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1999 Ford SVT Lightning Blower Upgrade - Wretched Excess
When 2.3 Liters Weren't Enough, Whipple Gave Us A 3.4L Blower.
It's rare for us to say "go big or go home," but in this case it's oh-so fitting. We almost always pride our-selves on having self-control when selecting camshafts, cylinder heads, gears, and other size-sensitive components. This time, however, we didn't practice what we normally preach. Often, pulling back the reins on heads, cams, and blowers means better driveability and average power, even if the peak number suffers a little. But when Whipple Superchargers recently released its latest offering for the twin-screw supercharger crowd, a robust 3.4L blower, we just had to have one for our project Lightning.
This 3.4L blower is capable of moving a massive volume of air, provided the engine can handle it. We were smiling at the time of the announcement because our in-house Gen 2 Lightning, Project Fridge, has an engine that's more than capable of ingesting as much air as we can throw at it. The blower looks like it came straight off of an Alcohol Funny Car and isn't for vehicles that have fragile bottom ends, which doesn't apply to the Fridge with its solid, JDM Engineering-built short-block and ported heads.
If you aren't familiar with the Fridge, it's a '99 SVT Lightning that started life as a press vehicle for Ford and then was passed off to MM&FF for a career as an in-house project mule. Don't let its innocent looks fool you; this truck is a bare-knuckles brawler on the dragstrip. We took the 13-second whippersnapper from an unmolested Ford test truck down to a nasty 10-second daily driver. At 4,700 pounds, it has run 11.30 at 122 mph on Nitto 555s with a street tune and 93-octane fuel-but that was with the smaller 2.3 Whipple.
The Fridge's latest go-fast hardware includes a 5.4L JDM-built engine with steel crank, Manley steel rods and forged pistons, ported Two-Valve heads, and custom JDM camshafts. It also has a Level 10-built transmission and 4.10 gears. Over the past two years, we installed three different blowers on top of this potent engine combination.
First was a ported Eaton, and with that we managed to crack into the 10s without nitrous thanks to boost from the modded OEM unit (10.99 at 120 mph). Power output was near 500 at the tires, which is about the max for a ported-Eaton combo. That unit was swapped in favor of a Ford Racing Performance Parts/Whipple 2.3L twin-screw blower-providing mid-10-second-capable power with 669 rwhp at 21 psi, 18 degrees of timing, and C16 fuel. We never got to the track with this combo, but similarly prepared trucks ran 10.40s.
After we were comfortable with 669 hp at the tires, JDM added a single stage, wet-nitrous kit from Nitrous Express. The juice was run only on the dyno (720 rwhp with small jets) as we never track-tested the giggle gas. Editor Smith drove a nearly identical truck into the 9.70s on the bottle, so we know single digits were possible with the Fridge on the sauce. But now we've grown complacent with the current combo, and in order to combat the soon-to-come ZR-1 Corvette, we need a big(ger) boost setup.
Dustin Whipple of Whipple Superchargers offered the chance to upgrade our blower, so we had him send over the new 3.4 huffer. "For pump-gas applications, the 2.3 can support 750 flywheel horsepower," he says. "The 3.4 can handle 1,000 flywheel horsepower. In race applications, the 2.3 can support 900 flywheel horsepower, while the 3.4 can support 1,200 flywheel horsepower." His power figures had us asking, what did we get ourselves into?
The 3.4L blower is officially referred to as the W210 and can theoretically flow 210 ci of air through the compressor at 100 percent volumetric efficiency (VE). Whipple says it's impossible for the blower to operate at 100 percent VE, unless it's used in a compound boost combination and is force-fed. Even at lesser efficiency levels, this blower is more than enough to satisfy the most horsepower-hungry appetite. As you'll see, the blower's massive airflow capability will tax many of the systems on the Fridge.