Chris Hemer
May 1, 2002
Photos By: Courtesy of Manufacturers

As a high-performance enthusiast, you've undoubtedly heard the phrase free horsepower bandied about. It means horsepower that is lurking within your existing combination, just waiting to be released. Now, we all know that truly free horsepower is as hard to come by as a free lunch-or a free date with the Maxim cover girl. But by maximizing the engine's efficiency through careful examination of its every function, it is possible to extract several extra horsepower you never knew existed. A cold-air or ram-air package is one of the easiest, most effective ways to do this, with a minimal investment in time or money.

Put simply, these systems introduce ambient air from an area outside your hot engine compartment into the engine. As we're sure you know by now, cooler air is denser air, which makes for better combustion and more horsepower. As an added bonus, these packages typically include a low-restriction air filter as well, and many make provisions for a larger mass air meter to free up even more ponies (of course, this makes for pricier free horsepower).

In the last few years, several companies have begun offering fresh-air and ram-air systems, so to keep you updated as to what's available, we've compiled this buyer's guide. In it you will find a variety of systems (in alphabetical order) for Mustangs ranging from six-cylinder models to 5.0s to 4.6 Cobras-in short, something to fit your car. Certainly they're not free, but cheap horsepower is almost as good, right?

Anderson Ford Motorsport
Every car dealership has a parts department. Some even carry high-performance parts. But Anderson Ford's motorsport department (Anderson Ford Motorsport) in rural Clinton, Illinois, goes way beyond that. The company has its own dyno and offers a variety of performance parts of its own design, including its Power Pipe induction systems. AFM offers Power Pipes for '86-'93, '94-'95, and '96-'01 Mustangs, as well as '96-'98 Cobras and the brand-new Bullitt Mustang. Made from mandrel-bent, 4-inch steel tubing, these kits are designed for use with 77-83mm Pro-M shorty mass air meters, and place the mass air meter/air-filter assembly inside the fender so it can feed off fresh air. Each Power Pipe kit comes with the tube and rubber mounting elbows for the throttle body and mass air meters. Anderson reports its Power Pipes are worth between 6 and 14 hp at the rear wheels, depending on the application, engine mods, and so on, and retail between $188.00 and $232.66.

Kenne Bell
Kenne Bell is a company that needs no introduction. But for those of you who might have just crawled out from under a small-block, here goes. Kenne Bell produces a wide variety of performance products, most notably its twin-screw supercharger kits for Mustangs, Ford trucks, and SUVs. Company President Jim Bell made Kenne Bell famous for high-performance Buick engines and components, but when that market began to die, attention quickly turned to the burgeoning 5.0 market.

Kenne Bell's kit is a true ram-air design, consisting of a length of flex hose, a scoop that mounts underneath the front fascia, an air-filter canister, the company's own polyester cone filter, mounting hardware, and instructions. Kenne Bell maintains that the accepted rule of thumb for horsepower increase is "every 10 degrees in air-charge temperature reduction is equivalent to 1 percent in horsepower." For the math-challenged, let's just say that Kenne Bell claims a horsepower gain of up to 25 crank horsepower and an e.t. reduction of 0.25 second and 2.5 mph.