2005 Ford Mustang Head Cams Intake Install - Triple Play
We do an old-fashioned heads, cam, and intake install on a Three-Valve 4.6
From the April, 2012 issue of 5.0 Mustang & Super Fords
By Michael Johnson
Photography by Michael Johnson
If you are a member of the Coyote clan, Blow-By Racing also offers Stage 1, 2, and 3 cam upgrades for the latest 5.0 engine as well.
Here's what we ended up with when Matt and the crew at Pro-Fab Performance were done spinning wrenches on Joe Downs’ '05 Saleen S281 convertible. The color-coordinated JLT Performance cold-air intake was already part of Joe’s program, and even though they are known to add power, they weren’t enough to level the playing field with '11-'12 Mustang GTs…That's why Joe's car is under the knife once again. Matt had previously installed the aforementioned JLT cold air, a Shelby GT500 throttle body, along with Dynatech long-tube headers, FRPP's high-lift Hot Rod camshafts, and a Blow-By Racing flash tune. This time around, Joe wanted to dig a little deeper in the name of increased horsepower.
Matt had previous experience...
Matt had previous experience with Blow-By Racing's Stage III CNC'd Three-Valve heads and Stage II cams so those are what he recommended to Joe when he wanted to take his Saleen to the next level. We also covered that install with Matt and a different customer. What made Joe's install different was the addition of FRPP's Three-Valve performance intake. This presented a perfect opportunity to see for ourselves, and bring you the results. Joe also supplied the oil and filter, which it seems mildly weird to fit a Saleen with a Roush filter and oil. Not that there's anything wrong with that.
When the '05 Mustangs hit the scene, we thought they were the greatest thing since sliced bread. However, when the '11 Mustang GT hit the streets, the '05s were uncut loaves. Still bread, but now we had to do work to let 'em eat.
With the ultimate kick in the teeth to '05-'10 Mustang owners, the '11 Mustang GT brought an extra 107 hp to the table from the factory. With just a little tuning and a few bolt-ons, the Coyote-powered GTs were making in excess of 400 hp at the wheels. What's an '05-'10 GT owner to do?
Comparing an '05-'10 GT to an '11-'12 Coyote-powered GT just isn't fair. The '05-'10 Mustang GT is a great car, but the power department isn't up to par. However, we're here to help for your next trip down the strip.
To level the playing field, there are several options. The addition of a supercharger or turbo will yield rwhp numbers in the 460 to 470 range. Anything more than that and the engine's bottom end is living on borrowed time. Plus, an '11-'12 GT with a blower or turbo is going to make upward of 550 rwhp so an '05-'10 GT is still behind. You could always swap in a Coyote engine and Ford Racing Performance Parts Control Pack. You could even just go buy an '11-'12 Mustang GT and let someone else fool with the Three-Valve.
However, in these times, many people aren't able to plunk down big money on a new GT, or even on a power adder. So what's left? The next best idea is to do a heads, cam, and intake swap. Of the choices, the H/C/I swap is the cheapest route.
Here's what we started with...
Here's what we started with when Joe's Saleen first entered the shop. As mentioned, Joe's Saleen already boasted a JLT Performance cold-air intake, Dynatech long-tube headers, and FRPP's Hot Rod camshafts, but with stock 3.55 gears, the Three-Valve seemed lazy compared to '11-'12 Mustang GTs, and my own Coyote-powered '94 Cobra. Not only did Joe want to add power, he also went with a steeper gear to help get the car out of the hole, as well.
In the case of this installation exercise, we have an '05 Saleen S281 convertible. Owner Joe Downs was looking for performance upgrades to make it possible for him to keep up with '11-'12 Mustang GTs. He wanted a fair fight. His Saleen is flawless, and he really didn't want to part with it—he just needed more power to retain his street cred.
Before we did the install at Pro-Fab Performance just north of Tampa I took Joe's Saleen for a ride. Having driven several '11-'12 GTs, and my own daily driven '94 Cobra with a Coyote transplant, I really thought something was wrong with Joe's car at first. It had no "pull" whatsoever. It didn't want to get with the program it seemed, but I was driving the car in a spirited manner, it just didn't have the spirit under the hood to inspire.
What Joe did was get with Matt Larue from Pro-Fab to formulate a plan on remedying that lack of spirit. Having experience with this situation, Matt and Joe called Blow-By Racing for a pair of its Stage III CNC'd Three-Valve heads and Stage II cams. To which Joe added a FRPP Three-Valve performance intake. Though larger injectors aren't needed, to make sure the engine wouldn't starve for fuel, Joe threw in fuel rails. For good measure, Joe is also having Matt install a Hurst shifter, FRPP 4.10 gears, and BMR Suspension's tubular K-member, and rear control arms.
That's a lot of work, so let's get started.
With every heads, cam, and...
With every heads, cam, and intake install, you have to get the old stuff out of the way first. To get started, Matt removed the cold-air intake, fuel rails, and injectors, and then the intake.
Next up to be removed are...
Next up to be removed are the valve cov ... I mean, cam covers. The bolts are encased in rubber plugs that fit into the mounting holes. All you have to do is loosen them, and remove the cam covers. The bolts come out with the cam covers. This part is easy, save for a couple tight spaces on the outer bolts on each cam cover. You may have to use a swivel socket to properly reach a couple bolts, but it’s still fairly straightforward.
With the cam covers removed,...
With the cam covers removed, Matt moves to the front cover. The serpentine belt and front accessory dress must be removed prior to removing the front cover. Plus, there are four bolts that double as oil pan bolts that must be removed before the front cover can be removed.
Moving down below, Matt had...
Moving down below, Matt had the idea to remove the cylinder heads and headers as one unit. Meaning, he didn’t want to disconnect the headers from the heads prior to removal. I think he just wanted to see if it could be done. Anyway, in order to try this little timesaver, the headers had to be loosened from its X-shape crossover pipe before giving it a shot.
Back up top, the timing chains...
Back up top, the timing chains and guides need to be removed before the heads can be freed from the engine. Here we see the timing chain tensioner being removed to release tension on the timing chains and guides. With the tensioner removed, the guides and chains can be removed, as well.
With the timing chains, guides,...
With the timing chains, guides, and tensioners out of the way, the heads are ready to come off. As is usually the case, Matt leaves the cams in the heads to provide a couple extra grabbing points since he chose to leave the headers attached.
Since I had to put the camera...
Since I had to put the camera down to help Matt removed the header-wearing Three-Valve heads, I was unable to get a shot of the heads coming out. However, as you can see, the heads will come out with the headers attached. Removing the heads this way does save time, but this is also why many shops simply choose to drop the whole engine out of the bottom when doing a head swap on a modular car. It’s not easy to remove the headers from a modular car, not even a little bit. Removing the heads with the headers will make it easier to separate the headers from the heads. Also, now that we know the heads and headers will come out as a unit, they should go back in as a unit as well…hopefully.
With the heads separated from...
With the heads separated from the headers, it’s time to assemble the new heads. Some parts will be reused, like the lash adjusters (lifters), cam followers (rockers), and cam gears. The best thing to do is set the same side heads right next to each other and transfer parts. Obviously, the heads are not the same from side to side so make sure you get the correct side heads next to each other.
Here you can see Matt has...
Here you can see Matt has transferred the lash adjusters and followers to the new heads, and he’s using engine lube at every step, from the lash adjusters to the followers, to the cams. Notice Matt has the cam caps in order of how they came off, and what journal they belong to. That’s a crucial step to remember. They must be reinstalled on the correct journal.