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.

Photo Gallery

View Photo Gallery

Photo Gallery

View Photo Gallery