KJ Jones
December 26, 2013
Photos By: Rick Anderson


Check out Part 1 and Part 2 of the project series!

Welcome to the third installment of the Project Pretty Ugly chronicles. We've rabidly followed Rick Anderson's quest to transform a homely 1979 Ford Mustang coupe into a reliable and insanely fast street 'Stang. In the event you're new to the magazine, or the project, we'll bring you up to speed.

Rick, Holley's technical sales representative and a longtime Mustang guy, decided it would be cool to put a long-retired notchback Fox back into service as the ultimate sleeper. When looking at the project on a grand scale, building high-powered street beasts isn't a ground-breaking concept. Actually, it's pretty far from new at this point, as we've featured hundreds—possibly thousands—of Ponies that fit the bill, right here in these pages. However, when you take into account how challenging it is to harness the big steam these Mustangs throw down, developments in fuel injection and engine management definitely garner a lot of our attention.

To control the 427ci bullet in Ugly's engine compartment, Rick turned to Holley's new Dominator EFI, an engine-management setup that we detailed in our Sept. '13 issue ("Dominant Genes," p. 66). While the new Holley system is plenty capable of supporting an all-out race car, it also can be used to corral that power for the street, which is the main quality he sought.

"I really want the car to be driveable," Rick said. "Sure, I definitely want it to be fast on the dragstrip, but I also want it to be fun to drive on the street, making lots of noise and horsepower, with cold A/C (during the summer), good heat, and no concerns about overheating or chugging at low speed. The overheating and low-speed issues seem to be common for big-powered, older (pushrod) street Mustangs, especially those that are equipped with power adders. We've proven Dominator EFI's ability to make Ugly fun with nitrous, but now we're raising the bar a little higher by switching to boost and taking the car out on Hot Rod's Drag Week."

Yes, testing the coupe's mettle has taken a serious turn since our last report on Project Pretty Ugly, and we're anxious to see whether this change ultimately was for better ... or worse. A non-intercooled version of Vortech's race-inspired V-11 XB110 wind machine now sits alongside the coupe's updated D.S.S. stroker (low-compression pistons and a new camshaft), and huffs more than 25 pounds of boost into its cylinders. It's definitely a big change, for sure. Read on for highlights of the coupe's supercharged makeover, and more importantly, the battery of boost and timing scenarios that were thrown at the new combination during tests performed on the Dynojet chassis dyno at Red Line Motorsports in Bloomington, Illinois.

Rick selected a cog-drive setup featuring 32- and 30-tooth pulleys for the supercharger, and a 73-tooth wheel for the crank.
We know you’re used to seeing ’Stangs that are at least 7 years younger and a lot better-looking than Rick Anderson’s ’79 notchback here in 5.0 Mustang & Super Fords. Project Pretty Ugly definitely is an anomaly, for despite its crude and ancient (by modern Mustang standards) appearance, the coupe has a brand-new driveline that’s capable of putting a thousand horses on the ground. Check out the hood, which had to be shimmed up from the hinges to create sufficient clearance for the supercharger tubing and a carb cap.
Ugly’s base motivator is a 427ci small-block Ford engine built by D.S.S. Racing Engines of St. Charles, Illinois. Pistons were replaced for the switch to supercharger, lowering the compression to 9.5:1.
A camshaft swap (to another custom grind of undisclosed specs) was the only other engine mod. After installing the cam and cylinder heads, a quart of Driven Racing’s BR30 break-in oil was added.
D.S.S.’s new CNC FH-1 208cc cylinder heads were not modified for the engine update, nor was the Edlebrock Super Victor intake manifold. Holley’s 112mm carb-style throttle body also was reused, topped with an Extreme Velocity blow-through carb cap.
This is the heavy-duty hardware in Ugly’s makeover: Vortech’s new V-11 XB110 supercharger. While the blower is full of race attitude internally, it’s founded on a chassis that’s compliant with the driver-side brackets for V-1 and V-7 Renegade-style systems. Ever the scientist when it comes to experimenting with boost, Rick selected a cog-drive setup featuring 32- and 30-tooth pulleys for the supercharger, and a 73-tooth wheel for the crank.
Before installing the engine between Ugly’s front fenders, the blower underwent a full mock-up mounting to determine the amount of clearance between the 6-inch bell on the inlet and the cylinder heads, on which 2-inch Hooker long-tube headers are mounted. In a nutshell, there isn’t much clearance at all.
Before installing the engine between Ugly’s front fenders, the blower underwent a full mock-up mounting to determine the amount of clearance between the 6-inch bell on the inlet and the cylinder heads, on which 2-inch Hooker long-tube headers are mounted. In a nutshell, there isn’t much clearance at all.
All of the 3-inch discharge tubing also was mocked up while the engine was out of the car. The tube strategy is simple, with only one straight length, and a 180-degree bend between the blower and throttle body.
The supercharger’s discharge tubing was assembled in three pieces. Notice that index marks are made on the taped unions to ensure the pieces are properly aligned before they’re welded together.
The supercharger’s discharge tubing was assembled in three pieces. Notice that index marks are made on the taped unions to ensure the pieces are properly aligned before they’re welded together.
We use this same Vortech’s MaxFlow bv57 bypass valve for the blower setup on our Project T-top Coupe. This piece is the real deal, and can easily handle more than the near 30 psi of boost that will need to be vented when Rick lays off the gas after a wide-open-throttle blast.
Water/methanol injection is also part of the supercharger plan, since there is no intercooler being used. With power goals set at 1,000 plus, Rick selected Holley’s 1,000cc-injection solenoid/nozzle combination (PN 557-106). The solenoid is driven by an injector-driver output in the Dominator EFI ECU that Rick is using to control engine ops.
Holley’s water/meth kit (PN 557-101) is designed for use exclusively with Dominator EFI (or the HP system). The reservoir and pump are mounted in the trunk, and can support 100-percent water or a 50/50 percent mixture of water and methanol. Windshield-washer fluid is a cost-effective alternative to the water/meth that Rick is using for this project.
No, nitrous oxide wasn’t completely eliminated from Project Pretty Ugly’s power-adder plan. “I’m using a dual dry shot of nitrous—not as a power adder, per se, but as a way of making the torque converter sort of adjustable, similar to the way it’s used in turbocharged cars.” Rick says. “On the dragstrip, it will only come on between 3,000 and 5,500 rpm, or whatever range I program with the Dominator.”
Here’s a look at Ugly’s engine, reincarnated as a Vortech-supercharged, big-horsepower animal with true street cred. Check out the A/C compressor (at the bottom/passenger-side of the block) and lines, as well as the alternator, and a serpentine-belt-drive system for those accessories. Rick’s plan is to go out on—and hopefully complete—Hot Rod magazine’s Drag Week 2013 with this wild setup.

On The Dyno

Holley Technical Sales Represent-ative Rick Anderson is the kind of guy who (if it wasn't for being married and having a family) would probably have no problem actually living in a dyno cell, spending every waking minute trying to make big steam with a Mustang. We make this assessment based on years of knowing and working with Rick, and marveling at his dedication to testing performance parts, combinations, and the like in almost every situation imaginable.

The data presented in the chart and graphs are prime examples of Rick's diligence on the dyno. With a Vortech V-11 XB110 centrifugal supercharger now installed on Project Pretty Ugly, the Pony was thrashed on the Dynojet's rollers with Rick making blower-pulley and timing-advance changes ad nauseum in an effort to make 1,000 hp with the coupe's D.S.S.-built 427 and VP Racing Fuel's MotorSport 109 unleaded.

Despite the absence of a carb cap on the throttle body and the all-important cog-drive belt for the supercharger, Project Pretty Ugly’s D.S.S. Racing 427 is ready to rock. The first dyno shot was made in naturally aspirated trim, and the engine showed impressive street/rear-wheel power and torque—especially when the losses caused by the coupe’s heavy, Brand-X, 4L80E automatic transmission (built by Performance Transmissions) are taken into account.
Despite the absence of a carb cap on the throttle body and the all-important cog-drive belt for the supercharger, Project Pretty Ugly’s D.S.S. Racing 427 is ready to rock. The first dyno shot was made in naturally aspirated trim, and the engine showed impressive street/rear-wheel power and torque—especially when the losses caused by the coupe’s heavy, Brand-X, 4L80E automatic transmission (built by Performance Transmissions) are taken into account.
Supercharger testing was done under a myriad of boost, timing, and torque-converter conditions (locked/unlocked), and the accompanying graph details how much horsepower and torque the big Vortech adds.
Supercharger testing was done under a myriad of boost, timing, and torque-converter conditions (locked/unlocked), and the accompanying graph details how much horsepower and torque the big Vortech adds.
A=naturally aspirated baseline; B=32-tooth cog, 25-degrees timing, 25 psi, locked converter; C=32-tooth cog, 27-degrees timing, 25 psi, locked converter; D=30-tooth cog, 25-degrees timing, 28 psi, locked converter; E=30-tooth cog, 27-degrees timing, 28 psi, locked converter; F= 30-tooth cog, 27-degrees timing, 28 psi, unlocked converter

As you see in the chart, columns are labeled A through F, and each letter corresponds to one of the engine/supercharger configurations that the 'Stang was tested in.

Looking back at the Mustang's first dyno test, which is detailed in our September '13 report on Ugly with its nitrous combination, we see that the drop in compression has a slight impact on the engine's naturally aspirated performance (power dropped from 471.18/peak to 440.22). However, the pistons, cam and power-adder change instantly made a profound difference. Horsepower climbed from 678.20 (with a 250hp shot of nitrous oxide), to well over 800 (just shy of the 1,000 ponies Rick is shooting for) with forced air.

Horse Sense: Drag Week. Hot Rod magazine's annual test of stamina, of both the participants, and the cars and trucks they're driving and racing over the course of a hard five days. We know firsthand how tough it is to survive Drag Week, and we're anxious to see whether Rick Anderson and Project Pretty Ugly have the right stuff. With few street miles or track laps under Pretty Ugly's belt, Rick set his sights on completing the 2013 edition.