Recently here on StangTV we presented part one in a series of articles aimed at providing a look at existing and upcoming power upgrades on the market for the powerful and popular new 2011 Mustang GT to better assist blue oval enthusiasts in their upgrade paths. That first installment, Mustang 5.0L Power Upgrades Part 1: Boosting The 5.0 offered a look at the many supercharger and turbocharger kits being produced specifically for the “Coyote” powerplant, with in-depth looks at each system from eight different manufacturers, all wrapped up into what we hope is and will continue to be a great go-to resource for all. But as anyone that’s ever delved into horsepower upgrades for any kind of vehicle surely knows, boost isn’t the only power-adding game in town.

And so with our boosted guide complete, we shift to the world of nitrous oxide, where we’ve taken a closer look at some of the options being offered by three of the leaders in the industry, including ZEX, Nitrous Oxide Systems,and Nitrous Express. ZEX, a more recent addition to the nitrous landscape, has developed a brand new system designed specifically for the 5.0L with Active Fuel Control and other new features. NOS, renowned in both the street and racing market, offers their Universal Power Fogger Drive-By-Wire wet nitrous system for the 5.0L engine, while Nitrous Express, also a veteran brand, boasts both single nozzle and plate system kits compatible with the 2011 Mustang GT.

The Advantages of Nitrous

Nitrous oxide has been used in internal combustion engines since the 1940’s during World War II when it was used to provide military aircraft with superior high altitude performance. Since that time, nitrous – which contrary to popular belief is not to be referred to as “NAWZ” – has been a part of everything high performance where it’s allowed (or sometimes not allowed). And that includes, of course, what many consider to be the epitome of the high performance domestic automotive market: the Ford Mustang.

As far as power adders go, it doesn’t come any more affordable or simple than nitrous oxide. Compared alongside boosted systems producing similar horsepower output, nitrous comes at a fraction of the cost. As well, it offers on-demand use. Meaning if you need horsepower, it’s right there at the flick of a switch, and when you don’t, your engine can run naturally aspirated and save some wear and tear on the internals. But like anything, there are disadvantages, including the need to refill the bottles and safety precautions that must be consistently adhered to. It really comes down to a matter of personal preference.

2011 GT Nitrous Tips

There are a lot of common misconceptions out there for tuning for the use of nitrous, and so before we get into taking a look at the kits, we gathered several tuning tips from some of the brightest minds in the business at the manufacturers mentioned above. We’ve broken this section down into 50 horsepower increments, which are common amongst nitrous users, to provide a better understanding of what’s needed for the varying steps of horsepower as you work up the ladder.

This chart, supplied by Bama Custom Tuning at American Muscle, provides a look at the nitrous and fuel jetting, timing retard, and plugs used for nitrous oxide shots in 25 horsepower increments from 50 to 150 horsepower on a 2011 5.0L.. The horsepower and torque numbers, recorded at the wheels on a chassis dyno, were produced with a 2011 GT with a cold air intake, an offroad x-pipe, and a catback exhaust system with the stock 6R80 automatic transmission.

50 Horsepower

Fifty horsepower on an engine as durable from the factory as the 5.0L Coyote isn’t considered to be much of a step, but rather a little extra bonus horsepower, especially if you’re using the factory ignition curve, which according to Matt Patrick of Zex, has about 2-3 degrees of ignition retard built in. “On 50 horsepower, you really don’t need to change spark plugs or anything like that. The only thing I’d suggest is to make sure you’re running 91 or 93 octane. You’re not really increasing the power a tremendous amount to worry about having to modify much else,” explained Patrick.

100 Horsepower

As can be seen in the chart above supplied by Bama Custom Tuning at American Muscle, adequately supplying your 5.0L with an extra 100 horses requires a negative four degrees of timing retard from stock, although the factory plugs will still cut the mustard at this point. The guys at Bama, utilizing a Nitrous Express single nozzle system, used a 52 nitrous and a 28 fuel jet to accomplish their goal. “At 100 horsepower, as long as the fuel quality is good, you really shouldn’t have any issues,” explained Bama’s Chris Rose. “We tune with 93 octane here on the East Coast because that’s what we have access to. West of Texas you’re getting into the 91 octane territory, but no matter what, you just want to make sure you’re running brand name, good quality fuel that has a good turnover rate.”

150 Horsepower

Following the formula of one degree of timing retard per 25 horsepower, at the 150 mark you’ll be looking at six degrees of negative timing, along with a spark plug swap to a colder set of plugs, namely of the iridium variety. Bama Custom tuning has utilized NGK’s Iridium IX plugs in their test vehicle shown in the chart below. Something to keep in mind for those that live on the edge are the torque numbers. You’re still on the safe side with your engine internals, but at 571 ft/lbs of torque at the wheels, you’re within 75 ft/lbs of the safe operating limit of the factory 6R80 automatic if your car is equipped with said transmission.

200 Horsepower

One of the critical aspects at this level, especially when running on pump gas, is pulling the timing out – somewhere in the neighborhood of eight to ten degrees of ignition timing. If you’re using race fuel, a little less on the ignition retard is possible. As well, you may find the need for either a fuel pump designed for boosted application or simply a dual pump setup. And as one may expect, internal strength starts to become a bit of concern around this point. Explained Patrick, “When you get up in the 175 to 200 horsepower range, you want to start thinking about forged internals for maximum engine safety, although we do have customers on stock internals with that much horsepower.  As long as you make sure your ignition timing is pulled back properly, you’ve got good premium fuel, and you make sure you’ve got enough fuel pump capacity to feed the motor and the nitrous system, you should be fine.”

Now, let’s take a look at the kits, where the use of the above tuning advice can really be put into practice on your 5.0L Mustang.

Nitrous Express 2011 5.0L Kits

Nitrous Express' Single Nozzle system provides upwards of 150 additional horsepower, and includes NX's billet aluminum and carbon fiber Lighting series solenoids, their patented Shark nozzle, a nozzle mounting adapter, a 10-pound bottle complete with a billet aluminum Lightning 45 valve, and extra-long braided lines

Over the last decade and a half, Nitrous Express has propelled itself to the upper echelons of nitrous technology companies, and in 2010, they made available not one, but two complete systems engineered specifically for the new Mustang GT. “Our kits are all made in the USA of the highest quality parts available and we make more horsepower per pound of any nitrous company out there. We have a lifetime guarantee on our solenoids and our plate system in specific has just a super clean, fast installation,” said Randell Mathis, Marketing Director at Nitrous Express.

Single Nozzle System – PN 20932-10

This system includes everything you’ll need to give your Mustang upwards of 150 additional horsepower, including NX’s billet aluminum and carbon fiber Lighting series solenoids, their patented Shark nozzle, a nozzle mounting adapter, a 10-pound bottle complete with a billet aluminum Lightning 45 valve, extra-long braided lines, and all of the bracketry and hardware required for installation and functionality.

Plate System – PN 20948-10

The 5.0L Coyote Plate System is based upon NX’s Phase 3 Spraybarless technology for what they describe as the ultimate in atomization and distribution. The billet aluminum plate mounts between the throttle body and intake, creating the quickest of nitrous system installation and a super clean under hood look with integrated solenoids. A direct plug-in Fuel Line Adapter is provided to further simplify the installation process. The system includes jets for 35, 50, 75, 100, 125, 150, and 200 horsepower with additional jets, along with a master aiming switch, relay, and relay harness. Much of the rest of the components and hardware are the same found in the nozzle system.

The Nitrous Express plate System is based upon NX's Phase 3 Spraybarless technology for what they describe as the ultimate in atomization and distribution and includes jetting for creating as much as 200 extra horses.

Installation Notes – The amount of time needed for installation of either of these kits is estimated at around four hours, and no specialty tools are needed to complete the job. Because the kits comes with all of the wiring and electronics, the install is fairly straightforward. Mathis explained that while soldering of the wires isn’t required, some may choose to do so.

Horsepower Ranges – The single nozzle setup comes with jetting that ranges from 35 to 150 horsepower, and can be upgraded to produce as much as 250 additional rear wheel horsepower. The plate system includes jetting for 35 to 200 horsepower.

Wide Open Throttle Activation – Both kits utilize an AutoLearn TPS voltage sensing activation switch, which activates the nitrous when it reaches a preset voltage level ranging from 0 to 4.5 volts. The unit configures wide open throttle voltage with the push of a button and has built-in protection to guard against short circuit damage.

Safety Features – The only included and built-in safety feature in these kits are the TPS AutoLearn activation switches – detailed above – that feature functionality that protects against short circuit damage. As optional equipment (and highly suggested my Mathis), customers can purchase their Fuel Pressure Safety Switch and the RPM Activated Window Switch.

Pricing – Both kits are priced at MSRP $747.81, but pricing varies a few dollars here and there amongst their distributors.

Upgrade Options – Like any nitrous system, the upgrade options are limited only by your budget and the capability of your vehicle and the system in question. Nitrous Express has an entire catalog of optional equipment, including larger capacity bottles, Progressive Nitrous Controllers, Purge Systems, bottle heaters, and upgraded nozzles and solenoids.

Real-World Testing

With a rather short list of modifications, Steeda Performance produced 524 RWHP with NX's plate system, resulting in an 11.00 quarter mile clocking.

The crew at Steeda Performance are hot off a recent excursion with the Nitrous Express plate system on their 2011 GT, which features their own in-house tune and cold air intake, along with a Boss intake, but is otherwise stock, including the stock cats and mufflers. Their dyno runs produced a peak of 524 rear wheel horses and 526 ft-lbs of torque on 125 shot of NX nitrous.

With 3.73 gears and Nitto NT05 Drag Radials, the GT recorded an 11.88 at 117 MPH From there, the car was equipped with a set of 28-inch Nitto Drag Radials Drag Radials, 17″ skinnies up front, lowering springs in the rear, upper and lower trailing arms, an anti-roll bar, and a ride height kit with D-Spec front struts. With a 125 horsepower shot of the sauce, the GT responded with an 11.002 at 126.68 MPH, and the tire-spin aided 1.62 short time indicates definitive ten-second potential.

ZEX – Purple PN 82390 and Blackout PN 82390B

ZEX's new nitrous kit for the 2011 Mustang is available in their familiar purple color or with a new "Blackout" appearance. One of the greatest benefits of their system is it's custom tailoring for the new Mustang, with hoses and wiring measured and cut for a perfect fit right out of the box.

ZEX, a division of the COMP Performance Group, is one the newer players to the high performance nitrous oxide market, but with R&D and quality shared with it’s CPG brethren, has made quite a name for itself in the last decade. With kits already in their lineup for the ’99 and up Mustang GT and V6, it was only natural they’d jump on the Coyote bandwagon.

The Kit

ZEX has custom designed their nitrous system specially tailored to the 2011 Mustang and its 5.0 Coyote engine. The innovate system’s Active Fuel Control adjusts fuel delivery with changes in nitrous bottle pressure, thus keeping the engine from running too rich or lean while spraying. The system is available in both the familiar purple powder coat finish or the new “Blackout” finish. It uses a custom made Ford fuel line adapter and features an easy-to-use power point arming switch. The kit is complete and ready to install with all of the necessary hardware in the box. Said ZEX’s Matt Patrick, “One of the great benefits of our direct-fit kits is that we take the time to go through and measure the chassis, find the right components and locations, and all of the of the wiring and hoses are cut for that specific chassis. So you get a really nice, custom installation without having to take it to a shop and paying them to custom-fit it because we already do it.”

Installation Notes

ZEX describes this as a plug-and-play assembly requiring around 2-3 hours time, with no specialty tools needed. As a nozzle system, it requires plumbing into your car’s air intake system. ZEX has provided a complete, in-depth instruction manual for installation procedures and safety procedures during operation. For better assistance, they’ve also set up a direct “Nitrous Help” tech line at 1-888-817-1008.

Horsepower Range

The system comes with jetting for 75, 100, 125, 150, and 175 horsepower shots. The supplied instruction manual pinpoints the jets and ignition retard necessary for each setting.

Wide Open Throttle Activation

ZEX street kits use a self-learning TPS activation switch mechanism that watches the voltage sweep of the vehicle and when registering a specific voltage level, and will activate it at wide open throttle automatically.

ZEX is now offering their kits in two different color schemes, including this new "Blackout" look that is already proving to be popular.

Safety Features

The ZEX kit features two essential safety feature built-in right out of the box. The first of those is the TPS activation mentioned above. The second is the Active Fuel Control, which in regards to the nozzle, affords a much wider window and accuracy on the air/fuel ratio to work from. Matt also points out that the design of the components specifically for the 2011 Mustang makes it one of the simplest installs on the market, making unskilled errors less of a possibility.

Pricing

MSRP from ZEX is $700.35 for either the purple or “Blackout” kits. Street pricing at distributors is in the neighborhood of $680.

Upgrade Options

ZEX provides a full line of nitrous accessories, be it bottle pressure gauges, bottle heaters, purge kits, bottle valve openers, and the like. In upgrading and adding to the kit, Patrick explains that you can improve the consistency of your nitrous combination and make maintenance an easier process.

Real World Testing

To put the ZEX Nitrous plate system to the test, we picked up a kit for ourselves and installed it on a 2011 GT six-speed, outfitted with a JLT intake, Bassani Cat-Back exhaust with cat delete, and a custom Cunningham Motorsports tune. With a 75 horsepower shot, we produced 415 peak horsepower and 400 ft-lbs of torque. Stay tuned as we will have a full tech article install coming soon on this kit.

Nitrous Oxide Systems – PN 05135NOS

Holley-owned Nitrous Oxide Systems (NOS) is the name most synonymous in nitrous oxide and remains among the leaders in nitrous technology today.

The Kit

At present, Nitrous Oxide Systems doesn't have available a system designed specifically for the new Mustang in their catalog, but rather suggests their single fogger Universal Power Fogger Drive-By-Wire Wet Nitrous system. And as the most recognized name in the nitrous business, you know you're getting a quality setup that's been tested on a myriad of vehicles and engine combinations.

NOS does not presently have a system in their catalog designed specifically for the 2011 Mustang. Rather, they suggest that Mustang enthusiasts turn to their popular single fogger Universal Power Fogger Drive-By-Wire Wet Nitrous system, which is targeted for use in vehicles for which an application-specific kit is not available. This kit is designed to work on sequential firing, multipoint fuel injection systems and is the most popular EFI system in the NOS lineup. It features the NOS “Soft-Plume” stainless steel fogger nozzle that produces the safest of fuel/nitrous mixtures, and comes with the familiar blue painted 10-pound bottle with high flow bottle valves. And because of NOS’s reach as part of the Holley Performance Products fold, it has been dyno-tested on a number of different vehicles.

“The TPS activation with this kit makes it great for not only older model vehicles that have drive-by-wire, but even today’s late model V8 cars that are also drive-by-wire. The universal element makes it easy to bolt onto virtually any car that can be hidden quite easily, and once you get tapped into the TPS, it’s a fairly safe and foolproof kit,” said NOS’ Jay McFarland.

Installation Notes

The Universal Power Fogger kit comes complete with micro switch, relays, and all of the required components, brackets, wiring, and hoses that make it a complete and ready-to-install setup. Total installation time is estimated at around 8-10 hours.

Horsepower Ranges

The system comes with jet sizes for 75 up to 135 horsepower shots, with larger jets available to increase power output.

Wide Open Throttle Activation

Like the systems for the two aforementioned manufacturers, the NOS Power Fogger kit utilizes a drive-by-wire module that activates the system via TPS voltage and measured engine RPM.

Safety Features

The primary safety feature built-in to the NOS system is the module that activates the system, as described above.

Pricing

The full retail price for the kit direct from NOS is $803.65 although it can be had from several different distributors for much less at street price.

Upgrade Options

NOS, with its rich history in nitrous technology, boasts one of the largest catalogs of accessory products for street EFI kits, including larger bottles, bottle heaters, purge kits, nitrous regulators, varying jet sizes, and the list goes on.

Conclusion

We hope that this guide to nitrous tuning and a look at the nitrous oxide systems out there on the market will greatly assist in your buying decisions as you look to outfit your 2011 and up Mustang GT with performance upgrades and modifications. And while this guide focuses strictly on nitrous technology, our aim with the first two installments of this multi-part guide that compares the three differing power adder options will provide a one-stop, compare and contrast source to establish the route you choose to take on your own vehicle. In the upcoming part three of this guide, we’ll take a look at camshafts, where we’ll speak with several of the leaders in camshaft technology and highlight some of the trick, performance-enhancing pieces already hitting the product shelves. So keep it tuned right here, Mustang fans!