Turning The Screws - 2011 Mustang GT Whipple Test
Lethal Performance Turns Up The Boost With A Whipple Blower From Ford Racing
From the February, 2011 issue of 5.0 Mustang & Super Fords
By Steve Turner
Photography by Derek Perez, Steve Turner
Not standing still for too...
Not standing still for too long, Lethal Performance took the '11 GT to Palm Beach International Raceway for some dragstrip testing. The car's best pass with the supercharger installed was an 11.26 at 122 mph with LP's Derek Perez behind the wheel. There was more to be had, but the blower kit didn't stay in out-of-the-box form before its next trip to the track, where it laid down a 10.72 at 127.67 with UPR's Jeremy Martorella at the controls. This was with the benefit of drag wheels, improved induction, and more aggressive tuning. Stay tuned for more on this saga.
When we last left Lethal Performance's '11 Mustang GT project car, it was transformed from mild-mannered stocker into a bolt-on, nitrous-breathing contender. With just a few bolt-ons and a whiff of the horsepower gas, this car was a serious street machine.
Those modifications, however, were simply a test to see how the car responded. The goal all along was to add boost and hold on for dear life. To make that happen, Lethal returned the car largely to its stock configuration, save the one-piece DSS driveshaft and Magnaflow after-cat exhaust. With that done, it was time for us to head back down to Power By The Hour in Boynton Beach, Florida, to watch the car go under the knife and receive Ford Racing's new Whipple supercharger kit.
Lethal has long been a proponent of Whipple's twin-screw superchargers, and has used them on several prior project cars, including its recent 5.0&SF cover star, a '10 GT500 project car.
"Being that we've got an excellent relationship with Whipple as well as the fact that we ran their twin screws on our past project cars it was a no brainer who's kit we were going to run once they became available for the 5.0," said Jared Rosen of Lethal Performance. "Not only do their kits provide awesome power but we know that the support we'll receive with the kit is of the highest level as well."
Likewise, Ford Racing Performance Parts has long offered complete supercharger kits based on Whipple's superchargers. Naturally, FRPP's kit was the first variation of Whipple blowers available for the new Coyote 5.0. However, even for the factory's performance arm there were challenges to creating a kit for the all-new engine.
"Accessory drive was a challenge, as well as hood clearance. This is common for any positive displacement valley-mounted supercharger kit," Ford Racing's Jesse Kershaw explained. "Also adding the second ACT sensor. This is critical to offering a warranty on our 525hp kit. By adding a second air-charge-temperature sensor downstream, we are able to monitor what's going on with air charge as well as the incoming air through the mass air. With only one, which is typically installed in the intake, the PCM is only getting half of the information we need to fully calibrate the kit. Only the Ford Racing kit features the second ACT sensor."
Besides the factory levels of quality put into the mechanicals of this kit, it's the tuning that Ford Racing is most proud of. "Tuning is extremely critical with this engine. Higher compression ratio, more processor functionality, and twin independent variable cam timing all play a role in maximizing power but add to the difficulty of calibration," Jesse said. "The second ACT sensor requires all-new software in the processor not just a calibration. It's akin to a normal calibration being a Microsoft Word file, ours is like downloading a new version of Microsoft Word with new functionality that accepts our file. No one else can do this outside of Ford."
In practice, the kit's results are quite impressive. The driveability surpasses that of the stock car. The car's response is improved and the annoying skip-shift is a thing of the past. Moreover, the car picks up gobs of power and torque across the entire powerband, essentially transforming the already impressive Mustang GT into a stealthy street fighter capable of going toe-to-toe with even pulley-and-tune GT500s.
"The 5.0 from the factory is actually quite impressive to begin with. It's similar to how the GT500 feels but without the blower whine. Being able to run 12s and rev the car over 7,000 rpm just how it's delivered is great. Now imagine adding another 150-plus-rwhp to the car," Jared enthused. "It's a completely different beast and goes from a 12-second car to a 10-second car. What's amazing though is how well the car drives with the blower. It still cruises around just like stock until you mash the pedal to the floor. At that point the power instantly comes on and even though it's a major jump in power the transition is still surprisingly smooth."
With that kind of impressive performance on tap, you'd think Team Lethal would be happy to leave its in-house GT just as it sits. Not so for this bunch. These are the guys that fearlessly tore into brand-new GT500s. "As you know from our '10 GT500, the project goals seem to change a bit. It starts out as an idea for a street car that showcases the parts needed to make the car fast and appeals to the majority of the car owners but somehow molds itself into an all-out, race-car project," Jared confessed. "As much as my business partner Jonas doesn't want to hear it, I'm sure our 5.0 isn't going to be much different. The only thing I can see it this project happening in more of a step-by-step process rather than an overnight transformation. In the end we'll be happy with whichever way it goes-and then it's on to the next one."
Since the '11 Mustang isn't...
Since the '11 Mustang isn't factory equipped with a supercharger, the Ford Racing supercharger kit (PN M-6066-MGT624D; $7,499) is comprehensive. Its major components include a 2.3-liter Whipple supercharger, a lower intake manifold with intercooler, an air-to-liquid intercooler system, a six-rib belt-drive system, 47-lb/hr injectors, and a Ford Racing ProCal tool loaded with a performance calibration. Our kit is the 624hp version, but its calibration retains emissions-legality and ditches the annoying skip-shift feature.
Since there's a heat exchanger...
Since there's a heat exchanger to install, the front fascia must be removed first. Here Lethal Performance's Jared Rosen pitches in to help Power by the Hour's Jesse Guajardo pull off the Lethal GT's beak. Of course, you'll want to spend some quality time with FRPP's comprehensive instructions before you start removing any parts.
Jesse also stripped off the...
Jesse also stripped off the radiator support cover, the stock induction, and the stock coolant reservoir. Before you get this far, you'll want to drain the coolant into a clean pan so it can be reused when you put the car back together.
You can remove the fuel rails...
You can remove the fuel rails first, or simply disconnect the fuel lines and remove the complete assembly with the intake manifold. First you'll want to unplug the fuel pump control module in the spare tire well, then start the car and let it run till it quits. This means there's no pressure in the rails. The FRPP kit comes complete with new injectors and rails, so the stock parts can join your nostalgia collection.
With the stock composite manifold...
With the stock composite manifold removed, you'll see there's ample room in the valley for the intercooled FRPP manifold. You will have to loosen and re-clock the factory knock sensors first to achieve the necessary clearance.
As will become familiar practice...
As will become familiar practice with many positive-displacement blower installations on Coyote 5.0s, you must perform some battlefield surgery on the timing cover. Three ribs are notched, two bosses are flattened to rib level, and one boss is half-trimmed to rib level. The FRPP instructions are quite clear how to do this, so be sure to pay close attention-measure twice and cut once! Also, be sure to tape up the cylinder heads' intake ports and cover the valley before you start slinging aluminum chips. Then carefully vacuum up the mess before you start installing the blower kit. If you buy one of FRPP's forthcoming Aluminator 5.0 long-blocks, the timing cover will already be modified for you.
After hooking up the new PCV...
After hooking up the new PCV purge hose, Jesse drops the cast-aluminum lower intake manifold in place. It seals using the same type of O-rings as the stock composite intake, and even re-uses the stock intake's fasteners. If some of this gear looks familiar, it's because Ford Racing, Roush, and Whipple co-engineered their blower kits, so there are common parts between the kits, save the actual blower head units.
After bolting down the manifold,...
After bolting down the manifold, Jesse installed the new fuel rails and injectors. Painstaking effort was taken in developing the 47-lb/hr injectors provided in the kit. These six-orifice injectors were built to provide factory-like driveability and retain emissions compliance. However, their size required a new fuel-rail assembly for proper fitment. "For us, we're at our comfort zone at 624 hp," FRPP's Jesse Kershaw said of the injectors. "We still keep a cushion to account for any variability in the fuel pumps and to account for cold weather, where dense air will require more fuel. We test in the wind tunnel to freezing temperatures to ensure our fuel delivery is adequate in all driving conditions. Plus we retain catalyst protection in the calibration, which others commonly turn off. This keeps our kit emissions legal with a CARB Executive Order and prevents costly catalyst replacement."
Here's the moment we've been...
Here's the moment we've been waiting for. Jesse drops the 2.3-liter Whipple blower onto the lower intake. A smaller version of the familiar Whipple twin-screw blowers that are all the rage as GT500 upgrades, the blower included in this kit is a W140AX Gen 2 blower capable of moving 1,430 cfm of air and producing up to 30 pounds of boost. It's a great blower size for a street car, and should have some upside for those that want more.
As with many positive-displacement...
As with many positive-displacement blower options, the FRPP/Whipple kit reverts to GT500-style induction. "It flows more air and was necessary at the 624hp level," FRPP's Jesse Kershaw said. "It also allowed us to use existing blower inlet tooling keeping the prices down. Plus it looks pretty cool, too." Here Jesse has bolted on the inlet elbow and relocates the Evaporative Emission Canister Purge Valve to the elbow.
With the manifold and blower...
With the manifold and blower in place, Jesse starts addressing the front engine accessory drive by installing the kit's idler bracket.
It's as if Ford knew we'd...
It's as if Ford knew we'd be putting blowers on 5.0s, as only the air conditioning is driven off the inner sheave of the crank pulley in the stock FEAD. Adding the blower means you need a tensioner, and this trick bracket mounts the tensioner to the timing cover and provides ample clearance for the inevitable belt slap when the engine revs. "It passed our validation process to offer a warranty on the kit when dealer installed and on the Shelby GT350," Ford Racing's Jesse Kershaw explained. "That's not an easy task. The accessory drive has to be up to par including correct alignment and long belt life."
Unlike the factory blowers...
Unlike the factory blowers you might be familiar with, the Whipple supercharger uses an easily swapped, bolt-on pulley. It is this pulley and the calibration that differentiates the 524 and 625hp FRPP kits. The former rocks 7 psi, while the latter kicks out 9 psi. Naturally, Lethal stepped up to the 9 psi kit as a starting point for its '11 GT project.
With the idler and tensioner...
With the idler and tensioner brackets in place, you can route and install the six-rib blower belt. You need to leave the fastener out of the top tensioner boss so you can slip the belt past it and then bolt up the bracket for the long haul. With everything properly routed, you can use a 17mm socket to rotate the tensioner out of the way so you can pop the belt over the blower pulley.
Like the rest of the kit,...
Like the rest of the kit, the heat exchanger exudes OEM quality. It bolts on using four brackets that attach with existing fasteners on the core support. The heat exchanger is nearly as large as the A/C condenser, but is quite svelte.
You need only drill one hole...
You need only drill one hole in the fan shroud, slide a clip in, and bolt down the intercooler reservoir. Before you do so, you'd be wise to install the intercooling systems coolant hoses. They fit perfectly and include factory-style clamps, and even protective sleeves.
Like the heat exchanger, the...
Like the heat exchanger, the bridge that mounts the intercooler pump attaches using extant hardware for the bumper beam NVH isolator. As you can see, the kit even includes new radiator side shields for both sides. The left side includes the ducting for the air box inlet and a path for the intercooler hose. All the parts look like they belong, as you'd expect from an FRPP kit.
Since you are relocating evaporative...
Since you are relocating evaporative emission canister purge and the throttle body, there are wiring harnesses that must be extended to make the connection. Pay close attention to the FRPP instructions, as the wiring is critical to making this system function properly. Not only do you have to relocate some pins on the stock harness, add a new connector, and lengthen the harnesses for the throttle body and EECP Valve, you also have to tap into the radio harness for switched power and add a whole new harness for the intercooler pump. If you aren't fully confident with wiring, you'll want to choose a pro install shop.
While the kit retains the...
While the kit retains the stock lower airbox, it includes a new lid/mass air housing replete with hydrocarbon absorption mat, which is one reason the FRPP kit retains emissions legality. Here Jesse swaps in the factory mass air electronics into the new airbox lid. Naturally, there's a new clean air tube that joins this lid to the new twin-bore throttle body, which is a stock-spec GT500 unit.
Whipple superchargers are...
Whipple superchargers are shipped dry, so they are clearly labeled as such. You must add oil to the blower's gear case before you operate the blower. There is a fill window on the front of the case that let's you know when you've added enough oil.
Looking the part of a factory...
Looking the part of a factory option is the completed FRPP/Whipple installation. All that's left to do is install FRPP's new calibration and hit the road-or in our case, the dyno.
After having the blower installed...
After having the blower installed at Power By The Hour in Boynton Beach, Florida, we headed down to STP Motorsports in Plantation, Florida, to spin the car on the Dynojet rollers.
On The Dyno
This graph certainly tells...
This graph certainly tells a happy tale. The FRPP/Whipple kit picks up the horsepower and torque curves and sits on a higher, happier plane.
Things don't always go laboratory smooth for us. We were on the cutting edge of the FRPP/Whipple kit and ended up starting out with a preliminary ProCal tune with an aggressive knock sensor profile. With this first program and Magnaflow mufflers as the only other mod, the car made 505 at the tire. However, FRPP wanted us to try its final calibration for the story. Naturally, Lethal had already started modding the car, and had reinstalled its off-road X-shape crossover, so there is more than one change going from baseline to the final 525-rwhp number. Still it gives a good idea of the capabilities of this kit, which added triple-digit gains from 5,300 rpm on.