KJ Jones Senior Technical Editor
June 1, 2009
Saul "The Surgeon" Gutierrez of Extreme Automotive pushes Western Motorsports' high-velocity intake pieces into place on a bone-stock, low-miles, 4.6-liter engine in an '06 Mustang GT. We're evaluating WMS's unique center-mounted CAI upgrade, which features a cool tray-like ram-air box that routes cold air in a straight shot from a Mustang's grille directly into the oval-shaped filter, mass-air housing, urethane coupler, and throttle body.

Cold-air-intake systems arguably have been the most popular bolt-on upgrades for S197 ('05-present) Mustangs since the cars became available nearly five years ago. It's amazing how quickly time has passed.

In that half-decade, we've reviewed different CAI systems and discussed the concept and principles behind diverting cooler air into a late-model 'Stang's Three-Valve engine. In a nutshell, aftermarket air-intake setups promote improved performance by drawing in higher volumes of ambient air (compared to OEM filters and tubing alone) from beyond the confines of a 'Stang's engine compartment. Greater air density and the increased volume that CAIs generate accelerate fuel atomization, which creates a hotter explosion inside the cylinders and produces more horsepower.

Although there certainly are visual similarities between many of today's popular S197 cold-air systems, it really is unfair to refer to them all as "the same." Each system includes (oftentimes subtle) differences in their design (tubing curvature/airflow and materials) and operation (requires/doesn't require additional engine tuning) that have varying effects on '05-'09 stock or modified 4.6 Three-Valve engines.

A stifling airbox and obscenely inefficient inlet tube (check out that elbow just before the throttle body) are the primary fault areas in S197s' OEM air-intake system. Although many new enthusiasts are quickly learning about the poor quality of this design, we can't stress enough that these pieces should be replaced-sooner rather than later. In preparing for installation of the WMS system, Saul removes this factory equipment as a unit, as well as the test 'Stang's original radiator cover, which will be replaced by the new ram-air box.

Western Motorsports' High-Velocity Intake and Ram Air box (PN WMS-HV105R; $479), a direct-flow CAI for S197 Mustang GTs (High Velocity Intake kits also are available for V-6 Ponies), is our test product for this month's Tech Inspection.

The immediately noticeable highlights of the WMS cold-air setup are its ABS-plastic ram-air box (it's actually more like a tray that's enclosed once the hood is shut), which replaces the radiator cover in a Mustang's engine bay, and a cool oval-shaped, billet, 80mm mass-air housing that sits front-and-center in the box. This unique front-mount design takes advantage of the trey-valve's forward-facing throttle body, allowing cold air to channel directly through the grille instead of using a long inlet tube that curves off to the corner of the engine compartment, and directly replaces the factory airbox (similar to the way most CAI kits are positioned).

While we were given the option of testing a WMS intake system that requires tuning (the tuner system uses a 95mm mass-air housing and SCT program, and should be used on modified S197s), we thought it better to evaluate Western's "non-tune" intake system, for those enthusiasts with stone-stock '05-'09 'Stangs who are considering intake-air alternatives that don't alter the factory's PCM settings.

The 'Stang's factory coolant overflow reservoir requires relocating, and Western Motorsports provides the bracket, hoses, clamps, and clips that are required (there's no drilling necessary for this procedure) to make it a simple deal. After draining the coolant, Saul positions and secures the jug on the driver-side front fender; then attaches the new feed and return hoses.

Saul "The Surgeon" Gutierrez of Extreme Automotive in Canoga Park, California, is helping us with the High Velocity Intake unit's simple installation-a do-it-yourself enthusiast can do this in about two hours with handtools-and evaluation of the before/after dyno results on an '06 Mustang GT that was at the shop for service.