K.J. Jones
April 18, 2007
Hellion Power Systems' John Urist lays the business end of his company's new Turbonetics 62mm turbo-charger into the engine bay of Charles Lee's '06 Mustang GT. This turbo can wick up nearly 600 rwhp at 17 psi of boost. We're looking for 7-10 psi to bring about 425 horses to the back tires on Charles' Pony.

Horse Sense: We often use the term "CARB number" when referring to the various aftermarket bolt-on performance parts that we install and evaluate in our tech stories. To end all the confusion, what we're talking about is the California Air Resource Board. The outfit sets the stringent-or ridiculous, in the eyes of most gearheads-guidelines for maintaining air quality in California. The criterion determines the issue of a coveted Executive Order approval number for parts such as blowers, turbos, nitrous kits, and exhaust systems, among other things, that meet its lofty standards.

Calling Hellion Power Systems' S197 Mustang GT turbocharger system "new" could be considered an oxymoron, since it debuted at SEMA more than a year ago-your author even cited it as one of his "Top-10 Mustang Parts" of the show. We've been waiting in the weeds since then for an opportunity to tell you more about it. Hellion's turbo system for '05-'07 4.6 Three-Valve 'Stangs ($5,165) is the brainchild of John Urist, the popular '03 and '06 champion of NMRA Super Street Outlaw. John co-owns the company with Dwayne James, the NMRA Outlaw 10.5 racer.

This system is based primarily on a Turbonetics 62mm turbocharger (7-10 psi of boost), an air-to-air intercooler, an elaborate system of 3-inch stainless steel, and hot-side tubing built by Bassani Xhaust that fits like a glove. The Hellion turbo kit for '07 GTs differs slightly, due to changes made to the routing of the cooling-system plumbing. Other major components include Ford Racing Performance Parts' 39-lb/hr fuel injectors, a Turbonetics Evolution wastegate, a bypass valve, conical air filter, torque clamps, T-bolt clamps, V-band clamps, mounting bolts, and a 4-inch polished inlet tube. A detailed set of instructions is also included, making installation do-it-yourself possible, with or without a twin-post or drive-on hoist to lift the car. Notice that we make no mention of high-volume fuel pumps or pump enhancers. And, unlike several other forced-air systems, there isn't a preset plug-and-play tune for the S197's Spanish Oak processor-and for good reason, which we'll discuss later.

"I wanted to develop a turbo system for new Mustangs that would fit similar to a factory-installed unit and make good, efficient power with the Three-Valve modular engine and stock fuel system," John says. "I also wanted to produce a turbo kit that doesn't compromise the design or function of the S197's factory emissions system. It could potentially be endorsed by CARB as legal for use on registered/emissions-inspected street 'Stangs in all 50 states."

The second part of John's intent is the idea that really intrigues us. Sure, we've seen and evaluated plenty of smog-legal, high performance Mustang parts-power adders included-but street turbo kits are another story, as there are few, if any, CARB-approved systems available for 'Stangs of any vintage.

So when John asked us if we wanted to take part in installing Hellion's long-awaited Mustang GT turbo system and dial it in with DiabloSport tuning software on Charles Lee's brand-new '06 GT, you can imagine how quickly we said yes.

Disconnecting the negative battery cable is always the first order of business. With that task complete, John removes the airbox and inlet, drains the engine's coolant, modifies the upper and lower radiator hoses, and repositions the lower hose and thermostat housing to make room for the turbocharger.

Modifying the radiator hose includes removing a small section and inserting the included piece of splice tubing to replace the removed section. It routes coolant flow away from the front of the engine. All the factory hose clamps are reused during this step.

Similar to many of the popular centrifugal superchargers we've installed, the Turbonetics turbo in this kit is lubricated by engine oil that's sourced directly from the oil-filter housing and returned to the pan. Hellion's kit includes a punch and 3/8-inch pipe tap for creating and threading a hole for an AN -10 return-line fitting. John suggests coating the tap with white grease to catch metal shavings before they fall into the oil. As a rule of thumb, changing the engine oil and filter is recommended when installing any power-adder that requires this type of modification to the oil pan. A 1/4-inch T-style fitting is included and used to remount the oil-pressure sending unit and an AN -4 fitting for the oil-feed line in the filter housing.

The factory sway bar must be dropped 1 1/2 inches to make way for the hot-side turbo pipes, which is all of the tubing that channels exhaust gasses. John developed two brackets similar to this one. They feature countersunk bolt holes for a flush, clean fit and mount directly in the factory brackets' location on the lower core support.

The factory H-pipe is the only piece of this turbo install that requires cutting. John measures the passenger-side pipe approximately 2 inches back from the first bend after the catalytic converter. On the driver side, the measurement is 3 inches behind the first after-cat bend.

It's important to be perfect, or close to it, with each measurement before you cut. Cut less and work your way into perfection, rather than hacking away and taking too much material.

John removes the H-pipe and cleans the remaining sections with a small grinder, ensuring there are no hanging burrs or other detrimental shavings.

This is one of the biggest parts of the kit's unseen cool-the 439 stainless steel 3-inch turbo inlet and crossover tube. With the factory catalytic converters still in place, these big tubes feed exhaust from the stock manifolds up to the turbine. They're the turbine's source of power. The hot-side includes slip-fit and flanged-end tubes; Hellion supplies a bevy of torque- and V-band clamps to properly secure each section. No welding is required for this system. After installing the hot-side, John recommends only tightening the tubes and clamps fully when the entire system is installed, allowing for possible adjustments. He also suggests rechecking for proper chassis clearance.

The turbo itself requires minimal bench assembly prior to installation. Each kit includes this cool extension fitting for the oil drain that must be preinstalled in the drain flange on the turbocharger.

Adding the AN -10 oil drain line, the 2.5-inch silicone coupler for the compressor housing, the 90-degree vacuum fitting, and attaching the turbo inlet pipe should be done at this time. Installing this stuff now makes the head unit a plug-and-play deal.

Hellion's bar-and-plate, single-core, high-flow inter-cooler supports 1,000 hp and can be raised into position from beneath the 'Stang's front-bumper cover. Prior to this step, the intercooler pipe should be dropped into place from above, between the fan shroud and K-member.

The 'cooler is secured with these included brackets that mount to the upper core support. Note how the A/C line retains its factory location.

John is tightening the lower intercooler tubing, another example of Bassani's precise bends, welds, and the clean fit consistent in all Hellion's turbo system's plumbing. "If you buy a kit from me now and another two years from now, it will be the same system as far as the tubes are concerned," John says. The setup's instructions are packed with detailed photos that identify each piece and can guide a mechanically adept enthusiast through installation.

On the left is the S197's OEM alternator-support bracket, which is replaced by Hellion's beefy turbo support. Swapping these pieces requires raising the intake manifold slightly, but it doesn't have to be removed. Once the new bracket is in place, John replaces the original fuel injectors with the included Ford Racing Performance Parts 39-lb/hr squirters.

Here's a closer look at the turbo-support bracket with the turbocharger attached. Note the two additional mounting holes just above the turbo. Hellion added them to facilitate installing a larger, 76mm turbocharger on the Three-Valve mill. Once the turbo is in place, a downpipe is attached to the exhaust side of the turbo housing. The middle sections of the exhaust system are routed below the 'Stang and through the passenger side of the K-member.

Don't discard the clamps from the section of the factory H-pipe that's removed, as they're used to secure a new Y-pipe for the turbo kit's exhaust. Again, there's no welding required. The slip-fit tubes and hangers remain in the factory location and make completing the exhaust system simple.

John connects the Y-pipe to the two remaining sections of the OEM exhaust pipe and mufflers. Charles' 'Stang will serve as Bassani's jig for a new 3-inch exhaust system for Hellion-turbocharged S197s. It should be available later this year.

Super-trick, big-tube turbo headers aren't necessary for this system. The stock exhaust manifolds produce sufficient exhaust flow for making 7-10 psi of boost. There's one thing to note about exhaust systems for turbocharged cars: It's important to have a good, free-flowing system to compensate for the slight restriction/increased back-pressure created by the turbine. Bassani's aforementioned 3-inch setup should do a good job of that.

Even though Hellion's '05-'07 Mustang GT turbo system is designed to work with the stock mass air, John uses MAFia from DiabloSport to ensure that performance won't be limited by a pegged meter. If a MAFia isn't used, the 'Stang's factory mass air wiring must be extended so it can connect to the sensor in the new inlet.

Here is the completed S197 turbo system, shown installed with its unique oval-shaped throttle-body coupler, bypass valve, vacuum lines, polished inter-cooler pipe, and modified PCV assembly. The Hellion logo is printed on all of the kit's silicone couplers. This kit looks at home as it sits between the fenders of Charles' '06 GT.

Shawn Ellis of SoCal Tuning & Performance uses a DiabloSport Predator to load a starter program into the 'Stang's PCM. Hellion doesn't include programming with its turbo systems. John says he established this policy mainly because in the real world, every vehicle is different, and with customers living at all points of the country, it's impossible to establish a base tune that will work the same way at different altitudes. Owners will have to take their newly turbocharged 'Stangs to the dyno to be fine-tuned anyway, so John believes it's best to have a tuning specialist get things started.

With our installation complete and a basic DiabloSport tune programmed into the PCM by Shawn Ellis of SoCal Tuning and Performance, we took Charles Lee's Hellion-turbocharged '06 across town to Superior Automotive and Dyno Service of Anaheim, California. Shawn used the dyno to perfect the engine's air/fuel ratio for improved driveability, horsepower, and torque.

It's important to stress that this turbo setup isn't offered with tuning programs, not even for simple engine startup after the kit has been installed. John Urist says that this is done intentionally, so owners understand the importance of dyno tuning-even for something as simple as starting the engine-for this type of power-adder application.

With Shawn using DiabloSport tuning software to make fuel and timing adjustments in the PCM, our initial power hits on Superior's Dynojet chassis dyno yielded 398.57 hp (5,100 rpm) and 423.75 lb-ft of torque (4,600 rpm). They're relatively low figures considering this setup's potential. But after installing an auxiliary Auto Meter boost gauge and making another pull, we realized this performance was the result of only 7 psi of boost and 18 degrees of timing, which actually makes that kind of power more than plausible, especially taking into account that S197's bone-stock, rear-wheel power output is about 250 ponies.

After making a simple shim adjustment on the wastegate (the kit comes with 5 shims) to ensure a full 10 psi of boost, Shawn and Superior's dyno operator, Joe Jill Jr., dropped timing to approximately 15 degrees and went for the gusto. With a solid 10 psi showing on the boost gauge, Charles Lee's Hellion turbo-boosted '06 rocked the rollers to the tune of 423.23 hp (5,200 rpm) and 439.27 lb-ft of torque (4,800 rpm).

We're anxious to see how the folks at CARB receive this new turbo system. For all intent and purpose, it seems to do a great job covering both bases-satisfying the need to protect the environment, and, of course, satisfying 'Stang enthusiasts' hunger for horsepower.

Power Torque Power Torque Power Torque
2,500 120.07 262.76 79.00 165.96 -41.07 -96.{{{80}}}
2,600 123.49 259.44 87.65 177.06 -35.84 -82.38
2,700 128.99 260.56 97.43 189.52 -31.56 -71.04
2,800 135.68 263.92 109.59 205.56 -26.09 -58.36
2,{{{900}}} 141.53 265.47 122.88 222.53 -18.65 -42.94
3,000 146.04 264.49 140.53 246.02 -5.51 -18.47
3,100 149.27 261.32 155.17 262.88 5.{{{90}}} 1.56
3,200 154.21 261.27 171.42 281.34 17.21 20.07
3,{{{300}}} 159.41 261.65 194.43 309.43 35.02 47.78
3,400 166.34 264.73 217.46 335.91 51.12 71.18
3,500 174.65 269.78 {{{240}}}.31 360.6 65.66 90.82
3,600 183.58 275.48 258.75 377.48 75.17 102.00
3,700 190.97 278.60 272.79 387.22 81.82 108.{{{62}}}
3,800 196.34 278.70 284.61 393.37 88.27 114.67
3,900 202.36 279.68 296.25 398.94 93.89 119.26
4,000 210.06 282.88 311.72 409.29 101.66 126.41
4,100 216.87 284.75 325.11 416.46 108.24 131.71
4,200 224.27 287.29 335.76 419.86 111.49 132.57
4,300 231.45 289.42 349.57 426.96 118.12 137.54
4,400 236.47 288.83 360.98 430.88 124.51 142.05
4,500 240.50 287.08 371.81 433.95 131.31 146.87
4,600 243.90 284.67 382.1 436.27 138.20 151.60
4,700 247.51 282.60 392.02 438.06 144.51 155.46
4,800 250.89 280.36 401.46 439.27 150.57 158.91
4,900 254.78 278.78 409.08 438.48 154.30 159.70
5,000 258.15 276.70 415.33 436.28 157.18 159.58
5,100 261.53 274.72 420.00 432.53 158.47 157.81
5,200 263.05 270.90 423.23 427.46 160.18 156.56
5,300 262.76 265.39 N/A N/A N/A N/A
5,400 263.80 261.42 N/A N/A N/A N/A
5,500 262.72 255.53 N/A N/A N/A N/A
5,600 262.27 250.45 N/A N/A N/A N/A
5,700 262.60 246.29 N/A N/A N/A N/A

*This baseline isn't from the same car, but another bone-stock S197; it's here to give you a ballpark idea.

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