Richard Holdener
June 1, 2008
Photos By: Greg Jarem

Though it may be difficult to believe, superchargers actually predated the fuel-injected 5.0 Mustang. To us at MM&FF, it wasn't until 1986-when Ford replaced the carburetor with a long-runner fuel-injection manifold-that 5.0 Mustang supercharging came of age. Modern 4.6 enthusiasts have the 5.0 to thank for the current crop of superchargers available for modular motors.

Those of us with a few years under our belts remember when the Paxton planetary-drive blowers were the only game in town, and actually running across one on the street was a real surprise. Those early planetary-drive Paxton blowers have since given way to such impressive offerings as the gear-driven Novi 1000, 1200, and (my favorite) the ever-impressive Novi 2000. Where early Paxton blowers were hard pressed to support 500 hp, the modern Novi 2000 is capable of more than doubling that number. Paxton now offers self-lubricated models of these impressive blowers. Though the innovators of Mustang supercharger kits, Paxton isn't alone in supercharger offerings for the Blue Oval brigade.

Paxton is one of the oldest names in supercharging for Mustangs. The California-based company offered kits for older Stangs as well as for EFI 5.0 Mustangs dating back to the late '80s.

Today, kits are also available from the likes of ATI ProCharger, Ford Racing Performance Parts, Kenne Bell, Magnuson, Powerdyne, Saleen, Roush, Vortech, and Whipple, to name a few. And how could we not to mention the various supercharger offerings directly from Ford?

While Ford did offer (Paxton) supercharged motors back when Carroll Shelby was putting the hurt on Ferrari, the modern era likely began with the M62 supercharger applied to the Ford Thunderbird Super Coupe. The 3.8 V-6 was equipped not only with modern fuel injection, but also a positive-displacement Roots-style supercharger and intercooler to provide the 3.8 V-6 with 5.0 V-8-like performance. Ford supplied truck owners with an impressive gift in the form of the 5.4 Lightning truck. An easy 14-second machine right off the showroom floor (13s if driven well), the Lightning mill demonstrated that the Two-Valve mod motors really responded to boost, and what motor doesn't?

Internally, centrifugal blowers feature a transmission that steps up the ratio of engine speed to impeller speed.

Ford added an M112 Roots-style supercharger to the 4.6 DOHC engines in '03-'04 Cobras, then applied an even more impressive 2.3 twin-screw blower to the all-aluminum 5.4 mod motor used in the GT. Ford fol-lowed up with the Eaton-powered 5.4 Shelby GT500 motor.

To date, the all-aluminum Ford GT isn't only the most powerful mod motor ever offered, but quite possibly the most impressive one Ford has ever offered in a production car. Rated at 550 hp, the supercharged 5.4 has been tested to produce near that 550hp power rating at the wheels. I'd pit this supercharged mod motor against a stock 427 side oiler, 428 Cobra Jet, or Boss 429 any day.

Magnuson's MagnaCharger has a Roots-style kit available for S197 Mustangs. The kit (which you can read about on page 158) offers a smart and good-looking design, not to mention serious power potential.

Though the 5.0 can be credited for introducing the modern performance world to supercharging, the 4.6 has not only continued, but also expanded, the popularity of forced induction. At last count, there were approximately 10 different supercharger manufacturers offering kits directly for the modular Ford family.

That there are so many manufacturers involved should give you an idea about the popularity of the supercharged mod motors. In the end, it's the enthusiast who benefits from the proliferation of available kits, as competition improves the product line and decreases the eventual cost to the consumer. Having 10 different manufacturers also provides variety. This is an important fact, as contrary to the propaganda you read on some Web sites, there's no one ideal form of supercharging for either the original 5.0 or the mod-motor family.

Were there one form that excelled above all others and provided the very best of every comparison variable, no other form would continue to exist. Fortunately for us enthusiasts, this is simply not the case, as variety allows you to pick and choose the best combination to meet your particular needs. Centrifugal superchargers perform a certain way, as do Roots-style and twin-screw blowers.