Frank H. Cicerale
November 1, 2008

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
440/725-2168
www.treadstoneperformance.com

Kits Available:

  • '86-'93 5.0L
  • 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
    505/873-4670
    www.hellionpowersystems.com

    Kits Available:

  • '86-'93 5.0L
  • '96-'04 4.6L Two-Valve
  • '96-'98 4.6L Four-Valve
  • '99-'04 Four-Valve, including Mach 1
  • '03-'04 Cobra, including compound boost setups
  • '05-'09 4.6L Three-Valve
  • 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.