KJ Jones Senior Technical Editor
April 1, 2009
Photos By: Courtesy of Anderson Ford Motorsport
Anderson Ford Motorsports' infamous mule S197 Mustang has seen more than its fair share of bolt-on upgrades in its four years of service as the shop's primary test vehicle. The '05 GT features a D.S.S. SuperMOD short-block with Anderson/JDC hand-ported heads, stock cams, 60-lb-hr fuel injectors, an Anderson Power Pipe, a Vortech T-Trim supercharger, and the new DBX 97mm digital mass-air meter from Abaco (with an 8-inch air filter).

Horse Sense: Product evaluations that involve shotgun-style, back-to-back-to-back-to-back (and then some) installation and the test and removal of similar parts (made by various manufacturers)-like the header slam we're reporting on in this story-are exactly the type of research projects that Rick Anderson lives for. On most workdays, Rick can be found hunkered down in Anderson Ford Motorsports' dyno facility for hours, doing whatever it takes to make max power with the aftermarket's performance offerings for Mustangs. While upgrading '05-'09 Mustangs may not be every enthusiast's proverbial cup of tea, we've noticed that many S197 owners are down for whatever when it comes to modifying their Ponies.

Of course we always do our best to keep you updated on the latest high-performance bits and pieces that are being made for the newest 'Stangs in Ford's stable. Sometimes, however, due to forces beyond our control, we really can't be as in-depth with our research as we'd like.

Whenever we work on a Mustang project with Rick Anderson, we end up with enough data to fill nearly every page of the magazine, let alone the four to six pages of our normal tech reports. That's just the way it is with Rick; almost as though the man lives for using AFM's dyno to uncover every granule of information that can be gleaned from a particular part or system that has an effect on a Mustang's performance.

We're familiar with Racecraft's chassis-components Mustangs (the company's K-member sits up front on our '86 T-top coupe, and Project Boss 340 will be fully suspended by Racecraft's pieces). For this header-swap marathon, the mule's OEM engine cradle was swapped for a Racecraft '05-'09 Mustang K-member ($1,099). The new 4130 chrome-moly piece features a lightweight polyurethane-dampend engine mount that is a lot less bulky than the stock mount and provides plenty of clearance for long-tube exhaust systems on the new 'Stangs. Rick Anderson says the K-member makes S197 header swaps or installations doable in about four hours (without using a hoist).

For this tech effort-a comparative test of seven long-tube header systems for S197 'Stangs (Bassani Xhaust, BBK Performance, Hooker Headers, JBA Headers, Kooks Custom Headers, MAC Products and Stainless Works)-we're taking research on the rollers to the max by having Rick install each set of tubes on Anderson's mule '05 Mustang GT, dyno-testing all of them to find out which system performs best, as well as provide details on their installation, fitment, and son on. (Note: Each manufacturer decided which of its '05-'09 Mustang header systems we would test. The tests were performed with 11 psi of boost and air/fuel constant at 11.8. Rick used Anderson's "beta" S197 PMS to make timing adjustments only in order to maximize the horsepower for each application).

Most of our tests with S197s have focused on various methods of bringing air into the Three-Valve engines of S197 GTs (cold-air induction systems, throttle bodies, mass-air sensors, and more). Prior to this experiment, we really hadn't done much beyond flirt (by incorporating various post-catalytic muffler systems in Three-Valve bolt-on projects) with any real study of exhaust pieces that send spent gases into theatmosphere and help (or hurt) low-end performance for the high-winding modular engines.

Buckle up, 'Stang fans! The following photos, detailed specs on each header set that we tested, and the all-important dyno data are the result of the most comprehensive study of S197 exhaust headers any Mustang magazine has done thus far. Hopefully it will provide insights to help you select the right header system for your Three-Valve Pony.