January 17, 2006

Modular Mustang Racing

The folks from Modular Mustang Racing offered a study within itself. Besides giving us a look at what MMR has to offer the '05 Mustang cold-air shopper, we also got a chance to compare the gains from an inlet pipe from the throttle body to the mass air. This is possible because MMR offers two systems--a base kit that consists of a new mass air housing and washable air filter, and the High-Flow kit that's the same plus a 4-inch inlet tube from the mass air to the throttle body. That inlet tube is available in red, black, or silver.

MMR claims 8-15 rwhp with the base kit and up to 35 rwhp with intake tube. The base kit crushes those numbers, and the High-Flow kit comes surprisingly close. Some interesting observations came out with the MMR parts. First, the base kit, which lacks a shield, had inlet temperatures that spiked dramatically during the dyno pull (up to 113 degrees on some runs). This told us what we had expected: Air-filter shielding is crucial for good performance. Of course, this is on a dyno, so we can't comment on a moving car; but we're sure the other companies' shields are there for a reason. The full-length kit offered a 3.1-rwhp and 2.9-rwtq gain, and Ken recorded some large increases in airflow over the mass air. That may not justify the price difference, but remember--this is on a bone-stock car at rest. Add an exhaust, a nitrous kit, and a 110-mph top-end charge, and the full-length version may start to pay dividends.

Our judges found the MMR base kit easy to install with a great Value. The full-length MMR cold-air suffered from a slight throttle-body obstruction that got our engineer judge worked up, but the others didn't seem to mind because the piece delivered good power. The judges also commented that the MMR open-ended filter was a big plus. This is another solid '05 Mustang cold-air that makes good power.

By the Numbers

MMR Annihilator Intake

Price: $199 (Annihilator intake kit; PN 900800)
Peak Horsepower: 282.2 (21.8hp gain)
Peak Torque: 299.3 lb-ft (17.3-lb-ft gain)

Subjective Evaluation

Ease of Installation: 45
Value: 37
Appearance: 33
Overall Quality: 36
Expected Durability: 40
Total: 191

MMR Annihilator Intake w/ High-Flow Inlet Tube

Price: $349.99 (Annihilator intake kit with high-flow intake tube; PN 900801)
Peak Horsepower: 285.9 (24.9hp gain)
Peak Torque: 302.2 (20.2 lb-ft gain)

Subjective Evaluation

Ease of Installation: 39
Value: 34
Appearance: 34
Overall Quality: 36
Expected Durability: 35
Total: 178

Mustang Racing Technologies

Anchored by Scott Hoag, former lead engineer for Team Mustang at Ford Motor Company, Mustang Racing Technologies is a talented collection of engineers and designers who are more than a little familiar with the Mustang platform. According to MRT, its cold-air does not need a reprogram of the stock computer once installed, which is a significant savings in the final purchase price.

The MRT cold-air posted significant power and torque gains, but it rang the air/fuel meter at a rather lean 13.0:1, something we'd be concerned about if an owner were to add an exhaust or throttle body--anything that may push the tune into the too-lean range. Still, when corrected for air/fuel with an SCT tune, the power stayed pretty much the same, indicating the things weren't unsafe. As Scott explained, MRT's cold-air is part of an integral system for sensible street Mustang enthusiasts, and as such this system shines. As you continue to add MRT components, a computer flash is certainly on the menu.

Of those tested, the MRT system was also one of the best looking with its carbon-fiber filter housing and bright-chrome inlet tube. It looked wonderful under the hood of our silver GT test car, and our judges raved over the muscular good looks. On our test sample, we found one bad clip that held the lid on the K&N conical filter. This clip broke during installation, which could have been from the hurried pace of our installers. Other than that, our test notes read flawlessly for this cold-air.

By the Numbers

MRT Cold-Air

Price: $348.95 (PN ssd-8000-f)
Peak Horsepower: 278 (17hp gain)/ (281 with SCT tune)
Peak Torque: 298 lb-ft (17-lb-ft gain)/(298 lb-ft with SCT tune)

Subjective Evaluation

Ease of Installation: 35
Value: 29
Appearance: 47
Overall Quality: 39
Expected Durability: 33
Total: 183

PowerHouse Automotive

Mike Bowen and the PowerHouse name may be new to you, but you'd better get used to hearing it used with "fast '05 Mustang." The company's PowerHouse Pipeline Air Inlet System has been carefully assembled from a shop that specializes in '05 Mustangs--not just a cold-air factory that pumps out kits for the hot car of the week. Because of this, we immediately noticed small things that added up to a big difference with the PowerHouse cold-air, even though we had been supplied a rough prototype for our evaluation. Our judges were impressed with the extra brackets to support the weight of the filter, which should result in a huge decrease in filter flop in daily driving.

Our prototype came in steel--the production piece, we were promised, will come in aluminum. Without a shield (something PowerHouse plans to offer as an option), the inlet temperatures went noticeably higher with this piece, ultimately leading to heat soak and a longer testing time. That concerned our judges, but they were lenient because "prototype" was written on top of the score sheets.

This system was designed to work with both the V-8 and V-6 versions of the '05 Mustang. Odd, you might think, but the PowerHouse crew already has a bolt-on V-6 '05 that runs in the 12s, and they are looking to up the nitrous for a shot at the 11-second zone. Is the V-6 market going to be a strong source for performance aftermarket '05 sales? You better believe it.

This piece attained the most consistent subjective scores of the cold-air kits we tested. With an aluminum intake pipe, a shield of some type, and the better fitment of the production cold-air, this is another promising system.

By the Numbers

Pipeline Air Inlet System
Price: $249
Peak Horsepower: 286.4 (25.4hp gain)
Peak Torque: 301.6 (19.6-lb-ft gain)

Subjective Evaluation

Ease of Installation: 38
Value: 38
Appearance: 38
Overall Quality: 40
Expected Durability: 40
Total: 194

Tunable Induction

John DeMolet's kit did exceptionally well in our '03 Cobra cold-air shootout, so we had to have this talented designer back for the '05 comparison. As such, John rushed to get a prototype together for our evaluation. It featured a CNC-machined-plastic, 95mm mass air with a tight fit to the throttle-body tube, a big Green Filter, carbon-fiber accents, and good hardware throughout. He also stressed his systems utilize ABS plastic, which, according to John, is far superior to PVC piping in terms of durability and shape maintenance. This is the type of solid piece John is known for.

The Tunable Induction cold-air had good power numbers, and our judged scored it high for Durability and Ease of Installation. Our prototype came without the production shield and with a closed-end filter--two points of concern for our judges. The filter in the production piece will feature an open end pointed at the factory inlet hole, and it comes in a number of colors. After all the kits had been tested, our test car owner had the pick of the lot, and he chose the Tunable Induction cold-air for his car!

By the Numbers

Tunable Induction Cold-Air
Price: $185 (carbon-fiber or factorycolor tubing and shield)/ $465 with DiabloSport-tuned Predator and shield (not tested)
Peak Horsepower: 285.4 (24.4hp gain)
Peak Torque: 301.9 lb-ft (19.9-lb-ft gain)

Subjective Evaluation

Ease of Installation: 41
Value: 43
Appearance: 35
Overall Quality: 37
Expected Durability: 39
Total: 195

Western Motorsports Inc.

Talk about thinking outside the box--the designers at Western Motorsports certainly offered us the most unique cold-air in this evaluation. One has to wonder, if the '05 Mustang engine looks so much like a GM LT1/LS1, why aren't more manufacturers emulating the strengths of that engine layout? Namely--a throttle body pointed straight ahead of the car offering a straight shot for anyone willing to design a ram-air system to take advantage of it. That's what the Western Motorsports system offers its customers.

"We needed to take advantage of the front-mounted throttle body," the WMS folks told us, and it seems only logical to those of us who have looked under the hood of a Corvette over the last two decades.

Again, we were sent the first prototype of the WMS cold-air system--but, man, what a wild piece it is. It came with a super-trick billet-aluminum mass air adapter that had our judges fighting to handle it. There is also a massive oval air filter, a large radiator shield, and the necessary wiring to lengthen the mass air wiring harness. In all, it's a comprehensive kit that provides the buyer everything necessary for the installation--trust us, our judges were all over this thing.

Installation is much more complicated than the other cold-airs in this evaluation: attach the billet mass air to the throttle body; stock electronics bolt into the meter; stock PCV air tube snaps into the billet adapter on the coupler; and relocate the coolant overflow tank to the driver side.

We asked Shannon Wall of Western Motorsports to tell us a bit more about the company's testing of this unit since we had a limited amount of time with it. Shannon said, "Without the ram-air box, I think you'll find the air gets hot quickly on the dyno, probably only good for one run without any cool-down. On the street, a considerable amount of air finds it way to the filter even without the airbox--if you watch the air temp, it gets hot when you stop, then cools down quickly once moving. The ram-air box keeps temps colder all the time and will have a ram effect at higher speeds, although we have not been able to determine a power difference yet."

We saw inlet temperatures skyrocket past 130 degrees without the shield installed. Once the shield was in place, things got back to normal.

Our judges blasted the WMS cold-air for its long installation time, but in all fairness, it was quite a bit different from the other cold-airs in this test. It required some serious wiring, but the results are unique. Our judges agreed this was a well-built kit that should have good Durability with outstanding Quality.

You have to hand it to the designers at Western Motorsports--they didn't just make a larger copy of the stock intake system, and a lot of thought clearly went into this thing. We'd like to see a custom hood with a ram-air box enclosing the big oval filter. Sure, it would add more to the cost, but it might be the ultimate cold-air for the '05 Mustang.

By the Numbers

Western Motorsports Cold Air

Price: $369 U.S./ $469 Canada
Peak Horsepower: 284.4 (23.4hp gain)
Peak Torque: 302.4 (20.4-lb-ft gain)

Subjective Evaluation

Ease of Installation: 14
Value: 30
Appearance: 38
Overall Quality: 37
Expected Durability: 38
Total: 157

Cold Air Intake Dyno Results

StockStockK&N Panel
SCT TuneSCT Tune