KJ Jones
Brand Manager, 5.0 Mustang & Super Fords
November 19, 2010
Photos By: Courtesy of Anderson Ford Motorsport

From a tech perspective, '86-'04 Mustangs epitomize the bolt-on upgrade concept. There are thousands of product combinations designed for improving the power, handling, and appearance of Fox, SN-95, and New Edge 'Stangs.

Naturally, we place hopping up a Pony's engine at the top of the bolt-on food chain. Not to take anything away from aesthetic mods, of course, but an engine making big steam has become a prerequisite for certified-hot Mustangs these days. Currently, 600 horses at the feet is a benchmark that will earn a 'Stang major respect on the street.

Generating six-hundie-and-better horses is something that's typically accomplished with a stout engine and some sort of power adder. Those are upgrades that sit fairly high on the investment ladder compared to entry-level upgrades such as cold-air-induction systems, throttle bodies, and post-catalytic exhaust systems. We always enjoy exploring various ways of creating that type of higher-end performance, but we also like to bolt-on the basics every once in a while, as the simple stuff does quite well at putting more zoom in stone-stock, pushrod, and modular engines too.

For a long time, achieving significant power gains on naturally aspirated, 4.6-liter, Two-Valve modulars was no easy task. The first iterations of the Two-Valve suffered from poorly matched induction that kept crankshaft horsepower on par with the pushrod 5.0-liter it replaced (215 hp in '96-'97; 225 hp in '98). Adding bolt-ons didn't really make the sad situation any better for the early modular bullets. It wasn't until Power Improved versions of the Two-Valve heads (reshaped ports and 42cc combustion chamber) and intake manifold came about in 1999. Finally, we finally saw 260 flywheel horses, 300 lb-ft of torque, and the ability to make gains with bolt-ons.

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Rick Anderson of Anderson Ford Motorsport is someone who thinks along the same lines as your tech editor. While there may not be anything new (from a mechanical/installation standpoint) for tech concepts that have been well-covered over the years, there's still value in revisiting basic upgrade projects-especially on New Edge 'Stangs, which are easy to acquire and ripe for modification.

Rick approached us with the idea of doing a stock-to-superstar buildup on a New Edge 'Stang. We said great but we needed the right car. Fortunately, Nikki Wilson owns the exact type of Mustang we wanted. It's an '02 convertible GT that's stock as a rock and in desperate need of more zoom. We thought it would be cool to take Nikki's Pony through the entry-level stages of performance transformation, using parts that Anderson offers as 30- and 60-rear-wheel-horspower packages that do not require tuning before moving on to bigger and better gains.

AFM has put these mods into kit form. The 30hp kit (PN KIT04-30HP: $1,799) includes one of BBKs 78mm throttle-body/plenum sets; an Auto Specialties Performance damper and underdrive pulleys; and Bassani's mid-length headers, off-road X-pipe, and after-cat exhaust system. Moving up the ladder, AFM's 60-horse kit (PN KIT04-60HP; $2,850) features all of the above plus AFM N-22 camshafts, an AFM Power Pipe, and an Abaco DBX 97B programmable mass-air meter.

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These packages can be bolted-on driveway-style by mechanically inclined enthusiasts. We give total props to Nikki for getting her hands dirty on her own ride, but it's important to emphasize that while installing the exhaust at home certainly is doable, assistance of a twin-post hoist makes it much easier.

The following photos and captions provide a look at and information on the pieces that make impressive Two-Valve power, which is confirmed through the dyno figures that also are provided, as is our norm.

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