Mark Houlahan
Brand Manager, Mustang Monthly
October 6, 2011
Photos By: Courtesy the Manufacturers

Whether it's to get down the track faster or to just turn heads at the local cruise night, there's no denying the power of a supercharger, both physically and visually. Pop the hood and watch onlookers be drawn in like flies to a bug zapper. The induction tubing, the blower whine, and just the overall presence of the blower unit itself puts people in awe. Of course, they make gobs of power too. There's no easier way to increase your engine's power output by an honest 50 percent or more than by just bolting on a supercharger kit. Hot rodders have been doing it for half a century and so has the OEM. From the '57 Thunderbird F-code to the '11 Shelby GT500, Ford has a long and storied history of factory supercharging. Some of Ford's most desirable models have been supercharged, including the Thunderbird SuperCoupe, '03-'04 "Terminator" Mustang Cobra, second gen F-150 SVT Lighting, and the aforementioned T-Bird and late-model Shelby GT500 to name a few. But there's another Mustang that everyone thinks of when you put the words supercharger and Shelby together, and that's the GT-350 from the '60s.

You've probably seen one on the pages of this magazine, or perhaps at a big Mustang show. The classic lines of an early fastback-Wimbledon white with blue stripes-draws you nearer and piques your interest. When you get to the engine compartment, there, sitting at the left front of the engine is the famous Paxton/McCulloch supercharger feeding into the "COBRA" lettered carburetor enclosure. While a fairly rare option for the GT-350, today, many tribute and clone Mustangs wear a similar blower package from Paxton, who still manufactures the kit. Paxton also offers several of its newer centrifugal supercharger units for use in classic Mustang applications. But Paxton isn't the only game in town when it comes to supercharging systems. A lot of your kit choices will be determined by your choice of drivetrain, but there are several major manufacturers with complete Ford supercharging systems.

For those of you with modern engine swaps, be it the traditional pushrod 5.0L from the Fox Mustang, or the more recent modular engines found in the '96 and up Mustangs, there's quite a selection of supercharging systems for you as well. Finally, a cottage industry of sorts has been growing for those out of luck from the traditional blower resources due to engine choice. Got a 351 Cleveland in your Mustang? We've found a supercharger kit for you too. They're all listed in the following photos, including pricing, power level, full application, and of course how to contact each company. So if you're looking to bolt on a whole lot more power in a weekend, or if you just want the coolest looking engine bay at your next show or cruise night, read on.

B&H Superchargers

The B&H system is unique in that it uses a Magnuson Products TVS four-lobe supercharger on top of a manifold of its own design. The manifold features an integral water-to-air charge cooler, similar to the OE setup Ford used on the Terminator Cobra Mustang. Currently, B&H offers kits for pushrod small-blocks (302 and 351W) and they include a billet throttle body, high-flow fuel rails and injectors, heat exchanger with pump and reservoir, and all installation hardware. A separate coil-near-plug ignition coil system and engine management is required.

  • Applications: 302 and 351 Windsor based small-block
  • Boost Level: 6-14 psi
  • Horsepower Range: 440-700
  • Supercharger Location: Top of engine
  • Price: $8,395-$8,595

Ford Racing Performance Parts

The guys at the Blue Oval have been offering supercharger kits in one shape or form for nearly 20 years. Today, Ford Racing offers several supercharger kits based around the Whipple twin-screw supercharger for today's 4.6L and 5.4L engines. If you're swapping a modular into your classic, Ford Racing's blower packages would bolt right on and just require some custom tuning. The end result is gobs of horsepower and low-end torque, combined with perfect driveability-that's why Ford uses a similar system on its Shelby GT500s.

  • Application: '05-'10 4.6L 3-V, '11 5.0L 4-V, '07-'10 5.4L 4-V Mustangs
  • Boost Level: 7-15 psi
  • Horsepower Range: 525-660
  • Supercharger Location: Top of engine
  • Price: $3,695-$8,099

Kenne Bell

Kenne Bell actually got their start in the world of turbocharging, offering turbo hardware and other parts to record setting V-8 and V-6 Buicks. When the Fox Mustang hit the performance world, Kenne Bell's president, Jim Bell, bought one, and well, the rest is history. For the last 20 years, Kenne Bell has offered its billet construction, Twin Screw supercharger for literally every late-model Mustang engine built. The Kenne Bell Twin Screw features instant boost from idle, quiet operation, and the ability to make a lot of horsepower. If you've got a late-model Mustang engine swap in the works and you're thinking of adding a supercharger, check out Kenne Bell's offerings.

  • Applications: '86-'95 5.0L, '96-'01 4.6L 4-V, '96-'04 4.6L 2-V, '03-'04 4.6L 4-V, '05-'10 4.6L 3-V, '07-'11 5.4L 4-V, and '11-'12 5.0L 4-V Mustang
  • Boost Level: 6-24 psi
  • Horsepower Range: 550-1,400
  • Supercharger Location: Top of engine
  • Price: $3,099-$7,549

Paxton Automotive

As we mentioned earlier, Paxton has been in the supercharging business, working with Ford and Carroll Shelby through the '50s and '60s. Today, Paxton has several supercharger options for Fords, all based around its NOVI series of superchargers. Paxton is one of the few companies to have bolt-on supercharger systems for classic Mustangs with carbureted engines, so if you have a classic Mustang with the original 289 small-block in it, or perhaps you've built a nice 408ci Windsor, Paxton has something to go with your build, and can even help you keep your air conditioning compressor. Like the other companies mentioned here, if you have performed an engine swap to an EFI 5.0L or modular engine, Paxton can set you up with what you need to boost those engines as well.

  • Application: '65-'68 289/302, '69 351W, '85 5.0L 4-V carb, '86-'93 5.0L, '96-'04 4.6L 2-V, '05-'10 4.6L 3-V, '11 5.0L 4-V Mustang
  • Boost Level: 6-11 psi
  • Horsepower Range: 275-615
  • Supercharger Location: Left or right front of engine, dependent upon application and part number
  • Price: $2,529 -$5,995

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ProCharger

ProCharger's supercharging systems use a self-contained supercharger unit, meaning no engine oil source is needed like some other centrifugal systems. This means less installation time, less chance of leaks, and no strain on the engine's oiling system. ProCharger has a wide selection of both carbureted and EFI-based systems, available in standard gearsets, for that traditional blower noise, or its new quiet helical gearsets for the stealth crowd. ProCharger's systems start with its venerable P-1SC unit and there are upgrades available for most systems to the D-1SC and F-series blowers. All ProCharger superchargers feature gear-driven internals with billet impellers, and billet gear cases for the utmost in strength. Options include intercooled models, 8- and 12-rib dedicated drives, cog beltdrives, race level bypass valve, and more to build the perfect system for your needs, be it street or track. ProCharger recommends its "tuner" systems for classic Mustangs with late-model engine swaps, as custom tuning will be required, not to mention a beefier fuel system (see our sidebar on fuel system components for more details). You'll find plenty of options in the company's Mustang and carbureted supercharger catalogs for your classic Ford or Mustang, most with a 36-month warranty.

  • Application: 302/351W carb and EFI universal; '96-'04 4.6L 2-V, '96-'01 4.6L 4-V, '03-'04 4.6L 4-V Cobra/Mach 1, '05-'10 4.6L 3-V, '11 5.0L 4-V Mustang
  • Boost Level: 6-25 psi
  • Horsepower Range: 350-2,700
  • Supercharger Location: Left or right front of engine depending upon application
  • Price: $3,296 -$7,696

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The Supercharger Store

If your ride is powered by a Cleveland or Ford big-block, then The Supercharger Store is who you want to talk to. The folks at The Supercharger Store use ProCharger supercharger units and have designed their own brackets and accessory drive to fit the ProCharger to said engines. The Supercharger Store can use any series of ProCharger, including the P-1SC, D-1SC, or F-1 with an eight-rib serpentine drive system, or ProCharger's F-1 and F-2 in a cog belt configuration. All systems are designed for street to race use and incorporate brackets for power steering, alternator, and even air conditioning.

  • Application: 351 Cleveland small-block and 385-series big-block universal
  • Boost Level: 8-16 psi
  • Horsepower Range: 500-1,600
  • Supercharger Location: Left front of engine
  • Price: $4,000-$7,000

Vortech Superchargers

Vortech has made a name for itself over the years supercharging countless thousands of late-model Mustangs. If you've ever been to a dragstrip and heard a supercharged Fox Mustang idling, it was most likely Vortech-powered. Over the years, a lot of competition has sprung up in the supercharger world, but Vortech is still here, 20 years later, serving the performance aftermarket with a complete selection of straight-cut and helical-cut, gear-driven superchargers. The company's latest offering, the V-3 model, utilizes a self-contained oiling system, so the oil pressure and drain lines found on older Vortech models can be a thing of the past simply by optioning the V-3 head unit in most systems.

  • Application: '86-'95 5.0L, '96-'04 4.6L 2-V, '03-'04 4.6L 4-V Cobra/Mach 1, '05-'10 4.6L 3-V, '11 5.0L 4-V Mustang
  • Boost Level: 5-11 psi
  • Horsepower Range: 275-605
  • Supercharger Location: Left or right front of engine depending upon application
  • Price: $2,120-$5,995

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Weiand

If you're looking for that classic roots style supercharger for your Mustang or classic Ford, you can stop looking. Weiand has the answer with its 174 Series Pro-Street supercharger for small-block Fords. You're going to need a cowl hood to fit this baby, or better yet, cut your hood for clearance and let that blower show for all to know you're packing 25-40 percent more power, depending upon pulley ratio. The 174 comes with a 289/302 8.2-inch deck intake manifold, supercharger, gaskets, and 10-rib drive system. You can use stock V-belt pulleys or the late-model Mustang serpentine setup with an optional kit from Weiand. All parts are new, including the CNC-machined case and Teflon tipped rotors, to provide maximum reliability.

  • Application: 289/302 small-block engines
  • Boost Level:
  • 6-8 psi
  • Horsepower Range: 275-575
  • Supercharger Location: Top of engine
  • Price: $2,609-$2,999

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Fueling Around

When it comes to increasing your engine's air delivery via a supercharger, you must increase the fuel delivery as well. Without the additional fuel, you run the risk of running the engine lean and causing catastrophic engine failure. EFI-based supercharging systems usually supplement the stock fuel system with a replacement set of larger fuel injectors, or the addition of a fuel management unit (FMU), which simply restricts the return line to the fuel tank thereby increasing fuel pressure to the injectors. The FMU does a fine job in low-boost applications, but if you're changing pulleys and going for broke, you may want to look into custom tuning, a larger fuel pump, and larger injectors to supplant the traditional FMU.

For carbureted supercharging systems, the fuel system is much more critical. Fuel pumps, a boost-referenced fuel pressure regulator and/or a boost-referenced carburetor, larger fuel feed lines, etc. are all items to consider when planning a carbureted supercharging system. Most classic Mustangs have but a measly 5/16-inch fuel line from the factory. Consider a 3/8-inch line as a minimum for performance use, especially with a supercharger, and add a return line to your fuel system as well. You can use the return line for a bypass regulator (which holds pressure more consistent) and if you ever convert to fuel injection, your return line is already in place.

Fuel pressure and volume both need to be increased with a supercharger. A mechanical pump might work if it is specifically designed for boost applications, but you're much better off using an electric fuel pump. Traditionally, fuel pressure will be 5 to 6 psi above your boost level. So if you are running eight pounds of boost, you'll need to be able to supply 13-15 psi of fuel pressure. A boost-referenced carburetor is a near drop-in solution for blow-through systems that use a blow-in hat or a sealed carb box. These carburetors use a special power valve that reads engine load as well as vacuum. These special blower carbs also have solid floats, as plastic or brass floats can collapse under boost pressure. Note also that with a blow-in hat you will need sealed throttle shafts; otherwise the boost pressure will blow the fuel past the shaft bushings. On pull-through systems like the Weiand shown in this story, a traditional carburetor can be used with a boost-referenced fuel pressure regulator, or you can use the boost-referenced carburetor directly.

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