Horse Sense: From 2005 to 2008, Ford's Three-Valve, 4.6-liter V-8 Mustang GT engine was included in Ward's AutoWorld magazine's list of the 10 Best Engines available in the U.S. market. This isn't an easy list to make. Selected engines must be available in regular-production vehicles on sale in the U.S. no later than the first quarter of the year, and also must pass muster in a number of objective and subjective evaluation criteria that center around daily driving situations (horsepower, torque, NVH, technical relevance, and comparative numbers). That's quite an impressive run, when you consider the Three-Valve's successor, the vaunted Coyote and Roadrunner 5.0s, have only been named to the list one time each ('11 GT and '12 Boss 302)!
Does anyone remember the '05-'10 Mustang GT? You know, the Ponies that were powered by 4.6-liter V-8 engines that feature Three-Valve (two intake/one exhaust) cylinder heads and brought variable cam timing into the Mustang mainstream? While Three-Valve 'Stangs are the cars that actually started the S197 revolution, they definitely have been overshadowed by the Coyote in 2011. Despite the frequent exposure we give '11-'13 Mustangs, trust and believe that our commitment to earlier Mustangs is unwavering.
While Three-Valve-powered Mustangs' run only lasted five years, aftermarket high-performance companies fully embraced the engine and its support technologies during that short time. They created parts that enhanced the cars' much-improved handling characteristics, and, of course, increased the performance of their uniquely topped bullets.
With Coyote-powered Mustangs already into their fourth year at this point, acquiring a '05-'10 model is not too difficult. The cars really are affordable when compared to new 5.0s, and finding Three-Valve GTs in their original, stock trim nowadays is more the norm than it has been for most other Mustang models since '79.
The ample, affordable supply of these Ponies is one of the things that motivates us to continue to preserve their relevance, even if it means doing so by revisiting some tech concepts. With many new enthusiasts getting into the hobby by way of Three-Valve GTs these days, the time is perfect for showing off an affordable, Granatelli Motor Sports performance setup that features a few of our favorite first-mod components; everything necessary for improved intake- and exhaust-air efficiency, along with the latest in handheld programmer technology from DiabloSport.
At the end of the day, working with such basic engine bolt-ons is one of the best ways to introduce rookie 'Stangbangers to the addictive world of performance modifications. GTR High Performance in Rancho Cucamonga, California, is one of SoCal's nerve centers for enthusiasts who are just coming into the hobby, and Ricardo Topete and his team (Eddie Zapata and Jose Serrano) are experts at consulting novices on hardware that makes a difference.
GTR is where we focused our efforts on Candy Barrientos' '06 Mustang GT, a stock Three-Valve Pony. Its only mod thus far is a cool paint job (the Grabber Blue GT started life with a black finish), so we're excited about adding its first modifications in this magazine.