Steve Turner
Former Editor, 5.0 Mustang & Super Fords
January 1, 2005
Photos By: Courtesy of Anderson Ford Motorsport

Horse Sense:
The original Real Street rules specified only a stock 5.0 camshaft, which left a lot of room between the lines. The latest rules, however, specify maximum camshaft measurements. In part, the cam rule reads: "The maximum lobe lift of a stock lobe 5.0 H.O. camshaft is 0.278 inch. NMRA will not accept a lobe lift of less than 0.270 inch or more than 0.278 inch. These lobe lifts are within the parameter of a 'stock-lobe 5.0 H.O. camshaft.' The choice of rocker ratio is the racer's, with the maximum valve lift at the retainer not to exceed 0.480 inch." The rules go on to list maximum lobe lifts at a given duration, which are as follows: 0.050 inch at 211 degrees, 0.100 inch at 179 degrees, 0.150 inch at 148 degrees, and 0.200 inch at 115 degrees. Likewise, maximum and minimum lobe-separation angles of 117 and 115 degrees, respectively, are mandated.

Plain and simple, magazine project cars are double-edged swords. Every car nut would like to dream up a car and build it while on the job. Of course, magazine projects are notoriously long-lived and-in my case-underperforming cars that never quite live up to their potential. A number of factors are at play here, but the main culprit is that because they are part of the job, they become just another part of the job, so they don't receive the kind of after-hours worship that your prized projects do. After all, your project is a way to forget about work. Ours are work-enjoyable work, but work all the same.

It doesn't help that yours truly often likes to make things more complicated than they need be. Just ask Tech Editor Houlahan. In addition to performing the requisite black interior swaps, Mark likely wouldn't be surprised to hear me ask him to install two steering wheels in one of my project cars. Seriously, I have an affinity for gadgets, and you have to look no further than the number of Auto Meter gauges in Project Real Street to see that. In fact, I'm still a bit disappointed we haven't put an aftermarket stereo in the car-yet.

And the idea of a stereo in the car just goes to show you, I really wanted to build a car that reflected my original ideas about the NMRA's Real Street class. As you may or may not know, I had a bit to do with forming the concept of this class, which was built around streetable bolt-on parts and power adders. Since its inception, the class quickly evolved beyond its mid-10-second origins into an ultracompetitive, mid-9-second class thanks to some select rule changes and the unmitigated creativity of its racers. Still, I never thought my project car would be a competitive racer, rather an example of a street car that would be legal for the class-the kind to have fun with, not compete for a championship.

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The emphasis on street was important, so Mark assembled the car with out-of-the-box parts and all the factory accessories, including smog gear. We knew we'd give up some power that way, but it would give us a baseline to see where a real car gains from that racing creativity. Still, when Project Real Street finally hit the dyno, something was amiss. It made just over 400 hp, and we had hoped for more like 450-475 with all our street gear. While it's not giant slaying, it's not far off from the cutting edge when we began building the car four years ago. We grew frustrated and let the car sit for a while.

Fortunately, we weren't the only ones frustrated with the car. Rick Anderson of Anderson Ford Motorsport had supplied some components-his famous Power Pipe and PMS-and tuning to the car. He too wondered why it didn't make more power. Unlike myself, Rick is a mini-malist. He does only what it takes to make power. The bells and whistles just get in his way. He offered to take the car under his wing and exorcise the gremlins for us. It took us less time to accept that offer than it does a controversy to erupt on the Internet. His streamlined approach was likely just what the car needed.

With Project Real Street finally under expert care, we relaxed and waited for the good numbers to roll in. That didn't happen right away, but it made us feel better that Rick tried his best to get the car to run properly as it still made just over 430 hp with the tune-up on kill. Something was amiss, and his patience ran out. He tore down the engine to the short-block-the next step was a new cam and prepped heads anyway. He determined some damaged valvetrain gear caused undue friction inside the engine. Not only did this explain why the car was down on power, but it also made me feel a heck of a lot better. It wasn't something I had overcomplicated.

From there, Rick put her back together and made similar power with our combo to what former champ Joffre Lafontaine's car made back in the day. It's not competitive with today's Real Street giant slayers, but it's great for our little street car.

On The Dyno
BaselineAFM Heads, Cam, TuningGainsVortech V-2 SQ S-TrimGains
RPMPowerTorqueAir/FueLPowerTorqueAir/FuelPowerTorquePowerTorqueAir/FuelPowerTorque
3,000177.14310.1013.00184.85323.6013.80 7.7113.50191.49335.2214.59 6.6411.62
3,200196.32322.2213.24209.16343.2913.4012.8421.07217.75357.3813.75 8.5914.09
3,400222.71344.0213.23233.22360.2513.2610.5116.23242.34374.3313.55 9.1214.08
3,600252.04367.7013.20260.41379.9113.23 8.3712.21272.77397.9413.4612.3618.03
3,800277.94384.1413.56289.28399.8113.1411.3415.67304.12420.3213.3214.8420.51
4,000303.50398.4813.76313.39411.5013.19 9.8913.02332.70436.8313.2819.3125.33
4,200331.47414.5113.74334.87418.7613.23 3.40 4.25355.84444.9813.3320.9726.22
4,400354.31422.9213.35357.37426.5713.22 3.06 3.65377.84451.0113.2620.4724.44
4,600378.16431.7713.13381.76435.8812.99 3.60 4.11406.67464.3113.1724.9128.43
4,800396.52433.8713.39405.86444.0912.87 9.3410.22432.79473.5412.9926.9329.45
5,000412.70433.5113.35425.84447.3012.7513.1413.79454.90477.8412.6929.0630.54
5,200422.74426.9813.34444.93449.3912.8022.1922.41470.63475.3212.5725.7025.93
5,400428.77417.0413.12457.88445.3412.8729.1128.30489.87476.4612.5231.9931.12
5,600431.70404.8912.99470.26441.0512.8638.5636.16500.20469.1312.4129.9428.08
5,800432.40391.5513.09475.69430.7612.8843.2939.21495.40448.6112.4119.7117.85
6,000428.81375.3613.14479.01419.3112.7450.2043.95503.97441.1612.3224.9621.85
6,200414.57351.1913.16465.45394.3012.6650.8843.11506.25428.8612.0940.8034.56
6,400n/an/an/a449.67369.0212.50n/an/a494.82406.0711.9545.1537.05

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Looking at the baseline numbers for our combo, you can tell something was amiss. Part of the problem was a bit of undue cam friction. Our out-of-the-box parts and full accessories left the rest of the power on the table. Just adding the AFM cam, the AFM-prepped heads, and Rick's magic on the PMS really woke up the combo, as it pulled harder all the way through, but especially after 5,000 rpm. But the swap to the Vortech V-2 SQ S-Trim took it to the next level with no other changes, again pulling harder across the rpm range and hardest after 5,000 rpm. These are dramatic improvements that show the benefit of working with a knowledgeable tuner to maximize your combination.

If we had an aftermarket block, trick short-block internals, trick valvesprings, titanium retainers, and huge injectors, the Paxton would likely be the choice for top power. But our stock block, standard valvesprings, and smallish 48-lb/hr injectors meant the Vortech was a much better fit. For example, at 6,500 rpm, the Paxton topped out at 10.8 pounds of boost on our combo, as it ran out of rpm, but the Vortech made 14 pounds at the same rpm. It's all about the right parts for your particular combination.

Any way you slice it, more than 500 horsepower at the rear wheels is impressive (the competitive racers make only another 50-60 hp at the wheels) for a streetable car with unported heads, short-tube headers, and a stock-style cam. We can't wait to get behind the wheel of Project Real Street now. There are still a few minor things to take care of before she's raceworthy, but we just know she's gonna feel awesome with the pedal to the floor.

No Porting, More Flow
Valve
Lift
Intake
Stock
TW Heads
AFM RS
TW Heads
Gains Exhaust
Stock
TW Heads
AFM RS
TW Heads
Gains
0.200-in 152 cfm 155 cfm 3 cfm 101 cfm 109 cfm 8 cfm
0.250-in 186 cfm 190 cfm 4 cfm 115 cfm 126 cfm 11 cfm
0.300-in 214 cfm 220 cfm 6 cfm 130 cfm 142 cfm 12 cfm
0.350-in 237 cfm 242 cfm 5 cfm 141 cfm 155 cfm 14 cfm
0.400-in 252 cfm 258 cfm 6 cfm 152 cfm 164 cfm 12 cfm
0.450-in 256 cfm 267 cfm 11cfm 160 cfm 171 cfm 11 cfm
0.500-in 258 cfm 268 cfm 10 cfm 167 cfm 175 cfm 8 cfm
0.550-in 258 cfm n/a cfm n/a 173 cfm 179 cfm 6 cfm

You'd think it would be difficult to find extra airflow when the cylinder heads can't be ported. Not true. Restrictive sanctioning-body rules often breed creativity in racers, tuners, engine builders, and head porters. Fortunately, that knowledge eventually helps the rest of us. Cases in point are AFM's Real Street-prepped heads. John Carls at JDC Engineering does all AFM's head work, and he spent lots of time at the flow bench developing a valve-job package for Real Street. Rick describes the treatment as a competition valve job with more angles. The valve job is so good, it's also what all of AFM's ported heads receive.

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