Michael Galimi
December 8, 2010

It should be no secret that the '11 Mustang GT comes equipped with a 412hp rating (roughly 365 rwhp behind a stick-shift on most chassis dynos) thanks to 302 ci, four cams, four-valves-per-cylinder, and a hefty 11:1 compression ratio. Ford certainly gave us a stout starting point in the latest edition of the late-model EFI wars, but there have been a lot of questions concerning the new 5.0L Ti-VCT, namely in regard to power adders.

MM&FF has been on the cutting edge of the 5.0L since its unveiling and we've tested quite a bit of parts and pieces over the past several months. This issue, we take one to the next level by bolting on a Paxton High Output supercharger system and chart the engine's new power. We also got a glimpse into the intricate tuning of the Copperhead PCM.

We made our way to JPC Racing where the shop's barrier-breaking '11 Mustang GT was stripped of its nitrous system in order to get the centrifugal supercharger bolted on. As much as we'd love to see JPC's Justin Burcham add spray on top of the boost, it wasn't going to happen this time around. The JPC team had modified the shop beater since we last saw it ("10s Too Easy," Sept. '10) by adding Kooks long-tube headers, Kooks 3-inch X-style mid-pipe with high-flow catalytic converters, and a wild new vinyl wrap. JPC also has a new in-house calibrator, Kevin MacDonald, and he's been working with prototype tuning software for the '11 Mustang from DiabloSport. The new mods had the car making 433 rwhp and running mid-11s in naturally aspirated trim. Burcham's goal was to have the supercharger on the car and tested before the Invitational MM&FF 5.0L Shootout, which you'll be reading about in next month's issue.

Mechanically speaking, bolting on the supercharger was the easy part since Paxton provided all of the parts and pieces. The kit includes the NOVI 2200 supercharger-a beast capable of over 1,000 hp (at the crankshaft). Thanks to the high compression, the engineers at Paxton have incorporated an air-to-air intercooler to keep detonation at bay. "The centrifugal boost curve fits the new engine nicely, it doesn't hit it with instantaneous boost and load the engine as hard as a positive-displacement blower would. This setup has a nice torque curve with the centrifugal power rush when you rev it out," stated Burcham. For pump gas applications, he'd limit boost to 6-8 psi for now and 10 psi for the weekend dragstrip warriors. Burcham would rather leave a margin for error until the team gains experience with the new engine and PCM.

The two main concerns with this article were the tuning solution and engine longevity. Would it hold up to the planned 10 psi of boost, and could MacDonald get it tuned in time for our deadline? Luckily, the answer was yes on both accounts.

But first, Macdonald had a daunting task ahead of himself.

"The new 5.0L Copperhead PCM brings a slew of changes and additions to Ford's existing calibration platform in the Spanish Oak (the outgoing Mustang computer). Although there is carryover strategy from previous years, it has become increasingly more complex," stated MacDonald. "The Copperhead now has to accommodate VCT on all four camshafts instead of two, utilizes a frequency-based MAF sensor, closed-loop fueling with wide-band oxygen sensors, and a mechanical return-less fuel system without a fuel-rail pressure sensor for feedback. The software is much more complicated."

The Mustang community has become jaded to a certain degree since tuning the previous generations of Mustang seems effortless for most shops. Now it's a bit more complicated-for the time being anyway. At the time of this writing, MacDonald was exploring strategies inside the black box that only a handful of people outside of Ford engineering have been in.

Photo Gallery

View Photo Gallery