K.J. Jones
April 1, 2009
WMS provides everything needed (with the exception of aftermarket hood struts, which are required) to install Stealth hoodpins in about 2 1/2 hours (a good portion of that time is spent checking and double-checking to ensure latch/pin and hood alignment are all true), using nothing more than a few simple wrenches and sockets, a Phillips-head screwdriver, and a drill with 3/32- and 5/64-inch bits.

This month we're addressing a quirk that's inherent in most '05-'09 Mustangs-hood shake. That's right, hood shake, which sometimes leads to the hood completely dislodging from its latch assembly. Naturally, such an experience would rank high on anybody's list of things that make you grip the wheel tightly, especially when your Mustang's hood visits the windshield when the spirited part of your cruise down a long, deserted road is getting started.

The problem stems from the S197's hood design. Despite its neo-retro homage to Ford's muscle Pony of the late '60s, which we really do dig, the new Mustang's hood is flexible and offers minimal venting of the pressurized air inside the engine compartment. Fox-era ('79-'93) and SN-95/New Edge ('94-'04) 'Stangs have vents in the cowl areas that serve as required air bleeds. However, since the black cowling at the base of an S197's windshield doesn't have any venting capability, the 'Stang's hood literally shakes (sometimes ever-so-slightly) as speed increases to allow that trapped air to escape.

Installing hoodpins is a tried-and-true method of securing a Mustang's stock or aftermarket hood, to prevent it from shaking, rattling, or potentially flying back into the windshield or completely off the car. Traditional hoodpin sets are simple in their makeup, as they basically consist of two steel pins that bolt to the top of a Mustang's core support, and pass through holes that are bored in the hood. When the hood is closed, heavy-duty clips are inserted into small holes in each pin that intersect with the hood just above its surface, keeping the hood retained.

Again, a regular hoodpin setup is simple and effective, but it's not too appealing, and standard pins certainly take away from any desired sleeper appearance for your S197, which could be packing the fury of a built Three-Valve and twin turbos under its bonnet.

Since we really dig the deceptive approach for radical street performers and because the safety and welfare of our readers and their Mustangs is important to us, we're introducing new-Mustang owners to a new, unique, and very bitchin' set of undercover hoodpins from Western Motorsports of Calgary in Alberta, Canada.

WMS's Stealth hoodpins ($199) answer the prayers of those S197 owners who have experienced "hood shake," and those who may want to keep their 'Stangs' high-output engines under tighter wraps, without having to drill through the hood and detract from a clean appearance. The Stealth setup is a billet, stainless steel, totally underhood pin system that doesn't require drilling holes through a Mustang's hood to install.

The crew at Extreme Automotive had the perfect candidate for this type of upgrade (a Vortech T-Trim-blown '05 Saleen coupe with a hood that shook like the dickens when boost was in double digits), so we stopped in and watched as Saul "The Surgeon" Gutierrez went about installing the new pins. The following photos and captions offer a good look at what's involved to bolt the kit onto an S197 'Stang.

Saul "The Surgeon" Gutierrez of Extreme Automotive secures the hood-latch assembly on an '05 Saleen 'Stang that now sports Western Motorsports' new Stealth hoodpin system. One of the few complaints about S197 Mustangs has been a nuance known as hood shake. The stock latch holds the center of the hood down but both corners aren't secured, which allows the hood to shake as speed increases. The Stealth pins' cable-operated latches bolt down to both corners of the radiator support, as seen in the foreground of this photo, and are mated with pins attached to the underside of the hood when the hood is closed.

Stealth latches are forged from billet aluminum and feature recesses that fit over the rubber-snubber mounts, which must be removed, and the two ridged channels in a new Mustang's core support to ensure the latches are secured to the support.