KJ Jones
March 1, 2013
Photos By: KJ Jones, Drew Phillips

Regular followers of 5.0 Mustang & Super Fords are aware that our tech projects typically cover various ways of taking '86-to-present, V-8-powered Mustangs to the next level. This usually entails removing original equipment and installing bolt-on parts that promote increased horsepower and torque at the rear wheels.

While a test 'Stang's response to mods usually are presented in total, through charts and graphs of baseline and post-installation dyno runs, we recently experimented with a new method of evaluating Mustang performance, which really seems to be a hit. Our latest test practice involves bringing groups of stock Ponies and their parts together for showdowns—on the chassis dyno, of course—that ultimately prove which Mustang-engine platform makes the most of basic swappables: cold-air induction, throttle body, after-cat exhaust, and tuning.

How is that different from any other dyno test? Well, while dyno runs certainly are pivotal elements of both formats, the big difference with these tests is that we use completely stock Mustangs, and compare performance differences from a percentage-increase standpoint, as opposed to a breakdown of overall power gain.

The first showdown took place in June 2012 at GTR High Performance in Rancho Cucamonga, California, where bone-stock representatives from the four most popular EFI Mustang platforms ('87-'93, '99-'04, '05-'10 and '11-'13) were equipped with the same bolt-ons. It's important to understand that by saying the "same" groups of basic parts, we mean the cold-air systems, throttle bodies, and exhaust sets all are relatively close in size and design, and all the components were sourced from the same companies. This is a requirement that remains constant for this and all future battles.

"Quite simply our first Bolt-On Battle story turned out so well, that we thought it would be fun to use the same concept to compare how other Mustangs stack up to one another when bolt-ons are added," Editor Steve Turner said. "Since the Coyote is the latest iteration of the Four-Valve modular engine, it only seemed logical to compare it with its naturally aspirated older brothers. So, in addition to a 5.0-powered '13 GT, our test group this time is comprised of a '97 Cobra, an '01 Cobra, and an '03 Mach."

While we're following the same test guidelines that were established in the first piece ( "The Main Event," Oct. '12, p. 52), and once-again using BBK Performance's throttle bodies and SCT tuning by Chris Jones of Blow-By Racing, we changed our lineup of maufacturers to keep things fresh. For this effort, we made a switch to cold-air systems from JLT Performance, and we're installing Flowmaster's after-cat exhaust kits only, on our control set of 'Stangs.

The fine technicians at GTR once again took care of installation and dyno tasks, while Tech Editor KJ Jones handled the photos and record keeping for all of the data you're about to take in. If you like this format, please let us know. The battle might just rage on!

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Horse Sense: "Most people are on a tighter budget these days, so maximizing the benefits of your bolt-on dollar is even more important," Editor Steve Turner explained. "With any luck, this series will help you determine what combination to pursue with your project, be it for your current ride or one you are planning to buy."

1997 Ford Mustang Cobra

Chris Amarante owns the super-clean 72,977-mile 97 Cobra that were using in our second Bolt-On Battle. The Snake is completely original, right down to the production-dated spark-plug wires. Finding Chriss Cobra in such a stock form was a bit of a surprise, as most of the 96-98s we looked at were modified (extensively, in many cases). The first-generation modular Cobras carry a bit of a bad rep, especially among SVT faithful, based on their Four-Valve engines super-restrictive induction and B cylinder heads, which muster minimal torque on the low side but perform well in the upper register. The 96-98s B heads are better suited for power-adder-assisted race applications and actually are coveted by many NMRA competitors that use DOHC modular engines.

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On The Dyno

Baseline TB EXH CAI Tune Baseline vs. Tune
RPM HP TQ A/F HP TQ A/F HP TQ A/F HP TQ A/F HP TQ A/F HP TQ
4,000 208.44 273.69 11.29 204.74 268.82 11.27 204.10 267.99 11.33 199.75 262.28 13.88 211.72 277.99 12.90 3.28 4.30
4,500 233.58 272.63 11.38 230.76 269.34 11.21 230.41 268.93 11.29 229.19 267.50 14.06 239.32 279.32 13.17 5.74 6.69
5,000 256.99 269.95 11.42 255.07 267.93 11.31 254.03 266.84 11.41 251.16 263.82 14.26 265.75 279.15 13.20 8.76 9.20
5,500 265.65 253.68 11.33 265.03 253.08 11.26 265.69 253.72 11.35 266.53 254.52 14.07 279.30 266.71 13.11 13.65 13.03
6,000 261.24 228.68 11.39 263.63 230.77 11.33 262.97 230.20 11.32 266.53 233.31 13.94 278.81 244.06 13.08 17.57 15.38
6,500 n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a

1997 Cobra Parts List
1) BBK 62mm Throttle Body (PN 1705; $339.99)
2) Flowmaster After-Cat Exhaust System (PN 17212; $462.21)
3) JLT Ram Air Intake Kit (PN RAI2-FMC-9698; $259)
4) SCT SF3 Ford Flash Tuner (PN 3015; $380)

2001 Ford Mustang Cobra

Rosendo Ross Ortiz represents Street Stangs Mustang Club well with his 01 Cobra. Rosss Snake was the high-miler of our collection with 209,586 original miles on the odometer. For naturally aspirated New Edge Cobras (and Mach 1s), an updated C cylinder head and intake manifold package was introduced. The C heads feature a single intake port per cylinder and combustion chambers that are slightly larger than their alphabetically earlier siblings, which promotes much-improved street/mid-range torque and horsepower.

Chris Jones of Blow-By Racing in Margate, Florida, is an instrumental participant in our bolt-on warfare, providing final custom PCM calibrations for all of the participating Mustangs that require tuning beyond the capability of the hand-held flash device (SCTs Advantage III tuning software is used for this). After receiving Chriss new tune (in which Chris desensitized the knock sensors) via email, Ricardo loads it into the 01 and makes final passes on the Dynojet. Despite the loss of one horsepower, additional torque was achieved through the custom calibration.

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On The Dyno

Baseline TB EXH CAI Tune Baseline vs. Tune
RPM HP TQ A/F HP TQ A/F HP TQ A/F HP TQ A/F HP TQ A/F HP TQ
4,000 209.39 274.94 13.63 206.24 270.79 13.37 208.39 273.62 13.47 218.22 286.52 13.67 205.87 270.31 12.85 -3.52 -4.63
4,500 237.08 276.71 13.11 236.31 275.81 13.23 239.12 279.08 13.20 247.58 288.96 13.30 242.06 282.51 12.52 4.98 5.80
5,000 258.88 271.94 13.21 265.40 278.79 13.21 268.27 281.80 13.20 267.40 280.89 12.96 273.73 287.54 12.42 14.85 15.60
5,500 256.61 245.04 12.81 261.45 249.66 12.88 262.23 250.41 13.00 259.22 247.53 12.97 276.53 264.07 12.42 19.92 19.03
6,000 272.62 238.64 12.62 275.48 241.14 11.63 281.11 246.07 12.74 275.00 240.72 12.75 283.55 248.21 12.14 10.93 9.57
6,500 n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a

2001 Cobra Parts List
1) BBK 62mm Throttle Body (PN 1705; $339.99)
2) Flowmaster After-Cat Exhaust System (PN 17248; $512.63)
3) JLT Ram Air Intake Kit (PN RAI2-FMC-9901; $259)
4) SCT SF3 Ford Flash Tuner (PN 3015; $380)

2003 Ford Mustang Mach 1

Ryan Sandoval of the Superior Mustangs car club owns this 03 Mach 1 Shadow. While the car is black, Ryan anointed it with the nickname when the Snake sported its original Dark Shadow Gray Metallic paint. The 03-04 Mach 1s basically are the naturally aspirated variants of SVTs vaunted Terminator Cobras. Taking the Cobras Eaton supercharger out of the equation, theyre mechanically similar, as Mach 1s are not equipped with IRS, and automatic transmissions were available as an option for the last Stangs of the New Edge era. Cylinder heads for the Mach 1s arguably are the best street cylinder heads in the DOHC family for that time period. The heads were never given any letter identification, but they feature dual-intake, and rectangle-shaped exhaust ports that are larger than those on any other casting (other than Ford Racings FR500 race castings).

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On The Dyno

Baseline TB EXH CAI Tune Baseline vs. Tune
RPM HP TQ A/F HP TQ A/F HP TQ A/F HP TQ A/F HP TQ A/F HP TQ
4,000 207.54 265.38 12.04 216.79 284.64 12.99 208.66 267.92 13.00 191.66 251.62 13.15 223.95 294.06 12.77 16.41 28.68
4,500 230.17 268.64 12.16 246.48 287.68 12.59 234.45 273.62 12.78 234.46 273.65 13.20 257.32 300.33 12.92 27.15 31.69
5,000 271.00 284.67 12.08 271.12 284.80 12.56 274.03 287.85 12.59 275.18 289.05 12.97 279.85 293.96 12.64 8.85 9.29
5,500 261.73 249.93 12.53 260.92 249.16 12.73 264.90 252.96 12.90 265.20 253.25 13.18 268.42 256.33 12.76 6.69 6.40
6,000 260.99 228.46 12.76 262.73 229.99 12.62 266.91 233.65 12.72 268.35 234.90 12.85 269.40 235.82 12.56 8.41 7.36
6,500 n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a

2003 Mach 1 Parts List
1) BBK 62mm Throttle Body (PN 1705; $339.99)
2) Flowmaster After-Cat Exhaust System (PN 17312; $483.22)
3) JLT Ram Air Intake Kit (PN RAI2-FMM-0304-P; $259 + $30/Dark Shadow Grey paint)
4) SCT SF3 Ford Flash Tuner (PN 3015; $380)

2013 Ford Mustang GT

Once again, the Coyote is in the Bolt-On Battle mix, as cylinder heads on the '11-'13 Mustang GT's powerplant certainly qualify Ford's hottest 'Stang for participation. Lesa Alaniz served up her brand-new, '13 Pony for the upgrades. When we say new, we're talkin' only 3,610-miles new, so in a bit of a side study, we were also interested in seeing how Lesa's Pony stacks up (one-to-one) against Saoud Aseeri's '12 GT, which had 17,285 miles on its Coyote in our first Battle. Baseline-for-baseline, the "broken-in" 'Stang had the slight edge. However, as you'll see by comparing final numbers for both thoroughbreds (see "Main Event" on page 52 of our October '12 issue for Saoud's data), Lesa's Pony eeked out a little more steam with the bolt-ons.

On The Dyno

Baseline TB EXH CAI Tune Baseline vs. Tune
RPM HP TQ A/F HP TQ A/F HP TQ A/F HP TQ A/F HP TQ A/F HP TQ
4,000 266.96 350.52 12.72 273.7 359.36 12.42 275.52 361.76 12.38 284.70 373.81 12.03 286.44 376.09 11.72 19.48 25.57
4,500 314.22 366.75 12.81 319.4 372.83 12.51 322.14 375.98 12.63 330.05 385.22 12.19 335.60 391.69 11.80 21.38 24.94
5,000 336.18 353.13 12.79 342.1 359.33 12.60 344.02 361.36 12.66 355.08 372.99 12.14 364.69 383.08 12.00 28.51 29.95
5,500 357.30 341.20 12.66 363.9 347.50 12.51 371.96 355.20 12.52 381.64 364.44 12.15 392.18 374.51 12.34 34.88 33.31
6,000 361.91 316.80 12.46 368.3 322.35 12.44 377.58 330.52 12.47 387.16 338.91 12.40 396.72 347.27 12.47 34.81 30.47
6,500 n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a 400.72 323.79 12.56 409.15 330.60 12.62 n/a n/a

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2013 GT Parts List
1) BBK 85mm Throttle Body (PN 1821; $469.99)
2) Flowmaster After-Cat Exhaust System (PN 817587; $787.66)
3) JLT Ram Air Intake Kit (PN CAI-FMG-11-P; $299 + $50/Race Red paint)
4) SCT SF3 Ford Flash Tuner (PN 3015; $380)


Playing the Percentages
All of our Bolt-On Battles center on learning which Mustang-engine platforms are the most-receptive to popular, basic bolt-onsat the percentage level.

To do this, the following formula (which is based on each group's baseline and post-tuning power/torque numbers) is used:

Step 1: Subtract baseline power/torque value from final power/torque value
Step 2: Divide result by the baseline power/torque value (will be a decimal number)
Step 3: Convert that number into a percentage by multiplying it by 100, and then adding a % sign

In this exercise, the Battle and the overall war was won by the '13 Mustang GT, which we sort of expected would be the outcome of this round. The Coyote's overall efficiency in stock trim, which comes largely by way of its cylinder heads, makes it a hard package to beat when it comes to adding the basics and gaining more (total percentage) horsepower and torque.

Interestingly, the second-through-third place picture is somewhat cloudy. Ranking the '97 and '01 Cobras and the Mach 1 really depends on how you personally rank or appreciate horsepower and torque, as the performance results for their Four-Valve engines are split..

Four-Valve Mustang Power Increase Torque Increase
1997 Mustang Cobra 5.08% 2.51%
2001 Mustang Cobra 4.56% 2.87%
2003 Mustang Mach 1 3.26% 5.70%
2013 Mustang GT 12.37% 7.15%