Pete Epple Technical Editor
October 1, 2009
Chris Jones makes a pull on the Dynojet with Matt Frith's '10 Mustang GT.

Since the invention of the automobile, people have been finding ways to improve performance. As the car has evolved, so have the parts and the engineering that goes into them. When it comes to building a powerful street-car, the Mustang stands out as a solid foundation for enthusiasts and racers to build monster hot rods.

The Mustang has always been a fan favorite when it came time for performance modifications. The 5.0Ls of the late '80s and early '90s responded so well to basic bolt-ons, there wasn't much reason for the normal enthusiast to take things further.

Fastforward 20 years or so and the Mustang still serves as a great foundation for a new generation of performance enthusiasts. Although the ideals of the Mustang faithful haven't changed much over the years, Ford has stepped up its game considerably, improving the Mustang's power and handling, as well as its efficiency, giving us an incredibly fun-to-drive, reliable Pony. Being that we are now faced with a Mustang designed around power and efficiency, it's getting quite difficult to improve upon what we get off the showroom floor without spending buckets of cash.

With the 2010 model year rolling in, a new Mustang has hit dealerships. The all-new version of the Pony comes with a massive push from the Mustang aftermarket, and MM&FF jumped at the chance to play with Ford's latest ponycar. We headed down to Blow-By Racing (BBR) in Boca Raton, Florida, to follow along as Chris Jones and Matt Frith threw some basic bolt-ons at BBR's newest shop car.

Matt Frith of Lake Worth, Florida, bought this silver '10 Mustang with the intention of using it as an R&D tool at BBR, where he works as a mechanic. With a mere 2,500 miles on the clock, Jones and Frith tore into the Three-Valve to see what kind of power was available with the newest versions of the tried and true bolt-on performance parts. The day started with a baseline on BBR's Dynojet chassis dyno. Although the air conditions were less than favorable for making power, Frith's '10 spun the rollers to a respectable baseline of 269 rwhp with 296 lb-ft of torque.

Chris Jones sets the tune in Matt Frith's '10 Stang. Jones used an SCT XCal3 to handle the programming.

Jones' first order of business was setting the tune. Using an SCT XCal3, he adjusted timing and fuel curves, and made a few other slight changes to improve driveability. The end result was a gain of just under 9 rwhp at peak with a consistent gain of no less than 7 rwhp across the entire rpm range.

Next on the list was a set of underdrive pulleys from Steeda. The kit comes with a new crank and water pump pulleys, and reduces accessory drive speed by about 25 percent. The pulleys have a great OE fit and finish, and install in no time. After reinstalling the serpentine belt, our '10 spun the rollers to just under 287 rwhp and 304 lb-ft of torque, netting us a gain just shy of 10 rwhp and 8 lb-ft of torque.

Being that Frith's Mustang is going to see plenty of track time, the guys at BBR chose an electric water pump as the next step in our bolt-on buildup. Meziere Enterprises supplied one of its modular Ford electric water pumps and a wiring kit. This installation is definitely something the average backyard mechanic could tackle with simple hand tools. The pump itself is a direct replacement for the stock piece and the wiring is quite simple with Meziere's wiring installation kit. It also has an idler pulley in the design so there is no need for different length belts.

Wiring the new pump is made easy thanks to the wiring kit and relay from Meziere.

With our '10 Mustang back at 160 degrees, Jones made another pull on the Dynojet. The addition of the electric water pump freed up 3 rwhp, bringing our total number to 289. "I was extremely surprised to see such a minimal gain from the Meziere pump," explains Jones. "We install these pumps all the time, and this is the first time we haven't seen at least an 11 rwhp gain." Even without the usual gain, Meziere's electric water pump is still a must for anyone who runs open-track days, autocrosses, or drag races. The added cooling benefits of constant water flow make this simple bolt-on invaluable the first time you need to keep your engine cool on a hot day.

As Ford stepped up power with the redesigned '10 Mustang, the GT now comes stock with a cold-air intake from the factory. This coupled with a few calibration changes has boosted the factory output from 305 hp to 315 hp. With this in mind, Jones and Frith decided to see what improvements could be made over the stock airbox. After a quick trip to the parts room, Jones emerged with a BBR GT500 throttle body and adapter plate, and quickly replaced the stock piece.

In an effort to improve the flow into the intake, Jones installed a BBR GT500 throttle body and adapter plate. The kit comes complete and adds a twin 60mm throttle body to replace the stock twin-57mm unit.

After a call to JLT Performance, Jay Tucker informed us that its '10 cold-air intakes were still in development. By the time this issue hits newsstands, JLT will have released an all-new 101 mm cold-air kit for the 2010 Mustang GT. This left us with two options-either leave the stock airbox or customize one of JLT's '09 kits looking for whatever gains we could find. Not ones to leave well enough alone, we unboxed the '09 kit and made a few changes to accommodate the engine bay of the '10. The '09 JLT cold-air kit replaces the airbox and intake tube and provides an 89mm MAF housing replacing the stock 86mm unit. The kit reuses the stock MAF sensor, which slips into the larger housing.

After a quick change in the tune, Jones was ready to make another pull on the dyno. Our test confirmed the efficiency of the stock cold-air setup as we only saw gains slightly under 4 rwhp and 2 lb-ft of torque, bringing our totals to 292 and 309. A second call to JLT reaffirmed that the '09 kit would not produce the gains seen on previous Three-Valves, and the new 101mm set would give us the numbers we wanted.

Although the '10 cold-air intake from JLT Performance is still under development, we decided to retrofit an older version to see if there would be any improvements over stock. The 89mm MAF housing from the '09 kit was installed and showed gains of about 4 rwhp. According to JLT, gains should be much higher with the 101mm kit for the '10 Mustang, which should be available by the time you read this.

To finish off our mods on the topside of Frith's '10, Steeda sent us a set of its charge motion delete plugs. These billet-aluminum pieces replace the butterflies in the intake runners and allow for unrestricted airflow into the cylinder heads. Once the intake manifold is removed, the linkage assembly is removed from the backside of the intak, along with the butterflies. The guide clips are reinstalled on the new plugs, which slip right into the bottom side of the manifold. This requires changes in the tune and Jones was quick to reflash the ECM.

With another quick pull of the dyno, our 2010 was now pumping out 296 rwhp and 310 lb-ft of torque. Although we showed a slight gain across most of the rpm range, the full 4-rwhp gain was seen at the top of the rpm range.

After finishing the mods under the hood, Jones and Frith put the car in the air and turned their attention to the exhaust. Jones pulled a Magnaflo x-style midpipe off the shelf, and American Muscle sent us a Roush high-performance axle-back exhaust system. Both pieces are a direct replacement for the factory parts and fit perfectly.

With the exhaust off the car, it was the perfect time to upgrade the shifter. A call to Roush Performance scored us one of its '10 short-throw shifter assemblies, along with a billet shift handle, white knob, and new leather boot. The transmission was lowered and Frith quickly swapped shifters before installing the new exhaust pieces. Once the underside of the Stang was buttoned up and the tailpipes were aligned, Jones rowed through the gears, spinning the rollers to 309 rwhp and 325 lb-ft of torque.

After a lengthy day on the dyno, Blow-By Racing added 40 rwhp and just under 30 lb-ft of torque to a stock '10 Mustang GT with nothing more than simple bolt-on performance parts. "When the car was in stock trim, it was decent but definitely had room for improvement," Frith added. "The difference with all of the new parts is night and day. The car feels like it accelerates twice as hard."

Although the gains we've seen are not what they would have been 15 or 20 years ago, our base is leaps and bounds better than the Mustangs of yesteryear. Ford's effort to make the new Mustang a more efficient muscle car has definitely given consumers a much better starting point to build power, and the basic bolt-ons are still a great place to start.