Building a project car to go fast isn’t always cheap, but it doesn’t have to break-the-bank either. Starting your endeavor with an older, less-expensive platform can help you gain some traction in the end for your long-term goal. In the case of our 2005 Mustang GT project car, our endgame for this car is to eventually make a mid-to-high 10-second pass in the quarter-mile, while retaining daily driver street cred.
One aspect of that goal, however, is to perform all of these modifications with a budget-friendly mindset. Your author’s mission is to create a build that which anyone can replicate using off-the-shelf components, and these segments should serve as a step-by-step list in that equation. While it’s obvious what we’re doing isn’t groundbreaking by any means, finding big horsepower in a Three-Valve Mustang can sometimes be a difficult task — but we like a challenge.
The single-overhead-cam, three-valve-per-cylinder iteration of the 4.6-liter mod motor family may not seem impressive in factory trim, but it can make for a great contender once stuffed to the tune of 10 pounds of boost or more. Our friends at Vortech Superchargers understand our goal of going fast on a budget, which is why they hooked us up with a one-and-done forced induction solution for our bone-stock S197 GT.
The company recommended a NOVI 2200SL supercharger kit for our Mustang project car, and it’s the one we plan to carry us into the 10s with. In this segment, you can expect a full download on the supercharger kit and the power it makes – as well as how we plan to use this boost-generating-beast.
Getting To The Goods
Our baseline numbers came in at the typical level for a stock Three-Valve Mustang. Considering this car is already 12 years old with more than 70,000 miles on the clock, these figures aren’t too shabby.
Paxton NOVI 2200SL H.O. Complete Supercharger Package
NOVI 2200SL compressor with 3.40-inch drive pulley (8–10 psi)
Billet aluminum supercharger mounting bracket assembly – includes idler, drive belt, and all hardware
DiabloSport inTune i2 device
OEM Ford ’03-’04 SVT Cobra 39 lb/hr fuel injectors
Vortech Maxflow fuel pump voltage booster
Roto-molded air intake assembly with DiabloSport MAFia and high-flow reusable air filter
High-flow bypass valves
Integrated air-to-air intercooler w/ 3-inch piping – supports up to 900 horsepower, mandrel-bent
If you’ve followed our S197 Mustang GT project car series, then you’ll undoubtedly know that this car is virtually bone-stock; save for a complete new suspension fromUPR ProductsandQA1, and a set of wheels and tires for the strip from Race Star IndustriesandMickey Thompson Tires and Wheels. And, when we say bone-stock, we mean down to the paper filter.
On the rollers of our in-house Dynojet dynometer here at Power Automedia, our Mustang GT put down a flat-lining 264.17 horsepower at 5,100 rpm and288.63 lb-ft of torque 4,100 rpm at the rear wheels. Exciting? Maybe not, but that’s why Vortech is here to help us. As previously stated, we chose Paxton NOVI 2200SL H.O. complete kit (PN 1001850SL-P) for our forced induction solution. We opted for the polished finish, and the “complete kit” includes everything we needed to get our Mustang back on the road the very next day for daily driver duties.
The High Output kit includes a host of new components; such as a brand-new set of OEM ’03-’04 SVT Cobra 39 lb/hr fuel injectors, a Vortech Maxflow Fuel Pump Booster, and an air-to-air intercooler system capable of supporting more than 900 horsepower.
“We’ve had the Maxflow Fuel Pump Booster for some time now, and we have decided to integrate our booster into our complete kits,” explained Jimmy Martz, Sales Director for Vortech and Paxton Superchargers.
Mounting Vortech's FPVB in our Mustang's trunk area required us to remove the spare tire and jack for the installation, but not permanently.
“The Maxflow FPVB will include everything needed for the installation, and our included CARB-certified tune will work seamlessly with the new fuel components. The main benefit here is convenience for the end-user. Instead of having to crack open the fuel tank and add a secondary pump to supply more fuel, you simply just wire in our FPVB – it’s a fuel solution that really couldn’t be any easier.”
Outside of the H.O. specific components, Vortech incorporates the use of a billet aluminum supercharger mounting bracket assembly, which includes an idler, drive belt and all of the necessary hardware for the install.
All of Vortech’s kits (including our NOVI kit) utilize heat-resistant silicone sleeves and stainless steel clamps for the inlet and discharge duct connections. This is extremely important, as you don’t want to find yourself stuck on the side of the highway trying to find a clamp that blows off during WOT pull while in boost (trust us, it’s not fun). All NOVI 1200/2200 kits for the Three-Valve Mustang use a traditional set of high-flow bypass valves in lieu of the newer, blow-through style mass airflow meters which use a blow-off valve in the later Coyote kits.
Gotta Have Goals
The installation began at Vortech by disconnecting the battery, followed by removing the factory air intake assembly and the EFI components, like the injectors and rails.
You’ve probably guessed by now that this isn’t your traditional tech install story that you’re used to seeing, and that’s OK. There’s a bit more of meat and potatoes in this segment, but it’s well worth the investment. If you’ve made it this far, you’re probably already in for the long haul. If so, congratulations!
Getting back on track, there’s an underlining reason why we decided on a centrifugal supercharger package from our friends at Vortech/Paxton. Without beating a dead horse here (no pun intended, of course), we’re planning to make that 10-second quarter-mile pass on a budget. This means that whichever forced induction solution we choose now will need to have the power capabilities of carrying us into the 10s with ease. We plan on making that pass full weight, which means we’re going to need all of the power we can get our hands on.
Next up was to remove the factory intake manifold to gain access to the coolant crossover tube in the valley of the engine. Vortech includes a new coolant overflow tank in its kits, which means the factory system needs to be bled to remove the factory overflow tank.
Alas, us Three-Valve folk aren’t as lucky as Coyote owners in this aspect, so a forged short-block will need to find it’s way under our Mustang GT’s hood fairly soon. However, before we get to that point, there’s a lot that needs to be taken into consideration, and it starts with our newfound boost.
Our Paxton NOVI 2200SL head unit is more than capable of supplying a 4.6-liter Three-Valve Mustang with enough boost to support 1,000 horsepower,” Jimmy detailed. “Vortech/Paxton’s supercharger kit for the S197 can easily grow when you are ready for more horsepower. The included self-lubricated NOVI 2200SL can support up to 1,000 horsepower, and the supplied air-to-air charge cooler has been tested to over 900 horsepower at the rear wheels.”
The next step on the installation checklist was mounting the intercooler on our Mustang. Side note – checkout that first picture (left) – everyone who has ever seen our '05 Mustang GT project car has always gotten a kick out of that sticker on the radiator cover. We plan on keeping it for the sake of irony.
Jimmy continued, stating, “A simple pulley change will supply enough air to support that quadruple-digit horsepower number, and when making big horsepower, the whole car needs to be taken into consideration. You should be looking at chassis stiffening modifications, safety modifications, suspension upgrades, brake upgrades, and traction upgrades. We have not found a specific horsepower limit where the cooling system needs to be modified, although it isn’t a bad idea to add cooling capacity when budget permits.”
Impeller Design Opens The Door
Mounting brackets which hold our NOVI 2200SL head unit in place.
In regards to forced induction efficiency, impeller design is one of the most crucial elements for effectively generating positive manifold pressure (a.k.a. boost). The design of the impeller in a centrifugal supercharger is integral to how well it is able to compress the incoming air inside the volute housing as it spins. Case in point, the impeller in our NOVI 2200SL head unit (which is similar to the Vortech V-7 family of head units) has a specific blade angle and backsweep in comparison to other units in the same family.
This is due to the impeller being designed to fit the intended range of operation, as opposed to a general “one size fits all” approach, which can sacrifice potential performance. This, coupled with an air inlet diameter of 4-inches and the use of a D-port volute, the resulting compressor will produce superior efficiency and cfm flow compared to other competing units.
Speaking of flow, our NOVI 2200SL blower maxes out at 27 psi of boost, and can move more than 1,450 CFM of air at 76% peak efficiency, thanks to a maximum impeller speed of 52,000 rpm (60,000 for the non-SL) and a 3.45:1 internal step-up ratio. So, how does Vortech achieve such an efficient impeller design in its superchargers? The devil is in the details, as they say.
“Vortech and Paxton utilize a suite of design and analytical software tools to create advanced centrifugal compressor stages,” Jimmy detailed.
“Performance quantifications and further development occurs with the use of our SAE J1723 compliant supercharger test cell. This enables us to fine-tune each compressor stage and create compressor maps, which are employed for compressor matching. In some cases, if there is not an existing unit that matches up efficiently to our standards, we will even design an entirely new compressor stage for a specific engine.”
The intercooler assembly uses a mixture of high-strength silicone sleeves, 3-inch aluminum tubing and stainless steel clamps to reduce any additional weight being added to the nose of the car.
Bring In The Boost!
Driven To Perform
The folks at Driven Racing Oil recommended we use its FR20 5W-20 full synthetic engine oil during our installation. The FR20 engine oil is specifically designed for high performance Ford modular engines equipped with VVT, and uses advanced synthetic base oils to provide high temperature and high shear protection. Lake Speed Jr., STLE Certified Lubrication Specialist and Oil Analyst for Driven Racing Oil, informed us that we should not run a thicker viscosity oil on the stock bottom-end.
“The danger is cavitating the stock gerotor oil pump at high RPM due to the slower flow rate of a high viscosity oil (think 20W-50 in cold weather),” he said. “The other limiting factor is the amount of boost you can run. With the stock compression ratio, you won’t be able to run enough boost to necessitate a higher viscosity oil. The Driven FR20 is a full synthetic 5W-20 that has the added load carrying capacity to handle a supercharger on a stock-bottom-end 4.6-liter mod-motor.”
As you can see, we’ve highlighted the installation throughout the article – but there are a few tips and tricks we can divulge for those of you at home. As Jimmy pointed out, the installation manual is your friend, so double check that all steps in the instruction manual have been followed properly.
A lot of time goes into installing a supercharger kit, and it’s much easier to install it right the first time, than to try and diagnose a problem after.
“One way to avoid a potential complication is to test and make sure the handheld programmer will communicate with your vehicle before you begin installing your supercharging system” Jimmy entailed.
“While it doesn’t happen often, we have had instances where Ford will update a PCM to a calibration that is not included in our handheld programmers, and a change has to be made. While this is not a problem for Vortech/Paxton to do, if you are already mid-install before you test the programmer, it will add 1-2 days where the vehicle cannot be driven.”
Now to the fun part. As we mentioned earlier in the story, our bone-stock Three-Valve Mustang GT laid down typical horsepower and torque numbers on our in-house Dynojet dyno. With the new Paxton NOVI supercharger kit installed and Vortech’s custom tune using the supplied DiabloSport inTune i2, we were able to come in at a respectable 419.40 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and372.33 lb-ft of torque at 5,000 rpm on 91-octane fuel. Keep in mind, this is peak gains of 155.23 horsepowerand83.70 lb-ft of torque on Vortech’s conservative calibration, which targets air/fuel ratios aorund 10.5:1 at WOT.
Stock versus supercharged.
“Putting it simply, the centrifugal supercharger compliments the vehicle’s existing powerband, instead of working against it like your average positive displacement supercharger,” Jimmy explained. “A properly sized centrifugal supercharger should begin making boost in the 2,800-3,000-rpm range, allowing you to get off the line effectively, and remain in boost and fully in the vehicle’s optimal powerband throughout the gears without the nose-over effect you see at high RPM with traditional roots-style units.”
Looking at the graph and under the curve, you can see our now supercharged Mustang immediately picked up nearly 50 lb-ft of torque at the rear wheels at just 2,500 rpm. Past 4,000 rpm, you can see the factory amount of torque start to die off. However, with the Paxton supercharger installed, this is where we see nearly 100 lb-ft of torque in gains at the top end.
“Another major reason centrifugal units are superior is due to the fact that you are not removing any of the beneficial technology from the engine you are supercharging,” Jimmy said. “There is a staggering amount of engineering that goes into a modern engine, and some of the largest advancements have been in the factory intake manifolds; with things like tuned intake runner lengths that optimize throttle response and flow characteristics. A centrifugal supercharger system not only retains those factory technology advancements on the engine, but in most cases will further benefit from them.” he concluded.
So, the question on everyone’s mind – how does the car drive? To put it short and simply, it’s like finally having the power you’d always wished you had. But you didn’t siphon through this entire segment just to hear that, did you? We didn’t think so.
On the street, cruising around town, obeying traffic laws and speed limits, the car feels like it did from the moment we purchased it. There’s no lag, no discomforting engagement, nor any signs of hesitation. There’s only a go-fast, get-loud pedal (and a few gear changes) that stand in the way of going from 0 to quick in just a few seconds. Speaking of driving around town, if you can keep your foot out of it, and under that 3,000 rpm threshold for as long as possible, your gas mileage shouldn’t be affected much. On the highway, it’s virtually the same when cruising around 65-70 mph, churning around 2,000 rpm with the factory 3.55:1 gears.
Boost is consistent regardless of air temperature, thanks to our massive air-to-air intercooler supplied in the H.O. kit from Vortech – you can really feel the car ramp up like it’s ready to take off like an airplane once it’s past 2,500 rpm on the street – this is especially noticeable in the lower gears. However, that’s not to say this car won’t get up and beat feet at 60 mph when dropped into Third, either. And if you’re a fan of torque, there’s plenty of it in every gear. First gear for us on our 255/50R17 Nitto NT555 (Oh yeah, they are first-gens!) tires rendered virtually useless even at only half throttle; while Second gear can be a bit of a crap-shoot too, depending on if the tire has been warmed up or not that day.
Now that we have our driving experience out of the way, you’re probably wondering what’s next for the car. Well, at the time of this script, we’re in the process of sourcing a one-piece aluminum driveshaft and a safety loop from Steeda Autosports, as both of these components are necessary for our drag strip testing which will follow suit here shortly.
We’re also debating on either rebuilding the 8.8-inch rearend or going to a 9-inch to accommodate our newfound boost and our 10-second e.t. goal in the quarter-mile. One thing’s for sure, we’ll be posting the results as soon as we make our pass, so keep an eye out for that in the near future.