Bolt-on power for S197 Mustangs

A bolt-on approach to more power for your S197 ’Stang!

Ricardo Topete - September 23, 2011 12:00 PM


Removal of the stock “cold air” box is elementary. Next, the factory air snorkel is wrestled out as it will not be reused. The use of a long flat-head screwdriver helps pry this out. As far as factory induction systems go, the 2010 GT has a pretty good one in stock form. The large snorkel directs fresh or “cold” air from behind the grille and stuffs it into the air box. Still, we can do better.


This cleverly designed mass air meter housing by BBK eliminates the need to re-flash or tune the GT’s computer. Note that the stock mass air sensor has already been transferred over.


BBK’s handsome black air filter shield is secured to the car using factory mounting points, eliminating the need to drill into a new car. This is followed by installing the air filter and mass air housing.


Out back, GTR’s Eddie Zapata unbolted the stock mufflers. The use of a ratcheting 13mm box wrench greatly simplifies this task. Magnaflow’s axle back mufflers require that the stock rubber hangers be transferred over.


To install the Magnaflow crossover pipe, the stocker must be cut-off. A reciprocating saw buzzes through it in a hurry. Use the Magnaflow piece as a template to mark where you will need to cut. Measure twice, cut once! Magnaflow’s piece simply slides and clamps on with the supplied hardware.


The theory behind a crosspipe is that the exhaust gases are ushered out faster due to the improved aerodynamics compared to a traditional H-pipe. This picture seems to back that up. Magnaflow’s one-two punch delivers a hearty sound without unwanted interior drone.


It is necessary to remove the radiator fan to get access to the crank pulley. It is a tight squeeze getting it in and out, so be patient.


A harmonic balancer puller, which can be purchased or rented at auto parts stores, is needed to extract the crank pulley.


Compare the diameter differences between BBK’s power pulleys and the stockers. Note that the BBK crank pulley is smaller, while the BBK water pump pulley is larger.


Once the new BBK pulleys are installed, the stock belt can be routed on.


With everything buttoned up, our 2010 GT looks pretty unassuming save for the BBK filter kit. Can you spot the extra 25 rwhp and 25 rwtq? Neither can we, and we like it that way.

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2010 introduced a thorough redesign of the S197 Mustang platform that we have become so fond of. Ford did a terrific job in updating the car inside and out.

A complete facelift gives the Mustang a fresh, new look, while the interior received a more upscale feel. Mechanically, the suspension and chassis were further refined to make an even more nimble, better handling ’Stang.

The drivetrain is basically a carryover from the 2005-2009 Mustang GT. Under the hood, tweaks to the intake tract and computer tuning bumped horsepower output to 315 horsepower and 325 lbs-ft torque, up from 300 horsepower and 320 lbs-ft torque. A nice improvement, but many feel that Ford should have introduced the 2010 GT with the sought-after 5.0L motor. As a result, sales for the 2010 model were soft as many buyers opted to wait for the soon-to-be legendary 2011 Mustang GT.

This month, we give some love to 2010 GT owners. Our friends at GTR High Performance (Rancho Cucamonga, California) teamed up with BBK Performance and Magnaflow Exhaust to demonstrate three easy ways to feed the 2010 pony some more oats. GTR corralled a stock 2010 GT outfitted with an automatic transmission belonging to Alfred Baca of California. A baseline dyno revealed peaks of 268 rwhp and 270 rwtq.

From experience, we have learned that Mustangs respond well to free-flowing induction systems. Since the 2010 GT is factory equipped with a “cold air” induction that contributes to its increase in output, we weren’t sure if there was room for improvement. BBK Performance answered the challenge and provided its new cold air intake for the 2010 GT. BBK designed its kit to eliminate the need to re-flash the computer, which saves considerable cash in the installation process. Installation is elementary, requiring little more than a screwdriver. In a few minutes, GTR had the BBK intake in place and ready to rock the dyno.

GTR let our tester rip to 6,000 rpm and reviewed the results. The GT now rested at peak figures of 275 rwhp and 280 rwtq, which netted peak-to-peak gains of 7 rwhp and 10 rwtq. More impressive were the largest overall gains of 10 rwhp and 12 rwtq, both at 4,000 rpm. Considering the healthy power gains and ease of installation, the BBK cold air kit should be first on your shopping list.

Next on the agenda was to upgrade the exhaust system. Magnaflow set us up with its Tru X-pipe (Part # 16457), which is a simple cut-and-clamp affair. Magnaflow’s crosspipe retains the stock catalytic converters, making it 100-percent smog legal. Magnaflow also provided us with its axle-back muffler kit (Part # 16573) which complements the crosspipe nicely and yields a smooth, authoritative exhaust bark. An hour later, GTR had fitted both pieces onto the ’Stang, and it was ready for action.

When the dyno roller stopped, the Mustang had upped its peak values to 278 rwhp and 283 rwtq. Despite the moderate 3 horsepower and 3 lbs-ft of torque gain, we now had a strong foundation upon which to continue in our quest for more power. Knowing that Alfred was going to continue to modify his pony, the Magnaflow exhaust will pay bigger dividends in the future.

The last piece of the horsepower puzzle was BBK’s Underdrive Power Pulley kit (Part # 1563). Historically, power pulleys always do well in dyno tests because they show noticeable gains from the moment the loud pedal is buried. Power and torque gains across the entire rpm range are a trademark of power pulleys. Our test car yielded respectable peak-to-peak gains of 6 rwhp, but the largest gains came in at 5,000 rpm, which revealed 7 extra rwhp and 8 extra rwtq.

The pulleys are probably the most technically challenging item to install that we tested. They’re not difficult to install by any means, but some special tools are required to accomplish this task. A harmonic balancer puller and a torque wrench are required. Air tools help, but the job can be done without them. The average do-it-yourselfer will want to allow about an hour and a half, while pros like GTR’s crew can get-r-done in about 45 minutes. Factoring in the reasonable price of the pulleys (expect to pay around $250) and the solid results, BBK’s pulleys should be on everyone’s “to-do” list.

In a few hours, GTR had managed to bump up the power to 284 rwhp and 285 rwtq with the addition of a few basic and proven modifications. Overall peak-to-peak gains realized were 16 rwhp and 15 rwtq, but more impressive were the largest overall gains of 25 rwhp and 25 rwtq seen at 5,400 rpm! That is power that will allow our 2010 GT to stand proud among its peers on the streets.

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