KJ Jones Senior Technical Editor
July 21, 2010
Photos By: KJ Jones

We've extolled the virtues and pitfalls of adding power adders to '79-'10 Mustangs for what honestly seems like an infinite number of times. Our work with nitrous, blowers, and turbo systems always includes giving you specifics on the amount of rear-wheel horsepower and torque they help generate. However, anti-pollution standards established by the California Air Resources Board put Cali enthusiasts in a tough spot, as installing one of the Big Three power adders could put them at odds with the authorities. Officially, CARB's "smog laws," as the regulations are known throughout the world of high performance, are "designed to protect the environment and public health, and provide safe, clean air to all Californians by reducing emissions of air contaminants through the fair, consistent, and comprehensive enforcement of air pollution laws, and by providing training and compliance assistance," according to the organization's website (www.arb.ca.gov).

Most products designed to enhance an engine's performance require significant changes in fuel volume and timing advance that could cause engines to produce and emit carbon-dioxide levels greater than the CARB's accepted maximums for cars or trucks, based on their engine size. These limits create a catch-22 for enthusiasts craving performance, mainly because non-CARB-approved engine parts make bigger steam than smog-legal parts, and the board is extremely uptight about the amount of CO2 vehicles emit (during an emissions test). CARB's tough tests focus primarily on a fuel-injected engine's "cold-start" emissions output, which usually is predi-cated by the engine's basic running condition and emissions control equipment, as well as the calibration in the PCM.

Earning a coveted EO authorization number is a long and expensive process that most aftermarket companies don't pursue. From a dollars-and-cents perspective, the returns from sold products just don't justify the overall investment for making parts to meet the board's restrictive standards and still perform in the same manner as non-compliant hardware.

The hard reality is in order to be profitable, aftermarket performance-parts manufacturers must build for the masses in the entire U.S. and beyond, not exclusively for Mustang fans in the Golden State. And at the end of the day, improving a Pony's performance is what we're all about, and it's one of the main reasons why non-CARB-legal products are predominately featured in our tech reports.

As you know, making big steam usually is our primary goal during these types of exercises. Honestly, CARB's clean-burn attitude is the least of our concern. However, this doesn't mean we have absolutely no compassion for 'Stangbangers in California or any other state with tough smog laws. However, we're interested in working with new, cool CARB-approved hardware for late-model Mustangs. Faithful readers on the West Coast know such opportunities have been few and far between for many years. So when we received word that a turbocharger setup for late-model 'Stangs had received CARB's blessing, we knew right away that installing one and giving you all the intelligence was mandatory!

The actual hardware in Turbonetics' '05-'09 Mustang GT turbo system (PN 15168-1; $7,599) really isn't "new," per se. The fact that this bolt-on boost kit is the first of its kind to be approved by CARB makes it worth covering.

We found a perfect candidate for testing in a stock, five-speed, '06 Mustang GT that GTR High Performance regularly services. Installing the turbo system is quite involved (the kit's detailed manual is nearly 100 pages long); it isn't a recommended DIY install unless you have a twin-post hoist and complete shop facilities at home. GTR co-owner Ricardo Topete handled the wrenchwork and dyno testing for us.

While we can't show every step of the bolt-on process, these photos and captions depict some of the CARB-legal turbo system's key features, important facets of its installation, and our dyno results. One thing we really like about this kit is that all of its brackets attach to existing factory positions (holes, studs, and so on), so there's no drilling or elaborate fabricating required, and all of an S197's original accessory equipment, including air conditioning, is unfazed by the turbo system.

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