Steve Baur
Former Editor, Modified Mustangs & Fords
November 1, 2009

With the current state of the economy, it's tough out there for a lot of Mustang enthusiasts. Finding spare cash to buy car parts can be difficult, but we think we've found some simple, yet effective bolt-on parts for your S197 Mustang that you can afford on a monthly basis. Together, they can turn your Mustang into one peppy thoroughbred.

Summit Racing Equipment is always a great place to score deals on performance parts, and the company's catalog even has a special section dedicated to the late-model Mustang. While talking to Summit staff regarding a recent tech article that we had worked with it on, a plan was devised to show MM&FF readers just what could be accomplished with a weekly paycheck, or maybe a pocketful of cash. Considering that a lot of S197 owners are still making payments on their steeds, this seemed like a good idea. But the question is, are these small bolt-ons worth it and what can you expect from them?

Our subject '06 Mustang GT, equipped with the 5R55S automatic transmission, produced 249 hp and 254 lb-ft of torque.

Summit Racing set the spending limit at $350 per part. We think that's pretty reasonable these days, especially when considering that your average Corvette guy has to spend twice that for one muffler-not even the whole exhaust!

To test our bevy of bolt-on power parts, we called the folks at Hurricane Performance in Orange Park, Florida, to acquire a test subject. The Hurricane Performance staff handled our performance parts installations, while Tony Gonyon of TunersInc would take care of the chassis dyno testing. Our suitable test subject showed up in the form of an '06 Mustang GT equipped with the 5R55S automatic transmission. Aside from some cosmetic upgrades and a quartet of 20-inch chrome wheels, Nynce (pronounced Nancy) Tarleton's Mustang was just begging for some power upgrades, and a very recent outing to her local dragstrip had her hooked on exercising her Pony on the quarter-mile.

One of the first modifications anyone makes is performed on the exhaust system. Making your Stang sound loud and proud is as common as apple pie, so we started there with our budget bolt-ons. Seeing as how installing the mufflers necessitated raising the car off the ground, we took the opportunity to install our second mod at the same time. True, we won't get an idea of how these components perform on their own, but it seems like the mainstream readers tend to make these two mods together anyway, and we were looking to save a bit of time as well.

Exhausting Work
Enhancing the exhaust note of this '06 Mustang GT is a pair of JBA stainless steel 2.5-inch high-performance mufflers (PN JBA-40-2627), which retail for $288.95 through Summit Racing Equipment. JBA Exhaust Systems has always been known for its high-quality and well-performing exhaust components. The Stainless Steel mufflers terminate in a chrome-plated stainless steel tip that resists discoloring, and the kit includes high-quality hardware and thorough instructions for a simple bolt-on installation.

In addition to the JBA mufflers, we also installed a Magnaflow True-X Stainless Steel crossover pipe (PN 15485), which retails for $299.95. The best part of the Magnaflow Tru-X crossover pipe is that you cut the factory H-pipe crossover out and bolt the Magnaflow piece up to it, which keeps your catalytic converters intact, while reaping the benefits of the X-style design. Magnaflow says the more gentle radius of the X design allows for better exhaust gas scavenging, noise cancellation, and better balance between cylinder banks, with the result being a significant increase in power and torque but a reduction in decibel sound levels. Our subject Stallion definitely sounded more aggressive, but it wasn't overly loud either.

Strapped to the TunersInc dynamometer, the '06 GT laid down baseline peak power figures of 248.83 hp and 253.97 lb-ft of torque. The Magnaflow Tru-X and JBA mufflers bumped peak output to 254.88 hp and 260.84 lb-ft of torque-gains of 6 hp and almost 7 lb-ft of torque respectively.

Installation of the Tru-X requires cutting of the factory H-pipe, but keeps the stock catalytic converters intact.

Induction Junction
If the exhaust system is where people make their first changes, then the second place must be the cold-air kit. For this part, Summit Racing sent us BBK Performance's Power-Plus Cold-Air Induction System (PN BBK-1736), which retails for $289.99. From the cast aluminum induction elbow to the high-flow conical air filter, the BBK piece is quite nice, and very wallet-friendly too. Installation was a snap, and the car was up and running.

As the GT turned the dyno rollers, we realized that the air/fuel ratio was much leaner than stock-a testament to the increased airflow provided by the cold-air kit. It was lean enough, in fact, that Gonyon made the call to flash the computer and add a safe amount of fuel to compensate for the added air. While we had a hand-held tuner that fit our budget theme and that we intended to make such adjustments with, it wouldn't work properly and we later discovered that the item was discontinued. Summit Racing supplied us with a replacement, but we had to test that at a later date.

BBK Performance's cold-air kit for the '05-'09 Mustangs is a very popular bolt-on, and its performance showed why.

To remedy the situation while we were on the dyno, Gonyon employed HP Tuners software to reflash the Spanish Oak processor computer and add the necessary fuel to compensate for the increased airflow of the BBK cold-air kit. It's a basic tune-up that is very similar to what many hand-held tuners supply, and it worked great. Power output jumped to 270.54 hp and torque increased to 286.28 lb-ft. That's a gain of 15.6 hp and 25.4 lb-ft of torque.

Pulley Your Weight
Underdrive pulleys worked quite well on the early 5.0L Mustangs, and they've been proven to add a few ponies to the later Mustangs as well. Roush Performance's Underdrive Pulley System (PN RSP-401433) from Summit Racing proved to be a great performer, especially given its meager $220.95 price tag. Though not required, removing the electric fan does simplify the installation of the pulleys by allowing much needed access for tools and hands.

With the installation of the pulleys complete, it was back on the Dynojet rollers where we saw the '06 GT's power and torque increase yet again. Horsepower moved up yet again by 6 hp to 276.57 and torque readily improved by nearly 8 lb-ft to 294.02.

Underdrive pulleys seem to work on just about every Mustang, and ours was no exception. This package from Roush saves weight and increased power too.

Throttle Up
BBK's Power-Plus throttle body (PN BBK-1763) was next on our list of budget-friendly modifications and comes in easily under budget at $299.99 through Summit Racing. The BBK throttle body for our '06 Mustang features twin 62mm bores for more airflow, and the bodies are cast from high-quality 356 aluminum alloy, and then machined on state-of-the-art CNC machining centers to ensure a perfect fit. Other features include double-sealed bearings, O-ringed throttle shafts, and precision die-stamped linkages

When installing any aftermarket throttle body that uses Ford's drive-by-wire setup, it's important to follow the installation instructions to make sure you preload the clockspring in the throttle control unit. The clockspring works as a throttle return spring and if it's not reinstalled correctly, the car may not run correctly and your check engine light may begin to log some trouble codes.

That being said, the Hurricane Performance crew had our BBK piece installed in no time and throttle operation was flawless. The 4.6L Three-Valve apparently liked the extra airflow, as power rose once more from 276.57 hp to 283.50 hp, and torque improved as well, building up from 294.02 to a stout 300.63 lb-ft of twist.

While the factory throttle body is good, we've increased the airflow through the engine with our other mods, so a larger throttle body will remove the restriction that the factory piece now poses.

Hand-Held Horsepower
After we completed the component testing on our subject GT, Summit Racing sent us one more wallet-friendly bolt-on in the form of Superchips' Flashpaq hand-held tuner (PN SRC-1825), which retails for $349.95. The Flashpaq tuner is an Internet updateable piece that features built-in diagnostic trouble code definitions and help screens, along with a backlit screen and ergonomic case. The Flashpaq can be upgraded with custom applications and multiple tuning levels as well. To get a good idea of what the tuner could do, we removed the BBK cold-air kit and reinstalled the factory airbox. The exhaust, throttle body, and underdrive pulley modifications were all left in place.

Using the Superchips tuner to alter the factory ECM, horsepower went from the baseline number of 257.31 hp to 269.09 hp and torque went from 274.34 to 272.30 lb-ft. Unfortunately, we couldn't take advantage of the cold-air kit as we didn't find enough adjustment in the tuner to fully compensate for the added airflow of the BBK cold-air kit. Gonyon tells us that Superchips is working to resolve this and it should be rectified by the time you read this.

At The Track
With a sizeable improvement in power and torque across the entire powerband, it was only natural that car owner Nynce Tarleton would want to see what it would do at the dragstrip. Nynce's home track is Gainesville Raceway in Gainesville, Florida, and her baseline drag testing was only the second time she had ever been to the dragstrip. With the added power and torque, wheelspin is quite easily achieved, so Nynce must exercise a bit more throttle control at the hit. That's an issue easily resolved with a set of drag radials, but even on street tires, the Mustang improved from a best of 14.22 to a 13.92 in the blistering Florida heat.

Final Results
Baseline14.22 at 98.82.25 60-ft
Backup14.36 at 96.32.21 60-ft
After Mods13.95 at {{{100}}}.542.20 60-ft
Backup13.92 at 100.252.20 60-ft