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.
While C&L chose to focus on a stock car as a "worst-case" scenario, we wanted to try the intake on something that was a little more worked. A naturally aspirated combination is a true indication of whether or not an induction component is effective, since the engine relies on the Earth's atmosphere instead of being force fed.
Fred Cook of Evolution quickly offered up a few cars that fit our mindset--naturally aspirated, stock short-block, and real-world. We settled on a '06 Mustang GT equipped with a custom tune by Jon Lund, BBK long-tube headers and cross-pipe, Flowmaster American Thunder mufflers, a C&L 95mm Racer air intake, and a pair of Comp Cams Thumpr TH265LL camshafts and Cam Phaser limiters were installed.
The baseline in this trim produced a rather impressive 341 rwhp and 317 rwtq, but there are two things to note; the car features an automatic transmission, and Evolution has a Mustang dyno. Both items generally knockdown the output slightly when compared to a stick-shift car tested on a DynoJet chassis dyno. This is an A-to-B comparison, so we kept the variables equal and repeated the results to ensure accuracy.
Installation of the C&L intake is straightforward; there are no quirky or mechanical difficulties. The only thing to note, care is needed when tackling a throttle body swap. Be very careful when moving the electric motor from the stock unit to an aftermarket throttle body, like the Whipple single-blade one that we used in this test. Another noteworthy item, be sure to use the C&L supplied throttle body gasket. The factory intake has an O-ring style gasket while the C&L intake uses a traditional square gasket. Those who are experienced mechanics can tackle this installation in less than two hours. Those who are not accustomed to turning wrenches can get this job done in less than three hours.
The front-mounted throttle body feeds into a plenum, where the air is sent into the runners from the topside. A bottom plenum plate bolts on and is easily removed for porting or hiding a nitrous system. The intake itself is a long-runner style and each runner is equal in length. He also told us that the C&L runners are the same length as stock but follow a vastly different route, helping the air move quicker and more efficiently through the ports. On the outside, each runner has a boss that can be used to plumb a direct-port nitrous system (one nozzle per runner).
The intake performed exactly as Bender predicted. Output swelled to 368 rwhp and 315 rwtq, a stellar 27 rwhp better than the baseline numbers. Torque fell by 2 rwtq at the peak reading, but the curve was more aggressive and flatter than stock. The C&L intake will perform admirably at the track and on the street. This test utilized the factory throttle body, which has been proven to be quite effective in most applications.
As a side note, we also wanted to compare the stock throttle body to a larger aftermarket one. Thankfully, Evolution is a stocking dealer for Whipple products and had a single-blade unit ready to bolt on. Adding the throttle body was quick and easy, but thanks to modern vehicle electronics, it does require additional tuning. Jon Lund fired up his laptop and worked on a new tune, using SCT software. If the ECU is not adjusted for a new throttle body, the throttle will hang open on deceleration and idle situations. The driveability can also be affected in a negative manner because the throttle blade won't be working in sync with the ECU. The throttle body added considerable tuning to the bill, which means you would spend more money when upgrading it.
In the power department, we saw a gain of 4 rwhp to bring the total to 372 rwhp. Torque remained identical at the peak at 315 rwtq. For those who lack math skills, that works out to a 31-rwhp gain with the addition of the C&L intake and Whipple single-blade throttle body.