Muscle Mustangs & Fast Fords
C&L Performance Three-Valve Intake Manifold Upgrade
We Get Our Hands On One Of The First C&L Performance Three-Valve Intake Manifolds--It Added 27 RWHP.
During the summer of 2008, C&L Performance made a surprise announcement--it was nearing completion of a high-flow Three-Valve intake manifold.
The company is long known for its MAF sensors and high-quality cold-air intake kits, so some might see the move to intakes as unusual, but according to Lee Bender of C&L Performance, it was a natural fit for the company. "This was a natural progression for us. Before development of this product began, we had designed a new complete intake manifold assembly for the Two-Valve 4.6L engine, which was used in the '99-'04 Mustang GT. However, all business indications pointed towards the Three-Valve market as being the future for our company. While other businesses have been working on a Two-Valve intake, we are now releasing a Three-Valve manifold."
Bender and his crew of airflow specialists started with a clean sheet of paper. The team worked first with computer modeling, then moved to real-world mock-ups. Bender offers insight to the long development road. "The basic design of the intake manifold has remained relatively unchanged throughout the development process. This is because the original criteria for the product dictated that it have both a long runner path for each port, as well as a flow capacity that exceeds the current needs of all Three-Valve Mustangs. This is the key to making the product flexible enough to be beneficial for basically everyone, from a completely stock application to a more serious high-horsepower application with upgraded heads and/or some form of supercharging. It took over a year to get to the point where an actual intake was bolted on a Three-Valve and tested on the chassis dyno and on the street."
Bender kept us in the loop as he coordinated the design and manufacturing groups. Each step of the way the team was faced with two ultimate questions. First, can it be manufactured and marketed at a reasonable cost? Second, will it work as intended? For the record, the intakes are 100 percent American-made.
"The biggest challenge in making this product a reality was getting the tooling configured properly. This is a very large casting, and is much more difficult to produce than anything that we have ever done before," says Bender. Before a bolt was turned on a car, the intake was optimized on the flowbench, where it significantly out-flowed a stock intake, but still carried long runners for healthy low-to-mid-range power, in addition to the higher rpm flow capabilities.
"Our proprietary computerized flowbench was used throughout the development cycle to ensure our goal for total airflow was met," proclaims Bender. "Our original goal was to have both balance among the runners, as well as a minimum flow capacity of 315 cfm per runner. In the end, testing has shown that none of the runners flow less than 317 cfm, with the average port flow typically in the 325 to 330-cfm range. An important design criterion was that all ports for each respective side of the manifold must use the exact same core. This means that even with minor casting variations, all of the runners on each respective side of the engine are basically identical to each other. This is not something you will typically find in most intake manifolds, even in the aftermarket."
In-house testing was conducted on a stock '07 Mustang GT, and it picked up 15-17 hp at the tires. We got our hands on a production piece to check things out for ourselves. Judgment day for independent testing of the intake came on a chilly day this past winter. C&L had just made the final revision, acquired a patent, and started production, and we received one of the first intakes off the assembly line. The installation and testing was performed at Evolution Performance. Some might know the shop for its work in the Shelby GT500 segment, but it is a full-blown speed shop catering to Mustangs of all years.