, running between the front end of the two cylinder heads, must be removed for a bit of modification. Unfortunately, this requires lifting the plastic upper intake manifold for access, which means monkeying with the heater hoses at the rear of the intake, plus the easily accessed intake bolts. Not a major job, but it adds time to the install.

Fuel supply on the new Mustang is deemed adequate for mild forced-induction work, so there are no auxiliary pumps or supply lines to hassle with. That's a good thing, as accessing the fuel tank on '05 Mustangs means dropping the after-cat exhaust (no big deal), ditto the driveshaft, and then the fuel tank, which lives in front of the rear axle. Larger injectors are necessary, however, and Vortech will include a set of '03 Cobra injectors with its '05 GT kit.

Electronically, we mainly have to wait and see. Vortech was working with out-of-house e-tuners, and they didn't have hardware or calibrations ready at press time. It's logical to assume some sort of plug-in to the OBD-II diagnostic port will be the used.

Once those chores are finished, hanging the blower goes quickly enough. The blower mounting plate and idler pulleys will come assembled from Vortech. This means much of the hardware is already where it should be, so the installer will only have to remove the idler assembly from the plate and bolt it on the engine, thus avoiding hours of Christmas Eve-like tedium of sorting nuts, washers, bolts, plates, pulleys, bearings and so on.

Estimating the time the final kit will take to install is a bit of an open question. Kit designer Lance Keck-seen in the photos installing the system for the zillionth time for our camera-has aimed for simplicity, and he's hoping for one-day installs from shops, especially with the non-charge-cooled kits. The typical first-time home installer should plan on all weekend and hope to beat that somewhat.

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We're hitting installation highlights in the photos and captions. To save space, we're not giving the blow-by-blow on the more basic (taking off stock air tubing) or already well-known aspects of Vortech installations (punching the oil pan, oil fittings). Also, lifting the upper intake and fiddling with the water bridge had already been done when we arrived, so we're not showing those steps, either.

Every supercharger company is racing its '05 Mustang GT kits to market, Vortech included. Expect Vortech's non-charge-cooled version to be available about the time you read this, with the charge-cooled version following a month or two later.

Progress Priced
With hardware similar to its existing kits, Vortech is not fundamentally changing the price on its new Mustang offerings. Still, there are eight fuel injectors to consider, plus the inevitable inflation. Here's the official breakdown:

$5395.95
Standard w/o Charge Cooling High Outputw/Charge Cooling
Satin $3895.95 $4995.95
Polished $4295.95

Paxton, Too
With Paxton and Vortech under the same roof, it's now normal to find Vortech and Paxton products being developed simultaneously. In fact, where possible, the same bracketry is used, which further speeds both brands to market. As shown in the photo, the result looks similar to the Vortech practice. Actually, the prototype pairs the Novi 1200 with water-to-air charge cooling; production Paxtons will offer only air-to-air charge cooling.

For the '05 Mustang GT, the Paxton offerings are two-tiered. The standard kit will use the Novi 1200, while the upgrade kit will use the new Novi 2200 teamed with the traditional Paxton air-to-air charge cooling system (Vortech uses air-to-water coolers; Paxton favors the air-to-air variety). We haven't seen a Novi 2200, but it is said to offer Novi 2000 performance, while fitting in the same brackets as the Vortech V1/V2 and Paxton 1200 superchargers. That would give it the same installation as outlined in the main text and photos.

Paxton pricing had not been set at our press time, but we do not expect anything radically different from Vortech practice. We also asked if the bulkier Novi 2000 will be mated to the new Mustang, but found that decision is waiting until after the initial new-Mustang frenzy dies down some. Maybe so, but our guess was not anytime soon.

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Taking Charge
After a bit of name calling over whether it was intercooling or aftercooling, Vortech seems to have landed on the technically less descriptive, but less argumentative, charge cooling.

What's this all about? Well, when compressed by a supercharger, air heats up-a lot. To cool the charge air, so it is more dense (makes more power) and is less prone to detonate, the charge air is sometimes passed through a heat exchanger (radiator).

If the heat exchanger is located between the supercharger and the engine inlet, it is properly known as an aftercooler. If the supercharging system uses two superchargers, and a heat exchanger is located between the two blowers, then that heat exchanger is an intercooler. Such a dual supercharger system could have an intercooler and an aftercooler. Virtually unknown in automotive circles, such two-stage super- and turbocharged systems are the norm on heavy truck engines, as are the inter- and aftercooling names.

Unfortunately, "intercooler" has become stuck in common usage with hot rodders when they really mean aftercooler. For some years, Vortech paddled against the tide, using the aftercooler nomenclature, while the rest of the industry used intercooler, but lately Vortech has switched to charge cooler, a more inclusive term, as it denotes both after- and intercooling.