K.J. Jones
August 24, 2012
Photos By: Drew Phillips

We admit the number of stories on these pages highlighting cold-air-induction systems, larger throttle bodies, exhaust pieces, and PCM calibrations may number somewhere close to the thousands at this point. However, the basic bolt-on report you're about to read is a first.

We take a bone-stock V-8 Mustang from each of the popular late-model platforms and pit them against one another in a test to see which is the most receptive to entry-level upgrades. You might wonder why? That question is best answered by Editor Turner.

"While reading one of KJ's Coyote bolt-on stories, I began to wonder how the average gains of the latest Mustangs stacked up to the gains on earlier Ponies," Steve says. "By testing the same bolt-on parts on each generation that we cover--on the same dyno--not only do we see how far power has come in the last 33 years, but it also reveals that Mustangs of all eras still respond to the basic, affordable bolt-ons."

To pull this deal off, we turned to our friends at GTR High Performance in Rancho Cucamonga, California, for assistance locating suitable participants, and their time, expertise, and Dynojet chassis dyno.

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Using similar stock Mustangs--all with manual transmissions--is just as crucial. In referring to our test Mustangs as bone-stock, we're saying their engines are not modified in any way (an exception was made for the '91 LX's distributor cap and wires). As you'll see, some of the cars do have upgraded suspensions or cosmetic changes. Concessions also were made for such mods, as they don't in any way affect the performance-increase percentages that are our focus.

Yes, our research is headlined as a bolt-on battle on the cover of this issue. However, it's important that you understand we are not comparing similar products that are produced by different aftermarket companies. We also aren't providing you with detailed installation insights or emphasizing the effects of the tested parts on an individual basis. To the contrary, the results of this unique venture will show you the differences in their collective impact on power and torque for each engine platform.

Everyone we told about this project thinks it's a cool concept, and quite frankly, we find it hard to argue with them. Read on and see what our tests revealed. While Coyote is as hot as fish grease now, Mustang engines that precede the newest 5.0 are still solid bang-for-the-buck players in their own rights.

Horse Sense: If we had a buck for every time we've heard "What's the best Mustang engine to modify?" and "Which engine makes the most power with basic bolt-ons?" It's a pretty good bet that we would be able to front a Mega Millons winner a sizable loan.

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