The Mustang market is dominated by big horsepower numbers from the dyno, and record setting passes in the quarter-mile. While there’s nothing wrong with either of these, there’s more to take into account when it comes to enjoying a car than just its maximum performance capability.
The team over at Brenspeed know this all too well. Brent White, and his talented staff are constantly developing, refining, and researching new ways to make Mustangs better. Both Brenspeed customers and the company’s in-house cars make great numbers on the dyno, and on the track. For Brenspeed it’s all about maximizing a customer’s enjoyment of their car, in a reliable manner.
Brenspeed offers a variety of packages for Mustangs, everything from their dyno tested, and track proven supercharger packages, to complete engine packages. They can install everything they sell at one of their two locations, in Indiana, or Texas, or customers can choose to do the work themselves. No matter the route, the parts and combinations are thoroughly tested, and carefully selected to work together.
Before the parts on this car make it to the hands of customers, Brenspeed puts the entire package through rigorous street and track testing.
“We focus on track testing and developing everything we offer,” says owner Brent White. “It goes beyond that though, what’s right for one customer isn’t always right for another. So we’re looking at the entire picture. What kind of power does it make, how does it perform on the track, how does it drive on the street? We might work for several months or more on a particular package to fine tune it, before we ever offer that combination for sale.”
Developing A Package
We might work for several months or more on a particular package to fine tune it, before we ever offer that combination for sale. -Brent White
Brenspeed is constantly looking for new ways to push the Mustang platform to new performance levels. These ideas come from both internal concepts thought up by the Brenspeed staff, and customer feedback.
A package constitutes any combination of parts that are sold together by Brenspeed as a turn key package or kit. This includes everything from basic bolt-on components, to supercharger systems and their supporting upgrade, and even turn key engine packages.
Each package begins life as a concept, and progresses into supporting ideas. For example, White says simply strapping a supercharger to a car isn’t good enough. Brenspeed is looking to refine the tuning, the power production, and add parts that will enhance the way the car performs. Rather than simply shipping their customer an out of the box kit, they’re looking at the big picture of what changes or enhancements would most enthusiasts think about making right away for better performance, without sacrificing street manners.
Brenspeed takes pride in not just offering out of the box performance parts, instead they take the solid foundation manufacturers provide and build upon it.
Proof of Concept
Once any performance package starts the R&D process, Brenspeed will actually outfit one of their fleet of test vehicles with those parts. White acknowledges that this is time consuming and expensive, but Brenspeed’s record has proven it’s the right way to go about testing a package. “This is why you may see one of our cars running a really fast time at one NMRA event, then a few months later at another, that same car could be a second slower. We use these cars to find out what works, what will break, and what needs fine tuning,” says White. “Chances are at two different NMRA events, you’re seeing the same car with different parts installed.”
White says that they work to find the limit of a stock engine combination whenever Ford offers a new one. “Having that data, knowing what is safe for a stock engine, and what will cause it to fail spectacularly, or dramatically shorten its life due to fatigue, gives us valuable data to utilize in our development process. Most people want an engine that will last, not one that they’re only going to get a few thousand miles on before they have to rebuild it or replace it.”
Test vehicles log hundreds of hours on the dyno as the Brenspeed crew scrutinizes the data looking for not only more power, but also making sure the combination is well suited for the application.
Each package also has an intended purpose. White says that they’re ultimate goal is to realistically meet the needs of the customer. “Race cars are different than street cars, so if a guy has a daily driver, we’re not going to recommend a full on race setup with parts that are oriented towards track only use.” With the majority of the Mustang market being the street performance set, Brenspeed focuses much of their efforts on drivability and real world street conditions.
Brenspeed’s test cars get a a lot of dyno hours, plenty of track passes to test parts at their limits, and a lot of local driving miles. “We look at, hot and cold weather performance, temperature readings, street driving characteristics, does the AC system still work, comfort, noise, traffic manners. We log a lot of miles to make sure the parts will last, and the car behaves like we think it should. Street miles can be as hard on a car as drag strip passes.”
Test vehicles will often receive a built engine with better than stock internals to test Brenspeed’s high horsepower packages that are designed for these engines. Since the baseline for stock failures has been established, switching to a built engine is very popular. Matching what the customer will use and testing it in a variety of conditions, as well as having a strong foundation, is very important when testing multiple parts combinations, according to White.
The same built engine packages that Brenspeed offers their customers are also utilized in their test vehicles to test the company's high horsepower packages.
The Next Stage
The extensive R&D process at Brenspeed also makes developing the next stage for upgrades from one package to the next easier. For example if Brenspeed determines they can develop a package that makes more power, they can use the initial package as a foundation for the new one.
Increasing something like boost or airflow might dictate other necessary changes as well. Those changes could include upgrades to the heat exchanger, an upgraded fuel system with higher capacity injectors, a boost a pump, or even multiple fuel pumps. The complete picture is looked at again, and upgrade packages are scrutinized as heavily as the package that preceded them.
Drivability refers to how a car behaves on the street, and it goes hand in hand with the extensive test driving that Brenspeed performs with each package.
More than ever performance enthusiasts want to have the best in performance, but they want their cars to behave like a stocker in traffic. Stalling, bucking, jerking, hesitation, or lack of performance except when your foot is mashed all the way on the throttle is unacceptable. So is poor fuel economy, excessive noise, and the smell of raw fuel. What was an acceptable characteristic of a modified street car just a decade ago is unheard of today. “With the right parts, we can make almost anything have near stock levels of drivability,” says White.
Drivability covers a wide range of topics, we discussed a few of these with White to find out just some of what Brenspeed looks at and why it’s important.
A lumpy idle will turn heads, but if it leads to stalling, or a hesitation when you go to put your foot down, or even just pull away from a stop light, it’s no good. The same goes for a cloud of raw unburned fuel belching from the tail pipes, most of us would like to be able to breathe with the windows down. This means that idle quality that at least allows the car to behave like stock when needed is key. That doesn’t mean Brenspeed can’t make a car sound good, or intimidating at idle, just that they’re more about function than sound.
You’ll typically find a large contingent of Brenspeed in-house cars, and their customers at many NMRA events.
Most drivers want their cars to respond when they step on the gas pedal. However, you want that response to be measured, very near stock. If your car goes from being docile, to an out of control rabid animal with just a nudge of your toe, it’s probably difficult to control. Tuning throttle tip-in response is another key to making the car street friendly.
An interesting note on throttle tip-in response is that it is also a subjective characteristic. What feels very quick to one customer may feel sluggish to another. This is an area again where Brenspeed’s expertise and custom tuning come in handy.
Hesitation or Delayed Performance
We want great power numbers on the dyno, and time slips at the track, but if it can’t have great drivability we typically won’t support that package
This goes back to fine tuning a combination and looking at more than just peak horsepower numbers. While we all like to make full throttle blasts, and click the next shift near red line, the truth is that most of our cars spend their time running around town, or cruising to our next event. This is where careful parts selection and fine tuning play a huge role.
Peak numbers are for bragging rights, but having power that’s available where you use it most yields results you can feel. This is an area where Brenspeed takes a deep dive into the data behind the testing. If the parts make stock, or nearly stock power all the way up to just before redline, then chances are most people will never notice the difference unless they’re at the drag strip or road course. If however, those parts provide improvement across a wider swath of the engine’s operating RPM range, then the power is there when it’s wanted, and available more of the time.
Brenspeed is constantly testing performance packages at the drag strip. Changing out packages between NMRA races is a common practice as new parts are tested, evaluated, and new packages developed.
In addition to street driving and racing, hours are spent on the dyno fine tuning calibrations, testing parts, and evaluating data.
It’s a nightmare scenario for any of us. Whether you’re out blasting the back roads, or stuck in traffic, the temperature gauge creeping up past a certain point will make any enthusiast uncomfortable. This is another critical factor in drivability. First the engine needs a cooling system and a tune that allow it to stay within a recommended operating temperature range under any condition.
Brenspeed has cooling improvements built into most calibrations, but also offer cooling upgrade packages with high quality cooling components to keep high horsepower engines within reasonable operating temperatures. Second, that operating temperature range also needs to allow those who drive their cars in cooler weather to still utilize the heat functions of their HVAC and remain comfortable.
Reliable parts are another part of the equation for the Brenspeed crew when developing one of their combinations. “We like to say the manufacturers give us a good place to start and we improve on it from there.” If a part can’t hold up under testing, is prone to failure, or doesn’t perform well within the package, it’s excluded or replaced, according to White.
During development, Brenspeed’s supercharger packages for example, include parts from some of the best names in forced induction. This includes ROUSH, Edelbrock, Paxton, and Vortech. The same goes for the supporting parts within a package. If a package includes exhaust components, then those components are tested in conjunction with the parts to ensure that they’ll hold up to the demands placed on them by everything else.
“We want great power numbers on the dyno, and time slips at the track, but if it can’t have great drivability we typically won’t support that package,” says White.
Brenspeed uses the company’s in-house Dynojet chassis dyno to continuously test and evaluate the power output of packages and other parameters during development. Tuning is continuously refined to create solid drivability and reliable performance.
The same is true for drag strip performance. Since drag racing is easily accessible for most Mustang enthusiasts, Brenspeed tests their combinations at the drag strip as well as on the street. This allows them to check for consistent performance, proving out the combination, as well as monitoring wear on the parts.
Supported By Experts
Everyone at Brenspeed has taken time to work with a car on the rack, under the hood, and with customers on the phone.
One of the unique aspects of Brenspeed is their customer support. “Every person that works here, from the guys who work in the shop, to the guys answering the phones have installed most of the parts we sell, and driven the cars they’re installed on,” says White.
This type of hands on approach to customer service translates to something very valuable for Brenspeed customers. If you have a technical support issue on products purchased from Brenspeed, chances are the guy who answers your phone call at Brenspeed, will be able to answer your question. If he can’t for some reason, even the guys in the shop are accessible to some extent. What this means is that there’s always someone knowledgable on the line. No one at Brenspeed is simply a sales person, or simply a technician. All of their team members are passionate about the cars, have hands on experience installing the parts, and a commitment to helping their customers have the best experience possible.
With their dedication to providing customers with the best possible performance parts and packages for their cars, as well as the best possible customer experience. Brenspeed customers can be assured that when they install one of the company’s performance enhancing packages, they’re getting something that has been carefully tested, and is thoroughly supported.