From a tech perspective, '86-'04 Mustangs epitomize the bolt-on upgrade concept. There are thousands of product combinations designed for improving the power, handling, and appearance of Fox, SN-95, and New Edge 'Stangs.
Naturally, we place hopping up a Pony's engine at the top of the bolt-on food chain. Not to take anything away from aesthetic mods, of course, but an engine making big steam has become a prerequisite for certified-hot Mustangs these days. Currently, 600 horses at the feet is a benchmark that will earn a 'Stang major respect on the street.
Generating six-hundie-and-better horses is something that's typically accomplished with a stout engine and some sort of power adder. Those are upgrades that sit fairly high on the investment ladder compared to entry-level upgrades such as cold-air-induction systems, throttle bodies, and post-catalytic exhaust systems. We always enjoy exploring various ways of creating that type of higher-end performance, but we also like to bolt-on the basics every once in a while, as the simple stuff does quite well at putting more zoom in stone-stock, pushrod, and modular engines too.
For a long time, achieving significant power gains on naturally aspirated, 4.6-liter, Two-Valve modulars was no easy task. The first iterations of the Two-Valve suffered from poorly matched induction that kept crankshaft horsepower on par with the pushrod 5.0-liter it replaced (215 hp in '96-'97; 225 hp in '98). Adding bolt-ons didn't really make the sad situation any better for the early modular bullets. It wasn't until Power Improved versions of the Two-Valve heads (reshaped ports and 42cc combustion chamber) and intake manifold came about in 1999. Finally, we finally saw 260 flywheel horses, 300 lb-ft of torque, and the ability to make gains with bolt-ons.
There's not much excitement...
There's not much excitement in this engine-yet. Our test 'Stang is bone-stock under the hood and barely put 227 hp on the Dynojet chassis dyno. We're out to show you how adding a collection of the right bolt-ons can seriously make a difference in the way Two-Valve Mustangs perform on the street.
We mentioned earlier how challenging...
We mentioned earlier how challenging a full exhaust install is on a modular engine. Without the assistance of a twin-post hoist...
...Nikki and her crew worked...
...Nikki and her crew worked on their backs to extract the OEM exhaust pieces, from the manifolds all the way back to the severely restrictive factory mufflers.
Rick Anderson of Anderson Ford Motorsport is someone who thinks along the same lines as your tech editor. While there may not be anything new (from a mechanical/installation standpoint) for tech concepts that have been well-covered over the years, there's still value in revisiting basic upgrade projects-especially on New Edge 'Stangs, which are easy to acquire and ripe for modification.
Rick approached us with the idea of doing a stock-to-superstar buildup on a New Edge 'Stang. We said great but we needed the right car. Fortunately, Nikki Wilson owns the exact type of Mustang we wanted. It's an '02 convertible GT that's stock as a rock and in desperate need of more zoom. We thought it would be cool to take Nikki's Pony through the entry-level stages of performance transformation, using parts that Anderson offers as 30- and 60-rear-wheel-horspower packages that do not require tuning before moving on to bigger and better gains.
AFM has put these mods into kit form. The 30hp kit (PN KIT04-30HP: $1,799) includes one of BBKs 78mm throttle-body/plenum sets; an Auto Specialties Performance damper and underdrive pulleys; and Bassani's mid-length headers, off-road X-pipe, and after-cat exhaust system. Moving up the ladder, AFM's 60-horse kit (PN KIT04-60HP; $2,850) features all of the above plus AFM N-22 camshafts, an AFM Power Pipe, and an Abaco DBX 97B programmable mass-air meter.
Bassani's mid-length headers,...
Bassani's mid-length headers, X-pipe, and after-cat exhaust pieces are included in both the 30 and 60hp packages we're evaluating. To see how it affects the Power Improved Two-Valve's performance, we added the exhaust first. A trio of dyno runs followed this step.
Nikki Wilson isn't one to...
Nikki Wilson isn't one to let the boys have all the fun when it comes to working on her Mustang. Here she's removing the stock 70mm throttle body from her Pony's 4.6, and transferring the stock EGR, PCV, IAC, and TPS equipment to the BBK unit.
Improving intake airflow is...
Improving intake airflow is the next step in the 30-horse segment of our Two-Valve-enhancement effort. AFM's kit includes this TB/plenum combination from BBK Performance. The one-piece induction setup bolts directly into the stock locations without any modifications.
These packages can be bolted-on driveway-style by mechanically inclined enthusiasts. We give total props to Nikki for getting her hands dirty on her own ride, but it's important to emphasize that while installing the exhaust at home certainly is doable, assistance of a twin-post hoist makes it much easier.
The following photos and captions provide a look at and information on the pieces that make impressive Two-Valve power, which is confirmed through the dyno figures that also are provided, as is our norm.
In basic bolt-on projects...
In basic bolt-on projects like this effort, underdrive pulleys typically follow the air-induction pieces. Pulleys enhance stock Mustangs' power by slowing the accessories and reducing drag on an engine's crank.
While Chad uses an impact...
While Chad uses an impact gun to zap off the alternator pulley, the water-pump pulley and crankshaft damper can be removed with handtools.
ASP pulleys are included with...
ASP pulleys are included with the kit, which is highlighted by an SFI-approved wheel for the crank.
On The Dyno
The Dynojet chassis dyno at Anderson Ford Motorsport worked hard for the money with this tech effort. We made several runs on its rollers with Nikki Wilson's '02 GT, recording rear-wheel horsepower gains that actually went slightly beyond the 30 and 60 ponies we anticipated after installing AFM's Power Packages for stock '99-'04 Mustang GTs.
You may notice we haven't said anything about using a handheld flash tuner to change PCM calibrations after the camshafts were added. This isn't an oversight, as the 60hp package features an Abaco DBX 97B mass air that's pre-set for New Edge 'Stangs' 19-lb/hr fuel injectors.
"Best bang for the buck" has long been the mantra for Mustang enthusiasts seeking big-time performance without breaking the bank. We think these kits satisfy this need, especially when you consider the money saved by installing it yourself and skipping the dyno tuning.
With Phase One of our project...
With Phase One of our project complete, Nikki's 'Stang is once-again strapped on the dyno for an evaluation. Does Anderson Ford Motorsport's 30hp Two-Valve power package really make 30 hp? Keep reading.
While the exhaust exchange...
While the exhaust exchange performed earlier represents the majority of the project's heavy lifting, swapping camshafts is the super-detailed segment of this exercise, as it involves actually going inside the Two-Valve powerplant. Rick Anderson begins removing the camshafts by loosening the timing gears.
With timing and valvetrain...
With timing and valvetrain hardware out of the way, the stock cams are lifted up and out. AFM's trick cam-chain retention tool is a useful piece of equipment for performing this task. It facilitates cam swaps that don't require removing the front cover and removing the cam chains and gears.
Nikki's hopped-up 4.6 really...
Nikki's hopped-up 4.6 really should come alive with the addition of AFM's N-22 camshafts, which, as you see, can be installed on the engine while the engine is still in the car. Rick says the new cams will give the engine a nice idle and smooth driveability at 1,800 rpm, but the 2,400- to 6,200-rpm range is where N-22s really get busy.
Factory camshaft followers...
Factory camshaft followers can be reinstalled with the cams, cam gears, and chains in place. However, before putting all of this together, replacing the OEM valvesprings with AFM's optional valvespring kit is a good idea.
AFM's Power Pipe and an Abaco...
AFM's Power Pipe and an Abaco DBX 97B mass-air meter (mounted in the inner fender well for a cooler, undisturbed intake-air charge) are the final pieces in our 60hp parts upgrade. The Power Pipe offfers Nikki's engine a lot more air volume and improved airflow over the restrictive stock tube.