KJ Jones Senior Technical Editor
October 6, 2010
Photos By: KJ Jones

As changes to late-model Mustangs go, Ford made a big-time change for V-8-powered Ponies back in 1996, when their tried-and-true, 5.0-liter engines were discontinued. The engines were replaced with single-overhead-camshaft, 4.6-liter bullets that came to be known as modular engines for their shared tooling with other-displacement versions of the same family on the assembly line.

After a shaky first few years of existence-which included die-hard, 5.0-loving 'Stangbangers' reluctance to accept modular technology-the new engines eventually earned our respect with their performance. Advancements in engine blocks, cylinder heads, camshaft profiles, rotating assemblies, and such helped spawn widespread acceptance of Two-, Three-, and Four-Valve modulars. We also learned that improved performance is easily achieved using bolt-on pieces or power adders, just as it was with the 5.0s that powered '86-to-'95 EFI 'Stangs.

Change once again brings us a new, immediately exciting V-8 powerplant for 2011 and future Mustangs. The engine, code-named Coyote, mates 5.0-liter displacement with modern-day, double-overhead-camshaft technology. This improvement, along with many other modular-originated tricks, results in what already is being considered the best production engine that has ever occupied the space between a Pony's front fenders.

This new engine created an exciting air of mystery in the modern Mustang scene. With horsepower listed as 412 at the flywheel, a previously unimaginable 11.0:1 compression ratio, a 7,000-rpm redline, and Copperhead PCM logic that features Twin Independent Variable Camshaft Timing, the new mill opens an incredible can of worms in regard to how the engine will respond to upgrades. What, exactly, will be the best recipe for big steam?

Several popular Mustang shops are off to the races, pushing the '11 5.0 Mustang GT's performance envelope and each other, to determine just how bad the cars and engines really are. We're hooked up with the boys at Evolution Performance in Aston, Pennsylvania, who, thanks to virally spread Internet-video clips, now are '11 Mustang GT sensations. Shortly after taking delivery of a Kona Blue Metallic coupe, the boys at Evolution started chronicling its steady improvement on their Mustang Dyno chassis dynamometer and the quarter-mile proving ground at Atco Raceway (see "Street Feat," Sept. '10, pgs. 38-46).

By making only minimal hardware changes, such as relieving the car of its interior and any other non-essential components, and through stealth PCM tweaks that came at the mind and fingers of tuning guru Jon Lund the manual-six-speed Kona currently makes 465 at the feet and is oh-so-close to eclipsing the 9-second barrier.

While Evo's flagship 5.0 Pony is awesome by anyone's standards, we're more intrigued with finding out how good a new 'Stang can be when it doesn't take the path toward becoming a drag-specific race car. Evolution shares our interest in learning more about '11 'Stangs that are destined for the street. To conduct this research, the shop owns a second '11 (a Grabber Blue GT with a six-speed automatic transmission), with which Jon has been making serious inroads in manipulating the 5.0's Copperhead PCM to unleash what appears to be tons of additional performance from Ford's latest V-8.

The more things change, the more they are the same indeed. Evolution's entry-level performance theories for the new GT are no different from those of Mustangs from years past: Maximizing the efficiency of air (intake and exhaust), fuel and spark will improve a 'Stang's performance. To see how effective those methods are, your tech editor recently parlayed a trip from SoCal (coverage of the NMRA event in Milan, Michigan) and continued further east to participate in the massive bolt-on dyno-and-track test with Evolution's street 5.0.

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