Tom Wilson
February 1, 2010

Centrifugal superchargers and Mustangs have a long and storied history. We've been peering over the fender of Mustangs to photograph Vortech installations for more years than we care to count.

Lately positive-displacement blowers have grown in popularity, but Vortech's quiet, helically geared, self-contained-lubrication V-3 centrifugal blower is still a leader in adiabatic (heat) efficiency. As we saw in our Dec. '09 issue ("Centrifugal Horse," p. 54), Vortech's centrifugal superchargers post amazingly cool outlet temperatures, a prime contributor to their excellent power production. They are mechanically efficient as well, drawing away relatively lower engine power to turn the blower.

The Vortech supercharger bolts to the '10 Mustang much as it did to the '09-requiring just minor changes to accommodate differences in detail. At $5,683.95 suggested retail, it certainly holds the price line, and with a 492hp rating at the Three-Valve's flywheel, the power is rowdy good fun.

The only downside these days is smog legality. At press time, there isn't a single centrifugal supercharger for the '10 Mustang from any manufacturer with a CARB E.O. number, and it's a situation that likely won't change without a fair amount of new hardware.

The issue is a carbon trap inside the stock airbox. The carbon trap looks like little more than a square of heavy paper or felt glued to the roof of the air filter box. It soaks up hydrocarbons venting up through the air inlet when the engine is shut off. The hydrocarbons are subsequently re-ingested by the engine once it's running again. The California Air Resources Board says this exact trapping media must remain precisely in place and wants significant (read expensive) testing should someone want to relocate the trap to, say, inside a cold-air inlet tube.

Because of the way they package, this is a tough challenge to any centrifugal supercharger, Vortech's included. It's also a challenge to the positive displacement guys as well. Their tactic has been to retain the stock restrictive-with-a-supercharger airbox on their entry-level kits to gain a CARB E.O. number, but also offer a cold air intake as an extra-cost option for up-market, up-boost kits. The centrifugal folks might do the same, but there's no way to package the stock airbox and a blower in the same corner of the engine compartment, so the situation is stalled at the moment.

Aside from CARB being sensible and allowing the hydrocarbon trap to move into an aftermarket CAI, or having Vortech or even Ford Racing stepping up to the plate with a certified, blower-friendly inlet, or even just drilling a bunch of holes in the bottom of the stock airbox, it looks like the status quo may continue as-is for some time. It is, after all, a tough economy for developing expensive-to-certify-and-cheap-to-sell new parts.

For now Vortech is offering its '10 Mustang GT kit without a CARB E.O. number, which works for many enthusiasts. It includes a V-3 Si-Trim supercharger assembly, fitted with a 3.60-inch pulley for 10 to 11 pounds of boost at engine redline. Naturally, all mounting brackets, hoses, hardware and so on are included. The kit is essentially the '09 kit with those changes needed to accommodate the '10 Mustang. These are minor,, such as mounting brackets and reservoir shapes, so if you're familiar with previous Vortech installations the '10 version ought to look like family.

Vortech was kind enough to indulge us in putting its silver tester on a local Dynojet-the company's in-house Mustang dyno is repeatable but puts out such low numbers everyone agrees it's better to go to a Dynojet for comparison purposes.

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Naturally the rented Dynojet took a powder on us that day. We got data, but it looked more like a seismograph readout than a dyno test. We burned incense on the rollers and lit a few candles around the console, but it never did divulge usable data. Therefore we're using Vortech's previous test results to indicate what the V-3 boosted '10 GT can do.

Extrapolating from Vortech's original in-house chassis-dyno testing, the '10 GT baselines at 315 hp and 325 lb-ft of torque at the flywheel. Fitted with the charge-cooled V-3, the numbers jump to 492 hp and 432 lb-ft of torque for an impressive gain of 177 hp and 107 lb-ft of torque.

A healthy horsepower jump for sure, but that's an efficient centrifugal for you. Going much past 500 hp on a stock short-block usually equates pulling the pin on a grenade, so the Vortech kit takes you right up to the limit.

Uncaging the Animal
"Like caging wild animals," says our notes about the '07 GT500 convertible with the new Vortech VTS screw supercharger and a few optional enhancements. Vortech invited us behind the wheel of this thunderwagon while it was in the middle of being tuned by Vortech and Jon Lund Performance, but hey, the wide-open-throttle part was working just fine.

Set at somewhere north of 700 hp, the massive black convert was ready to party. This was accentuated by a slight dead spot just at throttle tip in, so getting going was almost easier just by dumping the clutch and spinning the tires-easy enough to do, we assure you. In fact, wheelspin was our steady companion, a quarter throttle turning the tires on dry pavement with ease. The rush once you got going was tremendous, of course, the speedo screaming from the 60-mph tick to points far to the right. It's amazing what real power and torque can do for these 4,100-pound cars.

An excitingly anti-social exhaust system did what it could to incite the riot, the fumes exiting through American Racing 1 7/8-inch long-tube headers, an American Racing 3-inch X-shape crossover pipe, and a custom 3-inch Magnaflow tailpipe and mufflers. Snorting good fun.

Vortech's new VTS 3300 twin-screw compressor, plus its even newer 123 mm mass air housing, monoblade throttle body, and a work-in-progress intake tube, are all power-mad pieces. Listed as capable of 22 pounds of boost and more than 900 hp, the VTS appears poised to answer any power need that can be realized with a DOT tire, and it gives a medium-loud shriek when working hard.

In standard form, the VTS is sold with a 10-rib, 4.0-inch pulley. It incorporates a generously sized 44.5mm bypass valve (most competitors are apparently 38mm) for $4,495.99. That would be all you'd need, but hot-rodded GT500s are not about need, and we're sure the big throttle body and mass air housings will sell nearly 1:1 with the standard VTS kit.

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Uncaging The Animal
Stock*VTS
Street**
Stock Vs.
Street
VTS
Track***
Street Vs.
Track
RPMHPTQHPTQHPTQHPTQHPTQ
2,000133.91351.63105.71326.60-28.20-25.03112.98296.117.27-30.49
2,100142.94357.48134.31352.29-8.63-5.19189.53473.5455.22121.25
2,200151.79362.36171.62429.1619.8366.80232.02553.8660.40124.70
2,300160.34366.14188.11449.1027.7782.96250.01570.8561.90121.75
2,400168.22368.14199.16454.8030.9486.66265.47580.9166.31126.11
2,500179.30376.67211.62463.1732.3286.50283.35595.2071.73132.03
2,600189.83383.42224.95472.6835.1289.26302.05610.1177.10137.43
2,700197.82384.77236.89478.6639.0793.89316.70616.0479.81137.38
2,800210.54394.91246.39479.9435.8585.03331.77622.2885.38142.34
2,900219.92398.29n/an/an/an/a347.12628.63n/an/a
3,000232.22406.57n/an/an/an/a361.27632.48n/an/a
3,100240.82408.03287.85504.8147.0396.78377.23639.0789.38134.26
3,200253.40415.89292.53495.9739.1380.08391.29642.2298.76146.25
3,300259.70413.30310.52509.8550.8296.55406.71647.2796.19137.42
3,400270.87418.41322.18512.8551.3194.44421.84651.6299.66138.77
3,500282.03423.21334.52516.7252.4993.51436.48654.98101.96138.26
3,600289.79422.77340.83511.4051.0488.63450.94657.87110.11146.47
3,700300.03425.88358.87523.4958.8497.61464.74659.70105.87136.21
3,800303.34419.25365.43518.7262.0999.47483.15667.74117.72149.02
3,900317.56427.66384.65531.6367.09103.97493.97665.27109.32133.64
4,000324.88426.57397.42535.2272.54108.65508.64667.81111.22132.59
4,100333.23426.86408.59536.4975.36109.63520.74667.10112.15130.61
4,200340.74426.09417.22534.4376.48108.34535.39669.46118.17135.03
4,300352.09430.06434.32543.1082.23113.04551.87674.09117.55130.99
4,400362.64432.87448.21547.4585.57114.58565.20674.64116.99127.19
4,500369.23430.96458.36547.1489.13116.18577.22673.71118.86126.57
4,600375.31428.52473.65552.8198.34124.29586.83670.02113.18117.21
4,700378.99423.52481.66549.94102.67126.42600.92671.50119.26121.56
4,800381.03416.93492.69550.54111.66133.61612.59670.31119.90119.77
4,900386.93414.74501.63548.90114.70134.16617.71662.11116.08113.21
5,000387.82407.37514.80551.79126.98144.42630.59662.39115.79110.60
5,100399.11411.00521.91548.23122.80137.23638.06657.10116.15108.87
5,200401.88405.90534.94550.89133.06144.99652.00658.53117.06107.64
5,300406.77403.09540.24545.66133.47142.57662.84656.84122.60111.18
5,400404.17393.10551.69546.70147.52153.60670.06651.74118.37105.04
5,500408.20389.81561.33545.96153.13156.15677.47646.93116.14100.97
5,600404.94379.79570.44544.73165.50164.94689.15646.36118.71101.63
5,700416.42383.71578.91542.96162.49159.25695.68641.02116.7798.06
5,800423.13383.17582.44536.67159.31153.50702.42636.08119.9899.41
5,900422.34375.98590.43534.65168.09158.67708.23630.47117.8095.82
6,000412.86361.39598.36532.65185.50171.26711.62622.93113.2690.28
6,100407.45350.83603.67528.43196.22177.60712.26613.28108.5984.85
6,200419.38355.28611.00526.07191.62170.79712.63603.69101.6377.62

* All stock except after-cat exhaust
** VTS 3300, 15 psi, 91-octane pump gasoline, 123mm Vortech mass-air housing, Vortech monoblade throttle body, after-cat exhaust
*** VTS 3300, 21 psi, 116-octane leaded racing gasoline, 123mm Vortech mass-air housing, Vortech monoblade throttle body, after-cat exhaust