An advantage of the Coyote-powered S197 and S550 Mustangs is that the cars provide the opportunity for improvement with even simple changes. While great cars from the factory, as well as affordably priced, the 2011-2014 and 2015-present Mustang GT provides an excellent basis for performance upgrades.
In fact, there are so many areas, it can be hard to know where to start. We’ve collected three upgrades that cost less than $300 each. And one is even just over a C-Note. Each of these you can install by yourself in a day and add appreciable performance to your ride. Let’s take a look:
Cold Air Intake System
Air intakes are one of the quickest and easiest ways to improve performance. Cold air intake systems add power because they are less restrictive than OEM systems. This improved flow allows for more air to reach the throttle body – and therefore the combustion chamber. This boosts horsepower. It often means better throttle response as well. The best part is that the MAF sensor and wideband O2 sensors can detect the increase in airflow, so that the ECU can add more fuel to the intake charge. So many systems don’t even require ECU tuning. A good system will include a larger capacity air filter. That filter is repositioned toward the front of the car to capture cold, incoming air. It should also include a heat shield that blocks high under-hood temperatures from contaminating the cool intake flow.
Both systems come complete with all hardware needed for installation, including an oversized conical air filter element, as well as complete instructions. Installation time is listed as one hour, so it makes for an easy Saturday morning conversion. No tuning is required.
Axle-Back Exhaust System
Replacing the entire exhaust system is an expensive and time-consuming endeavor that should be undertaken with the car on a lift. However, an axle-back system installation can be accomplished in your garage with just a few simple hand tools. An axle-back system improves power by decreasing back pressure, when exhaust is not able to efficiently exit the combustion chamber. Not only that, but it adds the classic muscle car rumble loved by so many.
Two systems are available from SR Performance through American Muscle. For 2011-2015 S197 Mustangs, there’s the MPN# 405486 Axle Back System at $269.99 with chambered mufflers and 3-inch mandrel-bent tubing. For the 2015-present S550 Mustang GT, there’s MPN# 393685 Axle Back System With Polished Tip that deletes the rear mufflers to provide a loud, aggressive exhaust note for $219.99. The S550 system has 2.5-inch, mandrel-bent 304 stainless steel tubing. Both systems come complete with clamps and are a direct-fit replacement for the OEM system. A two-hour installation time is provided as a guideline. So both a Cold Air Intake System and an Axle-Back Exhaust System could be installed in your Mustang GT in a single Saturday morning.
Sport Lowering Springs
While you might not at first think of swapping out your springs as a DIY job you can accomplish in your garage on a Saturday, you underestimate yourself. The only tool that isn’t in your tool box that you’ll need is a spring compresser, and virtually every auto parts store will happily loan you one for free. Replacing coil springs can be extremely dangerous because of the incredible amount of energy stored by a compressed coil spring. So follow all precautions by the letter. The good news is that once installed Sport Lowering Springs will have a dramatic effect on your car.
Lower and stiffer springs provide a great deal more than just an improved exterior appearance. Handling will be improved greatly as the stiffer springs will resist the rolling force that transfer weight to the outside wheel in a turn. That means that more of the rubber on the ground is working for you. Looks great and improves performance – what could be a better combo?
So depending on your model year, you can make some really significant upgrades to power, performance, sounds, looks, and handling without a huge investment in time and money. For example, all three upgrades would about $500, less tax. Plus you get the benefit of pointing out to your friends that you upgraded your Mustang GT by yourself as you cruise around town.