Steve Turner
Former Editor, 5.0 Mustang & Super Fords
December 16, 2013

We all know that boost makes power. Shoving more air into an engine lets you burn more fuel and make more steam. That's the basic idea. However, an unfortunate side effect of boosted air is heat. Of course, the benefits of boost usually outweigh the negatives associated with the heated air. Still, anything you can do to mitigate heat will help you make even more power.

In the case of the factory-supercharged Shelby GT500s, they feature air-to-water intercooling right off the dealer lot. Over the years, Ford has tweaked its system, but there's always room for even more improvement. When it comes to the positive-displacement blowers on these cars, heat soak can really put a damper on power. To keep the party going longer, I have tried numerous upgraded heat exchangers on Project Vapor Trail to allow it to produce more consistent power in the Florida heat.

The latest intercooling offering for the '07-'12 Shelby GT500 is Steeda's Triple Pass Heat Exchanger (PN555-3707; $749.95). While most heat exhangers route the coolant past the air once or twice, the Steeda unit moves it through three times. It is also equipped with two 800-cfm fans to keep the air flowing even when the vehicle is traveling at low speeds. Steeda says its unit offers 18 percent more cooling than competitive units.

Add that all up and it was time to try a new heat exchanger on PVT. Now, I had hoped to do some inlet air temperature datalogging on PVT, but I learned too late that my tuner's firmware requires an update before playing nice. And then there was that little accident on the way home from this install (Bench Racer, Sept. '13, p. 10).

So I can't say for sure how much better the unit is. What I can say is the kit is really nice, and it's leaps and bounds ahead of the stock heat exhanger. So, if you are looking for such an upgrade for your GT500, the Steeda unit is worth strong consideration.

Check out the captions for the install highlights.

Keeping the intercooler fluid as cool as possible helps keeps boost temperatures in check, which in turn keeps inlet air temps down and horsepower up. To aid this cause, Steeda’s Triple-Pass Heat Exchanger (PN555-3707; $749.95) for ’07-’12 GT500s exposes the fluid to ambient air three times before returing it to the intercooler inside the factory lower intake manifold.
Steeda’s heat exchanger is a complete system including all the necessary mounting hardware and wiring for a trouble-free installation. The complete plug-in-play wiring harness powers the two 800-cfm Spal fans. Steeda recommends pairing this with Ford Racing’s Trinity-sourced intercooler core upgrade (PN M-6775-MSVT; $995) for a fully optimized intercooling system. I haven’t added the FRPP unit to Project Vapor Trail—yet.
As many times as the nose has been on and off PVT, it should be installed with a zipper. Of course, removing the front fascia is part and parcel of installing any upgraded heat exchanger on a Shelby GT500. Here Steeda’s Steve Chichisola carefully removes the fascia.
After removing our existing heat exchanger, Steve swapped over the stock intercooler fluid pump onto the mounting studs on the Steeda heat exchanger.
The inlet hose on the replacement heat exchanger differs from the stock arrangement, so the Steeda kit includes a new hose. Steve trimmed it to length and clamped it into place. He also snapped the mounting grommets into place.
After installing the mounting bolts, you can put in the heat exhanger. PVT had longer bolts in place, so Steve simply installed the Steeda unit. The kit includes detailed instructions covering all the intricacies of the install.
With the new heat exchanger in place, Steve reinstalled the hose feeding fluid from the intercooler reservoir to the exchanger. When you refill the reservoir with coolant, be sure to burp any air out of the system to ensure the fluid flows properly.
PVT already had a dual-fan heat exchanger, so we used its existing wiring. That certainly expedited the install, but the Steeda kit includes a really slick plug-in harness, which grabs the pump signal to trigger the fans. With this harness, no wiring tapping or splicing (like PVT’s prior harness required) is necessary. Having the plug-in harness is a really nice feature of the Steeda kit. And if the sound of the air rushing through these fans is any indication, they are really moving some air.
With the heat exchanger mounted, the hoses plumbed, and the fans wired, Steve only had to plug in the fans and reinstall the fascia to complete our install. The fan harness is a total bolt-in, picking up power from the fusebox and using existing bolts for relay mounting and grounds. The finished install looks factory, and the 1.7-inch-thick Steeda heat exchanger was a bit thicker than the unit it replaced.