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Ford Mustang Turbo Buyers Guide - Expansion Team
We Check Out The Turbo-Kit Offerings For '79-'08 Mustangs.
Our intent with this turbo-buyer's guide is to let you know what kind of bolt-on turbo kits are available for the Fox-body and SN-95 5.0L cars ('79-'95), as well as the mod motor family-the Two-Valve terrors ('96-'04), the Four-Valve fun machines, both blown and naturally aspirated, and the new Three-Valve equipped S197 Stangs. With that in mind, we asked numerous manufacturers what their power and boost levels were for the stock powerplants.
"I like to talk about horsepower as opposed to boost because boost is generated by the engine's ability to ingest air, depending on many variables," says Wild Bill Devine, former Pro 5.0 racer and now employee of STS Turbo. "I've made 650-700 hp on stock pushrod motors with a stock block in the past, and they've stayed together. On the 4.6L motors, the year changes for the horsepower ceiling. For a stock mod motor up to 2004, I recommend no more than 400-425 hp at the rear tires, depending on the transmission. For '05-and-up mod motors, I've seen these motors live with 550 hp at the tires, though the proper tune is critical."
"This is somewhat of a loaded question, but I can say that on most all stock V-8 engines, 450 rwhp is a solid goal," says Powerhouse Automotive's Mike Bowen. "Anything over that is compromising the strength of the stock components. I'm not going to say it's impossible to make more power on stock parts, as we've done it, but I surely wouldn't recommend it.
While this guide features bolt-on kits that include pretty much everything you need to turbocharge your Mustang, it wouldn't be right not to ask our experts if there was anything else enthusiasts should consider when buying a hairdryer for their Pony.
"When you're talking about cars that have 500-plus-crankshaft-horsepower potential, it's a good idea to have an appropriate wheel, tire, brake, and suspension package to accommodate that kind of power," says Exile Turbo's Rick Head. "In some cases, and I speak from experience here, the stock stuff just isn't up to the task."
Of course, the choice is solely up to the customer. In the end, Bowen said it best: "Customers should not only check that the system will meet the horsepower and performance goals, but also make sure that the quality of the components meets or exceeds what he or she may need. Quality turbo systems are not cheap, and a customer should have peace of mind that their hard-earned dollars will last them a very long time."
Treadstone Performance offers two kits for '86-'93 Fox-body Mustangs, the first being a single-turbo kit, and the second featuring a pair of hairdryers. The single-turbo kit includes a 62-1 Turbonetics turbo, but it can be upgraded to any T-series turbo.
Hellion Power Systems
Hellion Power Systems offers some killer single and twin kits for the Mustang crowd. The kits come complete with everything you need to get your Mustang up and running. The kits center around a Turbonetics turbo or turbos, and all kits are upgradable with a slew of options. Instead of paying for everything piecemeal, Hellion includes the basic parts, as well as the needed items.
The modular-engine kits for the '96-'04 cars come with a complete UPR tubular front suspension that features a K-member, A-arms, and coilovers. If you own an '03 or '04 Cobra, then you have a different kit, as well as a choice between one hairdryer or two. The difference with the Terminator Cobra kits is that, unlike the other kits Hellion offers, this one comes with a 76mm Turbonetics turbo standard. This turbo is capable of 850 hp. If you get a couple of them, horsepower will be well into the stratosphere. If you think we're kidding, then check out the article by Tech Editor Mike Galimi, where he threw a pair of turbos on an Eaton-equipped Terminator ("Manhattan Project," Jan. '08).
One of the highlights of the Hellion kits is that they're all in stock, meaning the kit is usually shipped within 3-4 days, arriving inside of two weeks.
Turbo Horsepower offers single and twin kits for all year Mustangs. The kits come with all of the needed exhaust components, as well as an intercooler and upgraded fuel-system components. In addition, there are a few upgrade items so you can make even more power. The kits for the '94-'95 cars are exactly the same as those for the Fox-body. As with the Two-Valve kit the company offers, the Four-Valve kit comes with all of the needed suspension components to fit the pair of hairdryers and the respective piping within the engine compartment. Also included is a power-steering-reservoir relocation kit with the necessary brackets and hoses. With turbo upgrades available to make up to 1,000 hp, this kit is definitely something you should check out if you own a Four-Valve snake.
If you own a Three-Valve-equipped S197, you have two choices when it comes to bolting on a Turbo Horsepower kit for your Mustang: Do you want the single-turbo kit or the twin-turbo? The single-turbo kit comes with a Garrett T61 turbo and is a complete bolt-on kit, right down to the piping, fuel-system upgrades, and computer tune. The twin-turbo kit is a bit more involved, but worth the effort.
HP Performance showcases a single-turbo system for the Fox-body cars that can increase the power of your '79-'95 Mustang by a whopping margin. HP's Stage 1 kit is capable of 400-500 hp at the flywheel, though other stages that increase power to 1,500 hp are available. In addition, HP kicks the kit out the door with the required exhaust and fuel-system upgrades.
HP's kit for the Four-Valve engine is the same one it has made available for the Two-Valve crowd. It comes with the complete front suspension, as well as a pair of turbos capable of 900 hp right out of the gate. The company offers two kits for the '05-and-up Mustang-one a single kit and the other a twin. The single (pictured) is capable of 450-500 hp out of the box, though you can upgrade it to 1,000hp status. It comes with a 60mm turbo, as well as required fuel-system upgrades.
The twin-turbo system is much, much wilder. This kit is capable of 900 hp in Stage 1, though you can upgrade to 1,800hp rock-star status at the flick of a couple of credit card numbers. Call HP Performance for more specifics on its twin-turbo kit, which will set you back $6,395.
B&G Custom Turbo
It may not look all that pretty in the supplied photo, but you can be darn sure that the B&G Custom Turbo kits are super nice-looking when done. B&G offers its Stage 1 and Stage 2 kits, with both kits coming with everything needed for installation, as well as being test-fitted on B&G's in-house chassis. No trimming is required with either kit, all accessories can be kept, and they will only work with hatchback engine mounts.
B&G offers the same kit for both the Two-Valve and Four-Valve engines. The twin-turbo setup is a custom application (call B&G for more info), but the single-turbo deal is a bolt-in kit. It requires slight trimming of the inner bumper to clear the intercooler, and you'll need to pick up the needed front suspension components such as an aftermarket K-member and coilovers. The kit was test-fitted with both D&D and QA1 K-members. You'll also need to supply an upper hard line and fill neck, as well as an overflow tank.
One more note: On '96-'98 cars, you must move the driver-side coil packs. When you call B&G, make sure you mention you read about all of its kits in this buyer's guide. You might have some money left over to buy lunch if you do!
Team Performance Products
Exile Turbo Systems
In collaboration with Exile Turbo Systems' Rick Head, Team Performance Products developed the Heritage GT twin-turbo kit for the '05-and-up Mustang GT. The kit uses a pair of Garrett GT2871R turbos to produce 470 hp in bolt-on form. For those wanting more power, the kit can be boosted with upgrades to make upward of 900 hp. The kit comes with everything needed to make it a true bolt-on system, while retaining use of the stock exhaust manifolds.
Blow-By Racing's complete turbo system for the '05-and-up Mustang looks as nice as it performs. The kit is designed to produce 450 hp at a mere 7 psi of boost. While it's capable of kicking out 650-plus horsepower at 15 psi, Blow-By recommends getting the engine upgraded with pistons and rods, as well as having it tuned by a knowledgeable tuner. Based around a 61mm Garrett turbo, this is one kicking kit.
Granatelli Motor sports
Granatelli Motor Sports offers an intercooled single-turbo kit for the '05-up Mustang GT that has been seen to boost power by 157 hp at just 8 psi of boost. The system bolts on in about 10 hours, and showcases a 76mm Turbonetics turbo, a Tial wastegate, and everything needed for installation. As for the intercooled portion of this show, a pair of Spearco 221 intercooler cores help chill down the air charge before it enters the intake manifold.
STS Turbo has a unique way of mounting its turbos. Instead of the tried-and-true underhood location, the turbos are located remotely in the rear of the car.
STS has three turbo kits for '05-and-up Mustangs. For the Three-Valve-equipped Stangs, you have a choice of a single or a twin-turbo setup. The single-turbo kit is good for 400 hp at 6 psi of boost, while the twin-turbo setup can ring out 500 hp on low boost, 650 hp at higher boost levels, and 1,000 or more horsepower on a modified engine.
STS also offers a kit for 4.0L V-6 cars. For now, the kit is only available in a single-turbo configuration, but expect horsepower figures to check out in the neighborhood of 250 at 5 psi of boost, and a V-8-slaying 313 hp at 9 psi of boost. Keep in mind, all of those horsepower numbers are dyno-proven on STS' dyno and measured at the rear wheels.
The Garrett kit is a twin-turbo deal that's more customizable than some of the others we've seen. It revolves around two top-mount Garrett GT2860RS turbos and is completed with two cast manifolds: one cast and one fabricated downpipe, as well as all oil and water lines. The kit does require cold side plumbing, a charge air cooler, and tuning. It's perfect for those looking to create a unique kit of their own.
It's hard to believe, but there are others out there who know more than the MM&FF staffers. Weird, huh? Nonetheless, if you want to further your turbo knowledge, then check out CarTech Books' Turbo: Real World High-Performance Turbocharger Systems. This title is the perfect blend of technical and common-sense information, and is an easy read thanks to author Jay K. Miller's use of more than 300 photos. He discusses the various components of a turbocharger, explains compressor maps, and even gives you a troubleshooting guide. Trust us, it's definitely worth the $24.95 plus $6.95 shipping and handling.
Powerhouse Automotive's shop car was in our Three-Valve shootout a few years ago, and it ran mad quick with one of the company's bolt-on turbo kits. Since then, Powerhouse has perfected the kit for the Three-Valve mod motor, as well as coming up with a kit for the 4.0L V-6. The kit for the Mustang GT is adjustable from 450 to 675-plus rear-wheel horsepower and is designed with stock-like driveability in mind. The kit makes all of its power thanks to a Precision PT67 turbo.
The V-6 kit is similar to the GT kit, as it comes complete with everything necessary to make installation a snap. The differences are in the turbo department, as the V-6 kit is stocked with a Precision PT61 hairdryer. Also, the kit is not intercooled, though that option is available.
Arguably one of the bigger turbo companies in the Mustang market, Turbonetics offers an extremely nice bolt-on turbo kit for the S197 Mustang. It's centered on a T4 60-1 ball-bearing turbo that blows in enough boost for 550 hp. The kit also comes with a tune that Turbonetics developed to get your ride up and running as soon as the kit is installed and the programmer is plugged into the car's diagnostic port.