KJ Jones Senior Technical Editor
February 17, 2011
Photos By: KJ Jones

Horse Sense: OK, we admit to there being a trend, of sorts, with regard to a few of our recent nitrous-oxide tests. While we have called on AMP Performance for assistance with the juice squeezing, we want all of you to clearly understand that the crew at AMP's talents go far beyond those of simply being able to install a nitrous unit and fill the bottle. Trust us when we tell you, AMP Performance definitely has proven itself as one of the go-to Mustang shops in our arsenal of support facilities for all sorts of cool tech projects.

At this point, we've done more than enough pontificating about the greatness of the '11 Mustang GT and its vaunted Coyote 5.0-liter engine. Individually and as a combination that makes up the new GT-model Pony, there are few negative words to utter about the duo. This is especially true when the discussion focuses on crankshaft, rear-wheel, and dragstrip performance before a barrage of aftermarket parts are installed.

Bolt-ons are taking new 'Stangs to the next level. As we've demonstrated in all of the tests we've done thus far, basic and elaborate bolt-ons dramatically improve '11 Ponies in all of these categories. While our research hasn't yet shown us a breaking point for the OEM 5.0s, the proverbial sky seems to be the only thing limiting the Coyote from firmly establishing itself as the baddest factory-produced Mustang engine-ever. It may even eclipse the '07-'11 Shelby GT500's supercharged, 5.4-liter bullet!

For this particular tech effort, we're evaluating yet another '11 Mustang GT performance package, this time featuring the production version of JLT's SCT-calibrated cold-air system (PN CFCAIX3-FMG-11, $699) and a set of short-tube headers with an x-shaped crossover tube (PN 16320, $449.99; PN 1460, $169.99) from BBK Performance.

Throughout the years, tests have proven that late-model 'Stangs' rear-wheel power and torque thrive by simply adding CAIs and exhaust to otherwise bone-stock cars. We aim to find out just how much steam these particular pieces will add at the feet of Dana Allen's brand-new rag-top '11 California Special. And after the naturally aspirated numbers are logged, our power mission goes a few steps further, as we top off the upgrades with a nitrous Blackout-a new '11 5.0-Mustang-specific nitrous system from Zex (PN 82390B, $679.95).

Yes, we're back at AMP Performance in Phoenix, Arizona, for another nitrous-influenced project (see Horse Sense) that includes test rips on the quarter-mile at Firebird Raceway, as well.

AMP's access to two open-year-'round dragstrips is one of the major benefits of working with company-owner Tom Thompson and his team. The 1,320 definitely is the place to quantify the performance-focused changes we make on late-model 'Stangs.

As you'll see in the following photos and captions, the install players are the cats we've come to count on when we work on tech stuff at AMP. Jesse Allen handled the heavy lifting throughout, while shop lead, Chris Ciolek stepped in at dyno time. Your tech editor handled things at Firebird, closing out a test that once-again shows us how easy it is to make absolutely silly street/strip power with a new 5.0 Mustang.

On The Dyno
We put Dana Allen's '11 Mustang GT California Special through a battery of evaluative runs on the Dynojet chassis dyno at AMP Performance. Using 91-octane pump fuel, JLT's CAI and dyno calibration were tested immediately after their installation, and posted the (approximately) 15-rwhp gain that is typical for such entry-level bolt-ons.

Despite having a near-perfect all-motor air/fuel ratio, the CAI/dyno tune and short-tube-headers/X-crossover combination shows the importance of custom tuning for such upgrades. Obviously we needed some to bring out the best from this combo. Because of time limitations, our intent with this effort from the outset was to present the effect of these components as bolt-ons. We can't stress enough that tuning is required in almost all instances where power and torque are being enhanced on the new 5.0 engines.

As expected, the addition of nitrous presented instant power and torque gains at the rear wheels of our test 'Stang. However, the important detail to note is that our 100hp and 150hp nitrous shots were made without any additional tuning. Based on air/fuel ratios that were recorded at both power levels, the fuel and timing calibrations in JLT's dyno tune proved to be more than sufficient for our bolt-on exercise.

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